Experience Weeks


Hands-on learning is an essential element of a Montessori education. That’s why we’ve created Experience Weeks as a time and place for students to research questions, think critically, communicate effectively, work collaboratively, and master core academic content. 

By moving beyond the walls of the classroom to local institutions and landscapes of the North Shore students gain new, more in-depth ways to investigate, understand and learn.

Experience Weeks are located at and travel from the Harborlight campus. Experience Weeks are for students in grades 1 to 9 who want to stretch themselves.


The six, five-day weeks coincide with both public and independent school calendars for 2019:

Week 1: February 18th through February 22nd
Week 2: March 11th through March 15th
Week 3: March 18th through March 22nd
Week 4: April 15th through April 19th
Week 5: June 17th through June 21st
Week 6: June 24th through June 28th

Learning through Experience Weeks

Experience Weeks engage students and develop Four Deep Learning Skills: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity. The structure of these courses reflect a Montessori model of student-centered, interactive instruction that explores a particular course or topic in a 5- step cycle of learning that creates habits for future learning in college & career.

1. Interaction & Inquiry – Students develop and ask questions about their experience as they learn new course content and use material and observation for – research methods, exploration of environment, or reinterpret an existing experience at a deeper level.

2. Reflective Observation – Students receive non-evaluative feedback from teachers and experts in the field to summarize new information in an organized way. The experience and hands-on learning and of asking questions frames their thinking as they interpret and seek answers.

3. Conceptualization – Students engage in project-based learning to expand their understanding of new concepts. They learn through collaboration and planning their activities.

4. Application – Students apply their newly acquired skills and knowledge to the world around them. Taking the notes, sketches, and observations from their journal as a guide.

5. Assessment – Students are evaluated at the end of their coursework. They are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills both effectively and creatively.


Interactive Catalogue 


















Course Descriptions

February Offerings       2/18-2/22


Natural World Observation
Seeing Earth as a Living Organism, grades 1-3

On-site at Maritime Gloucester’s
wet lab and pocket aquarium, students will dive into our water world and ocean environment to deepen their understanding of two scientific practices: making observations and asking questions. Students will discover the ocean environment through their own senses as well as with tools that both scientists and mariners use to understand it. This course focuses on observation and interpretation through art.

Form, Functions & Fibonacci
A Study of Art & Geometry, grades 4-8

Working with the staff of the Addison Gallery at Phillips Academy, Andover, students explore the powerful, strong, and artful relationship between mathematics and visual art. What makes math beautiful?What makes art formulaic?What gives architecture its strength and purpose? Areas of exploration include: Parabolic curves; Fibonacci, Da Vinci, Pythagoras: mathematic theorems in visual art, architecture, and nature; Fractals and Girih roots within Montessori materials and their rich history in tiles and textiles. Students will develop a visual vocabulary and understand the common elements of visual and geometrical thinking. They will be able to incorporate geometric concepts and elements in creating a final painting or sculpture.

Queen Victoria
Learning to Sort Fact from Fiction, grades 6-9

Students are increasingly challenged to sort fact from fiction. In this course, students study an historical figure – Queen Victoria. They compare three Hollywood films ?based on true events? with primary and secondary source documents to examine the historical truth of the Queen?s public and private life, and achievements during her 50-year reign. The course integrates historical research, film study and communications, and engages students in critical thinking, analysis reflection, and public speaking.

March Offerings

First Peas to Table A Thomas Jefferson Inspired Garden, grades 1-8:   Offered March (one week or both) and April Weeks.       
3/11-3/15    and/or    3/18-3/22

In this course, students replicate the contest described in Susan Grigsby’s book First Peas to Table. In the book, students mimic the contest Thomas Jefferson had with his neighbors every spring to see who could grow the first bowl of peas. Working with Outdoor Classrooms, older students are teamed up with younger buddies. Teams will research how to grow peas, plant their own peas, and keep a scientific journal of notes and drawings of their plants’ progress. Each individual week of this series will be designed to stand-alone; however, they will also be connected to culminate the final Peas to Table celebration in April!

Ecosystem & Forestry Management              3/11-3/15
The Art & Science of Maple Sugaring, grades 1-3 . FULL 

Using maple syrup, New England’s sweetest renewable resource, as the vehicle, this tree-to-table course will explore natural resource management and students will gain hands-on experience in conservation, sustainability, and stewardship. After exploring the history of maple sugaring in agriculture and society, students move into the temperate forest at Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary. Together they will learn tree identification, observation, recording and scientific measurement as they tap trees, harvest sap and learn the physics involved in the process of converting maple sap to tasty syrup!

I n t en s i v e  T h e a t r e  P r o d u c t i o n           3/11-3/22
Harborlight Players, grades 4-8

This two-week course takes students to Gloucester Stage Company (GSC) for an intensive experience in theatre production, on stage and backstage. In addition to acting, students participate in all aspects of production, including box office management, lighting and set design, auditions and casting, costumes and props. Actors, assistant directors, stage managers, designers, and marketing and sales are all part of what it takes to stage an original production, which is what the students do on the GSC stage as the culmination of their theatre experience.

