"Montessori: Guided by Nature" is a wonderful theme, and an excellent jumping off point for activities that get back to the roots of Montessori philosophy: "education is guided by children’s natural development and how that growth fosters a respectful relationship with the environment." Each day of keynote speeches has a different focus, underlining the importance of cosmic education and the incalculable value of the Montessori method. This is the first in a series of four activity posts, beginning with Origins and Potential.
Classroom Activities Inspired by The International Montessori Congress: Origins and Potential
Origins and Potential
"This day’s events will give us a sense of place by reflecting on the circumstances that brought us from the Big Bang to life on earth, the origins of humans, the beginnings of Montessori, and the potential that exists within each child."
- The universe is a huge and mysterious place; stars and planets form in space, and contribute to unique galaxies. Celebrate how many small parts create a beautiful and diverse whole by creating Galaxy Paintings!
For younger students, painting galaxies on paper, envelopes, or notebooks is an exciting way to create art. For white backgrounds, you can find a great tutorial here. However, you may find it easier to start with a black background and use less paint for faster drying. To do this, use a rag or sponge to make random white blotches on the page, leaving some empty black space. Sponge purple and blue around the edges of the white clouds to blend them into the black. Children can even blend small patches of red, yellow, pink and orange- each galaxy is unique, after all! To create stars, dip an old toothbrush in white paint, and run your thumb along the bristles. This will splatter and might take a bit of practice, so make sure you lay down newspaper under your paintings! For bigger stars, dip a pencil tip into white paint and dot where the smaller splatters have fallen.
Older students can use this same technique to make galaxy T-shirts, socks, or canvas bags! Almost all of the steps are the same, but use a fabric paint instead of acrylic or water-based. Start with black fabric and a spray bottle of watered-down bleach. Mist a few areas with the bleach solution to create the white clouds. When the fabric has dried, sponge on color and splatter on stars with the fabric paint. Children will love wearing their creations, especially during science and space themed units.
- Explore how humans throughout history have used nature to create art: instead of simply drawing or painting a landscape scene, try making Berry Ink in your classroom. Dark berries like raspberries, blackberries, and cherries work very well.
Crush a half cup of berries in a metal strainer over a bowl. Once only the pulp is left in the strainer, you may compost it or save it for other uses. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the juice in the bowl; you can add more vinegar if the ink needs to be thinned out. This helps the ink keep its color and prevents mold.
For younger students, painting light colored rocks or paper is a great way to tie into history and cave paintings. Just remember to use latex gloves for any hand prints, or there may be some stained fingers! For older students, cut quills from craft store feathers and try writing a letter or journal entry the pioneer way. Cut the tip of the feather at an angle, and add a slight notch: this helps the ink to flow more smoothly.
- The potential of the child truly is limitless! Celebrate how children view their own potential with a Photo Collage that will inspire them (and you!) throughout the school year.The photo above is a great example of a class collage celebrating potential. Prints would be a wonderful addition to your classroom community, and a great gift to send home to families at year end. Taking the shots can become a yearly tradition that will follow along as children change during their educational journey.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, June 14, 2013.