maria montessori
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For two months, I've been telling myself that I am going to dedicate a few of the shelves in the "Science" area to experiments. I have made lists of what I'm supposed to buy for each and every activity. I couldn't find iron powder, then I couldn't find a certain type of magnets, etc., so I kept postponing.

Last weeks, I gave up the lists and I started to gather various unused materials from school, from home, from other colleagues, and I've managed to create a few activities where children can do simple experiments, but fascinating even for us, adults: water balance, magnet, objects that float or sink, iron powder and sand, water and air, electricity, and other.

Why are these activities useful both in the classroom and at home?

In the classroom, I've noticed, especially in the transition phase (when children enter a cycle), that children are fascinated by these activities and the accommodation is much easier for both the child, and for you, as a teacher. And then, at this age (approximately 3), they don't ask questions like: "Why is it like this and not otherwise?", they simply watch, astonished. This does not mean that these activities are no longer useful or interesting for those who are preparing for primary school. Quite on the contrary, around 5 to 6 years of age, they resume these experiments and start asking themselves questions: "What is it that causes this reaction?" "How is that possible?" Thus, they can be easily introduced to the secrets of physics, chemistry, etc. They can be shown where to find the answers and explanations for each phenomenon, of course, in a way that they would understand. Once the question launched, they are clearly ready to find out more, and we have to help them discover all answers.

How is it useful at home? Well, because they are always eager to experiment all sorts of things. So, why not offer them the opportunity to experiment interesting things that pose no danger? In addition, I can guarantee that it will be a nice experience for you, too.

I remember when I've first seen these experiments at the training, in Paris: they hadn't been presented to us, yet, but we were allowed to research. I've stopped in front of a tray holding two small glass bowls, a larger one and a thin cylinder, of about 4-5 cm. In one of the bowls there was black powder, and in the other very fine sand. The larger bowl was empty. I stopped and watched for about 5 minutes, wondering what it was that I could do with all those things.

Out of curiosity, I've poured the black dust in the larger bowl and then the sand. The next second I panicked thinking how I was to separate the sand from the black powder! To be honest, I've told myself I had spoilt the whole "Feng Shui” of the ambiance.

I went to one of the teachers and asked for help. He smiled and said: "Come, I'll show you." He took the cylinder and placed it above the glass bowl with the mixture: just as a charm, the black powder lifted and stuck to the cylinder, which actually was a magnet. The black powder was iron powder.

Sometimes, even us adults can be pleasantly surprised by the simplest things, but not when we are told about them or when they explain them to us, but when we can actually see them unfolding before our eyes. And then, as N. Iorga said: "The root of beliefs is experience."


The link below will take you to a website with various experiments. It is in French, but I still hope you will find it useful.égorie:Expérience