The black strip is 100 feet long and made of felt. It represents all the time since the creation of the earth. It is undifferentiated except for that half-inch wide strip of red at the end. As she rolls out the black strip, the teacher tells the story of the earth's history, adding details such as when the earth's crust solidified, when life began, when fish first appeared in the sea, and when dinosaurs appeared and disappeared. The last half inch is red -- and represents the entire time period we humans have lived on earth. Dr. Montessori called this "a lesson in humility." Give elementary children the big picture, a cosmic perspective. Help them to appreciate their place in the universe and in human history and culture. Help them to understand the debt we all owe our forebears and the responsibility we have to each other in the present and to the people of the future. This lesson in humility is not just about being small. It is also about being large. We are significant; our actions matter.
Imagine my surprise when one of our teachers, Joseph Lockett, sent me this web site: a Montessori lesson done with toilet paper!
And on the "aren't we humans amazing!" front, that lesson comes from the Worsley School in northern Alberta. The internet has expanded our reach, our connectivity, the speed of our communication...and shrunk the earth.