Lower Elementary and The First Great Lesson: The Beginning of the Universe and Earth

An integral and unique part of the Lower Elementary curriculum is the introduction of The Great Lessons. These exciting lessons are designed to ignite a child's imagination and curiosity about the world around them. There are five Great Lessons that are presented every year. The Great Lessons paint a broad picture.

Students climbed into the darkened loft to cosmic music for the story of the coming of the universe and the beginnings of Earth, the First Great Lesson. This represented an empty space before existence. Together the guides told the story which was illustrated with the bursting of a black balloon filled with gold stars. The lesson continued with the beginning of our planet. Oil,  water, and molasses poured into a jar helped demonstrate how particles  of different weight settled into layers of Earth. Over millions of years, as the surface cooled, a crust formed and under this crust was red, hot, boiling molten rock. A baking soda and vinegar volcano demonstrated the eruptions that occurred on early Earth. Volcanoes on Earth produced not only molten rock but invisible matter called gas. Slowly, slowly, slowly, the molten rock cooled and turned into solid matter. Ice, water, marbles, and air in glass containers helped students see the three types of matter and start our experiment of water evaporation and condensation.   The First Great Lesson ends with the lesson of the water cycle on Earth without life.

Students were thrilled with each demonstration and awed by the grand ideas. They used black paper and metallic stars to illustrate the lesson. They explored this lesson further through various hands-on experiments such as "galaxy slime," which helped us to learn more about the states of matter.

The Beginning of the Universe and Earth builds on the Early Childhood curriculum and expands the study of:
  • Astronomy: solar system, stars, galaxies, comets, constellations
  • Meteorology: wind, weather, erosion, water cycle, clouds, glaciers
  • Chemistry: states of matter, changes, mixtures, reactions
  • Physics: gravity, energy, light, sound, heat, friction, motion, magnetism
  • Geology: types of rocks, minerals, land forms, volcanoes, earthquakes, eras of the Earth
  • Geography: maps, globes, latitude/longitude, climates, land/water form names, continent and country research
It is an exciting start of the year in Lower Elementary.