Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Easter and Springtime: Integrating Science and Cultural Activities in the Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori activities culture science easter springtime girl gardening
Spring is such an inspiring time in the Montessori classroom. Students and teachers alike are shaking off their winter “funk” and there are so many opportunities for hands-on learning. All around our campus flowers are blooming, birds are building nests and we can always find bugs, worms and snails. This spring, my Montessori students are incubating chicken eggs. We’re talking about life cycles, and turning our eggs multiple times a day, just like a mother hen would do.

Eggs are associated with Easter because of their symbolism of new life. The celebration of Easter predates Christian times and some of its symbols (for example, the Easter bunny) come from the Pagan Spring Equinox festival (a celebration of Spring and new life). The Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility and springtime is called Eostre. Here are some fun activities to tie Easter into your Montessori  Science and Culture curriculum studies.

Easter and Springtime: Integrating Science and Cultural Activities in the Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori activities culture science easter springtime jesus on crossEaster is also the commemoration of Jesus’ death and his rising from the dead (the resurrection). It is a very important festival in the Christian faith. The celebration comes at the end of Lent and the week that leads up to Easter is called Holy Week. The first day of Holy Week is called Palm Sunday. It is called so because when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, people threw palm branches on the road before him. Today, churches will often give out crosses made from palm leaves.

Thursday of Holy Week is called Maundy Thursday. On this day, Christians remember the Passover meal Jesus had with his disciples. This is now known as the Last Supper and is often re-enacted.

On Good Friday, churches may hold long services to reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus. Some people eat hot cross buns on this day as a reminder of the cross on which Jesus died. Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.
NAMC montessori activities culture science easter springtime baby chick and egg
Montessori Activity Ideas:
  • Drain or blow the yolk from the inside of eggs and use different art techniques to decorate the outside shell.
  • Incubate eggs (chicken, guinea fowl, duck, etc.) for a hands-on study of life cycles. When eggs have hatched, take a field trip to a local farm to find a home for the birds.
  • Take nature walks to see the changes that spring is making around your campus on a daily basis. Students can record observations in a journal with words and sketches.
  • Discuss the differences between Jewish Passover and Christian Passover.
  • Weave palms into baskets, mats and crosses.
  • Research Easter celebrations around the world. Why are Easter parades and Easter bonnets so popular?
  • Bake hot cross buns and/or simnel cake. Research the history of these baked items.
For more Easter craft ideas, visit the Enchanted Learning website.

Suggested Books:
  • J Is for Jesus: An Easter Alphabet And Activity Book, by Debbie Trafton O'Neal and Jan Bryan-Hunt
  • The Story of Easter, by Aileen Fisher and Stefano Vitale
  • The Very First Easter, by Paul L. Maier
  • The Legend of the Easter Egg, by Lori Walburg VandenBosch and James Bernardin
  • The Story of the Cross: The Stations of the Cross for Children, by Mary Joslin and Gail Newey
  • Lilies, Rabbits, and Painted Eggs: The Story of the Easter Symbols, by Edna Barth and Ursula Arndt
Sources/Resources:
Related activities and information concerning various disciplines can be found throughout the NAMC curriculum manuals, including the NAMC 3-6 Culture and Science manual, as well as the 6-9 and 9-12 Cultural Geography, Botany and Zoology manuals.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, April 7, 2009.

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