The First Peas to the Table Experience Week at Harborlight Montessori School
What is an Experience Week? At Harborlight Montessori School, they are trying something new. Check out Experience Weeks in their own words:
Hands-on learning is an essential element of Montessori education. Students learn to research questions, think critically, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively to master core academic content. Moving beyond the walls of the classroom to local institutions and to the natural landscapes of the North Shore presents new and in-depth ways to investigate, understand and learn.
Experience Weeks provide a balance of learning by doing, creating and making. It’s a time for going out into the world, learning independence, interdependence, and the connection between all things and oneself. It’s a time for learning you.
I was honored to lead and facilitate two Experience Weeks in March. Take a peek.
The children’s book called First Peas to the Table: How Thomas Jefferson Inspired a School Garden by Susan Grigsby inspired our Experience Week. Thomas Jefferson, our third president, held a pea-growing contest with his neighbors every spring. The first person to have a bowl of peas ready to bring to the table was declared the winner and would invite his neighbors over dinner that included a dish of peas. Our Experience Week was full of STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, art, and math) activities inspired by Grigsby’s book.
SCIENCE: Thomas Jefferson loved gardening. After exploring a variety of peas and all the different names, children created different experiments. We germinated peas in bags in the light, partial light and the darkness. We also planted seeds in soil, made a garden in a glove, and soaked peas in water overnight.
TECHNOLOGY: Thomas Jefferson was also an inventor. This inspired us to tap into our engineering skills for our Invention Convention where children were challenged to design a plant trellis. They learned that peas do best with a support structure to climb up.
READING & writing: Each day children observed the growth of their peas and spent time writing and drawing in their beautiful, hand-made scientific nature journals.
ART: By the end of the week, the Art room began to explode with creative projects. Some favorites included garden sign making, outdoor snow garden, and a beautiful large stick frame to hold all our pictures.
MATH: Thomas Jefferson designed his garden in 3 categories: Roots, Fruits, and Leaves. This prompted us to examine, taste, and categorize carrots, cabbage, lettuce, radish, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, celery, onions, potatoes, and peas. Counting seeds, graphing a garden, measuring how far to plant each seed was fun!
Planting peas in March can be tricky when snow is on the ground. This inspired our group to take a closer look at the weather and before we knew it we were making a weather station. Did our zip lock bags with water freeze over night? Was the wind blowing our bells and windsocks?
This Experience Week was led by Victoria Hackett, M.Ed, founder of Outdoor-Classrooms.com and Katya Rendon-Dosal, Spanish teacher extraordinaire.