Montessori Fifth Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up for Primary & Elementary

Collage of Seasons Mat, Toddler Math activities, Calendar Work, and Math Shelf

“So appears the greatness of man…explorer of the whole world and universe outside it, able even to go back in time, and explore what has long ceased to be. Every subject of our interest and study can be related to human beings, who have toiled, often starved, to overcome obstacles for its understanding, and to give us knowledge free of such pains. Everything is the fruit of a human soul, and we incarnate this fruitage in education, this treasury of riches handed on to us by man…the children can easily be brought to thrill to the knowledge that there are millions of people like themselves, striving mentally and physically to solve the problems of life, and that all contribute to a solution…”

– Maria Montessori

We’re excited to share the Fifth and final Great Lesson with you all today. We have really enjoyed our exploration of the Great Lessons. The Five Great Lessons ignite the curiosity and enthusiasm that the children carry with them throughout the rest of their year as they continue to explore various topics.

We spent some time exploring works related to The Story of Numbers and our follow-up work contained a nice mix of printables, hands-on activities, and time spent in nature. Also, we learned about Día de los Muertos, a joyful 2-day cultural holiday commemorating life and death, that takes place Nov 1 & 2, and how to make Pan de Muerto. Finally, we celebrated a birthday. So, let’s get right into it.

What is the Montessori Fifth Great Lesson?

The Fifth Great Lesson in Montessori’s Cosmic Education a.k.a. The Story of Numbers introduces students to various forms and methods of counting and record-keeping. Ancient methods saw the use of concrete materials and were important for agriculture and farming records as well as trading. They were eventually abstracted out to a writing system similar to what we saw during the Fourth Great Lesson. Eventually, more advanced number systems were used to count, measure, and weigh. Days were divided to create a time-keeping system. Stars and planets were tracked to create a calendar system. The lesson concludes with various number systems, some of which are still in use today.

This lesson is traditionally given to Elementary students after The Fourth Great Lesson Follow-Up work is complete. It tells the story of how our uses of mathematics and record-keeping have grown and changed over time.

Subjects Covered in Montessori Fifth Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up

Our Montessori Fifth Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up for Primary and Elementary covers Sensorial, Practical Life, Language, Math, Science, Nature, Geography, History, and Culture, and Art. There are many different directions you can take with this lesson. This is how we did it.

Collage of Seasons Mat, Toddler Math activities, Calendar Work, and Math Shelf

Montessori Fifth Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up

This Montessori Fifth Great Lesson contains materials and follow-up work for all ages, but especially ages 2-12. It contains books, printables, and hands-on activities. More specifically, it covers topics such as Ancient Counting Systems, Time and Calendar Systems, Measurement, Number Systems, and Geometry.

We also revisited some of our Measurement activities from our Second Great Lesson and our History Timeline Cards from our Third Great Lesson.

kids sitting at a table with books and math manipulatives

Fifth Great Lesson

To deliver the lesson, I used the Fifth Great Lesson Story and Nomenclature Cards from this Montessori Great Lessons – Stories & Activities Printable. Our son decided he wanted to sit in on this lesson and I don’t doubt he was interested. We had a lot of materials out to stimulate interest and for comparison as we made our way through the Nomenclature cards. Stick counting sounded a lot like spindle boxes and tally marks. Clay counting pebbles sounded similar to colored beads or golden beads.


Maps was really helpful for providing a visual representation of the location of various civilizations we discussed. Again, you really need some good maps to bring the story to life.

Timelines of Everything had a really cool section on time and mechanical clocks.

Curiositree Human World: A Visual History of Humankind has a really awesome section, “A Brief History of Money”, that everyone thought was cool. It had a lot of information packed into that one section and it ignited a lot of interest in their money activities later on.

Lastly, we used this Encyclopedia of World History to provide more visual examples of number systems in various civilizations. For example, the Mayans had a number system consisting of only 3 number symbols: a shell, a dot, and a bar.

Most of these books were also used in our Montessori Fourth Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up. Since the progression of the Story of Numbers is very similar to the progression our little ones practice their math skills, I thought we’d start with our youngest counter.

child standing in a field holding a flower

Counting, Comparison, and Sorting of Items Found in Nature

Our kids are always collecting things during outdoor play. Flowers, bugs, rocks, sticks, acorns, bones, feathers. I could go on. This is also our favorite way to explore sorting, counting, number quantity, and on-to-one correspondence. You can read more about our Math journey for the Primary years in our Montessori Math at Home.

If you’re looking for some sorting ideas and inspiration, Julie from Nature Inspired Learning will show you the 50 Best Sorting and Classification Activities for Preschoolers.

child completing Montessori Fifth Great Lesson math comparison puzzle

Comparison Shelf Work

These FREE Day of the Dead Skull Puzzles are a big hit right now. All of our kids enjoy matching the halves of the skull based on their intricate and colorful patterns.

