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

Montessori child sitting at a table with language and history books, and nomenclature cards

“When we hear our children speak in our native languages, we hear the voices of our ancestors.”

– Crystal Starr Szczepanski 

We are back to share our Montessori Fourth Great Lesson materials and follow-up for the Primary and Elementary years.You can check out our Montessori Elementary Curriculum resources and our shop for more details on what you see below. We hope you find it useful for planning your own experiences.

We’re are continuing right along in our exploration of Montessori’s Great Lessons and this Fourth Great Lesson experience was pretty awesome. We spent some time exploring works related to The Coming of Language and our follow-up work contained a nice mix of printables, hands-on activities and a project-based learning experience.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our Montessori First Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up to see where this story starts.

What is the Montessori Fourth Great Lesson?

The Fourth Great Lesson in Montessori’s Cosmic Education a.k.a. The Coming of Language or The Story of Communication introduces students to the development of communication over time and across civilizations. It covers the sounds, gestures, and pictograms of early humans, through the cuneiform of the Sumerians, the heiroglyphs of the Egyptians, and the first official alphabet of the Phoenicians. It explores derivatives of the first alphabet, which were created by the Greeks and Romans, and some additional ancient forms of writing, such as Chinese and Hebrew.

This lesson is traditionally given to Elementary students after The Third Great Lesson Follow-Up work is complete. Our kids focused some of their creative energy on exploring topics that are represented or symbolized with little to no words. Additionally, we explored Chinuk Wawa, the language of the Indigenous people of our area, and the translation for some popular nouns in our home right now. We also introduced some word study work, and our two Primary homeschoolers continued their respective pre-literacy and beginning writing/reading works.

Together, 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.

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

Our Montessori Fourth Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up for Primary and Elementary covers Sensorial, Language, Practical Life, Math, Science, Nature, Geography, History, and Art. There are many different directions you can take with this lesson. Our kids spent a lot of time engaged in activities related to the History of Language, Pictograms, the Indigenous language of our area – Chinuk Wawa, Ecology, Mapping, and diagrams used to represent complex topics.

Many students will choose to do a Geology Unit as follow-up to this great lesson work.

Collage of Activities completed for Montessori Fourth Great Lesson

Montessori Fourth Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up

This Montessori Fourth 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 history of communication and language, the Indigenous language of our location, ecology, word study, maps, and diagrams.

Many of the materials we used in this Great Lesson were made accessible to our kids through display on their Language shelves or inside/on top of the Art/Handwriting cabinet in their Montessori Art and Handwriting Space.

Montessori child sitting at a table with language and history books, and nomenclature cards

Fourth Great Lesson

To deliver the lesson, I used the Fourth Great Lesson Story and Nomenclature Cards from this Montessori Great Lessons – Stories & Activities Printable. I didn’t use this resource for the previous Great Lessons but I found the narrative and the cards very helpful for this one. I read the story aloud and we paused along the way so our daughter could read and lay out the Nomenclature Cards for each component of the lesson. We also used several books as additional visual aids.

Books

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

Ox, House, Stick provided some additional background and had a lot of information about the history of specific letters of our alphabet. On page 11, there’s a heading that our daughter has been repeating throughout this lesson and follow-up experience. She even copied it into her Language notebook. It’s fascinating to me what sticks out in her mind. The heading she couldn’t stop thinking about:

“But What Did It Sound Like?”

Ox, House, Stick

Curiositree Human World: A Visual History of Humankind has a really awesome section, “A Brief History of Books”, that we both really enjoyed perusing during the lesson.

We’ve briefly mentioned Historium in our Montessori Family Books for February. Our daughter really enjoyed looking at the illustrations in this big book of historical artifacts, including the large cuneiform tablet.

Lastly, we used this Encyclopedia of World History to round things out and stimulate interest along the way. The Deer Bookmark is one of several she’s enjoying right now and we’ll share more about that below.

Lesson Experience

This turned out to be an incredibly interesting experience for our daughter. In fact, she spent quite a bit of time just exploring information in these resources as we made our way through the story. Our younger kids focused on other tasks at this time.

Looking back, I’m glad we chose to do this lesson with only our oldest in the room. It gave her the opportunity to really take her time and explore these new concepts as we learned about communication and the language of early humans, all the way to modern times. I noticed her nestled up to these books at various times throughout this great lesson experience.

Pictures of Deer and a Sun Taped to a Window

Early Human Pictograms to Contemporary Farmhouse Window Art

We spent some time learning about the Pictograms of early humans. This included Gorham’s Cave Complex in Gibraltar, The Leang Tedongnge Cave in Indonesia, and Cueva de las Manos in Argentina.

Afterwards, they decided to create some window art to honor the deer that greet us in the morning and keep us company throughout the day. They used this Oh Deer! printable and they enjoyed it so much they completed every activity in the packet.

Their favorite part was arranging the deer on the window pane exactly as they see them through the window when they wake up. We actually have black-tailed deer by us but it was all smiles as we learned about the similarities and differences. They taped the deer in place along with a sun to demonstrate when and where they can be seen. Such a great way to honor the deer we love and that provide us with nourishment.

