“Children need to know what came before our sun and planets. If they spend some time studying the formation of the galaxies, the life cycles of the stars, and their contribution to the evolutionary story, they will have a fuller answer to the question “Where do I come from?” Our sun did not just appear in the sky from the first moment after the Big Bang. It is a descendant of 8 billion years of creativity. And we humans do not have just a metaphorical link with the stars; we are descendants of the life cycle of the stars in a real, physical sense.”
– Michael and D’Neil Duffy
We’re excited to share our Montessori First Great Lesson materials and follow-up for the Primary and Elementary years. Our kids couldn’t wait to get started with this awesome Astronomy work and we’ve been having a blast with it. You can check out our Montessori Elementary Curriculum resources and our Montessori Books About the Universe for more details on what you see below.
Often times, people shy away from Science because they feel intimidated by the content. Well, I’m here to tell you not to be. It can be so much fun, especially when you’re doing it the Montessori way. As a result, we hope you take the opportunity to enjoy these awesome resources too.
What is the Montessori First Great Lesson?
The First Great Lesson a.k.a. The Coming of the Universe is the introduction to the Cosmic Curriculum and it’s traditionally given to Elementary students near the beginning of the school year. It tells the story of how our universe began, including our galaxy, the sun, the planets, and the Earth.
Montessori’s Five Great Lessons provide children with a contextual understanding of who they are, where they come from, and their unique purpose or cosmic task. Sounds like a big undertaking, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be.
The Montessori Elementary Curriculum operates on a 3-year cycle. As a result, there is a spiraling effect. Subject matter is introduced more than once, making it easy for children to revisit and explore in greater detail what interests them. The Five Great Lessons are actually retold every year in an attempt to spark a child’s interest in a subject area and give them the opportunity to dive deeper.
Subjects Covered in Montessori First Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up
Since we are including Primary and Elementary students in our First Great Lesson, our goal was to strike a balance between what we’ve taught in Primary in the past with our Montessori Solar System Unit Study & Montessori Geology & Paleontology Unit Study and what we want to introduce to a Lower Elementary student. Also, we like to introduce content and materials that are buildable, knowing that some topics will be revisited in the future.
Our Montessori First Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up for Primary and Elementary covers Sensorial, Language, Math, Science, Geography, History, and Art. Every child is on their own unique path and will be naturally drawn to what interests them most. As a result, there’s something in here for everyone. Luckily, there are a lot of different directions you can take with this lesson. Our kids mostly focused on stars this year.
Appropriate Ages for This Montessori First Great Lesson Work
Again, there’s something in here for everyone. Our 10 month old son enjoys the board books and being present during our read aloud of George’s Secret Key to the Universe (everyone’s favorite book right now) just as much as the rest of us. However, you may find that most of these materials and follow-up works are geared towards children ages 2 – 12. Of course, if your child is mouthing small objects, you can hold off on some of these materials.
Montessori First Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up
This Montessori First 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 The Big Bang, Laws of the Universe Experiments, Coyote and the Sky: Tamaya Pueblo Creation Story, 4 States of Matter, Star Life Cycle, Stellar Nucelosynthesis, The Periodic Table, Constellations, Phases of the Moon, and Structure of the Moon.
We also revisited some of our Montessori Solar System Unit Study materials, including our Solar System mat and our Math planet pattern printables.
First Great Lesson and Laws of the Universe Experiments
Born With a Bang and the other books in this series by Jennifer Morgan are popular in our home. As a result, everyone was very into participating in the Story of the Universe and the Laws of the Universe Experiments.
Earlier in the morning, I set out a tray of the 3 phases of matter using water just to stimulate some curiosity.
Our first rendition of the story was a combination of suggestions from Children of the Universe and Born With a Bang. I believe I picked up the balloon and candle suggestions from Miss Barbara. The balloon pop was an unexpected thrill for the kids. We used our Continent Globe to demonstrate how far the closest stars would be from us if they were on Earth.
Our oldest two each performed one experiment during the demo and that worked well for us. Our son demonstrated the Laws of Attraction using water and pieces of paper. Then, our daughter demonstrated Liquids Settling According to their Density using colored water, honey from our Montessori Bee Unit Study, and olive oil.
First Great Lesson Revisited with Cosmic Story Mat
The next day we revisited the First Great Lesson using our Waseca Biomes Cosmic Story Mat. This mat is a companion to Born With a Bang. The storytelling and sequence cards are beautiful. Our oldest two focused on the storytelling cards as I read one after the other. Next, our oldest really enjoyed the process of reading the sequence cards and matching them to the images with the help of her brother. Another day, we mapped out the timeline arrows and thumbprint pictures. Lots of fun.
We also picked out our Parts of the Biome Readers related to the First Great Story.
Save $15 on your first Waseca Biomes purchase here.
First Great Lesson Watercolor Painting
Some of our Montessori First Great Lesson materials and follow-up included watercolor painting. Our kids created watercolor paintings inspired by the Born With a Bang/Cosmic Story Mat illustrations using their watercolor journals and these paintbrushes for young children.
Four States of Matter Shelf Work
These Language and Science shelves are where a lot of our Montessori First Great Lesson materials and follow-up works reside. We’re doing left to right, top to bottom in this area for the most part. That is opposed to other arrangements we’ve used in the past that were suited to various ages and stages. Our oldest son is reading CVC words and using a lot of the same materials as his older sister so this works for now.
This top shelf contains printables that serve as a great introduction to plasma, which was not covered during the presentation of The First Great Lesson. Our oldest read the plasma reader aloud. Both of our older kids used the three part cards but in different ways. Our daughter matched the definitions and labels to the images. Our son enjoyed matching the labels.
They both had a lot of fun with the sorting game. They’ve played it several times together.
Star Life Cycle, Stellar Nucleosynthesis, and Periodic Table of the Elements Shelf Work
- Montessori Stellar Nucleosynthesis Cards – Life Cycle of a Star
- Life Cycle of a Star Puzzle by Mirus Toys
- Life Cycles: Everything from Start to Finish
- Periodic Table Booklet by Mirus Toys
- Periodic Table Puzzle including tiles, key, & companion guide by Mirus Toys
Our Montessori First Great Lesson materials and follow-up works include the Life Cycle of a Star, Stellar Nucleosynthesis, and an exploration of the elements in the periodic table.
I must say I’m really happy with how these materials have taken these abstract concepts and made them concrete. Both of our older kids have come back to these materials several times since they were introduced and we’ve enjoyed seeing them develop an understanding of the underlying concepts.
My husband told me that our daughter informed him in the car the other day that his water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen, and that hydrogen came first.
Star Life Cycle and Stellar Nucleosynthesis
The first time I introduced the cards, we focused on just the Life Cycle of the Star. Later, I added the cards for production of the elements during the cycle. Using suggestions from the Children of the Universe paid off. By the time our oldest got to this point in her studies, she already knew that stars like our sun can’t complete the cycle of larger stars. Therefore, the puzzle made sense to her.
Exploring the Elements
Our kids very quickly oriented themselves to the Periodic Table Puzzle, not wanting much of an introduction from me. I gave a very simple explanation of the table and the purpose of the puzzle. They spent a little time checking out the key before immediately dumping the pieces and getting to work.
I thought this Montessori First Great Lesson materials and follow-up work would be mostly of interest to our oldest but our 4 y.o. was into it. Also, it turns out this is a great material for number recognition and some sequencing up to 100. Places on the table where the sequence skipped, our kids searched for the number or matched the puzzle image to the key.
They concentrated on this board for awhile. After they were about 1/3 of the way through, they grabbed the Periodic Table Booklet off the shelf as well and began exploring the element tiles they had placed on the board. They really enjoyed this. When they were finished, they put the puzzle back on the shelf with the tiles in place in order to save their spot for next time.
Constellation Shelf Work and Books
- Zoo in the Sky
- Glow-In-The-Dark Constellations
- What We See in the Stars
- Constellation Tiles by Mirus Toys
These are our favorite books for learning about constellations. Glow-In-The-Dark Constellations is an awesome field guide for kids. Our little ones love exploring in the dark. Constellations are a great excuse to stay up late when it’s not quite dark enough before bed.
We also like to pair our books with these Constellation Tiles. We have the Animals in the Sky (set of 6) and 4 custom tiles (Ursa Major, Draco, Orion, and Canis Major) for a total of 10 constellation tiles. This gives us a nice set of circumpolar (visible year-round) and seasonal constellations for our location in the Northern Hemisphere.
This is a great activity for kids to do together as well as independently. Our two year old is not quite ready to operate the flashlight and hold the tile. As a result, she likes to shine the light on the wall under the staircase while her older brother positions the Constellation Tile.
They also like manipulating the size of the resulting shadow by experimenting with the distance of the flashlight and the tile from the wall. Lots of lessons wrapped up in these neat little tiles.
First Great Lesson Art and Handwriting Activities
- National Geographic Kids Super Space Sticker Activity Book
- First Great Lesson Story Starters (FREE)
- Stellar Nucleosynthesis Coloring
Astronomy Follow-Up Experiments and Scientific Method Records
We use the Scientific Method printable with our Astronomy For Every Kid experiments and we’re really enjoying it. Our kids like the word hypothesis and they love guessing what the conclusion will be.
They were really interested in black holes after learning about the star life cycle. As a result, they did Experiment #60 from Astronomy for Every Kid. This was a great resource for learning more about how black holes are formed. Super cool. I helped them understand how to use the printable with their experiment. They recorded their findings as they completed each step of the scientific method.
DIY Solar System Using Montessori Geometric Cabinet
- Geometric Cabinet
We already have a DIY Solar System mat from our Montessori Solar System Unit Study. As a result, our oldest decided to trace some planets using the Geometric Cabinet. She used a page about the Solar System from this gorgeous Planetarium book. Soon after, her brother joined in.
Moon Calendar and Shelf Work, Cosmic Story Cards, and Solar System Materials
This area has our Calendar and Geography shelves. It’s such a beautiful and inviting space in our homeschool.
Our kids are really enjoying the addition of the Moon Phases Puzzle as part of their Calendar work. The Parts of the Moon diagram, Structure of the Moon diagram, and the matching Phases of the Moon Nomenclature Cards come with this gorgeous Moon Phases Puzzle and Calendar.
The large storytelling cards and sequence cards are part of our Waseca Biomes Cosmic Story Mat we showed at the beginning of this post.
The Inside the Planets printable on the far right is also beautiful. It’s a subscriber freebie for homeschoolers that we received from Mirus Toys.
Montessori Work Plan, Review, and Folders for Ongoing and Completed Work
This is how our older kids document their work for each week. They use these folders to keep track of it. They fill out the Montessori Work Plan at the end of their day. The folders are for ongoing work and completed work.
Montessori First Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up Conclusion
We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how we do the First Great Lesson. Using our Montessori Elementary Curriculum Resources, we put together a great mix of books, printables, and materials for a variety of hands-on experiences. There are a lot of directions you can take with The Story of the Universe. This is how we did it and our kids are really immersed in their work.
Don’t forget, we also have an awesome collection of Montessori Books About the Universe and a great family read aloud in George’s Secret Key to the Universe. I highly recommend it for all ages. We can’t get enough.
However you end up exploring Montessori’s First Great Lesson, we hope you relax and enjoy. Science is so much fun, especially when you do it the Montessori way.
More Montessori First Great Lesson & Science Resources
- Books About the Universe
- Montessori Second Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up for Primary & Elementary
- Montessori Third Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up for Primary & Elementary
- Fourth Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up for Primary & Elementary
- Earth Science Books
- Montessori Solar System Unit Study
- Montessori Geology & Paleontology Unit Study
Thanks for stopping by!
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