Setting the Scene;
Do you remember that we said that a very, very long time ago there was absolutely nothing at all, just immense chaos and darkness, and then, into this measureless void of cold and darkness a vast, fiery cloud which included all the stars came into being. The whole universe was in that cloud, and amongst the little drops that fell from it was our own sun. 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. And we said that there are just so many millions of stars out there in our Universe, and our Sun is our special star that the Earth goes around. 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? Our Earth formed, it’s surface hardened like the scum on milk and the Earth began to cool, later the volcanoes stopped and the Sun shined happily on the Earth.
Well after a while a problem did begin, you see 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. At first the rocks blamed the water for soaking them and moving then and wearing them away, but the water explained that it was just following the laws it had been given, saying, “The rocks heat me up I rise and disappear into the air, when the air cools me I fall down again. When I see a hollow or a crevice in the rocks I go into it, when the air blows me I have to move, its not my fault the rocks are being worn away, it’s the airs! I’m just following the laws I’ve been given” When the air heard this it replied, “I cover the Earth in blankets, all around it’s big tummy at the middle and it’s cold head and feet, water likes to jump on my back and I take it for a ride, when I come to the rocks I have to climb over them and the mountains are very high. I get tired and I can’t carry all the water so I have to put it down, when the rocks are hot it’s even worse, I get so tired. It’s not my fault, I’m just doing my job, following the laws” and the rocks said, “We are just doing our job, following our law to stay together in one place, I am always being heated up by the Sun and worn away by the rain, it’s not my fault I am breaking down and poisoning the sea!” And, you see the Sun heating up the rocks is just doing it’s jobs and the water, air and rocks are just doing their job too. So it was no-ones fault but the sea was becoming poisoned, so what could the solution be?
Well the Earth began an experiment and made little blobs of jelly, so little you can hardly see them but they could move, sense things and feel things. They began to work very hard cleaning all of the poisonous water. The Great Spirit gave them rules to “Eat, grown and make more of themselves” and they obeyed this happily. 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. Some blobs found the water itchy and made shells from the salt to cover them like little jackets, this made them heavy and they fell to the bottom of the water in layers and layers.
We have a scroll to tell us what happened next, do you want to see?
(Begin unravelling scroll to reveal first or first two ages)
(Point out some examples beginning with early life)
- Here we can see a blob of jelly, which we can call an amoeba
- Here are trilobites, with many cells and three lobes, who multiplied and were large and small
- This is a Cephalopods, with hard shells and feet on their heads
- We have Crinoids, or sea lilies, which look like plants but are animals who live in stone towers
Life continued to change and try new things;
- (Indicating marsh plants) Some plants wanted to live on land and made food out of the gases in the air and from sunshine
- (Indicate the fish and corals) In water two other important experiments happened, some fish wanted to see what it would be like not to have a shell but to have a rod inside their body. Here is coral, these little creatures clean the water of poisons (calcium carbonate) while making beautiful islands and reefs on the bottom of the sea. The coral stayed still and couldn’t chase food so the fish that swim past it waft food in their direction.
Some creatures decided to try living on the land, now that there were some plants for them to eat. The fishes had been breathing with gills, to breathe outside of the water the creatures decided to make a sac inside their body. They had limbs instead of fins so they could move about easily on the land. They were called Amphibians. They still needed to live near to the water because they needed to keep their skin moist and they lay their eggs in water. There was the first voice when the frog croaked, before then the only sounds were those made by the air, water and rocks; the whoosh of sea, the wind through the trees and the crash of thunder.
The land changed, mountains were pushed up and some of the creatures were cut off from the ocean, they decided to live on the land. They were 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. Show the chart of Diplodocus, This Dinosaur is just massive, see how big he is compared with a human being, now human beings didn’t live at the same time as Dinosaurs this is just so you can imagine how big Diplodocus was. He was so long he had two brains, one in his head and one in his tail. Show the chart of Tyrannosaurus Rex, This Dinosaur is also enormous, she is really tall! She was also very fierce, imagine if the Dinosaurs fought, that would shake all the earth. It would be terrifying. Remember people didn’t exist when the Dinosaurs did, but lots of small creatures did and they moved out of the way so that they would be comfortable and safe. They moved to colder areas and they got hot blood so that they would have energy even when it wasn’t sunny, and fur to keep them warm. Some flew and were birds, they looked after their eggs and kept them warm by sitting on them for such a long time, even when they felt hungry. Other animals 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, even walking over the ice to make their new homes. We call them mammals.
