Cultural Festival promotes learning

(L-R): Eden Anne Bauer, Kaitlyn Shields, Jack Hudson and Rachel Vigelis prepare for showcasing famous Italians. (Contributed)

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

MT LAUREL – The children of Hilltop Montessori School in Mt Laurel traveled to distant countries Feb. 3 without ever leaving their school during a Multi-Cultural Festival.

Michele Scott, Hilltop’s executive director, explained how the school’s unique, diverse background aids children in learning about foreign cultures.

“We’re pretty diverse in terms of private schools in Birmingham. Twenty percent of our students have ancestries in other countries,” Scott said. “We want to show the children that there’s more to the world than what we’re exposed to in Shelby County.”

The children developed ideas of the different countries each classroom could represent. In the end, the children chose to highlight Russia, Korea, Vietnam, Italy, Greece, China and Pakistan, as the school educates children whose families are from each of these countries, Scott said.

Students traveled from room to room and had a passport stamped by each “country.”

“At Hilltop Montessori, it’s more student-driven,” she said. “Children participated in picking the country for their classrooms and creating the activities. They also researched and learned about the countries so they could tell visiting children about the countries.”

“Some of the parents are from the different countries, so we had them bring in items from the countries. For Pakistan room, one of the parents had jewelry out that was typical of the clothing. Parents brought both knowledge and items,” Scott said.

The children who chose to portray Italy learned about scaling and construction, as they built a full-scale model of the leaning tower of Pisa.

The Korea-themed classroom held a special treat.

“We had one child’s grandparents, who are from Korea, in here cooking authentic Korean food and writing the children’s names in Korean,” Scott said. “There were just as many grandparents as parents participating.”