* Productions will take place over the weekend of 3/22 and 3/23


April Offerings         4/15-4/19    

Indigenous Cultures in theAmericas
A Fundamental Needs Perspective, grades 1-3

Through a cross-cultural study of the fundamental needs of man this course examines the thriving cultures in the Pre-Columbian Americas. Realizing the potential of our fundamental needs is essential in developing an appreciation for human adaptation. Through hands-on lessons, storytelling, activities and visits to local museums, students will explore how these cultures provided for their basic needs and created the complex structures to needed support their evolving societies. The course concludes with a Cultural Fair, honoring the life and legacy of the indigenous cultures in the Americas.

Habitats & Biomimicry
Designing through Nature, grades 4-6

This course draws on the principles of Biomimicry to explore different habitats, their characteristics and the organisms that live in them. Exploring the greater North Shore Trustees properties, students study how animal shelter themselves in each system through careful observation, note-taking, sketching and photography to determine how the structure of each ‘house’ is informed by the nature of the environment and apply this knowledge through field work to design and build models of human habitats to a specific environment, considering all the elements that may affect design. They will complete this course with an exercise in testing and critiquing their models.

A River RunsThrough
Human Ecology & Impact, grades 4-9

Join Salem Sound Coastwatch for a close look at our local rivers to understand river ecology and human impact on the watershed over time. The intricate relationship humans have with rivers will be revealed as we explore the physical and cultural characteristics of our rivers. Students will have experiences in and around the rivers mucking about in the ecology of a river, walking through the rich history of our waterfront communities and considering the natural and engineered landscape of our rivers. Through data collection, historical maps and site visits students will weave the stories of our rivers to share with others in an artful showcase.

Living History
The Concord Writers, grades 6-9

In the 1800?s, Concord, Massachusetts was home to a remarkable group of writers, thinkers and philosophers. This course challenges students to experience the lives and community of Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott. With guidance from their Harborlight teacher and docents at Orchard House, Emerson House, Walden Pond and Concord Museum, and Harvard’s Houghton Library students research these American masters and their influence during mid-century Transcendentalism. Using their journals (handwritten, photo and video entries) the students will engage in a performance-based assessment production of A Living History, as three Concord giants become their contemporaries for a week.


June Offerings

Mapping the Earth
Cartography Art & Science, grades 1-3 .    6/17-6/21

Montessori students begin their studies of physical and political geography earlier than most elementary school students. It is essential to Dr. Montessori?s mission and work: to guide the child to find his own place in the world (universe). This course explores the history of cartography by telling the story of mapping techniques from ancient to modern times. Lessons will include types of maps and their purpose (topographical, climate, road, etc.) and elements of the maps (keys, scales, coordinates). Students have the adventure of making and following their maps in the field through orienteering and geocaching.

The Sacred Cod      6/17-6/21
Adaptation, Ecology & Local Lore, grades 4-9

This course examines the relationship between people and the ocean through the lens of “The Sacred Cod”, a species of fish whose story mirrors the changes in technology, ecology, and culture of a working waterfront. Together with the staff of Maritime Gloucester, students will engage in a variety of interdisciplinary activities including visual art, biology, physical science, history and math. Their learning will take place on the water and on the shore, being immersed in the rich history and stories of greater Gloucester. Students will create a visual timeline or tool to relate the dramatic story between people and their natural environment – illustrating changes in technology, ecology and local culture.

Geocaching          6/24-6/28
The Science of Exploration, grades 1-6

This course takes students on a real-life treasure hunt to learn and draw upon multiple personal and academic skills. With the help of a Harborlight faculty-guide, students will explore local trails using a GPS receiver to locate and ?hide? geocache treasures and messages. Lessons will build upon Harborlight?s science curriculum in Botany, Zoology, Geography, and Stewardship of the Environment, while requiring students to apply mathematics (measurement, estimation, graphing, geometry) to their real-time experiences in nature.

Eelgrass as Bioengineers       6/24-6/28
Studying the Shoreline Habitats, grades 6-9

Join Salem Sound Coastwatch in this immersion week all about eelgrass, a vital underwater habitats that lines our coast and protects our shoreline. Students will take an up-close look at eelgrass to learn about the structure and function of this flowering plant. Investigating how eelgrass evolved to live in the ocean and how it is storing blue carbon. Together with eelgrass scientists, students will collect data to learn the story of eelgrass and use a variety of formats for shared learning experiences: graphing, mapping, visual arts and literacy.



For more information about Harborlight Montessori and our infant/toddler, preschool, elementary, or middle school programs, please make an appointment to visit our Beverly, MA campus. You can contact us here