Cosmic Education or the Great Lessons are introduced to elementary school children to entice their imagination, critical thinking skills and motivation. Montessori believed that you should teach and introduce as much information before the years of puberty. She used the Great Lessons to encourage learning at this academic stage. People are sometimes in awe that she thought a child could do advanced algebra, geometry, learn Latin and Greek between ages 6 and 12. In a sense, the elementary school years are a sensitive period to introduce information for higher learning. The foundation for later abstract academic learning is laid during this age span. In contrast, traditional schools have made work easier at the elementary school level because students in secondary school have had such difficulty with basic subjects.
Montessori believed if you introduced advanced math, grammar, writing, reading, science, geography, languages and history to elementary school children, they would be able to survive the ups and downs of learning during puberty. The most difficult years, according to Montessori , were what we would call the middle school years. She thought these kids should be nurtured like a small child. These children should not be stressed out with strenuous academics or sports.
The high school years are the next time to add more rigorous academics and sports.
"After the age of 14 or 15, a young person begins a more peaceful learning period. So during the high school years, a young adult can grow and develop academically physically again." (Periods of Development, Child-1970)
Here are some interesting articles and ideas about the Great Lessons:
"These Great Lessons must be given to each child who is new to the class, but the older children also enjoy hearing them again, and their further exploration with each hearing will take them on different or deeper paths of exploration. We must give the children time to ponder, reflect and think about what they have heard in these tales. Maria Montessori said, ‘The secret of good teaching is to regard the child's intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.' "
"Montessori uses its Five Great Lessons as an introduction to all topics, providing a "Big Picture" to demonstrate how the sciences, art, history, language, geography are interrelated. Through the Five Great Lessons, children become aware that the universe evolved over billions of years, and that it is based on the law and order through which all the plants, animals, and the rest of creation is maintained."
The Great Story is based on Montessori's Great Lessons. Lots of unique and fun ideas
The Great Story Timeline
Montessori's View of Cosmic Education
Great Lessons and Albums from MTC
The First Great Lesson-The Story of the Universe
This has great photos and a step by step lesson for the 1st Great Lesson.
The History of Creation-First Great Lesson
Demonstration of the first great lesson including freezing, the formation of a star, solid-liquid-gas, liquid-viscous, passing from solid to gas, passing from gas-liquid-solid, compounds and mixtures, crystallization, properties of solids- liquids-gases, elastic-plastic-rigid, matters change their state at different temperatures, gravity, rapidity of cooling depends on the mass of the body, volcano, matter expands when heated and evaporation.
The First Great Lesson-The Beginning with key lessons
Miss Barbara's Great Lessons Page
Everything you need to include the Great Lessons in your classroom.
Miss Barbara-The Great Lessons Play-The Birth of the Universe
Great play script with stage and lighting cues-most excellent!
Timeline of the Universe
from Rose Hill Montessori-great overview of history curriculum
Ideas for key lessons and study:
Journey North-Journey South
Gray Whales & Voyage of the Mimi
Bring History to Life in the Elementary Classroom gives suggestions for key lessons-let each student pick a civilization to study-write your own script for a play or use an existing play that reflects the culture. This classroom used the play " The Golden Apple" to study Greek culture in a hands-on way.
The Great Lessons by Rose Hill Elementary
The first lesson, the story of the universe, brings in the study of geology-geography-physics-astronomy.
The second lesson, the coming life, brings in the study of biology.
The third lesson, the coming of human beings, brings in the study of history and civilizations.
The fourth lesson, the story of writing or communication, brings in the study of origins of language, writing, & communication.
The fifth lesson, the story of numbers, brings in number theory, types of number systems or base, and mathematics.
Peacefulmann History Links lots of links for the Great Lesson. Check out the whole blog-it's great.
Great Lessons Overview by Montessori for Everyone