Begun by Sharon Caldwell
NOTE TO THE READER: This page is a work in progress. I will continue to update it as I find more resources and information. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions and requests. Please also check out the Cosmic Education section in Links. Most of my favorite links are there and may not be duplicated in this article.
We must be careful not to fix the details of the Great Lessons so that they become so precisely accurate that they become mere catalogs of facts. The need to remain stories of inspiration. We as teachers need to be clear that these Lessons must set the children’s hearts and minds on fire. This is our first priority. As the children break off from the Great Lessons to do research, there they will find the facts. – Robyn – Montessori-L discussion Group
Theory of Cosmic Education:
The AMI elementary trainers are unanimous in saying that we should present all the Great Stories within the first 2 – 6 weeks of the school year and that there should be no follow-up work assigned. – John Snyder, Austin Montessori School. (in an email to Montessori-L discussion list).
If the children are not doing spontaneous follow-up work it means they aren’t inspired – the teacher must then work out why her lessons are not exciting the children. It is also OK if some children do not do follow-up work. They are hearing the stories and also hearing discussions that lead from them as the teacher continues to unpack the stories as the year progresses. The stories are not meant to “teach” factual knowledge but rather to evoke a sense of wonder and a deep appreciation of the interconnectedness of everything. They are intended to spark an understanding of the Cosmic Task of Man.
Cuevas, Eduardo J. G. Liberty: Spiritual Freedom and Moral Responsibility. 25th International Montessori Congress Papers.
Duffy, M & D. Cosmic Education in the Elementary Classroom, Parent Child Press, 2002.
Grazzini, Baiba Krumins, “The Role of the Disciplines for Cosmic Education”, Communications 2006/1, 64 – 74.
Hayes, Mary Montessori’s View of Cosmic Education, 25th International Montessori Congress Papers.
Hilson, Patricia. Laying the Foundations for Cosmic Education in the Child 3 – 6 Years.
Montessori, Maria. To Educate the Human Potential. – Especially important is the first essay: “The Six Year Old Confronted with the Cosmic Plan.”
ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE
Some Great Books to inspire extensions from First Great Lesson:
Wikipedia History of Earth is a good place to start looking for info.
The Authors, How To Create a Flawless Universe in Just Eight Days, Godfather Publications, No Location, 597b.
– Yes, this is a real book – but written with tongue firmly locked in cheek. 6 – 12s really enjoy it.
STORY OF LIFE
www.naturedetectives.org.uk – Why leaves change colour. Good explanation of photosynthesis.
For a more detailed explanation of photosynthesis
CLASSIFICATION OF LIVING THINGS
Parallel to the story of life you begin to explore Classifications/Taxonomy. Depending on the background of your students you can start off with simple “Who am I?” activities to extend exposure to the natural world – either using objects (shells, etc.) or model animals (must be realistic) or picture cards. With children who are reading, you can use “First Stories” which combine short descriptive paragraphs with names and pictures of plants and animals.
Bang, Molly and Chisholm, Penny. Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life. Blue Sky Press. 2009. [Recommended by Priscilla Spears.]
THE STORY OF HUMANS
www.handprint.com – This is one of my favorite teacher resource sites, although older children enjoy it too. I love it especially because it highlights the hand-brain connection so integral to Dr. Montessori’s thinking.
THE STORY OF WRITING
A simple version of the story with nice clear graphics that can be hand-drawn on a whiteboard while telling the story: http://www.moteaco.com/albums/greatlessons/story4.html
For more detailed lesson plans see Miss Barbara: www.missbarbara.net/thehistoryofwriting.html
Simple, uncluttered printable timeline: http://www.moteaco.com/albums/writing.html
Human History Timelines:
Christ as the center of human history – see www.montessoriforeveryone.com for a free download timeline. The instructions include some interesting information on dating. NOTE: This is a resource developed by Montessori educators of that faith. The same strategies can be used in many other ways