Prerequisites for enjoying this post to the fullest extent include:
1. First- The ability to picture each of our stellar Villa di Maria Directresses and Assistants in all their current child-nuturing, lesson-giving, observation-making glory.
2. Second- The ability to engage in a bit of time travel and imagine each as a miniaturized version of herself.
3. Third- The ability to place these lovely persons within their own classrooms as students, engaged and absorbed and loving all things Montessori.
With this frame of reference, each teacher responded to the following scenario:
Reghan McAuley, Directress Primary One and Jess Jente, Assistant Primary One Mrs. McAuley and Mrs. Jente both agreed that their small selves would most be drawn to the other children in the classroom, the social aspect and the learning culture as a whole. “We are continually delighted and surprised by what we learn each day from these beautiful children. I have to say, hands down, they are our most favorite element of the Montessori environment.” Robyn Milos, Directress Primary Two Well, I chose the material that actually took me back to the mini version of myself the second I laid hands on it during my training. The bow-tying frame. Muscle memory is absolutely real! When I sat to practice the material- not when it was shown to me, when I actually touched it- my body was warm with the actual memory of crossing my arms and the strength I felt of being able to tie! Velcro was not a thing back then, and my older brother made me want to be able to tie, too. It was my very own accomplishment to tie on that thing! I love so many materials in our Children’s House, but this one is part of the golden box of memories that I hold near and tight!!! When I think about it, it is iconically, the symbol of developing independence. Cristina Kerr, Assistant Primary Two I was a very curious, active child, and I would have enjoyed the polishing lesson. With making objects beautiful again and having many steps to follow, this lesson would have offered me so much: keeping my interest for a longer time, improving my concentration and satisfying my sense for order. Perfect! Heather Steinman, Directress Primary Three I pretty much love all of the lessons for one reason or another, however, I have always thought that as a brand new little person in the Children’s House I would be drawn to handwashing. The water, the bubbles, the beautiful pitcher and the scrub brush. Who could resist? As an adult, I have watched many a child completely lose themselves in the process of handwashing. It is always fascinating to observe them as they meditate on the preparation of their most useful tool: their hands. So, here is a picture of my big, old, tired, beat up hands with the beautiful lesson of handwashing. It looks more amazing with tiny new hands catching that water. Maria Burr, Assistant Primary Three I chose the trinomial cube because as an adult, I very much enjoy building the trinomial cube. I just love how all the pieces fit together so beautifully! Anna Schwind, Directress Lower Elementary I can’t be sure, of course, because it’s been a long time since I was young, but one of the things that fascinated me as a child was when I called my grandmother on the telephone. Even though we were talking right NOW, it was a different time where she lived. It was a true but strange thing. It was also a true but strange thing that whenever I would board a plane to the United States, I would have layers of clothes to put on when I arrived at my destination…or layers to peel off. Because I lived in the southern hemisphere, it was always a different season when I came to my grandmother’s house. The geography work charts pictured with me include the time zone work chart and the seasons work chart. The children move around to discover the time zones and chart the progress of the seasons in different zones of the world. The child’s hand moves materials, working in concert with the child’s imagination and reason in order to illustrate both concepts. I can’t help but think I would have taken these charts out again and again and discovered the difference in time between Buenos Aires and Bristol and the seasonal difference between Brazil and Belgium. Ms. Sophie, Assistant Lower Elementary My favorite item? The sandpaper globe. Why? I feel the world will be my playground when I get older, which my older self confirms now. The world IS my playground; its inhabitants are my friends; their culture is my never-ending source of learning. Melissa Urspurch, Assistant Lower Elementary Timeline of Mathematics for the Adolescent! When I was younger I often struggled to connect to anything relating to history. I desired a visual overview and to receive the information as a story – beginning to end, not just disconnected pieces of information. I realized this in college when I had the privilege of having a great professor who taught in this way. Having experienced the Puzzle Maps in Primary, Pin Maps in Elementary, and applicable timelines during adolescence would have changed my interests and understanding completely. The interconnectedness of subjects, such as math (which I love) and history offers a wealth of background information and opportunities to discover existing relationships in order to construct new knowledge and ideas. Rebecca Callander, Directress Upper Elementary and Melissa Anderson, Assistant Upper Elementary Name of lesson: Leaf Classification Reason why a mini-me would like it: As a young elementary student, some of my favorite memories revolve around plant based work—that is to say gardening with my mom, learning the different botanical names of plant species, writing poetry about plants, and drawing leaves and flowers. I would have been very happy to have discovered plant classification in the elementary classroom. Like all elementary children, I was a social creature and would have relished working in a group, as is the case with leaf classification. I also was very fidgety and would have enjoyed the ability to move about while collecting leaves for identification. I adored the etymology of language, listening to my mom recite Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and to my dad prattle off scientific terminology steeped in Greek and Latin roots; leaf classification is ripe with opportunity to link language to the world around us. Perhaps an early indicator toward being an organized and artistic soul, I would have loved the beautiful and orderly nature of the work, which allows the child to classify the world around them—every leaf falls into a basic shape! How perfect and compartmentalized! How satisfying! This may also be an early indicator that I would fall in love with Montessori—that, like a leaf, there is a place for every single living soul in this universe. The mini-me would not have known that such material was an opportunity for free choice and for making sense of the natural world around me, nor deepening my understanding of language, but the mini-me would have entered the classroom eager to work, joyful throughout the day, and contented with the feeling that all was right with the world as I went home after a satisfying day of work chosen by me. Above is how I envision a group work with Melissa Anderson, who also is drawn to all things botanical, might have looked: