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25 Feb 2016

Overview of the Montessori 5 Great Lessons

Overview of the Montessori 5 Great Lessons

Author: Admin  /  Categories: Cycle 2, Cycle 3, Curriculum  / 

The child aged 6-12 years is the Second Plane of Development.   They are developing the reasoning mind, and use their imagination and intelligence to fuel their great mental growth.  The Great Lessons are five big and bold stories that present the whole or ‘cosmic’ view of the world. They stir the imagination, fueling exploration and discovery into different subject areas about the world around them. 

Cosmic Education

‘Cosmic’ is the term we use to describe the foundation of the 6-12 year curriculum.   Cosmic in this sense means comprehensive, holistic, and purposeful. “Cosmic Education” goes far beyond just the acquisition of knowledge and developmental growth, to encompass the development of the whole person. 

“..let us give him a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions.... All things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. The idea helps the mind of the child to become focused, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied having found the universal centre of himself with all things.” - Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential.

The Five Great Lessons

The Five Great Lessons provides the structured access to the curriculum.  Each lesson is designed to first give the child an inspiring big picture view of the world and life.   These lessons are bold, exciting, and aim to awaken a child's imagination and curiosity.  It is through the telling and re-telling of the Great Lessons (or Cosmic Lessons) that the child is motivated to do further research.  The lessons initiate exploration and discovery in topics such as geography, maths, science, language and history.  

The Five Great Lessons are presented every year to the children. 

  • First Great Lesson - Coming of the Universe and the Earth
  • Second Great Lesson - Coming of Life 
  • Third Great Lesson - Coming of Human Beings
  • Fourth Great Lesson – Communication and Signs
  • Fifth Great Lesson - The Story of Numbers

First Great Lesson -  The Beginning of the Universe and the Earth

The First Great Lesson tells the story of the beginning of the universe. This lesson includes demonstrations using solids and liquids to show how the continents and oceans first came together. It introduces the vision of the whole to the children.  This is the ‘whole’ to which everything else fits.  

“Let’s give him a vision of the whole universe, the universe is an imposing reality – and an answer to all questions.” Maria Montessori.

The First Great Lesson sets the stage for everything else.  This lesson leads to the study of:
  • Astronomy: solar system, stars, galaxies, comets, constellations
  • Meteorology: wind, currents, weather, fronts, erosion, water cycle, clouds, glaciers
  • Chemistry: states of matter, changes, mixtures, reactions, elements, atoms, periodic table, compounds, molecules, chemical formulas, equations, lab work, experimentation
  • Physics: magnetism, electricity, gravity, energy, light, sound, heat, friction, motion, experimentation
  • Geology: types of rocks, minerals, land forms, volcanoes, earthquakes, plate tectonics, ice ages, eras of the earth
  • Geography: maps, globes, latitude/longitude, climates, land/water form names, continent and country research.

Key Summary

Cosmic Education responds to the needs of the enquiring mind of the child in the second plane of development.
Great Lessons inspire like a prologue to a drama.
The Great Lessons provide the core foundation to the primary curriculum
Cosmic Education leads to:

  • understanding of self in this world, 
  • a sense of gratitude and respect
  • a real desire to care and serve

Additional reading 
Second Plane of Development

Explanation all 5 Great Lessons

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