"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 the history of language, also known as the Montessori Fourth Great Lesson materials and follow-up for the primary and elementary years.
You can check out these Montessori elementary curriculum resources for more details on what you see below. We hope you find it useful for planning your own experiences.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Amazon links are not affiliate links. You can read my full affiliate disclosure.
We're 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 Story 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 The Montessori First Great Lesson 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 Story of Language or The Story of Communication introduces students to the development of communication over time and across civilizations. It covers the origin of human language: 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.
What Subjects Are Covered in the History of Language for Kids?
This 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. The 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.
You can also
Free Montessori Five Great Lessons Series
Explore the Montessori Great Lessons, the introduction to the Cosmic Curriculum, traditionally given to Elementary students near the beginning of the school year. This 5-part weekly email series will help you tell the story of how our universe began all the way to the origins of language and numbers.
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.
This interpretation expands upon the traditional lessons geared toward elementary students to include works applicable to environments of various ages and learners with a variety of interests. This family-style approach supports everyone in your homeschool, nurturing the wonder and joy of all who participate.
History of Language for Kids: The Montessori Fourth Great Lesson
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.
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 Kaia could read and lay out the Nomenclature Cards for each component of the lesson. We also used several books as additional visual aids.
Timelines of Everything covers many topics, including an example of cuneiform as seen above, and other early forms of written language.
Montessorikiwi's Ancient Civilizations Bundle is a grab-and-go resource with hands-on materials for exploring Ancient Egypt, Ancient Persia, and Ancient China.
Get 16% off your purchase from Montessorikiwi here.
Maps is 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: The History of Our Alphabet by Don Robb 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 Kaia 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?"Don Robb
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 Montessori Books for Africa & Black History. Kaia 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.
The Arabesque Table provides much insight into the Cradle of Civilization and offers unique experiences for those interested in exploring the history, food, and culture of the Arab World.
As Reem Kassis points out in her book, this is where the oldest recipes known to man were transcribed.
Free Recipe for Pre-Readers and Up
Try a free recipe for pre-readers and up from The Arabesque Table!
Kids can gather ingredients using the ingredient list, gather their equipment with the tools list, and prepare the meal using the step-by-step recipe cards, with assistance as needed. The cards are easy to use, include pictures, and encourage confidence and independence in the kitchen.
This turned out to be an incredibly interesting experience for Kaia. In fact, she spent quite a bit of time just exploring information in these resources as we made our way through the story. The younger kids focused on other tasks at this time.
Looking back, I'm glad I chose to do this lesson with only Kaia 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.
Early Human Pictograms to Contemporary Farmhouse Window Art
We spent some time learning about the history of language through 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.
Afterward, 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 that 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 the 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.
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.
The 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.
Chinook Salmon Life Cycle
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.
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.
This was one of the most enjoyable activities for them during their History of Language follow-up work. Figuring out where everything fits 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 the knowledge we would want to pass on to anyone who comes along behind us, so the kids hung it on the wall along with their ecosystem picture.
Here is a collage of some activities, including the Mirus Toys Parts of a Tree Trunk Puzzle.
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?
The 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.
North America Map
We use these Waseca Biomes Continent Biome 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. Afterward, 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.
Stop by our homeschool tour for more on our geography and science materials.
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 the 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.
The Mirus Toys Compass Rose Puzzle is displayed 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.
Map Field Work
Kaia created a list of features to include and we headed out to create our map.
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.
History of Language: The Phoenicians and Words Without Vowels
Kaia 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.
History of Language: Montessori I Have, Who Has?
Kaia, Noah, and Katalina 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 a 2.5 y.o. preschooler to enjoy.
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 translations.
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.
DIY Chinuk Wawa Language Cards
I downloaded the Chinuk Wawa Language App and used that to help Kaia 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.
Afterward, 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.
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Free Chinuk Wawa and English Language Cards
Grab your free Chinuk Wawa - English Language Cards complete with a sorting activity. Translations are from the FREE Chinuk Wawa App.
Kids can sort the cards into rows or columns using the heading cards: traditional food and equipment. The colors of the cards provide a control of error so that kids can self-correct when completing this work independently.
These sorting cards also make excellent three-part cards for introducing new vocabulary. To use these as 3-part cards, simply print two copies of the printable and then cut the labels off the cards on one of the copies. Children can match the picture and then match the label as they show readiness.
