Though the school year has just begun, students at Southern New Hampshire Montessori Academy haven’t wasted any time to kick the year off with a bang! The Big Bang that is! The Montessori Academy’s newest program, Upper Elementary, comprised of grades 4-6, presented The Story of the Universe to Lower Elementary peers on Friday. This multi-sensory presentation is the first of a series of five (5) foundational lessons that are presented to elementary students throughout each three (3) year cycle. This lesson, in particular, weaves a tale of the origins of the universe and our own planet. Using impressionistic charts and experiments directly related to the basic physical properties of matter, a foundation is made for the future study of physics, chemistry, astronomy and geology.
“When you know something well enough to teach another, it cements your own learning. This is the dynamic which peer learning exemplifies in the Montessori classroom,” explains Debra Hogan, Head of School at SNHMA. “Additionally, for our Upper Elementary students to embark on the scale of this project at the very beginning of the school year helps to unify them as a community. They’ve already needed to collaborate, compromise, and problem solve as a group; this will be the first of many opportunities they will have to work as a unit throughout the school year.”
At the presentation, Lower Elementary students were issued tickets to attend the performance and ushered to their seats by their elder peers. The formality and symbolism of the presentation heightens the role of Upper Elementary students as guides, mentors and role models in both the minds of the senior and junior students.
The purpose of this first lesson, The Story of the Universe, helps to build context for the elementary student, as they begin to explore their world and question “Who Am I”, as a separate individual from their family. By engaging their power of imagination through storytelling the elementary student has relevance for other subject matter. Rather than exploring subjects in isolation, they are equipped with framework in which to co-relate all of their learning, be it math, language, science, or history. Subsequent lessons include:
- The Coming of Life – presentation of pictures and information about microorganisms, plants, and animals that have lived (or now live) on the earth. The great diversity of life is emphasized, and special care is paid to the “jobs” that each living thing does to contribute to life on earth (foundation for biology, botany, habitats, ancient life and animals);
- The Story of Humans – leads children to study the beginning of civilizations and the needs of early humans – history, culture, social studies, discovery and invention;
- The History of Writing, sometimes called the Communication in Signs – the story of the development of the written alphabet is told, with an emphasis on the incredible ability that humans have of committing their thoughts to paper. Included in the story are pictographs, symbols, hieroglyphs, early alphabets, and the invention of the printing press; and
- The History of Numbers – This lesson begins with the earliest civilizations, who often only had “one”, “two”, and “more than two” as their numeric system. It continues with alook at different numbering systems throughout the centuries, culminating in the decimal system that we use today.
“Nothing is taught in a vacuum at SNHMA, we look to make as many connections as possible across each curriculum area, building context and relationships for their young and curious minds,” emphasizes Hogan.
Southern New Hampshire Montessori Academy offers an academically focused education to children through an integrated curriculum. Concentration is given to educating the “whole child” (all facets of the child’s being, including: intellectual, physical, emotional, social and creative aspects) with a strong emphasis of hands-on and experiential learning where children develop their passion in technology, science, visual and performing arts, foreign language and physical education. Complementing a strong academic core, the school offers an enrichment program that includes elementary Latin, creative arts (visual and performing), daily physical education, technology, Spanish and Mandarin. For further information, please visit their website.
Images courtesy of Swann Photography.