Recently I gave a group lesson on Stellar Nucleosynthesis, the Birth and Death of a Star. It is one of my favorite lessons, not only because I spent hours sewing the material but because of how beautifully it explains the life cycle of stars and the continued flow of matter in our universe. This is what the material looks like:
We talk about how the star begins in the nebula and by the end of the lesson the children are chanting along with how the star is getting “hotter, and hotter, and hotter, until it fuses!” The supernova at the end is always a hit, even for the students who have seen the work before. It is a lesson I give every year, and the students who have it as a review have more involved follow up work. After the lesson this year I was instructing some of the older students to get out the Periodic Table to find the symbols for the elements as part of their follow up. A first year student came up to me, looking very serious, and asked if she would be allowed to look up the symbols for the elements, too.
After I told her that she was more than welcome to do that part of the follow up, she quickly got to work, scanning the Periodic Table for Hydrogen and the rest of the elements.
Watching a student become engaged and inspired by the work of older students is one of the most wonderful parts of being a Montessori teacher. I wish I could record all of the moments where the method is displayed so beautifully.