Experience Weeks

About 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.

Two of the six week sessions are included in each 1st-8th grade student’s tuition. Students may certainly register for additional weeks.

Experience Weeks are located at and travel from the Harborlight campus. We are pleased to have partnered with several community partners to enhance the students’ learning experience. Experience Weeks are for students in grades 1 to 9 who want to stretch themselves.


The six weeks coincide with both public and independent school calendars for 2023. All Experience Weeks are also open to grade 1-8 students who are not currently Harborlight students (homeschool, public school, independent school). 

Week 1:
February 20 through February 24
Week 2:
March 13 through March 16*
*Friday, March 17th closed
Week 3:
March 20 through March 24
Week 4:
April 17 through April 21
Week 5:
June 20 through June 23*
*Monday, June19th closed
Week 6:
June 26 through June 30

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.

List of 5 items.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Conceptualization

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

Experience Weeks 2023 Courses & Registrations

List of 15 items.

  • The Beauty and Science of Snowflakes

    Lower Elementary (1st-3rd grade) 
    Monday, February 20, 2023 through Friday, February 24, 2023, 7:30 AM-5:30 PM
    Winter, the coldest season of the year, kicks-off our Going Out Experience Weeks annually. Plunging temperatures bring conditions for the perfect snowflake to take shape in this integrated week of study. Students will explore the principles of weather and climate that produce snow crystals, investigate the types of snowflakes through geometry of plane crystals, and appreciate the natural beauty that is both art and chemistry (a changing state of matter-H2O). The week will culminate in an art and storytelling presentation.

    “Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated.” - Wilson 'Snowflake' Bentley, Author of Snowflakes in Photography
  • Inspired by the Masters: A Study of Famous Artists

    Lower Elementary (1st-3rd grade) 
    Monday, February 20, 2023 through Friday, February 24, 2023, 7:30 AM-5:30 PM

    The world is full of inspiring artists (past and present) to explore. This week will cover the artist's life, media, works, and fame or (notoriety). This week will be dedicated to learning about the life and work of 5 particular artists: Andy Warhol, Piet Mandarin, Pablo Picasso Wassily Kandinsky, and Vincent Van Gogh. The students will create their own personal journals for recording their lessons about the artists, the process of creating art in the 'style' or medium of the artists, and their own reflections on the personal process of learning and creating art. The design of the week-long study will integrate short biographical films, reading and lessons, museum visits, and uninterrupted time to create and explore art. An art show will be on display at the end of the week. 

    "I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart." - Vincent Van Gogh


  • Montessori Erdkinder with Appleton Farms

    Upper School (4th-8th grade)
    Monday, February 20, 2023 through Friday, February 24, 2023, 7:30 AM-5:30 PM
    Erdkinder translates to "children of the earth". Dr. Montessori used this term to describe the value of 'schooling' on a working farm. Working together with the educators at Appleton Farms, Harborlight students will learn the history of the oldest, continuously operating farm in the United States. Here at the Harborlight campus, the student will focus on the ultimate STEAM experiences that are naturally "Farm-to-Fork": baking bread, churning butter, making 'quick' picks, foraging for pine needles to make tea, and tapping the sugar maples on the greenhouse lawn. At Appleton, students will be learning about life and work on the farm, the importance of natural spaces, and the quiet beauty of the world in winter. Each student will synthesize their week-long learning through a creative project of their choice. On Friday evening, students and their families are invited to Appleton's Carriage Barn for the student project showcase. This curriculum aims to empower students to protect the environment, eat well, and advocate for sustainable farming practices. The immersion experience allows upper school students to feel capable of succeeding in life through their own efforts and merits. Dr. Montessori's Erdkinder intention was to provide a balance of manual and intellectual work, leaving students prepared to take an active role in society.


  • Queen Victoria: Fact or Fiction

    Upper Elementary (6th-8th grade only) 
    Monday, February 20, 2023 through Friday, February 24, 2023, 7:30 AM-5:30 PM

    During this week, the students will learn to analyze historical movies for “truth” and understand that only certain stories are told, and usually from one perspective. They will be able to watch other historical movies and understand the questions that should be asked. To begin the week, there will be a multi-media presentation about Queen Victoria and her life including a study of three movies covering different times in her life; “The Young Victoria”, “Mrs. Brown”, and “Victoria & Abdul.” Students will create a movie story board on a poster detailing one specific aspect of Queen Victoria's life they would like to tell in their own voice.


