My jaw dropped.  ILM is always beautiful.  But Oh My God, today it looked stunning!  

The horizon breathtaking against the backdrop of rocks and majestic mountains.

The stage complete with waves, coral-reefs, sea anemone and mollusks – reflecting perfectly the aquatic theme.

Cute fishes, butterflies and spiders (Yup – even these crawlies weren’t creepy) swishing over the emerald green lawn.

Children giggling away in anticipation and excitement. 

The administrative folks pacing nervously around, putting last minute touches to the myriad props.

Our principal, Rekha, cool as a cucumber in a pair of Raybans – totally relaxed.  She knew ILM Annual Day 2017 was going to be beyond brilliant. And it was!

The Annual Day Legacy at ILM:

Annual Days are highly anticipated events.  

While in many schools the purpose of an Annual Day is to allow children to showcase their talent, ILM takes it a notch up!

Our presentations are not song-dance-poetry jigs separated from the classroom.

At ILM the Annual Day is an extension of the fun, imaginative and deep lessons they learn at class.

Yes, they do explore their creative potential and showcase their abilities. But at the same time they reinforce the wisdom gathered over the academic year – cementing it like never before.

This Time ILM Celebrated the Second Great Lesson – The Coming of Life

The Second Great Lesson takes up where the first one left off. The earth has cooled. And is the perfect setting for the dance of evolution. 

From unicellular organisms to biped humans – with pit-stops along the way, the children get to learn and absorb the very history of life on the planet.

This lesson leads to the study of:

Biology: cells, five kingdoms, specimens

Botany: study of plants, classification, types of plants

Habitats: location, characteristics, food chains/webs

Ancient Life: eras of the earth, evolution, extinction, fossil records, excavation

Animals: classification, needs, similarities/differences, human systems

Can you distill such a complex topic into an hour long engrossing story?

ILM did just that and with panache.

We won’t go over the details of what the lesson involves.  There are many videos that explain the journey.  We like this one  and this one.  

What I am really burning to share is what we got out of the performance.

Learning in Real Time:

There is so much the children picked up, without even being aware of “learning”.

Confidence and Presentation Skills:

Oh you should have seen the little ILMites.  They oozed confidence.  They owned the stage.  If the objective was to overcome stage-fright, it’s like they didn’t even know what that meant.  They interacted with the parents, quizzed them in the inimitable style of the best hosts on television and even exchanged cues with each other, prompting lines and smiling encouragement to keep their classmates going! 

Beyond Learning – Understanding & Experiencing:

The biggest take away was perhaps turning information into knowledge.  The children didn’t rattle off their lines in a flat monotone.  They didn’t regurgitate from memory. They actually knew what they were talking about.  They took on the mammoth task of:
– Explaining in detail the time-line of 4 billion years condensed to 12 hours.
– How we had taken artistic liberties
– Why the story of evolution is both a sensitive and important topic that every human should be familiar with. 

This is because:

– The Second Great Lesson is taught over a whole year providing lots of time for questions, curiosity and reflection.

– When a child is assigned a “character” exhaustive research goes into understanding the origin-story.  For example someone playing a Trilobite truly gets the fact that Trilobites were Paleozoic arthropods who had three lobes and used these for locomotion.

(Being a parent at the school, I can vouch that the children learnt these complex theories by  living them and not by mugging a script).

The power of true realisation was evident when students evaluated “roles” by their contribution to evolution.  Instead of the lines the characters had to deliver on stage.

The scramble to be organisms with a greater “purpose” was both heart warming and hilarious!

Camaraderie, Independence and Leadership:

The Camaraderie, Independence and Leadership displayed at the Annual Day was a big buzz.  It was gratifying to see older children guide the younger performers. 

They ensured smooth line delivery, had an eye on the safety of the tiny tots and there was no dearth of volunteers who stepped in to fill the shoes of students who couldn’t make it to the Annual Day. 

There wasn’t an adult in sight throughout the performance.

This is possible ONLY in a mixed-age Montessori environment.  

As children of different ages work closely together, they develop a bond and respect that separate age environments just cannot foster.

Ambitiously Suggested. Beautifully Executed.

When Elementary Teacher Preethi sowed the seed of taking up the Second Great Story as the theme for the annual day, we knew it was an ambitious project.  But we’ve never backed down from a challenge. And boy, we’re we glad that we rose to the occasion.

The very next day the students and the teachers reminisced about the success of the event and after a brief discussion the topic turned to Annual Day 2018!

Who knows what mysteries will be unveiled and what secrets brought to life. : )

Dear Parents if you attended the Annual Day, please do share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Please share your experience – creating the costume, your impression of the preparations, topic and most importantly how it felt seeing your children on stage. Your words spurs us on to greater highs.

And also enjoy the pictures. They are worth a million dollars in smiles…

Panoply of Colors

The Anticipation Heightens

Seeing “Green” with Algae

Sponge Bob – Are you Seeing This?

These Jelly Fishes Sing but They Don’t Sting

Star Power (or Starfish power to be more precise)

Cute Critters

A Grand Close