The European Connection: Creative Connections in Lower Elementary

An open environment for making connections.
An open environment for making connections.

“The essence of creativity is to be able to disassemble and recombine elements in new ways.” – Adele Diamond, Canada Research Chair Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, University of British Columbia

Presenting European biome brochures.
Presenting European biome brochures.

Connective thinking, which is considered to be the foundation of true creativity, happens easily and organically in the Lower Elementary Montessori environment. At any given moment, a diverse range of topics are being studied and pursued by the children, and more than one lesson could be taking place. All students do not learn a particular subject at a particular time; instead, individual students or small groups of children are invited to lessons while the rest of the children go about their own independent learning pursuits.

A world of ways to say hello!
A world of ways to say hello!

Connective thinking is also actively encouraged through integrative curricula and lesson-building: Currently, the LED class is studying the continent of Europe, and this focus anchors the webwork of our studies in Literature, the Physical and Life Sciences, as well as Cultural subjects, including Geography and History.

The children have worked on learning different ways to say hello in different European languages, and created various flags and greetings to decorate our community display board in the classroom. Already, the class has enjoyed a few independently-researched presentations on various European countries, almost always with the application of ICT skills on their Powerpoint presentations. Our story circle and novel study groups will be focusing on the work of notable children’s authors from Europe.

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Creating a biome booklet.

Much of our studies in the Life Sciences focus on the different biomes found on our planet. Some students have been enjoying writing and illustrating mini-booklets about the animals and plants that live in the various European biomes, using biome reader sets that reinforce their knowledge of sounds as well as sequence. Other children use more complex and dense biome research cards to write down facts in their own words, and record connections or questions they have about what they have learned. Some children have used the research cards to create “travel” brochures about different European countries, focusing on the different ways that humans have adapted to life in various biomes found on the continent.

 

Demonstrating Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion.
Demonstrating Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion.

Science and History have become natural partners in our study of famous European scientists and inventors. Over the past few weeks, the children have learned about the remarkable lives of Galileo Galilei (Italy) and Sir Isaac Newton (England), and have explored their important discoveries through various Science experiments on ‘Gravity’ and the ‘Laws of Motion’. We will be continuing to learn about scientists this month, including Marie Curie (Poland), Louis Pasteur (France), and of course, Maria Montessori (Italy), and will be moving on to famous European artists and explorers after that.

By making the learning environment a conducive space for connective thinking, and by actively facilitating opportunities for the children to make connections across various subjects, we are fostering true creativity!

 

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