  • Ancient Civilizations: Greece, Egypt, China

    Lower Elementary (1st-3rd grade)
    Monday, March 13, 2023 through Friday, March 24, 2023, 7:30 AM-5:30 PM  *Note: March 17, 2023 CLOSED
    In Montessori, the study of Ancient Civilizations is the story of how humans throughout history have fulfilled their fundamental needs physically, socially, and spiritually. During these two weeks, students will be assigned one ancient civilization to study (Greece, Egypt, or China) and learn about the fundamental needs of humans and connect this learning with all areas of classroom curriculum: mathematics, language, biology, geography, art, and more. Their research will include a focus on daily living, education, entertainment, economy, and government. Students will create their own 'artifacts' and other visual and performance art projects to complement this research. These two weeks culminate in in the creation and curation of a "museum" to showcase their learning process. The primary learning in this Ancient Civilizations immersive experience is to understand that all people, from the very first human beings right up to us, have had the same fundamental needs. Students come to comprehend the unity of human existence and see the commonality of all peoples. In addition, we understand that this immersive research and study also creates a roadmap for the process of studying any topic of interest in the future!


  • Theatre Intensive with Gloucester Stage

    Upper School (4th-8th grade)
    Monday, March 13, 2023 through Friday, March 24, 2023, *Note: March 17, 2023 CLOSED
    This two-week collaboration between Gloucester Stage Company and Harborlight Montessori provides an intensive experience in theatre production, on stage and backstage, for students in grades 4-8. In addition to acting, students participate in all aspects of theatre, including box office management, lighting and set design, costumes, and props. Students will participate in a full-scale original production as the culmination of their experience. More details to follow. 

    $1,000.00 Harborlight full day 7:30-5:30
    $800/community students only attending GSC hours (arrive and pick-up at GSC)

  • Vernal Pools: Life in Shallow Water

    Lower Elementary (1st-3rd grade)
    Monday, April 17, 2023 through Friday, April 21, 2023, 7:30 AM-5:30 PM
    The Audubon Society of Rhode Island has been known to call vernal pools in this area "wicked big puddles". Students will study what makes these 'puddles' special, from characteristic formation to disappearance to the creature that emerge, thrive, and breed uniquely in this habitat. An investigation into the creatures who depend on vernal pools with a focus on amphibians, invertebrates, and insects - and most especially the fairy shrimp. Trips out to the local wetlands and woodland hollows will focus on exploration, observation, and engendering an appreciation for the protection and conservation of the vernal pools and the forested uplands that create them. A presentation at the end of the week will be available to parents and guests. 


  • Indigenous Peoples of North America

    Lower Elementary (1st-3rd )
    Monday, April 17, 2023 through Friday, April 21, 2023
    Explore the history, heritage, and culture of North American Indigenous peoples. Engage in research, inquiry, study, and understanding with a focus on some of the more than 70 tribes within the United States and Canada. This week will include a study of some of the collections of the Indian Rights Association archives and materials that source communication, organizational records, and documents. A cross-disciplinary approach to this week's study will also provide an understanding of social justice and natural resources on Native American lands. This week's studies will culminate in a fair with projects and presentations.


  • Roller Coaster Science

    Upper School (4th - 8th grade) 
    Monday, April 17, 2023 through Friday, April 21, 2023, 7:30 AM-5:30 PM

    How to build a better Roller Coaster! Students will study the engineering design process to create a 3D model of a roller coaster that they will pitch to Six Flags Amusement Parks for 2024! There is a great need for research and development and Six Flags will be the ultimate physics and engineering lab.  

    Through this course students will be able to explain potential and kinetic energy, work in teams through the design process (including using time constraints and a budget), and market their projects through multi-media presentation, persuasive writing and speeches. During the showcase, invited parents and guests will be able to vote for the BEST COASTER for 2024!


