Our Solar System Part 3: Montessori Curriculum Arts


This is Part Three of my Montessori Curriculum series, "Our Solar System thru The Arts." You can read Part One by clicking HERE, and Part Two by clicking HERE.

This article includes:
 1) Ideas for some lovely (and lively) Mixed Media Art Activities that reinforce learning about the Solar System
 2) Suggestions for Circle songs, games, and musical drama play featuring Our Solar System and an outer space theme
 3) Playing rhythm instruments to create a music piece based on "The Planets" from the British composer Gustav Holst
 4) Information about my TpT packet, "Solar System thru The Arts Vol. 3"


Structured Art Activities Set Up 
on their Own Trays
Many years ago, the children in my group were busy making their own little paper machete models of the planets in Our Solar System, and one four-year-old girl decided to turn her "planets" into a Solar System necklace. She quickly proceeded to gather some materials from the free choice art shelf and before I knew it, she had made her necklace and had hung it around her neck! 

Hers was quite a bulky piece of jewelry...but it gave me yet another  idea for the children to create solar system art. Every year after that, during our studies of the Solar System, I would provide actual beads of varying colors and sizes for the children to make Solar System necklaces.

A Montessori colleague of mine from the 1990's came up with a really beautiful way of creating a simple child-made solar system Mobile. The children in her group began making a series of circles from the Montessori Geometric Cabinet and assigning each one to a planet in our Solar System. Then, my teacher friend helped the children create a "Vertical Mobile" with the "Sun" at the top and the rest of the planets hanging in order below the sun. (Geometric Cabinet photo from Adena Montessori)

When my group saw these Mobiles, they loved this idea and eventually "Vertical Solar System Mobiles" were hanging all over our Montessori School! 

There are many other ways for children to create circles for a Vertical Solar System Mobile.

In the Montessori environment, children can trace around different sized knobbed cylinders (or the knobless cylinders, too) to create the components for a Vertical Solar System Mobile. (Photo from Adena Montessori)

Even drawing templates from the local art supply store can be used to create different sized circles for a Vertical Solar System Mobile.
In my TpT Montessori Activity Pack, "Solar System thru The Arts Vol. 3," I have created templates and a beautiful control chart for downloading and printing off for children to create these fun Vertical Solar System Mobiles. 

My groups have always enjoyed making these circles with the pin-poking technique so that the edges of their "paper planets" are not so smooth and look more like the real photos of planets from the NASA site. 

Free Form Art 
from the Free Choice Art Shelf 
In the Montessori environment, I think it is important to set up a free-choice area of the art shelf where children can choose  materials from a variety of art media and then create their own unique pieces.
Once Montessori children are accustomed to having a free choice art area, they develop skills not only in creative arts, but also in organizing and implementing their own little engineering projects that never cease to amaze me. 

For years, I taught a bunch of international children whose parents worked at the Scandia Lab in Livermore, CA and I think these little ones got lots of encouragement from their families to organize their own creative projects just like their innovative engineer parents were doing each day at their work in the lab.

With so many tools available to the children in a Montessori environment, we are fortunate to be able to offer them what is necessary to "engineer" their creative ideas into reality. 

One 4-yr-old in my group spent an entire morning making a space ship from the Montessori geometric design insets and the geometric insets from the Geometric Cabinet.

It is a well-known fact that young children learn through play, and I can say from experience that learning through the art of play is the easiest way for me, myself to learn as well! 

Making Music, Drama, Dance, Singing Songs, Making Art, and Storytelling are some of the most effective ways to really explore new ideas and absorb abstract concepts. The Arts really do bring things to life!

Our Solar System is a concept that is "bigger than life," actually, and even though it is intriguing for young children, I think it is important to bring as many concrete experiences as possible to this area of your Montessori curriculum studies.

Showing large Visuals that represent Our Solar System are helpful and also help to organize this bigger than life concept into a manageable picture in the mind hold in your hand and take a closer look.

Photo from Deposit Photo

"The Sun Takes the Planets" Circle Game
Over the years, my groups have really loved our Circle Game for the Planets of Our Solar System that is based on Farmer-in-the-Dell song and game. It starts with the line: "The Sun takes Mercury...Hi-ho the Derry-o..." and proceeds through all the planets!

Adding face-painting or costumes has always been a very fun part of this activity for my groups. 

How about some lovely "Planet Crowns" or masks? You can get the templates and step-by-step lesson plan in my TpT packet.  (see the Vol. 3 link below) 

CLICK HERE to see the description of this packet at my TpT store. And, scroll down to see my Solar System BUNDLE where you'll get all 3 of my "Solar System thru The Arts" Packets for just $10. 

And, you can always place some authentic costumes into your environment to enhance the experiences with Our Solar System. These are really fun for outdoor drama play. I have found many cultural and community helper dress-ups at consignment shops around Halloween. Adding props like flashlights, gloves and boots gives the children a "real-life" experience!

Instrument Play-Along  
Creating a little dramatic and musical performance based on the music from Gustav Holst's "The Planets" can be a great hands-on learning experience for young children. 

Album available at iTunes and Amazon 

~ First, you can play excerpts from the album and ask children to listen for the rhythm instruments they hear in each selection.
~ Next, pass rhythm instruments out for the children to play during the various song selections from the album.
~ Then, the children can play their particular instruments during the musical pieces that feature their instruments.

EXTENSION: Assign a rhythm instrument to each of the 8 planets of Our Solar System and then group children into 8 groups. Each group represents a planet and that group of children plays the instruments that are designated for that planet. Then, tell a story about visiting the planets as the children play their instruments for each planet. 

Here is my list of the rhythm instruments to listen for in Holst's "The Planets":

1. "Mercury, The Winged Messenger"  Bells 
2. "Venus, The Bringer of Peace" Glockenspiel
3. "Mars, The Bringer of War" Drums, Rhythm Sticks
4. "Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity" Rhythm Sticks, Maracas, Tambourines, Glockenspiel
5. "Saturn, The Bringer of Old Age" Rhythm Sticks
6. "Uranus, The Magician" Cymbals, Xylophone
7. "Neptune, The Mystic" Maracas, tinkling Bells

GET ALL 3 of my TpT Solar System Packets FREE

You can get my TpT Solar System BUNDLE for FREE when you enroll in my Musically Montessori eCourse at Trillium Montessori Courses until Jan. 31, 2018. That means you get my eCourse and my TpT packet all for $125. And, this is the last time my eCourse will be offered at that price! Course cost goes up to $175 after January.

Thank you again for visiting my Blog today. I hope you and your group enjoy these activities!

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