Anna Encarnacao is Director of Early Childhood and Montessori Specialist at the Mango Tree Montessori Lab in Mantova, Italy, which she also co-founded. Here Anna shares ideas for integrating Cubetto with other topics across the curriculum, with elements of science and art. You can follow the school on Facebook.
Here at the Lab, we are passionate about learning. What sparks it, how it happens, and what we can do to promote it.
Every day, children are encouraged to bring up their interests and to explore with all kinds of materials.
As a result, we have learned that intrinsic motivation is the key. Also, that an intertwined environment, where children are free to move around and that has a direct connection to the real world, fosters not just the acquisition of concepts but also a whole lot of personal competencies.
This was exactly what we experienced last week when we first introduced our children to the solar system.
We knew they love coding with Cubetto, so we decided to see what would happen if we left it easily accessible just as we do with the art and Montessori materials.
We used pictures and books to start the conversation about our solar system. Then, we asked them to create their own universe based on what they had just learned. That was when the magic began.
They used fruits and vegetables together with an array of art supplies to create planets, suns, moons and other space elements.
Then, when we asked about the dynamics of their new universe, they immediately thought about Cubetto. Then they started to create different orbits, asteroid pathways, and satellite functions.
During the activity, the children improved their English vocabulary, which is huge since we are in Italy, recognized and recalled the name and characteristics of the planets present in our solar system, and compared it to the ones they had created with the art materials.
They even initiated conversations about the possibility and implications of finding life in other planets, and how they would go about coding a space mission for a real rocket that could be launched directly from the Lab! They also discussed what could happen if they messed up the coding and Cubetto ended up out of the map: would he find himself in another galaxy?
In the end, as well as learning about our solar system, exercising their cognitive skills and critical thinking, the children noticeably improved their coding. A real blast!