  • New England Arts & Crafts (LE)

    Lower Elementary (1st-3rd)
    Tuesday, June 20, 2023 through Friday June 23, 2023, 7:30 AM- 5:30 PM *Monday, June 19th closed

    Expand your art experiences as we explore the five types of craft media: ceramic, metal, glass, wood and fiber. This week will combine visits with local artists and craftsmen in our region and hands-on practice using these media in different forms in our Harborlight art studio. Students may explore weaving, painting, carving, sculpting, beading, and more. Students will keep a reflection journal and present their art at the end of the week.



  • National Parks

    Upper School (4th -8th grade) 
    Tuesday, June 20, 2023 through Friday, June 23, 2023, 7:30 AM-5:30 PM *Monday, June 19th closed

    Our New England national parks are a perfect place to engage our student's innate curiosity about history of time and place and sense of wonder about the outdoor world. This week the national parks from New Hampshire to Boston will be our classroom. Hands-on learning activities will guide their connections to heritage, culture, history, and natural habitats for wildlife. There will be an opportunity for students to research and virtually explore national parks out of our range to visit. At the end of the week the students will present proposals for places in the US they would choose to designate a national park and defend their pick.


  • Travel Adventures - Florida Everglades

    Upper School (6th-8th grade only)
    Monday, June19, 2023 through Saturday, June 24, 2023

    Pack your bags and EXPLORE YOUR WORLD. Students will travel on an adventure to Southern Florida and the Everglades.  Students registered for this Experience Week will be involved in the budgeting, planning, scheduling of reservations, and researching places to eat, sights to see, and recreation activities. 


    *(Cost of the Experience Week does not include travel and accommodations) there will be an extra fee associated with the trip. For more information contact: Elisa Pitkin, epitkin@harborlight.net
  • Down Under - Journey through the Outback

    Lower Elementary (1st-3rd)
    Monday, June 26, 2023 through Friday June 30, 2023, 7:30 AM- 5:30 PM

    Let's take a trip "Down-Under" mate and learn about some unusual animals found nowhere else in the world, make delicious Aussie delicacies and have a gander at different natural wonders of Australia's varied geography! Join teacher Meg Portnof and journey through the Outback. This week of exploration and discovery will include art (including Aboriginal-type artwork), history, geography, music, and more. The week will culminate in a mini-fair that showcases student learning.


  • Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) and Magic; The Gathering (MTG)

    Upper School (4th-8th)
    Monday, June 26, 2023 through Friday, June 30, 2023, 7:30 AM- 5:30 PM

    This week is for all levels of players - from novice to expert! Learn the basics of D&D and MTG. We will split the day between the two activities. Students will learn how to roll characters, go on adventures, and defeat foes in the fantasy world of D&D. Then they will learn to build decks, take care of their cards, and create a draft tournament in MTG. What do these creative roll-the-dice/flip-a-card role-playing games teach? Teamwork, problem-solving, communication, vocabulary, listening skills, imagination, and strategy. These games scaffold collaborative and social engagement while creatively tapping into student expressions of teamwork, bravery, compassion, negotiation, gamer etiquette, critical thinking, and especially those statistics, predictability, and mapping skills.



  • New England Arts & Crafts (US)

    Upper School (4th - 8th)
    Monday, June 26, 2023 through Friday June 30, 2023, 7:30 AM- 5:30 PM

    Expand your art experiences as we explore the five types of craft media: ceramic, metal, glass, wood and fiber. This week will combine visits with local artists and craftsmen in our region and hands-on practice using these media in different forms in our Harborlight art studio. Students may explore weaving, painting, carving, sculpting, beading, and more. The week will culminate with a mini art fair and reflection of learning.


Harborlight provides a limited number of need-based partial scholarships for Experience Weeks and Summer programs that are open to greater-Beverly students, grade 1-8, who do not attend Harborlight during the academic year. The process to apply is simple. Please complete this application and return it to the Admission Office at Harborlight with the required documents attached. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Not all programs offered can be discounted, please check for eligibility.

Popular Past Course Descriptions

List of 15 items.

