Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Exploring the Earth - Montessori Sensorial Work with Soil

“Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars.”
― Serbian Proverb

namc montessori sensorial work with soil exploring earth boy with dirt

Maria Montessori gave children the greatest gift — she gave them the universe! She felt that no creature in our vast universe was too small to explore. Nor was dirt something to be discarded. She encouraged free exploration of the natural world to entice the senses and encourage learning.

How can you give your students the universe? The greatest way is through exploration.

Montessori Sensorial Work: Exploring the Earth with Soil

namc montessori sensorial work with soil exploring earth children's boots in mud puddle

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.

namc montessori sensorial work with soil exploring earth close up of soil

Making Mud

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?

namc montessori sensorial work with soil exploring earth child holding mud

Making Bricks

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.

namc montessori sensorial work with soil exploring earth boy playing with dirt

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!
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, November 5, 2013.


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