The first plane child explored the world sensorially with her absorbent mind. The second plane child’s exploration is different; it is powered by the imagination and the intellect. Now there are no limits of either time or space. Her explorations take her back into time and across continents, down to the tiniest atoms and cells and up to the stars. These are the years to stir up the imagination, to give the child a chance to see what is not there using her mind’s eye. Through this gift the child can see the great diversity of life; she can picture how humans beings came to be and how life, the world and the universe all function in an interconnected harmony.
The child of this age needs the extraordinary. They need experiences of wonder and mystery, and imagination is a tool for exploring this. Much of the extraordinary she encounters are the achievements of the wonderful mind of the human being. The children cannot know the Sumerian who invented the wheel, but through their imagination they can get close to that person, and experience gratitude for their contribution.
Stories hold a great appeal to all ages. Young children, in the first 6 years of life, tend to prefer stories about every day life in the here and how. But for these older children stories now hold a new magic, and many Montessori lessons for this age begin with a story that appeals to the imagination. Here’s one about photosynthesis:
Have you ever wondered how a plant eats? Well I’ve got a story about just that. The leaf makes the food for the plant. In each leaf there contains water, and in each drop of water we have two hydrogens and one oxygen. With the help of the sun, the green part of the leaf helps to separate those hydrogens and oxygens. Then the hydrogens are mixed with a gas that comes in from the air, and this gas is called carbon dioxide.
The carbon dioxide and the hydrogen are then cooked into plant food using light from the sun – this is why plants grow towards the light. Finally the oxygen that was not used is thrown away out of the leaf as waste.