Toddler & Primary Math Shelf Activities

These are the beginning Math activities accessible to our 2.5 y.o. daughter. The How Many Bones? activity was adapted from a free printable provided by the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde and it uses stick counting to identify how many fish and eel bones are on each salmon and eel card. The spindles from the spindle box activity can be used as manipulatives for this work. The numeral answer is written on the back of each card for control of error. It’s pretty cool that we can use this as part of our Fifth Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up after our exploration of the Chinook Salmon in our Fourth Great Lesson.

Classic Car Pattern Matching

If you’re one of our subscribers, you know how much our 4 y.o. is enjoying Montessori Living Room’s Classic Cars shelf work. This particular tray has classic car pattern matching and it was one of my son’s favorites.

child carrying math tray of activities

There he goes, never to be seen again. Kidding. But he was engaged in the pattern matching activity for awhile. Afterwards, he sat admiring the nomenclature cards for each classic car.

child completing skip counting puzzle

Skip Counting Puzzle

This is another activity byMontessori Living Room’s Classic Cars. The printable includes several of these skip counting puzzles. Our kids enjoy doing them independently and together.

child looking at numbers and roman numerals

Roman Numerals and Telling Time to the Minute

Our oldest used this Montessori Telling Time: Roman Numerals printable pack to match Numbers and Roman Numerals. Next, we reviewed telling time to the minute using the colored beads and her Montessori Learning Clock by Mirus Toys. The 5 bead bars fit perfectly around this Learning Clock to illustrate counting the minutes and it’s also a great way to practice skip counting by five.

The Roman Numeral printable bundle has several activities included and it’s great for offering various activities to reinforce knowledge of time and Roman Numerals.

child drawing hands on a roman numeral clock face card

Recording Time on a Roman Numeral Clock

TheMontessori Learning Clock was used to practice building the time that was written as a digital timestamp on each Roman Numeral Clock Card. Our oldest wrote the time on the Learning Clock and adjusted the hands on the clock. Finally, she recorded her answer on the Roman Numeral Clock Card. This is a great activity for practicing time to the minute while reinforcing knowledge of Roman Numerals.

Our son uses the clock to practice time to the half hour and enjoys learning from his sister how to read and write time to the minute.

perpetual calendars of week, year, and moon phases on a shelf for Fifth Great Lesson


We really enjoy having these perpetual calendars to keep track of the day, date, and moon phase. We also have a linear calendar whiteboard but we’ve found that these calendars are best for introducing children to the rhythms of nature. Our kids’ Daily Visual Calendar is really helpful for assisting them in their independence with our Montessori Homeschool Daily Rhythm.

Child lying on the floor and touching picture next to a mat of seasons

Seasons of Life

If you follow us on Twitter, you know we celebrated our son’s first birthday this week. We use this Waseca Biomes Seasons Mat for the Montessori Celebration of Life and it’s so awesome to be able to do it for a child’s first birthday. Having pictures for each month of the year allows the children to really see the remarkable growth and development that takes place during the first year of life. Such a great experience for all.

Save $15 on your first Waseca Biomes purchase here.

Montessori child pointing at colored beads on a mat

Equivalence Equations

We used this Balancing Equations Printable to explore equal amounts up to 20.

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children touching golden bead materials on a mat

Balancing Equations with Large Numbers

We used this same Balancing Equations Printable to explore equal amounts in the thousands. Our kids really like this activity because they can each do the first two sets of equations independently and our son is now able to help his sister fetch the appropriate golden beads for the third set of equations. She then shows him how she uses the numeral cards to do the magic slide, identify the value, and state the value.

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More, Less, or Equal activity

Greater Than, Less Than, Equal

We used this same Autumn printable bundle from our Montessori Fourth Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up to learn about More, Less, or Equal. I accidentally printed it incorrectly so the images have black boxes around them. Fortunately, my daughter didn’t mind and she happily drew alligators all over as she practiced her math skills with her brother.

child putting pennies on a money counting board


This Dollar Counting Board by Mirus Toys is always a huge hit with our kids for exploring money, coin values, and adding change up to a dollar. Our son likes to compare the board with these U.S. Currency Nomenclature cards and the coins he made from this U.S. Coins Printable Activity Bundle.

child holding a piece of a trinomial cube math material

Montessori Trinomial Cube

Our kids really like working with the Trinomial Cube. Our 2.5 y.o. is a bit young for it but she loves to stack the pieces just like her brother and sister. Also, our son gets really excited every time he adds the very last block to the cube. So much fun.

child placing pegs in Geometry cards

Roman Numerals and Geometry Cards

Our oldest two are really into these Geometry Cards. They are perfect for reinforcing Roman Numerals while exploring shapes, skip counting, patterns, and more. I love that it comes with a very thorough guide that includes guidance on several activities. Our daughter really likes wrapping the colored yarn around the pegs while she practices skip counting. Our son likes using the rubber bands to create shapes and choosing different ones based on their elasticity.

children playing a compass and counting activity with one child writing on paper

Hundred Board Treasure Map

This Compass Rose Puzzle’s Hundred Board Treasure Map comes with the puzzle and it’s such a great way to practice directions and counting while immersing yourself in the adventure of a treasure hunt.

