One beautiful part of the Montessori philosophy is its ability to adapt and change with the times. In the Elementary setting, there are countless numbers of concepts, topics, and ideas to be presented to children – particularly in language – and not always materials or lessons for each concept. Below, Lower Elementary Guide Megan Eilers shares a lesson she and fellow Guide Anna Schwind created to fit the needs of their students.
“At the beginning of the year, I combed through the Missouri language standards and identified a few areas and concepts that I wanted to explicitly address through more concrete presentations. I consulted my esteemed coworkers and found out what lessons they have developed to address specific concepts. We teachers love sharing lessons and strategies with each other! Keeping in mind my colleagues’ recommendations and the Montessori principles like isolating concepts and using manipulatives, I developed lots of different lessons to supplement the curriculum.
“This brings me to the lesson Elements of a Story. There is no shortage of story writing going on inside my classroom, but I wanted a lesson to introduce important elements of a story as a way to guide their writing. Ms. Schwind told me how she has introduced character, setting, and plot in the past and I ran with her idea. There are three different colored velvet bags that represent the three elements. Inside the ‘character bag’ are several small figurines of people and animals. Inside the ‘setting bag,’ there are postcards of different scenic places (forests, deserts, oceans, mountains, cities, etc). Inside the ‘plot bag,’ there are several slips of paper that contain different plot ideas (i.e. looking for something, time travel, magical powers, etc.).
“There are many different ways to give this lesson and it greatly depends on the child’s needs. I may just introduce once concept at a time or I may introduce all three. We discuss each element and develop a story based around that key element. When the children have a good understanding of all three elements, we create a story by picking from all three bags (they love this!).
“Based on what they pick, we create and write a story together. This is my absolute favorite part because everyone has something they want to contribute and the story often takes a silly turn. This also promotes a good discussion of other elements of a story like conflict and resolution which naturally arise as we construct the story. On their own, the children will often repeat the lesson as they love to see what mystery combinations they will choose. ”
Thank you, Megan, for sharing this wonderfully creative, fun lesson with us, and for sharing a bit about how new lessons are created in the Elementary Montessori classroom. What a wonderful example of the creativity of our Guides, as well as the constant ability to make learning fun and engaging for the children!