The Black Strip


Do you remember that we said that a very, very long time ago there was absolutely nothing at all, just immense chaos and darkness?  That continued for a very long time, then something happened.


Unrolling the cloth relatively quickly


Into this measureless void of cold and darkness a vast, fiery cloud which included all the stars came into being.


Look back on how far we have come


The whole universe was in that cloud, and amongst the little drops that fell from it was our own sun.


Look back on how far we have come, its taken a very long time.


Then the stars spread out so that now they are millions of miles apart and it takes light years to travel across the universe so that we can see stars tonight in out sky.


Look back on how far we have come, we’ve unravelled so much.


At 10 approximately meters


On our Earth a scum formed crust, but it was still very, very hot on our Earth, surrounded by the cold darkness of space.


Do you remember that we said that all the particles in the Universe have special laws which they joyfully obey, so that they know what it is they need to do?


Look back on how far we have come, its taken so much time.


There was the Dance of the Elements, the heat was taken up into the cold air and cool air was brought down.


Look back on how far we have come.


The Earth slowly cooled, the volcanoes stopped and the Sun shined happily on the Earth.


At approximately 20 meters (moving a little slower)


Then a problem did begin, it rained and rained and rained and the water washed the rocks into the seas and the rocks were worn away and they started to poison the seas.


Do you remember what happened to solve the problem, yes the little blob of jelly that could move, sense things and feel things.


And what did it do? yes, it followed the laws given to it, to eat, grown and make more of itself.


Look back on how far we have come, see how far, we’ve come a very long way.

At 5 meters, going much slower


The blobs of jelly had only one cell and had to do all of the work, they got tired and decided that they should join together to do different tasks and make the work more efficient.


Look back on how far we have come.


What do you think we had when the blobs of jelly started working together, yes all those trilobites, the Cephalopods, with feet on their heads and the Crinoids, or sea lilies, which look like plants but are animals who live in stone towers.


Look back on how far we have come, so much time.


And then what happened?  Yes, Life continued to change and try new things; the marsh plants and the two other important experiments fish with a rod inside their body and coral, who clean the water of calcium carbonate beautiful islands and reefs.


Look back on how far we have come, such a long way.


Then what happened, yes some creatures decided to try living on the land, they made a sac inside their body to breathe with and had limbs instead of fins so they could move about easily on the land. They were called Amphibians, they had the first voice.


Then we had the reptiles, they needed to make new skin which could be dry and they put their young into hard eggs with shells.  They were very successful and grew to enormous sizes, imagine if the Dinosaurs fought, it would be terrifying.


Look back on how far we have come, such a long time.


What did the smaller creatures do? Yes, they moved to colder areas and they got hot blood and fur and they did a very special thing, yes they looked after their babies. What were they called?  Yes, bird and mammals. The mammals learnt to keep their babies inside them and to feed them with their own milk, because they took such good care of their young these creatures were very successful and became large and spread all over the Earth.


See how far we have come!


Then it was the turn of a very special creature – Humans. Do you remember the three important gifts humans had? Yes, a larger brain to think and imagine, hands to make things and a heart to love even people they hadn’t met. Now where it is red, this shows the amount of time it took for the Earth to prepare itself for Humans. That special creature was Humans, men, women and children, just like us!


Look how long it took for the Earth to be ready for Humans to live.


The Black Strip – Notes


To give the impression, through the material and interactive communication about the passage of time since the beginning of the Universe in contrast to the time of Humans on the Earth.


Material Description:

Thirty metres by 30 centimetre length of gabardine with a 1 cm red strip at the end wound around a dowel


Speaking slowly and pausing frequently to stress the length of time and distance from the beginning ask retell the story of ‘The Coming of Humans’ while asking the children question.  Refer back too both Great Stories

  • The first ten metres show the beginning of the Universe to the formation of the crust on the Earth.
  • The next fifteen metres show the evolution of the Earth until the formation of ‘blobs of jelly’ in response to the poisoning of the oceans and introduce the laws that govern them.
  • The last five metres tell the story of the development of all life forms since the amoeba, the coming of multicellular organisms, life in the sea, plants on land and the experiments with rod inside the body and coral reefs and the development of amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and the special gifts of humans.


  • The emphasis is on the time needed for a sequential preparation in the Universe for the coming of humans.
  • It allows for a comparison between the timetable of humans with the timeline of their Prepared Environment and allows for a contrast to be made.
  • It gives an impression of the length of time it took to prepare to sustain human life.



  • It gives a linear representation of time



  • The material was developed in India, it was originally a strip 300 metres long, representing the idea of 3,000 million years since the beginning of the Universe, and 50 centimetres wide.  It was unrolled along the streets, wound on a long spool between two bicycles.  Today it has been reduced to one-tenth of the size for practicality.
  • This is a piece of undated impressionistic material, presented with a dramatic tale, focusing on the content rather than the style


When to give the lesson:

This is an early key lesson, given after the Story of the ‘God with No Hands’ and ‘The Coming of Life’, and before the ‘Coming of Humans’, it is designed for younger children, older children are welcome to participate, helping with the unrolling and listening may revive their interest in a different aspect of the lesson.


After the lesson:

Leave the strip available for children to continue to absorb for some time, do not quiz the children on the events.  Answer any questions the children have at the end.


Follow up work:

This prepares for the Story of ‘The Coming of Humans’ which is told directly after it, the children may wish to reuse this material after ‘The Coming of Humans’ to further analyse it.

Children may enjoy measuring or walking the line and researching the creatures mentioned.

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  1. Julie Anderson says:

    Thank you for this. The only issue I see is that I thought the long black strip only included what happened once the Earth formed (about 4.6 billion years ago). The Big Bang was supposed to have happened over 13 billion years ago, which would make for a really, really long strip. Am I wrong?

  2. Julie, thanks for taking the time to comment and for visiting montessoricommons.cc. I’ll get Rachel (the writer of these essays) to look at your question and get back to you tonight. I’m sorry for the delay, but we do this part time around our day jobs!

    However, please feel free to ask any more questions if you wish. We’d be happy to help.
    We are about to introduce some new features that will make Montessori Commons a much more engaging. If you are interested in trying them out, please sign up to our mailing list in the footer of the site.
    Hope you’re well,

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