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Lower Elementary - The First Great Lesson

Each Friday, I would like to share information with you about the Lower Elementary Montessori philosophy and curriculum. As part of my Montessori training program, I wrote rationales, or essays, for the different curricular areas. The goal in writing these was to explain and examine what we teach, how we teach it, and why we teach it. My goal in sharing these is to give you insight to the Montessori process. Below is an excerpt from my rationale on the Montessori history curriculum - the first great lesson, "The Coming of the Universe" was presented to the class earlier this year, and this week they learned about stellar nucleosynthesis (the birth and death of a star).

The Montessori curriculum is rooted in history lessons. When we teach the cosmic curriculum, the goal is to give students an idea of their place in the past, present, and future of humanity. By starting off with the first great lesson, "The Coming of the Universe", we introduce history from the very beginning. We teach them the big bang theory, and how stars are born. The storytelling aspect of these lessons help invigorate the child’s imagination and leads them to ask more questions about who we are and where we come from. From teaching the children about stars, we can tie that into lessons about physical science: density, elements, states of matter, and more. This astronomy study leads to how our planet was formed, how life came to be on Earth, and then finally to the coming of humans. This progression gives students an idea of their place in the cosmos and a framework for future studies. We want to give them the big picture that will inspire them to look more closely at the smaller details, even going as small as an atom.

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