  • Author's Corner: Write, Illustrate, Publish: (Grades 1 -3)

    During this week, young authors will study the work of local authors and illustrators and learn what inspires their craft. They will immerse themselves in writing in their genre of choice: personal narrative, poetry collection, instruction manual, or fiction/storytelling; editing and revising; illustrating or book cover design; peer review; and finally publishing and marketing (think book signing!) their very own books. The week will include visits to local bookstores, libraries, special guests, and possibly a publishing house and will culminate in an author's corner in the Harborlight library for friends and family. Through this week-long immersive experience in literature, students discover they can write clearly and skillfully and joyfully read and connect to the writing of their peers.  In the words of Lucy Caulkins "through this they learn to live together as caring, thoughtful readers and writers".
  • Geocaching: (Grades 1 - 3)

    Geocaching is a fun recreational activity for all ages. Students will go on real-world treasure hunts in their outdoor adventures this week. Geocaching is a fun recreational activity for all ages, it is a game of following GPS coordinates to 'hide' our own geocache objects and seek geocache objects already hidden by other players in our geocaching global community. This week's lessons will build upon Harborlight's Botany, Zoology, Geography and Environmental Stewardship curriculums. It will challenge students to apply mathematics (measurement, estimation, graphing, and Geometry) to their field experiences in nature.
  • Inland Explorers: Journey of Learning through Marsh & Meadow: (Grades 1 - 3)

    The Japanese Paper Theater Story of the Sunflower inspires observation at the inland marsh and meadow. Lark Learning STEM staff guide the use scientific methods to test and make predictions and design an inland habitat for the Meadow Lark and follow interaction between various animal species. Use scientific methods to test and make predictions and design an inland habitat for the Meadow Lark and follow interaction between various animal species. Design a favorite creature and discover movement through synchronization experiments, and explore hands-on artistic 3D modeling concepts.
  • Main Streets and Back Roads: (Grades 4 - 8)

    Much like Chronicle's Main Streets and Back Roads, students will explore gardens, footpaths, statues, parks, trails, waterfronts, and more of our neighboring cities and town. Students will visit Gloucester, Salem, and Newburyport to explore tourist attractions, off-the-beaten-path destinations, notable architecture, and the hidden 'quirky-corners' of these communities. While on campus they will design a destination brochure for an imaginary  city or town of their own that is inspired by their favorite sights, sounds, and flavors from the week's adventures.
  • Museum School: (Grades 4 - 8)

    Did you know that Massachusetts has 228 museums? During this week, students will visit a different museum each day to explores themes in art, history, and science. Harborlight will equip each student with a sketchbook/observation journal for taking notes and drawing. They will explore exhibits and galleries, roam the grounds and halls, think critically, examine purposefully and be immersed in culture. They will also complete scavenger hunts in Boston that highlight parks and works of art and also The Story of America. The notes they take, memories they record, and images they sketch will serve as a visual diary of their studies.
  • Signs of Summer: (Grades 1 - 3)

    During this week, students will explore our campus, coastlines, and neighboring habitats for signs of summer (officially June 21st!). Students will spend the week using their five senses to observe and record the changing of the seasons in places such as the woods, tide pools, and local gardens. At the end of the week, each one of them will find a medium to tell their story of summer in New England. "Live in the sunshine, swim in the seam drink in the wild air." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The Art of Film Production: (Grades 4 - 8)

    This one-week collaboration between FC Academy Filmmaking (the creators of the Boston International Kids Film Festival) and Harborlight Montessori provides two distinct and intensive experiences in filmmaking and stop-motion animation for students in grades 4-8. 
    Stop-Motion Animation Only 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
    This one-week course provides an intensive experience in stop-motion animation. Stop-motion is an animated filmmaking technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames so that they will appear to exhibit independent motion or change when the series of frames is played back. Students will learn the principles of animation and produce a short film using objects found around the house and brought to class. The week will culminate in a presentation of their work for family and friends. *This course requires a touch screen device with access to the free app Stop Motion Studio (available for iPods, iPhones, iPads, Androids, etc).

