I’ve been doing some reading and re-reading of Montessori philosophy this summer. I thought I’d share my thoughts about how our studies — specifically our USA unit study — fits in with my interpretations of Montessori teaching in the early elementary grades. As I have three kids spanning the two age groupings (both 3-6 and 6-9), I use elements from both.
**We will be starting the year by creating paper maché globes. This is ED’s first (formal) introduction to the world and globes. When I told DD and LD about this, they were excited and said they wanted to make globes as well. I have big plastic bouncy balls on hand and we’ll slather on paper mache and do our best to make reasonable representations of the seven continents and the oceans with paint, glue and sand. (Keep in mind, it’ll be the process not the end result!)
**We will also start off the year with the First and Second Great Lessons. It has been nearly two years since we did the First Great Lesson (coming of the universe and Earth) and a year since our Second Great Lesson (Coming of Life-the geologic timeline). I plan to do these presentations and all the drama over a two or three-day period. If you want to learn more you can visit Miss Barbara’s Great Lessons page or Montessori Albums Great Lessons pages or explore the links put together by Montessori Mom. I think these lessons are really useful for giving the kids a broad overview of the universe, the world and life. Having this broad overview, they can then better understand how smaller ideas and details fit into the big picture. I like the idea that the kids gain a picture of how they fit into the universe and the immense timeline of life.
**Review of the World — continents and oceans (this is new for ED), continent song
**USA in relation to the world —
North America mapwork, What is the country like?
How big is it?
What are the major rivers, mountains and bays?
USA pinmap What is the climate like?
What are its neighbors? (and perhaps Rock the Capitals, Central America to go along with this)
**This unit also seemed perfect since in the early elementary years there’s an emphasis of taking children out into the world for real-life experiences. This unit takes advantage of our location here on the East Coast. We have plans to see the Statue of Liberty, Liberty Bell, White House, Washington Monument, and Mt. Vernon (and perhaps other places, but we’ll see — that’s already quite ambitious!!)
**One issue that I have with myself and our homeschooling is that element of self direction and self-led learning. The kids definitely have their areas of interest. LD, for example, reads and follows his passion for science. You will often find him picking up and reading chemistry, physics book or reading through our vast Horrible Science collection. He designs and sets up his own experiments (often with help from Mom and Dad to gather materials, etc.). But when it comes to other units of study, I often bring forth the materials and we explore topics that I have sought out and set forth. Anyway, just wanted you all to be aware that there is a beautiful element to Montessori philosophy that is under scrutiny for our homeschool. I am tossing up changing our homeschooling style a bit — to be both more structured and more autonomous and independent for the kids. I’m still thinking this through though before I can share anything further here in blogland!
***OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!! — I wrote this post and had this set to send out since we were on holiday visiting family. While we were away I found out that I was the winner of Karen Tyler’s year long Montessori training class. I’ve had a sneak-preview of the albums and what we will be learning over the course of this next year. (My class starts Sept. 1! Hooray!!) It BLOWS MY SOCKS OFF!!! I am a voracious reader and have pretty much read all the books and resources I can get my hands on regarding Montessori philosophy and stuff… Karen’s albums make me feel like I knew nothing… and I can’t wait to get started learning and re-planning for this next year. The course is geared towards 3-6 but let me tell you, LD will benefit from my training course as much or more than little ED here!!!
Anyway, stay tuned as I revisit our homeschool style and structure. I’m on a new journey and I’m SO SO excited!!