Pure magic. That's the experience of Montessori's First Great Lesson. This is the perfect time to set the impression that will drive your science, math, reading, and social studies lessons. The focus from macro to micro not only helps students to understand the big picture, but also creates humility.
The prep work that goes into this lesson takes some time. Be sure to gather the materials (making the volcano takes some time) before you present this lesson to your students or child. We have included a sheet with all of the science experiments for the Great Lesson. This will also help you to know what materials you will need.
Don't forget your script! Over the years, we have used Miss Barbara's script from www.missbarbara.net. In time, you will learn to modify the script to make it your own. Another great addition is to have moon music playing in the background. There's a 1-hour moon sounds on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2ZelCLDuy4.
The next day, since this lesson is filled with incredibly rich content, we like to follow-up with the Cosmic Rhyme and begin reading "Born with a Bang" by Jennifer Morgan. This is also a great day to add in journal writing and art activities (make a moon drawing using black paper and white crayons). Remember this lesson is repeated from lower to upper elementary. With each presentation, the students gain a deeper experience and meaning.
Once you complete the lesson, it is time to add the first five science experiments to the science shelf. Students should begin exploring the scientific method as they conduct each experiment.
We hope you enjoy watching the faces of all your sweet angels and they experience the joy and magic of the Creation Story. We would love to see your pictures!
I survived the first week of school...again. You know how mothers always say you forget what labor is like after you have had your kids for a while which is the only reason you agree to do it again? Teachers are the same way about the first week of school. If teachers remembered the insanity of the first week of school, they would never repeat it.
Monday- get all students off the bus, signed in. Walk Kindergarteners and new 1st graders to class. There seem to be about 400 parents in the Preprimary hallway with their littles. Some parents are crying. You can't even walk down the hall. New parents are ushered off to the "Boo Hoo Breakfast". I teasingly tell some returning parents to go to Starbucks because they are standing in the middle of the hall gossiping after class starts. Then run around the school making sure every teacher knows how every child is getting home.
Finally sit at my desk and look out the window. A teacher assistant is carrying a 3 year old, who is crying. It is no doubt the child's first introduction to school. Then I see a second assistant carrying another 3 year old, also crying. I ask the librarian for some stuffed animals. I spend the next half hour handing out beanie babies to crying 3 year olds. Satisfied, I try to go to my desk again. A coworker exclaims as we both see a 3 year old run out the back door of his classroom (right in front of my window). We both go running out to get him, but the child did not get far. 2 other teachers had seen him. 4 of us had descended upon him all within a minute, all from opposite directions, like we were in some kind of cartoon. Next thing I know, it's time to send all the PreK students home, then soon after, go back to buses and load all the students onto their buses.
Tuesday- I promise myself I will get a lot accomplished. I promise myself I will take pictures of the kids working today! Nope. There is an endless stream of support service personnel that need to coordinate schedules with me. End up talking to people all day in between answering questions about new students.
Wednesday- Today is the day! I will get pretests done on some of my students! Nope. Car speeding runs into our school bus at the end of the drive. We run off to retrieve the kids from the bus. Takes an hour for us to return. We are sweaty and sticky. Then, the internet goes down. Can't even print. Manage to do a pretest on one of my new students who is an English Language Learner. Find out one of my other students has been tardy the past two days and is absent today! Means I will probably have to redo my entire schedule.
Thursday- When I try to walk down the Preprimary hallway, I am flagged down by a teacher who has a question about a student. I go back to my office to look up the student's information and it opens a puzzle box of questions to be answered. I attempt to do my pretests for my students but every time I start, the internet goes back down. Everyone seems annoyed today. I can tell all the teachers are exhausted. It is a frustrating day.
Friday- I try to actually finish some of the testing. I finish one student. ONE. She is a slow reader, and she has dyslexia, but she perseveres. She says it is the most she has ever read. She scores a lot higher than we expected so we are all (including the student) thrilled! It was my high note for the week.
By the end of the day, my mind is racing with the endless images of little faces from this week. I help clean up peepee when a 3 year old doesn't quite make it to the bathroom and guide another one to learn some new English phrases as she won't let go of my finger. My face is sore from smiling and greeting all the students in the hallway. I help get all the kids on the bus one last time for the week. Then I rush back to my office to help get testing groups ready for Monday.
On my phone, I keep track of my steps. I have logged almost 25,000 this week! Just at school.
By 6 PM- I am face down, clothes still on, bra still on, stretched out across my bed, snoring. This is why we forget what the first week of school is like.
It's almost that time! Time for classrooms to be filled with littles full of sweet laughter and excitement. As many teachers are busy prepping for back to school, we wanted to share a couple of ideas and insight.
A great way to start the new school year is to involve students in making the classroom rules. This helps create ownership while also having a voice in their own learning environment. We love this super cute example of the classroom rules posted around a heart with the smiling faces that fill the classroom. This is a creative way to exhibit the classroom rules daily without a negative connotation.
Teachers often enjoy starting the year with a writing prompt of, "Write about something fun or interesting you did over the summer." A caution for this writing prompt is that some of your students may not have had an opportunity to experience anything fun or exciting this summer. A fun twist on this prompt to ensure equity of voice would be to write about what they want to achieve this school year and to create an actionable goal plan.
Another super fun activity is to create peace jars filled with affirmations to place on the peace shelf. Students can choose an affirmation throughout the week when they need a little encouragement. Be sure to use a day of the week to fill the jars with more affirmations as needed.
Here's a super cute link to a freebie for the classroom affirmation jars:
Share with us! What are some fun and creative ways you welcome your sweet angels at the start of the new school year?
Stephanie Stephens and Holly Fitzharris are both Montessori educators- collectively with over 30 years of experience in education.