Monday, October 7, 2013

The Coming of the Universe

The First Great Lesson: 
The Coming of the Universe

In the beginning there was nothing....

Earth Story by Eric Maddern

The first Great Lesson in the Montessori Elementary curriculum is the beginning of everything. It starts in the empty vastness of space when the universes form then works its way through the formation of the  galaxies, sun, planets, and the Earth's formation in more detail.

We had so much fun with this story. This was the second time my son experienced the first Great Lesson and he enjoyed it just as much. Everything was not a surprise this year like it was last year but it still had enough to keep him engaged the entire time. My daughter is only a year and a half so she wasn't quite ready for this lesson. I thought about having her listen but it was nap time anyway and I felt she would be more of a distraction.

There are many versions of the story that goes along with this lesson. My personal favorite is from which is simply called "The Beginning." There are other versions that are called "God with No Hands" which have more of a God theme to them but that does not mesh with our family's beliefs. Montessori left much to be altered with this story and still keep the main focus on the formation of the universe and the Earth. The only real differences in these stories are the focus on God in some and not in others and the time frame used. The one we used goes back billions of years, others use a "young earth" point of view.

I did a lot of set up with this lesson before we started. I made all of the impressionistic charts myself, and my son made the volcano. I used the MissBarbara set up to prepare all of my supplies for the demonstrations. We spent the morning doing other work including math, reading and cursive practice. The promise of the Great Lesson was enough to get him to work happily. We ate lunch and I put my toddler down for a nap and then I set up the classroom while my son was on recess.

The demonstration setup
The volcano was hidden under a playsilk. I had a large candle, but it was misplaced in our move so I ended up using this little tea candle.

A black balloon is filled with small pieces of paper and is popped during the beginning of the story illustrating the Big Bang that started it all. My son loves this part. He knew it was going to happen but he still was very excited by it. Last year I used small metallic star confetti which I thought was much cooler, but it stuck everywhere. We vacuumed afterward and I was still finding those little stars all over the classroom for months. My husband begged me to never use them again so I went with paper pieces this year. I didnt find them as impressive but they were much easier to clean up.

There was so much that my son forgot about in the story from last year. He remembered all of the demonstrations but he forgot the facts. I loved seeing the shocked look on his face after hearing about how far away the stars and sun are and how fast the speed of light is.

This chart shows the size comparison of the Earth and the Sun 

We used our Hugg-a-planet for our globe. I love this thing! 

Particles come together with the force which also brought particles together to form the Earth.
The dance of the elements chart. Shows the cycle of heating and cooling the Earth forming the layers.

We used the jar of BBs in water to show how liquid particles are different from solids. We also used perfume sprayed in the air to show how the particles of gases spread.

We did the demonstration of the layers of liquids showing how the heavier weight liquids sink to the bottom and lighter liquids rise to the top.

Honey, oil and blue dyed water
First the water, then the honey which sunk, finally oil which floated on top.
The three layers from top to bottom: oil, water, honey
The time of the volcanos

The favorite part, of course, is the volcano eruption
(just your basic baking soda and vinegar reaction)

Beautiful Earth 
the Earth has cooled and the mountains and oceans form.

The Earth is now ready for the life to begin. The story continues in the 
Second Great Lesson: The Coming of Life. 

My son decided to spend a little time with the bowl of BBs after the lesson was over. He enjoyed using a variety of magnets with them.

We have a wonderful book that I love to go along with this lesson. The name is Earth Story by Eric Maddern and it has lovely illustrations by Leo Duff. The story is very similar to the Great Lesson story but not quite as detailed. I think its a wonderful companion book to use for follow up work. I found this copy at a local used book store. There is also a follow up book called Life Story that I am planning to purchase.

Earth Story by Eric Maddern
Earth Story by Eric Maddern

We borrowed a series of books from our library that are often used by Montessori homeschoolers by Jennifer Morgan. They include with Born with a Bang, From Lava to Life, and Mammals that Morph.
I thought they had nice illustrations and the story went with the Great Lessons but I didn't really like the stories. These stories are from the point of view of the Universe which I found odd. I decided not to use them after reading through them but I do think they work for many people and they are often easier to find.

No comments:

Post a Comment