Jessica Di Francesco, a Lower Elementary Teacher at Virgin Islands Montessori School & Peter Gruber International Academy (VIMSIA) recently attended a four day Elementary Alumni Association (EAA) training whose focus this year was handwork, specifically wool, cotton, silk and calligraphy. Di Franceso explained the importance of connecting everything you do in a Montessori setting to the bigger picture: “bringing handwork back to the children's discovery and letting them take that journey and the idea of practice, provides an opportunity to relax and work with your hands instead of technology.”
The EAA training was held in Boulder, Colorado with ninety elementary certified Montessori instructors from all over the world, including places like Russia and Europe. Just like at VIMSIA, a special emphasis was placed on the importance of connecting elaborate handmade projects to the bigger picture. Attendees studied a sample Montessori album, created by the instructor, which was filled with various lessons.
“My biggest takeaway was the importance of connecting the handwork to our human story” commented Di Francesco. "One of the theories of how felt was discovered involved a shepherd, going around the hills a long time ago, in Mesopotamia era, with his sheep walking all day long with very uncomfortable shoes. At some point, it’s presumed the shepherd took some fleece from a sheep and placed it in the shoes to line them and make it softer. Without knowing, as he walked around the fleece was wet and pressed, creating felt" added Di Francesco.
Ms. Di Francesco looks forward to a fun-filled year of education handwork with her students.