Little Learners Lodge


Location: Montessori Mt Pleasant School, South Carolina MMP School 
208 Church Street, 
 Mount Pleasant, South Carolina29464 02/ 21-22/, 2013 Little Learner’s Lodge
(RIE component)
‘Montessori of Mount Pleasant was established as a Montessori AMS School in 1987 and has become much more than a Montessori experience for children at the 3-6 level. MMPSchool continues to be family held by RIE and Montessori certified directors, David and Nicole Vigliotti. In 2002 the family converted the private Montessori elementary program into a public charter Montessori elementary school and began renovations in order to focus on the first developmental plane- birth through six years.’ MMP School

The Montessori Mt. Pleasant School in South Carolina, invited me to bring stonework to the school, spring, 2013. A Montessori setting is ideally suited to stonework’s focus on exploration, interaction with the environment and natural materials, appeal to the senses, experimentation, and communication of ideas, among other elements shared by the project and the school’s philosophy.
The Stonework Project was offered in three sessions. From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., 3- and 4-year-old children could choose to come into the protected area outdoors to work with stones. Surfaces for their stone drawings included a tree stump, a large rectangular table, and a canvas on the ground. The outdoor room was particularly appropriate for a natural, environmental activity, conducive to experimentation. Most of the children chose to sit at the table so they could see what their friends were doing. They also liked listening to the stories while working on their own stone drawings. They were particularly observant about the stones and commented repeatedly on how beautiful they were, and how much they loved the natural colors. The children responded positively to the activity. Some completed several stone drawings and recounted stories about what they had created. These children were remarkably adept at expressing themselves.


At 1:30 p.m., the kindergartners took part; then at 2:30, the 3- and 4-year-olds wanted to return for more stonework activity. The children were having fun as well as learning how simple materials can trigger their imaginations. The stories they told were inventive, as the following examples will attest.

Hugh, age 4, used many stones in his drawing — nine rows, eight stones in each. But one stone was turned vertically to show a parachute falling. “A rock was going parachuting, and somebody jumped the parachute and the papa parachute and then a guy fell on his face.”

Elizabeth, age 4, placed her rocks in a square, one to represent each member of a family. “There was a little rock. And then there was a baby rock and a momma rock and a daddy rock and then a papa rock and then a grandma rock and a cat rock.”
Ben, age 4, made a vertical stone drawing, placing stones on top of each other to make a candle. “There is a candle on the birthday cake, and then this monkey jumped on the birthday cake, and then it splattered on someone’s face.”

Gabe, age 5, a baseball fan, told about the day the St Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers. “The first inning, the ball got hit over the outfielder’s head. The outfielder ran away from it because he was afraid of it and was such a nerd. It went off the wall. David Freeze ran around the bases and slid head-first into first, then into second and into third. It is the ninth inning. Lance Berkman hit the ball down the first base line and tied the game 83 to 83. It is still the ninth inning. David Freeze is up to bat again. He hits the ball. It’s a walk-off homerun. And he runs around the bases and he gets scudded and throws his helmet.”

Vivian, age 4, spent a long time on her stone drawing and waited patiently for me to write down her story. The drawing consisted of a large rectangular face with two eyes, a nose, two legs, and two arms for the mom. There were also thee little circles of stones. “There once were three little rocks and a momma rock. They lived in the deep dark woods. One day, the mommy decided to go on a trip. When they got there, they pulled into the driveway, and they went inside. When they got inside, nobody was there so they went upstairs. They still didn’t see anybody. They looked in the bedrooms and the bathrooms, but there was nobody around. So they went downstairs and looked in the downstairs bathroom, but no one was in the downstairs bathroom either. So they went back home. The end.”

Chase, age 4, told me, “There was a princess who wished for a cat on her next birthday. She got a cat and named her Milkie. And the princess’s name was Aurora. And Aurora gave the cat some milk. And then the cat went to sleep, and when the cat woke up he wanted some food. The end.”

At the end, I invited the children to choose a special stone to take home so that every time they touched it, they would remember the story the stones told, and how lucky they were to be able to share their stories. They loved that. One even asked if her mom could have a stone, too. Smiling, I agreed.

Perhaps the experiences of the children at the Montessori Mt. Pleasant School will inspire you to experiment with the mysterious ability of stones to bring out the stories in your own lives. Photographer David Vigliotti.