    Filmmaking Only 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
    This one-week course provides an intensive experience in filmmaking. Students will work collaboratively to bring creativity to life in a fun, and exciting learning environment. Students will learn scriptwriting, storyboard sketching, improvisation, and camera skills. Together they will write, shoot, and edit a film in a genre of their choosing and edit their project together using the professional editing software Adobe Premiere. The week will culminate in a presentation of their work for family and friends.
  • Winter Wonders: (Grades 1 - 3)

    Winter, the coldest season of the year, kicks-off our Going Out Experience Weeks annually. Plunging temperatures and icy weather bring many changes all around campus and in our neighboring forests, oceans, and farms. Some animals migrate, while others seek other habitats because of changes in their food supply, and some hibernate.  Students, educators, and naturalists explore together the science and nature of winter including hibernation, migration, adaptation and more. Our campus and neighboring habitats provide venues for field observation and nature study. The week will culminate in an art and science presentation.
  • Coastal Creatures: Create 3D Prints with BlocksCAD! (Grades 4 - 8)

    Design and 3D print through coding with the BlocksCAD 3D modeling program, while studying the coastal ecosystem of Magellanic Penguins with the staff of Lark Learning STEM. Beginning with the Japanese Paper Theater Story of the Penguin nesting in South America, and observation of migration, seasonal habitats and life cycles of coastal creatures, employ the basics of design, coding logic and movement, and engineer solutions to support the penguin ecosystem as a final project.
  • Exploring Instrumental Music: Music Through Mentoring (Grades 1 - 3)

    Join the professional musicians of Harborlight’s music program for a week of solo and group music-making. Students currently taking instrumental lessons explore different styles of ensemble music and develop their technical and note reading skills. Those with little-to-no instrumental experience interact with a variety of instruments (piano, guitar, recorders, and percussion), to learn the basics of instrument playing and note reading, and small-group ensemble work. The week will culminate with a final performance.
  • Revolutionaries in the Art World: From Research to Practice (Grades 4 - 9)

    Learn about artists who made a huge difference to international culture. Using the Peabody Essex and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museums as our classrooms, we will explore the context – the art, time period and the social structures – in place at the time that these artists worked. Students will apply their studies and observations to hands-on art projects building off of the work they have studied.
  • The Earth Science of Geology: Exploration, Experimentation & Inspiration (Grades 1 - 3)

    Study geology through small group work, experiments, research, art, music and games. Field study will take place at Halibut Point State Park and the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Points of reference will include- rock formation study and specimen collection and classification. Mineral sketch books, rock painting and collage will allow students to discover rocks as an art medium and inspiration. Research and study of the economic impact of the granite industry on the North Shore will round out this interdisciplinary course.
  • At the Water’s Edge: Eco-Poetics, Eco-Art and Coastal Ecology (Grades 4 - 8)

    Join Salem Sound Coastwatch for a series of interactive field trips designed to immerse students in the study of coastal ecology. We will plant eelgrass, conduct water testing and engage in a variety of stewardship activities to improve the health of the coastal ecosystem. Students will be challenged to express their observations and awareness through poetry and art. This course aims to inspire caring and respect for the environment, stimulate dialogue and encourage children to think about the long-term sustainability of their environment.
  • The World Around Us: Embracing the North Shore (Grades 1 - 3)

    Take an in-depth look at our North Shore world, with its rich natural, cultural and human resources. Explore what makes the North Shore unique through a study of local biomes. This course will feature journaling, observation and reflection, and producing original art expressions. Bring a heightened awareness and perspective to the world we live in every day – gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of everything around us and a stronger sense of our place in the world.
  • Mapping our Backyard: The Art and Science of Topography (Grades 4 - 8)

    Study a variety of maps (physical, political, topographic, climate) and learn how they are used to display information about the world around us. Working on campus and around the North Shore, students will orientate themselves to the area and create a variety of maps as a group and individually. A culminating project will be creating topographical maps, learning to represent contour and other topographical features using different colors, shaded relief, and color gradients, employing the knowledge and experience they have gained throughout the week.

Request Information

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.

About Harborlight

Harborlight Montessori is an independent, co-educational, day school for children from infant-toddler through grade 8 that is committed to innovative teaching and learning.