Grande Ronde Cultural Education Program
We also looked at more videos from the Grande Ronde Cultural Education Program. The 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.
Exploring Languages and Traditions
An excellent middle-grade book, Mascot allows kids to explore facts and opinions related to a school mascot and whether change is the best solution.
The book also exposes kids to languages besides English and includes translations.
History of Language Through Word Study: Compound Words, Suffixes, and Prefixes
Yes, this 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 the Montessori Elementary Curriculum. I would definitely recommend using this Montessori Word Study Activities Bundle along with it. From what we've seen so far, the printable bundle uses almost exactly the same words as 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.
This Waseca Biomes grammar cabinet contains 56 drawers related to parts of speech. The drawers hold grammar box cards for a variety of grammar lessons. The cards come with a presentation guide that makes giving the lessons uncomplicated. All you need is the grammar symbols to go with it.
Montessori Language Lessons: Writing and Reading
Kaia and Noah 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.
Noah 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.
Literacy Extension Activities
As kids make their way through the Waseca Reading Program, there are additional opportunities to work with the materials.
This shelf work is self-correcting practice with consonant digraphs using the Waseca Reading Program picture cards and Polliwog Learning Materials sandpaper letter blends.
Waseca Sentence Building materials use movement & cognition to nurture reading skills. Kids place the word cards in the correct order to form the sentence that describes the Illustration Card. The red through blue folders include the control card seen above.
Learn more about homeschooling in the preschool and kindergarten years with this free homeschool course.
Montessori Pink Tower
Katalina 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.
Grab your free printable guide to the pink tower and geometric solids, including extension ideas.
We think it is one of The Best Sensorial Materials for Homeschool.
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.
Montessori Work Plan, Review, & Folders for Ongoing & Completed Work
This is how Kaia and Noah 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.
History of Language for Kids: The Montessori Fourth Great Lesson Conclusion
We hope you've enjoyed seeing how we explore the history of language. Using the Elementary and Primary Curriculum Resources, I 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 History of Language Resources
- Indigenous Education Books
- Montessori Language Books
- Five Ways to Use the Movable Alphabet at Home
- Interesting History Topics
- Montessori Fifth Great Lesson
Thanks for stopping by!
- Timelines of Everything
- Ox House Stick
- Curiositree Human World
- The Arabesque Table
- Encyclopedia of World History
- An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States
- The First Oregonians
- Coyote was Going There
- Indigenous Education Books
- Bilingual Spanish English books
- Colored Pencils
- Practical Life experiences, such as Cooking
- Mirus Toys Wooden Life Cycle Board
- Mirus Toys Life Cycle Coins
- Mirus Toys Compass Rose Puzzle
- Mirus Toys Parts of a Tree Trunk Puzzle
- Waseca Biomes Continent Biome Puzzles
- Waseca Biomes Reading Program
- Waseca Biomes Grammar Box Cards
- Waseca Biomes Grammar Cabinet
- Waseca Biomes Grammar Stencil
- Waseca Biomes Grammar Symbols
- Noun and Verb Introduction Solids with Tray
- Movable Alphabet
- CVC Mat
- Polliwog Learning Materials Birch Wood Sandpaper Blends
- Waseca Biomes Sentence Building
- Montessori Pink Tower
- SUUNTO Compass
- Device for Viewing Gorham’s Cave Complex
- The Leang Tedongnge Cave
- Cueva de las Manos
- Chinook Wawa App (FREE)
- Grand Ronde Cultural Education Program- Salmon Song
- Grand Ronde Cultural Education Program - Noble Oaks
- Chinuk Wawa - English Language Cards & Sorting Activity
- Ancient Civilizations Bundle
- Montessori Great Lessons - Stories and Activities printable
- Oh Deer! Bookmark printable
- Oh Deer! Cutout Deer with Crowns printable
- Chinook Salmon Ecosystem printable
- Chinook Salmon Life Cycle printable
- Salmon Predators and Prey Description Cards printable
- Chinook Salmon Food Web printable
- Fill in the Missing Vowels printable
- I Have, Who Has? printable
- My Fundamental Needs Booklet printable
- Cultivating Dharma Language Album printable (FREE)
- Montessori Word Studies Activities Bundle printable
- Initial Sounds Sorting printable
- Waseca Biomes Handwriting Practice printable (FREE)
- Montessori Work Plan printable
- See Materials List
- Deliver the Fourth Great Lesson using the Montessori Great Lessons - Stories and Activities printable. Pause at intervals for the child to read and lay out the Nomenclature Cards for each component of the lesson.
