Searching for the ideal way to introduce children to the knowledge and appreciation of peoples who lived (and live) honoring the Earth as a way of life.
Montessori encouraged the appreciation of indigenous cultures through an examination of features, dress, housing and the like. Without direct contact, of course, this approach is only available through photographs that are wonderfully rich but lacking in the hands-on involvement so important to a child’s enjoyment and learning. Last summer we took the approach of looking at Creation Stories from different cultures and implementing the (abundant) literature with projects: making cloth bowls, clay animals, stringing necklaces and making rattles, etc. The final and by far most popular was the group project: making the Native American-inspired Bear/frog (as the children named it)- a lovely drawing/design that we enlarged to about 3 feet. Everyone had a part in the coloring and construction.
This summer we will take a step further into cultural anthropology with a theme of: That Which Unites Us: Celebrations. Looking across cultures there appears to be the consistent use of music, dance, costume, food, reverence, and a joining of peoples to remember commonly- shared joy.
We will begin this lovely adventure with the creation of Balinese offerings- a most beautiful ritual of the Balinese people -creating woven and sewn baskets in which are placed fresh flowers, a food offering, and incense. These are constructed twice daily and placed everywhere: doorsteps, on shrines, in front of shops, in homes, on bicycles, everywhere! Our children will be able to take their carefully-assembled “offerings” to their homes along with a beautiful stick of Sandlewood incense brought directly from Bali!.
Next we will be looking at the cultural use of “fetishes” and making them in the classroom…please stay tuned!