There’s woodworking, sewing, finger knitting, fish braiding (initiated by one of the children who also likes the privilege of being the one to present it to the others), weaving, crocheting and more recently, following paper patterns to make soft toys.
This year I plan to introduce children to knitting. Ideally, I would like to show them how to make their own wooden/bamboo knitting needles. It would call upon some of the wood working skills they have already gained and I am sure they will love the process of making the needles.
It is important to sow the seeds of a great many things in the elementary years. Children are still enthusiastic and willing to try their hand at all manner of ‘new’ pursuits. In the developmental stage that is to follow – the adolescent years, one sees this spirit decline. Instead adolescents want to ‘create’. What they do not want, is to start working from scratch on the skills they need to bring to life what they are imagining. If the skills have already been gained then they will use them and express themselves through their creations. This need for self-expression has resulted in substantial blocks of time being put aside for creative and self expression during the erdkinder years.
Work with our hands is important at every age.
“Men with hands and no head, and men with head and no hands are equally out of place in the modern community…” – Dr. Maria Montessori (Childhood to Adolescence)
Following on from my previous post, here is another project completed by one of the children after the Story of the Universe – a stitchery book depicting the birth of the universe and formation of earth.
I wanted to share this work with you as its such a wonderful marriage of handwork, an impressionistic lesson and science. It reads a little like a fairy tale.
Though I am sharing the ‘product’ here, it is the process through those days that was truly beautiful.
It required a lot of planning and perseverance from the boy. For 9 1/2 days he sat with the sewing box,creating page after page in deep concentration. He applied his previous learning and noticed the refinement of his skills over the days. By the time he had reached the last page in his book, he required no help and even ‘created’ his own weaving stitch. He realized his own independence and commented on it several times. It was self-direction at its strongest.
Apologies for the quality of the photographs, but they were taken on my phone, just before the boy borrowed the book from the library to show his folks at home.
We are a month into the new academic year and the children who have recently joined our elementary environment have received their first great lesson – THE STORY OF THE UNIVERSE. The story is accompanied by many experiments, including a show stopper – blasting a volcano! This year around, we used ammonium di chromate in the volcano for some real BANG, instead of the tame baking powder and vinegar routine. Needless to say it was all very exciting.
Along with the younger children, the older children too had the benefit of receiving the story again and like every year, it has sparked off great work!
Today, one of the many projects undertaken by the children after the telling of the story was completed.
After reading the awe inspiring book, ‘Born With A Bang – The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story‘ by Jennifer Morgan and Dana Lynne Anderson, two boys decided to make a timeline depicting some of the major events in the Universe’s history. There is a concise page at the back of the book that lists some of these major events and was just the right morsel for the boys.
Here is the long and short of their timeline.
They did some finger knitting and converted its length into a timeline. Each foot on the length of their finger knitting accounted for 1 billion years.
A brass bell signals each major event. With it is a card that explains what happened at that point in time. The first two events are so close together that they have been strung one on top of the other – but – true to the need for precision that characterizes the elementary child, they are just ever – so – slightly, askew.
1 billion years after the Big Bang galaxies formed. Mother stars were born. After stars die their stardust makes new stars that have complicated elements …
7 billion years after the Big Bang our mother star might have exploded. There might have been more than one mother star that might have created our solar system …
8 1/2 billion years after the Big Bang the planets formed. One planet was perfect – not too hot, not too cold.
For the sake of convenience the timeline has now moved to a new location – above the science material.
“let us give him a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality and an answer to all questions. We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.” ~ Maria Montessori (To Educate The Human Potential)