- Use the books Maps, Ox, House, Stick, Curiositree: Human World, Historium, and the Encyclopedia as visual aids.
- Explore the Pictograms of early humans using links for Gorham's Cave Complex, the Leang Tedongnge Cave, and Cueva de las Manos.
- Encourage kids to explore the Oh Deer! printable and to engage in the activities they are interested in.
- Introduce the Chinook Salmon Unit Study and learn more about ecosystems, life cycles, and food webs. Have the children complete as many activities as they show interest in. Display additional activities, such as the Mirus Toys Parts of a Tree Trunk Puzzle as shelf work for follow-up.
- Use the Chinook Salmon Life Cycle printables alongside the Mirus Toys Wooden Life Cycle Board to visualize the life cycle of a salmon.
- Using the Salmon Predators and Prey Description Cards, construct a Food Web. Display their work for all to enjoy.
- Create a map of your location, including a legend. Encourage the child to make a list of items they would like to include on their map.
- Use the Waseca Biomes Continent Biome Puzzle to explore the continent where you live. Discuss the difference between a biome and an ecosystem learned from the Map guide and the Chinook Salmon Unit.
- Introduce the Mirus Toys Compass Rose Puzzle and Nomenclature Cards. Use the Suunto compass to show kids how to orient themselves to North before getting started with the puzzle. Kids can reinforce knowledge using the printable compass game as follow-up work.
- Inspired by the Phoenician alphabet, introduce the Fill in the Missing Vowels Activity.
- Introduce the I Have, Who Has? game and encourage kids to play without speaking to demonstrate trade among people without a common language.
- Learn about Indigenous Languages and Cultures in your location. We used the books, An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, The First Oregonians, and Coyote Was Going There.
- Use spoken language resources, such as the Chinuk Wawa app to hear what these native languages sound like and how they are written.
- Print the blank cards from the My Fundamental Needs printable for kids to create Language cards with illustrations or use the Free Chinuk Wawa - English Language Cards as a sorting activity and three-part cards.
- Watch videos such as the Salmon Song and Noble Oaks series to learn more about Indigenous culture.
- If not done already, introduce nouns using the Noun and Verb Introduction Solids and household objects (we used dinosaurs - see the Second Great Lesson).
- Use the included guide to introduce Waseca Biomes Grammar Box Cards and Grammar Symbols to label and sort parts of speech. Use the Cultivating Dharma Language Album and the child's level of interest and understanding to determine the order of lessons.
- Introduce Word Study with Compound Words, Suffixes, and Prefixes. Use the Cultivating Dharma Language Album to deliver the lessons over a period of time. Print the Initial Sounds Sorting Alphabet in red and black (or two other colors) to give the lessons.
- Follow-up with activities from the Montessori Word Study Activities Bundle. Observe your child's level of understanding and interest to determine the number and type of activity to introduce. The child can complete the other activities on different days to reinforce content.
- Continue with any Reading or Writing work that your child is currently enjoying in your homeschool. We use the Waseca Reading Program with the Movable Alphabet and our kids track their progress as they go. The child will build the word on the card with the movable alphabet (CVC mat for red drawers). Next, they transfer the card with the answer to the larger work mat. Finally, they matches the labels to the cards and read the booklet(s) in the drawer.
- Provide handwriting experiences (print or cursive) via the printable pages free on the Waseca Biomes website. The Reading Program transforms into a spelling program after kids have completed the sequence of drawers.
- Include a Pink Tower in your homeschool environment for ages 2 and up. The youngest will learn language descriptors such as big, biggest, small, and smallest. It has a built-in control of error and reinforces visual discrimination of size.
- Introduce Language through Practical Life activities, such as cooking.
- Encourage kids to use the Montessori Work plan to document their daily completed and ongoing work. This will help the child to identify areas or subjects where additional focus should be placed. It also gives the child the opportunity to share how they feel about their work and what they would like to explore the following week.
Full Lesson Info and Pictures at: https://happyhomeschooladventures.com/montessori-fourth-great-lesson-materials-follow-up/
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