The Five Great Lessons in Montessori are a unique addition to the elementary years which span from ages 6 to 12. They are the foundation of all elementary work and provide a backbone for cosmic education. Each lesson is designed to unlock a particular area of study such a physics or language arts. The framework they provide offers inspiration for child-led exploration. The Great Lessons are typically presented near the beginning of elementary and are repeated annually allowing for deeper understanding. If you explore the various narratives that accompany each lesson, you will discover a beautiful presentation on history.
Each great lesson includes a story. While you can find various scripts online the presentation should be told like any great story. It should be personal and altered to reflect personal beliefs. The lessons are often accompanied with impressionistic charts. These charts help illustrate key points. However, unlike the realistic photos that are used during primary, these charts are typically hand drawn and more abstract which allows a second plane child to use their imagination and reasoning mind to make connections. Some lessons also utilize large timelines, which become a staple for many aspects of elementary work. Others include scientific demonstrations which are particularly exciting for the children.
The first great lesson addresses the creation of the universe. It is often called The God With No Hands. It discusses the introduction of light, the birth of stars and how volcanoes helped form land masses. Many key principles of science are revealed such as gravity, states of matter, air pressure and attraction. This is the most demonstration heavy lesson but it often one of the most dramatic for the children to experience. While this lesson focuses on the history of the universe, history can be expanded in many ways such as the movement of tectonic plates or various space exploration missions.
The second great lessons is called The Coming of Life and addresses all life on Earth both past and present. Depending on your personal beliefs, this lesson moves through the various eras such as the Mesozoic and Jurassic periods to large mammals. This lesson generally introduces the extensive timeline of life which gives a visual reference of the various eras.
The third great lesson is called The Coming of Humans and chronicles the evolution of man and creation of society. It focuses on the unique aspects of humans that separate us from plants and animals. This includes human brains that can imagine possibilities and perceive the world around them or hearts that can feel love and compassion. This understanding of human tendencies provides a platform for understanding why history often unfolds in certain ways. There are no demonstrations, charts or timelines for this lesson as the human being itself is the material.
The Story of Writing is the fourth great lesson and as the name implies, it is a beautiful story of how early communication eventually took on a written form. It begins with primitive pictographs and continues through modern times with the impact of computers on communication. Various impressionistic charts chronicle written language in various societies throughout history. This lesson touches on the contributions of numerous ancient civilizations such as the Phoenicians, Romans and the Chinese.
The final great lesson is called The Story of Numbers. It shows how numbering systems were created in ancient civilizations progressing through the decimal system that is used today. Impressionistic charts are used to show examples of numbers in various societies. Children can explore how occurrences in history affect how number systems developed.
As you can see, the foundation of elementary is based on history. By delving deeply into history, a child can begin to understand their place in society. Consequently, that understanding is one of the key needs identified by Maria Montessori for a child in the second plane. I hope this inspires you to dig deeper into the beautiful world of Montessori for the elementary child.
If you want to learn more about The Great Lessons, I recommend this site. This post is helpful if you need to adjust the lessons for religious purposes.
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I am excited to take part in my first giveaway as part of the 12 Months of Montessori. This giveaway is open to US AND Canada. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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This post is part of the 12 Months on Montessori Series. I am truly humbled to be part of this endeavor. I encourage you to visit all of the participating blogs to learn more about History.