Then it was the turn of a very special creature, who had no fur coat and no sharp teeth and not even any claws, but had three important gifts, a larger brain to think and imagine, an upright posture so she could use hands to make things and a heart to love even people he hadn’t met.
That special creature was Humans, men, women and children, just like us!
Look back over the timeline See how long it took to go from the first jelly blob to humans, maybe if humans had come any earlier they wouldn’t have been able to survive. “If the Earth had a voice it could have said, ‘I have spread a thick carpet at your feet so that you can walk on softer ground, I have put flowers in my hair and covered myself with jewels, my cupboards are full of milk and honey and down in the cellar their is coal and iron. I am ready for you to come’” (Mario Montessori)
The Coming of Life – Notes
Mario Montessori observed a transformation in children who saw plants and animals as having a Cosmic Task, they see a spiritual unity which awakens gratitude and a desire to contribute. Emphasis that life is driven by meeting survival needs efficiently and moving towards independence.
While doing this work keep in mind the main thread of Cosmic Education; each type of life living to its own satisfaction, appearing selfish while contributing to the Cosmic Plan (to the environment, other creatures and unborn generations).
The Timeline of Life and two charts of large dinosaurs, (1) Diplodocus (2) Tyrannosaurus Rex
A blank chart with packets of loose material arranged according to periods
Give sufficient information to arouse the interest, engage curiosity and promote the question, ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’ so the children wish to follow up with their own activity, don’t satisfy all of their interest. The children are encouraged to wonder, “What does a creature do to benefit others? How have they/do they contribute?”
- To give the impression of the coming of life in its various forms – each living independently while serving the whole.
Control of Error:
- The child’s own knowledge
The chart can be hung temporarily on a wall, or laid out on a long shelf at which the children can work or laid out on the floor.
When to give the lesson:
Present this a few days after ‘The God with No Hands’, to a group of children.
Cosmic Implications of the lesson:
This is a Story of a continuous, sequential process of events and not a factual list, at it’s core are the following cosmic ideas which show the interplay of life and the environment.
- That life arises as a response to a real problem and that it comes with a set of rules, to further order the universe.
- That life conducted a series of experiments starting with the specialisation of cells.
- The unconscious goal (Cosmic Task) to contribute to the benefit of each life form and the unravelling of this plan as each creature fulfils its own needs, finding satisfaction in service.
- Obedience to the laws has created harmony, we can imagine the chaos if one life form had not obeyed the laws.
- This Story tells no particular theory, rather it attempts to explain the reasons behind things
- It shows the child in relation to the Universe, so that each child of six years has the chance to realise that they are part of life and society.
- The characteristic of Hero Worship at this age is positively served and satisfied by the presentation of ideas which appeal to the second plane child’s sense of justice, compassion and idealism.
Follow up work:
- The material may be available on the wall, or the children may take it out to examine it, when they do discuss areas of interest with them informally, leave the children time to review it in groups and add information to certain parts which demand their attention gradually.
- Children may like to be shown how the red lines show the appearance, rise and decline of groups of life forms, the red lines stabilise and continue after the Carboniferous Period, towards the end there is a different red line for amphibians, reptiles, insects, birds and mammals
- Investigate the local fossil record
- After the ‘Clock of Eras’ may be used to investigate;
- The names of the different Eras- Palaeozoic (old life) Mesozoic (middle life ) Cainozoic (recent life)
- The different Ages Invertebrates, fishes and amphibians (in the sea, coloured blue), the reptiles (brown) and mammals (green)
- The different Periods which indicate where the first fossils were found
- Some children may be interested in the charts of land movements which connect to Geography
- The four triangles of ice show the periods of glaciers and the inter-glacial periods between them
- Coal and Iron may be discussed in relation tot he Carboniferous period
- The topic of invertebrates
- Take field trips to ancient sites, to see geo;logical features, to see fossils
- Reading and Writing activities include;
- Writing up own research in the child’s own words and illustrating it
- Making booklets about various animals on the timeline
- Writing stories about particular periods in time and activities which may have been happening then.
- Use the Blank Chart NOT for copying but to allow less fluent children to mechanically read and reconstruct the known chart after many visits to the timeline.