So let’s say that you are gearing up to teach a Montessori science lesson (such as one of the phenomenal lessons found in Montessori Laboratory!). You could easily look through the online classroom and find a lesson you want your learner or group of learners to watch. Or maybe you’re a teacher who wants to review the lesson so that you can demonstrate it live. And maybe, just maybe, you aren’t sure where or how to start. The following is a list of things you can do before, during, and after the lesson, in order to offer the most impactful experience.
Before the Lesson
Before the lesson, you’ll want to ask the children some questions. The purpose of these questions is to activate prior knowledge, ignite their curiosity, and support engagement. Let’s say that you are presenting a lesson on the solar system. You can ask the child the following:
- What do you know about the solar system?
- What do you know about the sun?
- What do you know about planets?
- What do you want to know about the sun and the planets in our solar system?
From these questions, you can ask more questions. When asking children questions, better than having a list to refer to, it’s good to have a few questions in mind, and then respond to their answers with additional questions. You don’t want this to be too lengthy of a process, but you also want to take a few minutes to ask them some questions to see what they know.
If they say they don’t know anything, let them know that this is wonderful, because you have the perfect lesson for them!
During the Montessori Science Lesson
If your learner is watching a video lesson, you can encourage them to do a few different things in order to engage with the lesson:
- Have the learner watch the video twice (or more!), to get repeated exposure of the content.
- Watch with the learner, stop the video and talk about a point of interest that you observed, then resume the video. The beauty of video is that you can start and stop along the way!
- Invite the learner to draw illustrations of things they see. They can stop and rewind, drawing a still frame of an image they especially like!
- Invite the learner to write down new words that they hear. This can eventually become a list of vocabulary words they can define! Especially for young students, they might write the word down using inventive spelling. That’s okay! You can then make a list of the words spelled correctly, and they can make a little booklet of the words, and perhaps some accompanying illustrations as well.
- Invite the learner to take notes. Help them listen to keywords. They can write 3-5 words from every sentence, or write brief sentences or phrases.
- Invite the learner to write down any questions they have. Have them write on a piece of paper the words “Who, what, when, where, why, and how?” They can then use this as a reference that will help prompt them with questions as they write them down.
You can also utilize many of these suggestions if you give the lesson to them instead of having them watch the video.
After the Montessori Science Lesson
- Ask the learner to discuss what they learned with you or with others who watched the lesson.
- Invite the learner to write a one-sentence summary about what they learned.
- Invite the learner to replicate any demonstrations from the lesson.
- Invite the learner to choose a follow-up activity in the activities section, or have them come up with an idea on their own! Follow-up ideas include posters, booklets, dioramas, sculptures, PowerPoint presentations…the options are endless!
Before the Experiment
Before the learner begins the experiment, they will want to be sure to gather all necessary equipment! Have them look at what they need for the experiment, and then gather everything together. In the classroom, it’s great to have a tray to put the materials on so that it is all in one place as they retrieve the materials from various parts of the room. If they are at home, they should have their science stuff generally in one place, but it’s still not a bad idea to have a tray where they can collect the materials they need! Whether you are a teacher or a parent, it’s important to expect the children to gather these things themselves. It leads to greater responsibility and independence.
During the Experiment
This is a time that you will want to support them in working independently and let them make discoveries for themselves. If they involve you by asking questions or initiating discussions, respond to them but let them take the lead. This is their exploration time, and their hands-on experiences help to cement their learning.
After the Experiment
You might want to have them fill out a science experiment sheet, or write a reflection of what they’ve learned, but don’t force it! Particularly if you are homeschooling, having a conversation about the experience is more than enough. If you are at a school that needs documentation, then you might need an experiment sheet. There are also many other ideas that can serve as documentation instead!
Be sure that the learners wash the materials they used, and put them away. Don’t forget this step, and resist doing this step for them. This helps them to complete the cycle of work, which helps support their executive functioning and self-regulation.
One thing you may want to do is ask them what they would like to learn about next time! Let them see the options, and help them select the next topic of learning. Some topics have a natural progression, but every Montessori science lesson relates to and builds on the others to uncover the mysteries of the universe.
The Following Days
Your learner may have chosen a follow-up activity that spans a few days. And if not, they might still want to do more. Doing more could look like watching the video lesson again (or as a refresher if you gave the lesson to them the first time), repeating the science experiment again, and/or choosing a new follow-up activity. Elementary children love to repeat science experiments, and even those who won’t naturally do so might if encouraged. Asking them “Do you think the same thing will happen again?” Can inspire them to give it another go. Encouraging them to repeat the experiments a few times further imbeds the learning experience!
The cycle of a Montessori science lesson involves much more than having a child watch a presentation. It also includes preparation time before the lesson, open-ended questions, opportunities to repeat the lesson, and opportunities for ongoing activity. If you plant seeds of interest with engaging questions, your learner will be primed with enthusiasm and excitement, and their science lesson will be a high-impact experience.
Try Montessori Laboratory’s Hands-on Science Lessons for Free
Are you interested in seeing what Montessori Laboratory’s big-picture lessons, hands-on experiments, and engaging science activities are all about? Check out the free lessons below!