This activity left our kids wondering what other kinds of important information can they share without needing to write a lot of, if any, words to convey their message.

Ecosystem printable of land and ocean habitat with several cutout illustrations of animals.

Chinook Salmon Pictograms and Diagrams

Well, we searched through our resources and lo and behold, inside the Fall Mega Bundle, we found this absolutely stunning Chinook Salmon Unit Study that is just chock full of visual representations of really important ecological concepts. The illustrations were completed by Gitxsan and Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw, Squamish Nation artists.

Just as the black-tailed deer is part of the story of where we live, so is the Chinook Salmon. They are a keystone species and they are also endangered. We knew that this unit could help tell the story of where we live and the land we call home.

Our kids immediately got to work constructing a visual representation of the Chinook Salmon in its habitat and the other organisms present. They modeled the interactions and relationships that exist between them to truly understand this ecosystem.

Life cycle coins on a board lyingon a carpet and a child grabbing a wooden coin.

Chinook Salmon Life Cycle

Our kids used the Chinook Salmon Life Cycle printables alongside the Mirus Toys Wooden Life Cycle Board to visualize the life cycle of a salmon.

The larger Salmon Life Cycle Coins are double-sided with the stage of the cycle written on the back as a control of error. The smaller coins are influencer coins. They are green on the back if they’re a positive influence and red if they’re a negative influence on the salmon cycle.

We have almost all of the life cycle and food chain coins for this life cycle board. They’re a really helpful hands-on approach that generates interest and enhances understanding of these important topics.

Cutout illustrations of animals pasted on a blue paper with food web title

Food Web

Using the Salmon Predators and Prey Description Cards, they constructed a Food Web. They cut out the beautiful illustrations of some of their favorite animals and glued them to some cardstock. I gave a little guidance as far as starting off at the bottom of the page with the phytoplankton. Otherwise, it was a game of shuffling the illustrations around until the information on the description cards matched the web.

Food web for salmon including illustrations of people and animals on blue paper

This was one of the most enjoyable activities for them during their Fourth Great Lesson follow-up work. Figuring out where everything fit in the food web and being able to visualize exactly how important the Chinook Salmon are in this web was a really powerful experience for them. So many different organisms depend on these endangered Chinook Salmon. Even trees need the salmon.

We all agreed that this is knowledge we would want to pass on to anyone who comes along behind us, so our kids hung it on the wall along with their ecosystem picture.

It also led to a larger discussion about what we would want anyone who came to the farm after us to know about this land and what is so special about it. They also wanted to be able to share some of the things that any inhabitants would need to survive during their stay. Can you guess where we’re going with this?

Maps

Our kids decided to construct a map of the farm. Constructing a map requires understanding your location, knowing the land and its inhabitants, creating a list of items to include, and creating a legend.

puzzle map of north america

North America Map

You may have seen our affordable continent map in our Montessori Continent Studies: Antarctica. We also use these Waseca Biomes Continent Map Puzzles for exploring various continents. Here, our kids took turns placing the North America puzzle pieces on the control map. Next, they carefully placed them back onto the map puzzle. Afterwards, they traced the puzzle pieces onto paper to create their own map of North America.

Finally, we talked about the difference between a biome and an ecosystem.

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compass rose puzzle and cards lying on a mat next to children

Cardinal Directions

Next, they learned more about directions and using a compass with this Mirus Toys Compass Rose Puzzle. This puzzle comes with the Nomenclature cards and a printable game. It gives our kids a lot of practice with these skills between experiences using their compass outdoors. These materials have really increased their understanding of cardinal directions and orientation. We also touched a little bit on scale.

compass rose puzzle and cards on a shelf

The Mirus Toys Compass Rose Puzzle on our homeschool shelves. The Suunto compass assists with identifying North before they get started with the Nomenclature cards and puzzle. This way, they are facing the correct direction as they practice with the compass rose puzzle.

picture of a farmhouse and land

Map Field Work

Our oldest created a list of features to include and we headed out to create our map.

picture of children in trailsuits sitting on the grass
hand drawn pictures and symbols on cardboard

The map of the farm, including the items from our list: deer, coyote, trees, garden, grapes, apples, salmon, turkey, and elk. The large red triangle represents north. We added this to the collection of items we’d like to share with anyone who comes to this farm after us.

child holding a pencil next to cards with illustrations and words

The Phoenicians and Words Without Vowels

Our oldest was inspired by the story of the Phoenicians and the first alphabet. She decided to explore the idea of words without vowels. Later, she completed this Fill in the Missing Vowels Activity.

pink and blue metal insets and a child placing a blue triangle in a pink triangle inset holder

Montessori I Have, Who Has?

Our 5, 4, and 2.5 y.o. played this I Have, Who Has? game together as they imagined what it would be like to trade items without a common language between them. It took some practice with all three playing together, but they eventually fell into a groove. All three were quite excited and laughing by the end of it. This is a great example of a game that is simple enough for our 2.5 y.o. preschooler to enjoy.

