Dr. Montessori’s rich science curriculum is deeply rooted in hands-on experiences in the Primary classroom. There are items from nature displayed throughout the classroom, and students are invited to explore different kinds of rocks, shells, and other specimens. Rich learning activities allow the child to explore plants, animals, and minerals. A constantly rotating curriculum also provides the opportunity for students to explore such areas as the solar system, volcanoes, and the weather.
Classification: Living and Non-Living
Children are introduced to the concept of living vs. nonliving early in the 3-year cycle. Using beautiful sets of labels and photographic cards, the children match these illustrations with the corresponding names. Working with these cards helps the youngsters to become more observant of the characteristics of things which grow in their own environments.
Having a grasp of this concept, children then move onto the study of life sciences (biology) by classifying plants, animals, minerals, etc.
While we frequently have plants, flowers, or vegetables growing in the classroom, Botany studies truly come alive when children begin to learn about the many species of trees, leaves, flowers, etc.
The leaf cabinet provides an opportunity for younger students to notice similarities and differences in shapes, even tracing the various leaf insets. As the child progresses, labeling the distinct shapes adds another level of difficulty. After matching the leaves and labels, an exciting work for the older student is the opportunity to create a “book.” The book is made up of one page representing each kind of leaf, for example. Using the cards and labels as a guide, the student colors and labels the specific kinds of leaves on each page in turn, and then staples these together to form a book.
Vertebrate Studies: Amphibian
After understanding the concept of living vs. nonliving, students are introduced to the five vertebrate classes: mammal, amphibian, reptile, fish and bird. Young students learn to identify the parts of the vertebrate using knobbed puzzles, and eventually cards and labels. Learning about the life cycle of the vertebrate is of special interest to older Montessori students--especially when the body parts change dramatically throughout the animals lifetime.
Throughout the three-year curriculum, there are countless opportunities to learn more about the animals that belong to each of these classes. Studies also extend into classes of invertebrates.
Even the youngest Montessori student will enjoy exploring concepts such as “magnetic and nonmagnetic” or "sink and float." And what better way for our budding scientists to understand these properties than by discovering them!
In the Montessori classroom, self-contained experiments provide the child with a controlled way to explore and discover. Sometimes, a single basket of items is used to study various properties (as in the illustrations to the left). At other times, families of related objects make for interesting experiments. Making predictions and coming to conclusions are all a part of the scientific process.
With thanks to Montessori School of Syracuse, NY.