Curtain Opens (Spotlight on narrator)
Narrator- Good morning/evening. Welcome to Charles Ellis Presents: The Story of
Language. We are glad you are here to help us celebrate the fascinating history of
written and spoken word. Before we begin, we would like to remind you of some theater
grace and courtesy. Please turn off all cell phones. During the show, please refrain
from taking any flash photography. There will be no intermission during todayʼs
performance, so please stay seated at all times.
" The great lessons are a collection of five stories that make up an important part
of the Montessori philosophy of eduction. The stories are meant to raise curiosity and
spur questions concerning the world around us. The lessons chronicle the formation of
the universe, the coming of life, the coming of humans, and the development of
language and numbers. Initially introduced in lower elementary, the students use these
lessons as a spring-board to guide their educational choices in the classroom.
" Tonight/today we are pleased to present to you The Story of Language in the
form of a living timeline. The students in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade at Charles Ellis
Montessori Academy have worked tirelessly over the past few months to write the script,
create song lyrics, make costumes, and construct props to present this story to you.
So, without further ado, letʼs begin the Story of Language!
" Our story begins over 30,000 years ago, in Northern Spain where the earliest
cave drawings we have discovered were created. Most drawings show early hunts and
faming equipment. A few thousand years later, painted rocks were found in France. It
is believed that these marks were meant to be good luck charms. Please welcome Ms.
Carolʼs class as they share with you the story of these early drawings.
Ms. Carolʼs Class Skit
" About 3,000 BC, In Mesopotamia (in what is now Iraq) a more advanced form of
writing was developed. The sumerian language used a symbol for each sound. They
used a form of picture-sound writing. They used a nail to write on clay, which was
plentiful from the rivers. Around the same time, along the Nile, the Egyptian people
were developing their own language symbols. Their sacred writing was first used as
charms on the tombs of dead kings to bring them good luck in their afterlife. We call
these markings heiroglyphics. Once the Egyptians made the discovery that water reed,
papyrus, could be made into paper, their writing went though many changes. The
simpler symbols aided the Egyptians as they began trading. Next up is Ms. Kathleenʼs
class to tell you more about this part of the timeline.
Ms. Kathleenʼs Class Skit
" In 2,000 BC the Babylonians developed their empire in the Euphrates Valley after
invasions and wars destroyed the Sumerians. The Babylonians continued to write on
clay, but they used reed pens to form wedge shaped marks called cuneiform. The five
wedge shaped makings were symbols which could range in size from large to small to
make different combinations. About 1,000 years later, the Phoenicians (in modern day
Lebanon) were unable to use clay or papyrus on which to write. The material that was
abundant for them was wood from cedar trees. They coated the writing boards with a
layer of beeʼs wax and used a sharp, metal stylus to scratch symbols on the board.
They created symbols that would work on their materials. The Phoenicians also used
symbols for sounds. Their first letter came from their word for ox - aleph. Their second
letter came from their word for house - beth. Please welcome Ms. Kamiʼs class as they
tell you a little more about the Babylonians and the Phoenicians.
Ms. Kamiʼs Class Skit
" About 500 years later, the Greeks learned writing from the Phoenicians who
traveled to Greece. The Greeks developed as many as ten different alphabets of their
own. Local custom and dialects dictated the way the letters were formed. Over the
next hundred years, the Greeks standardized their alphabet. They were the first people
to give symbols to vowel sounds. The Roman people were introduced to the alphabet
by the Etruscans, who invaded Rome in 750 BC. The Etruscan alphabet was similar to
the Phoenician alphabet. In 500 BC, Romans regained control of their city, and slowly
began making changes in the alphabet. Their language, Latin, had some different
sounds and therefore needed different symbols. As the Romans used their alphabet on
arches and monuments, they introduced the most widely used alphabet in the world.
Ms. Leighʼs class will be taking you back to Greek and Roman times. Please welcome
them to the stage.
Ms. Leighʼs Class Skit
Around 750, the French King, Charlemagne, decided that all children should be
educated. Priests and monks were to open schools in every cathedral and monastery.
Scribes went to work copying materials (the Christian Bible and works by Greek and
Roman authors) to be used to teach reading. The priests wanted the letters to be as
beautiful as possible. They also needed letters that used less space so that a sheet of
parchment (made from the skins of animals) could contain many words. They changed
the Latin alphabet to a small (or lower case) alphabet which also took less time to write.
In 1450, Johann Gutenberg created the printing press, which drastically changed the
way books were created. Gutenberg, while growing up in Germany, loved to read. He
wanted, more than anything, to be able to print a bible. When Gutenberg was a boy the
only way to print was with wood blocks, one letter at a time. It was very costly and
letter blocks made of iron that could be combined to make words. He also developed
an ink that would stay on these letter blocks. Although, Gutenberg experienced many
difficulties he was finally able to print the Bible. Welcome to the stage Mr. Trentʼs class
as they present the story of the French priest writers and the Gutenberg press.
Mr. Trentʼs Class skit
" Our timeline comes to an end in the present day. Once traveling became easier
(especially by airplane) people often found themselves in a place where they could not
speak or understand the native language. It became necessary to develop a language
that could be understood by people of many different countries. International road signs
were developed to give travelers information they needed. These signs were first used
in the Tokyo Olympic Games of 1964. The picture symbols share an idea in a way
similar to the earliest of writing. In addition, sign language is also used today to help
people communicate who may have trouble with traditional means of communication.
Finally, with the advent of personal computers, a whole new language is being created,
and the ability to talk to someone thousands of miles away is as simple as logging onto
the Internet. Please welcome Ms. Lauraʼs class to the stage as they close our timeline
Ms. Lauraʼs Class skit
" As you can see, the timeline of language is a rich history of ever-changing
pictures and symbols that spans thousands of years and four corners of the world. We
hope you enjoyed our journey through the Timeline of Language. On behalf of the
students and faculty at Charles Ellis Montessori Academy, thank you for being a
wonderful audience. Please join us in our final song “I Shall Sing”