Three books about Indigenous peoples lying on a table

Indigenous Languages and Cultures of The Pacific Northwest

We also decided to learn more about an Indigenous language of the Pacific Northwest, Chinuk Wawa. If you’ve read our Montessori Indigenous Education Books, you know that we enjoy a nice collection of Indigenous books and a couple with Cree and Ojibwe translation. We also have some Montessori Bilingual Spanish-English Books that we enjoy. However, we decided it was time to learn more about Chinuk Wawa. It is part of the history of this land and its people, both past and present.

As we have been learning from The First Oregonians and Coyote Was Going There, the native tribes of Oregon had different cultures and languages before being forced to relocate to the reservation and communicate with each other. Chinuk Wawa, which began as a Pidgin language, was commonly used for trading purposes among tribal and non-tribal members. Over time, it became the dominant language in use.

Learning more about Chinuk Wawa, how to read it and write it, and what it sounds like helps us to connect to the land. It’s the language of the Indigenous people here. As we’ve seen with our ecosystem work, this is all very important. It helps us to understand more about tribal lifeways and how to care for everything, as it is all connected.

Language cards with hand drawn illustrations and labels in Chinuk Wawa and English

Chinuk Wawa Language Cards

I downloaded the Chinuk Wawa App and used that to help our oldest hear and translate these nouns. She drew the images for each card. When she was satisfied with what she had, she copied them into her Language notebook along with the noun grammar symbol. Afterwards, she put the cards on her Language and Science shelves near her word study and other shelf work. She was quick to pick out a compound word to add to her collection.

The blank card printable is the same one from our Montessori Third Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up that our oldest used to create her My Fundamental Needs booklet.

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Grande Ronde Cultural Education Program

We also looked at more videos from the Grande Ronde Cultural Education Program. Our kids really enjoyed watching the Salmon Song. Also, they have some really helpful resources in their Noble Oaks series. These videos identify native plants and discuss their uses by Indigenous peoples. As a result, we are incorporating them, along with other Indigenous resources, into our studies of Regenerative Agriculture.

wooden tray with image cards and a glue stick

Word Study: Compound Words, Suffixes, and Prefixes

Yes, our Fourth Great Lesson follow-up work did include Word Study. We’ve already introduced the noun as I mentioned in our Montessori Second Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up. We’ve moved on to Word Study with Compound Words, Suffixes, and Prefixes.

I gave the lessons using the FREE Cultivating Dharma Language album from our Montessori Elementary Curriculum. I would definitely recommend using this Montessori Word Study Activities Bundle along with it. From what we’ve seen so far with compound words, suffixes, and prefixes, the printable bundle uses almost exactly the same words as are used in the Cultivating Dharma lessons. It’s very easy to transition from the lesson to the follow-up work when used together. The Bundle includes several different activities for each word study topic to help reinforce the content.

We don’t have a red and black movable alphabet. Therefore, we printed some letters from this FREE Initial Sounds Sorting printable in a second color.

two children sitting on the floor next to red and blue letters and a drawer with image cards

Writing and Reading

Our oldest two use the Waseca Biomes Reading Program and they really enjoy it. There’s a nice mix of cards in each drawer and they really enjoy discovering what’s in the next drawer. The reading program uses the Orton-Gillingham approach to literacy. We’ve found it to be a very thorough and enjoyable experience for all involved. This Reading Program is also a downloadable resource now, which makes it very affordable.

Our son is on the Red Drawers and he, like his sister before him, really appreciates having the CVC mat. It serves as an added control of error for this first set of drawers. He builds the word on the card using the CVC mat with the movable alphabet. He then transfers the card with the answer to the larger work mat. Next, he matches the labels to the cards and reads the booklet in the drawer.

The final step for each drawer is handwriting practice in print or cursive. This is a FREE downloadable resource found on their website in the pdf library. Also included is the progress chart for our little ones to mark off as they go.

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child building a pink tower of blocks on a stand

Montessori Pink Tower

Our 2.5 y.o. practiced building the Pink Tower. It is an excellent material for teaching Primary students language descriptors such as big, biggest, small, and smallest. It has a built-in control of error and reinforces visual discrimination of size. We think it is one of The Best Montessori Sensorial Materials for Homeschool.

child smiling and eating carrots with an apron on

Language Through Practical Life

We also practiced Language through Practical Life activities. We prepped some veggies from our garden to add to a Venison Roast. From food vocabulary and tools, to learning new skills through scaffolding of tasks, Language is everywhere in Practical Life.

two children standing in a learning tower next to a kitchen workspace

Montessori Fourth Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up Conclusion

We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how we do the Fourth Great Lesson. Using our Elementary and Primary Curriculum Resources, we put together a great mix of books, printables, and materials. This made for a nice variety of hands-on experiences. There are a lot of directions you can take with The Coming of Language. This is how we did it and our kids really enjoyed it. We hope you find it useful for planning your own homeschool experiences.

More Montessori Great Lesson Resources

Thanks for stopping by!

– Kristin

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Montessori Fourth Great Lesson Materials & Follow-Up Family Unit. History of Language, Indigenous Language, Grammar, Word Study, Maps, Ecology, Practical Life, etc.

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