One of our teachers found a bird in our driveway that had been hit by a car. The bird was perfectly intact, and after further examination was either a Starling or a Grackle. I hemmed and hawed all day about whether or not to show the bird to the children. After all, we've been studying Birds, Parts of a Bird, and Backyard Bird calls in the Primary classroom. Finally, I put the decision in the children's hands. I explained the situation and told the children it might be upsetting, but it really is part of nature. I gave them the opportunity to meet the bird, or they could opt out. All of the children chose to view the bird.
We gathered in a seated circle around him and had a moment of silence. I pointed out the different parts of the bird and we looked in our field guide to name the bird. We talked about life cycles and food chains. Finally, one second year student raised his hand and said "I think it's time we share our thoughts on this." I agreed, and one by one they told each other how they felt. One astute first year student (3 years old!) announced, "Although I feel sad that the bird is no longer alive, at least we can enjoy its great beauty."
I thank the parents of these afternoon children for understanding the Montessori philosophy enough to accept and gracefully encourage the important experience we had today.