Our kids each placed a character and some treasures on the map. Next, they identified how many steps in each direction it would take to reach their desired treasure. Finally, our oldest recorded it on a sheet of paper.

We used the Compass Rose Puzzle a lot during our Montessori Fourth Great Lesson and it’s still getting a lot of use as we explore Math.

Language Drawer with Math writing printables

Mathematicians and Inventions

These printables are from our Timeline Cards and the Inventors and Inventions printable from our Montessori Third Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up and we revisited them for this lesson. Our kids love their Montessori Math Books and these printables are a great follow-up work for our oldest. You can find more on them in our Montessori Family Books for February.

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Spielgaben drawers on the floor and nature items created from shape pieces

Spielgaben Shapes in Nature

This is our kids’ go-to activity when they want to spend a couple hours exploring shapes and building things. Sometimes they like to follow these nature inspiration cards and other times they’re building purely from their imagination.

children sitting on the floor next to square insets on a display

Congruent, Similar, and Equivalent Figures Using Square Insets

We used these Square Insets to explore congruent, similar, and equivalent figures. I used the FREE Cultivating Dharma Geometry Album from our Montessori Elementary Curriculum resources to deliver the lesson and it worked out well.

Our 4 y.o. was playing with the Spielgaben and came over to see what we were up to. I didn’t think it would resonate with him but he hung right in there and was taking out the correct square insets as we went through the lesson. It seemed like he enjoyed it.

constructive triangles and equivalency symbols on the floor in front of a child

Equivalent Triangles

I used the same Cultivating Dharma Album to deliver the equivalent triangles lesson along with the triangle box from the Montessori Constructive Triangles.

child performing fraction addition on a fraction manipulation board

Fraction Addition

Our oldest uses this Mirus Toys Fraction Manipulation Board and these Fraction Addition Tickets to practice adding fractions. She loves that she can write on it with a dry erase pen and use the fraction ring as a control of error.

Get 16% off your purchase from Montessorikiwi here.

child measuring ingredients with measuring spoons

Pan de Muerto and Measurements

Our kids followed this recipe for Pan de Muerto or Bread of the Dead while practicing their measurement skills. You can find more of our measurement activities in our Montessori Second Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up.

child weighing ingredients on a kitchen scale
Pan de Muerto on a plate next to pictures and description cards for Dia de los Muertos

This Day of the Dead Mini Bundle was a lot of fun while learning how to make Pan de Muerto.

Montessori Homeschool Math Shelves

Montessori Math Shelves

This is our Math area for our two oldest children. The Number Rods are also kept here instead of over by our 2.5 y.o.’s Math shelving unit. It’s a more suitable location to keep them from being knocked down.

The square insets are out on display for the Fifth Great Lesson and introduction. They will be kept in the Fraction Cabinet after our kids have had more time to practice with them.

The thousand bead chain and mat are hanging out on the Spielgaben until I have an opportunity to hang them.

I believe everything on the top shelf is the same as the last time I shared a Math update in our Montessori Math: Concrete to Abstraction.

You can see we are still keeping the earlier works or larger pieces on the bottom two shelves. The more advanced works on the top two shelves.

Montessori Homeschool Math Shelves with works for Fifth Great Lesson
more math works for Fifth Great Lesson

Montessori Fifth Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up Conclusion

We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how we do the Fifth Great Lesson. Using our Montessori Primary Curriculum and Montessori Elementary Curriculum Resources, we put together a great mix of books, printables, and hands-on experiences for primary and elementary students. There are a lot of directions you can take with this great lesson. This is how we did it. We hope you find it useful as you plan your own Montessori Fifth Great Lesson experiences.

If you’d like to see any of these Math works explained in more detail, let us know in the comments. Also, don’t forget to check out our Montessori First Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up for Primary & Elementary if you haven’t already.

More Montessori Fifth Great Lesson Resources

Thanks for stopping by!

– Kristin


Montessori Fifth Great Lesson Materials & Follow-Up Family Unit. Ancient Counting, Time, Calendar, Measurement, Number Systems, and Geometry.  Includes Birthday Celebration of Life,  Dia de los Muertos learning experiences, and Pan de Muerto.

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