OMS has an Art Resource Room for Elementary students’ use. The room has a wide variety of art materials on display and available to students, such as clay, watercolours, acrylics, charcoal, paper-making and marbling. While small groups of students are given group lessons on such things as calligraphy, drawing, painting, sculpting, sewing, book making, etc., and learn about artists like Rembrandt, Picasso, Bateman, and The Group of Seven, individual students may sign out of their classroom and visit the Art Resource Room to work on an art form of their choice. There is often a variety of students in the Art Resource Room doing a variety of art for a variety of purposes (to support a class project, as a gift, greeting or thank you card). Having a space dedicated to art but available to students throughout the day helps our students experience art as an integral part of their lives.
In a Montessori classroom, students are free to work on their choice of activity after lessons and with whom they will collaborate but they must demonstrate engagement in the work. Music is one of the many subjects a student can choose to explore. We use the ukulele to facilitate this exploration of music. The ukulele has a mellow tone that lends itself well to a classroom setting. It is not unusual to have the soft, background sound of the ukulele fill our Upper Elementary classrooms. Students play in the halls, the classroom, and often perform for other classes. In addition to exploring the ukulele on their own accord, all students receive weekly lessons in small groups from a professional jazz musician. Music pieces presented during these lessons are immediately ready on the shelf for the students to use. We have ukuleles available and students are responsible for keeping the instruments tuned and in good repair. Music is often selected by the student as a piece of work to be presented alongside other portfolio work during conferences with parents and teachers. During the half-hour conference, some students will show off their ukulele skills, their ability to read music, and their singing voice. Ukuleles use a Low A tuning to segue with the guitar lessons that will be given in The Element.
Opportunities to be dramatic abound in Montessori Elementary classes. Some Montessori activities such as the Grammar Boxes require students to ‘act out’ various scenarios or interpret the nuances of our language in a dramatic way. Students often present projects they have done to their peers, students in other classes or other adults in the school. In addition, each Elementary class produces some type of dramatic performance at least once a year, which they present to their families. Having class level plays and presentations rather than a school-wide one, ensures that every student can participate fully.