How can you give your students the universe? The greatest way is through exploration.
Montessori Sensorial Work: Exploring the Earth with Soil
What is dirt?
Take some buckets and shovels on a nature walk and try to find samples of more than one kind of dirt. Look for loose soil; packed, dry dirt; sand; gravel; etc. Take the samples back to the classroom and explore them sensorially:
- What does it look like?
- What does it feel like?
- How does it smell?
- Is there anything in it?
Look at each sample using a magnifying glass. Talk about how the sample looks different under the glass. Use tweezers to sort out things that are not dirt, being careful not to harm any creatures that may be living there.
Invite the children to add water to each soil sample. Stir the sample gently and observe what happens when you stop stirring. Does it remain mixed together or does it separate? How does each type of mud feel? Does it smell different than when it was dirt?
Explain to the children that early humans made houses out of mud and some cultures still do so today. When making a house, they had to experiment to see what kind of mud made the strongest bricks. Invite the children to pour some of each type of mud into brick molds and allow them to dry in the sun for a few days. Gently remove the dried mud from the molds and observe the differences. Talk about which type of mud the children think will make the best houses.
Dirt may not seem like much to us. But this humble life-giving and life-sustaining substance beneath our feet had its origins in the dust that formed the stars and planets. When you think about it, that is some pretty impressive stuff!
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.