Learning by Doing

By: Melanie Thiesse

Through the use of hands-on materials and teachers who are willing to teach by asking more questions, students in a Montessori classroom are encouraged to experience and learn from the world around them.

Just this week we were learning about sound in the Kindergarten class. It started with a group conversation that began when one student asked why when he moves his mouth sometimes sound comes out (words) and other times no sound comes out. From there, we were able to talk about our vocal chords and children rested their hands gently on their necks while speaking and whispering to feel the vocal chords when they were vibrating and when they were at rest. The children were astonished to learn that sound is made (and heard) through vibrations!

The next day the children were delighted to find several new activities in the science area. There was a diagram of the parts of the ear, a few books about hearing, and materials for making a telephone out of paper cups and string. But this is just where the learning began!

Because the children were given the tools to learn, rather than the answers of how sound moves through objects, the children started to experiment with the tools they were given. Soon children were making telephones out of different types and sizes of cups, changing the string to yarn, and creating very long strings to see just how far their voices could carry. They also discovered that the cups amplified more than just their voices and soon were making musical instruments out of their telephones, strumming and plucking the strings to make different sounds. They even discovered that the farther away you plucked the string from the cup, the more the tone of the sound changed!

All of this experimenting brought up more and more questions about how sound worked and with each new question, a new experiment was invented by the children to discover the answer.

This is the real purpose of education, to inspire thinkers, creators, analyzers, collaborators, and learners.

The joy and smiles of our children strengthen our commitment to a Montessori learning environment. Westmont, founded in 1964, stands as one of the premier Montessori schools in NJ. We welcome you to discover our school.