When we as Montessori teachers understand and acknowledge that third year students have so much stored in their minds via the absorbent mind, the sensitive periods, lessons, observations, touch, work, communal conversations and the freedom to explore over the years then we must provide the opportunity for them to reveal, to display and to express for themselves and for the entire community some of what they have gathered, like Frederick.
I must also state that these student need space, a lot of space - like a graduate student having their own lab table or office. And like our assistants protect us during presentations from other children attempting to get our attention, we need to protect these children and serve as their assistants in so much as providing and preparing materials, listening to their plans and how they hope to achieve them, allowing them to not participate in circle time or with specialists. I watched one child on Friday leap from one thought to another and it was like watching a small bird grow the wings of an eagle. I felt as if I was witnessing a great mind at work: Picasso, Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, Maria Montessori. This student working recalled these great minds yet most important his uniqueness - his voice - was the constant.
More than once I returned to his table to glimpse his work and felt tears crest along the ridge of my eyes. I had to walk away. I had to turn back and allow myself to be enveloped by the other children and their immediate and ever constant needs. Near the end of the day, I sat with a young four year old and witnessed her own leap or explosion into writing which was so acutely expressed when she said to me, "I'm not done. I have more to write."
Tracing a starfish to find a pentagon:
I next sliced an apple through its center to show that there was a star. Another pentagon was discovered within the apple!
As I noted in the first few paragraphs of this post, the third year student whose work had me on the verge of tears spent nearly every minute of four three-hour work periods drawing the superimposed geometric figures last week. This would ultimately serve as perliminary work for the pentagon presentation. See below:
This particular third year student was now sitting in a circle with his other classmates watching me like a hawk. I moved away from the small chowki with the starfish work still on display and reached for a pile of construction paper pentagons that I had cut during my afternoon class the day before. I gave each child three or four paper pentagons that were mostly made from black construction paper. The others (only a handful) were cut from a variety of colors. I was wonderfully pleased at what the children collectively created.
The end results of the class working as a team.
After the pentagon presentation, I handed the student who had done so much work with the superimposed geometric figures a stack of construction paper pentagons to explore. It was then that he lept from taking in all the information via his hand to using that same hand to construct, manipulate, move and finally fix into place a single construct that represents: math, art, movement, color wheel, dance and so much more. Here are some photos of the work as it unfolded: