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

Montessori kids and Second Great Lesson books and materials

“Imagination can thus picture for us the primeval earth of hard, brown rock unrelieved by verdure of grass of leaf, without sound of bird a living creature, the silence broken alone by plunging waterfalls, booming thunder, or stones dislodged in avalanches. The grim brown crust is slowly being modified and overlaid with hospitable coverings, but before it can become the home of living beings some agency must ensure the purity of the air they will have to breathe…The plant life that was already established in the ocean heard the call and took the necessary leap to land.”

– Maria Montessori

We’re back today to share our Montessori Second Great Lesson materials and follow-up for the Primary and Elementary years. We really took our time and spent a couple weeks exploring works related to The Coming of Life. You can check out our Montessori Elementary Curriculum resources as well as our Montessori Earth Science Books and Montessori Botany Books for more details on what you see below.

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 Second Great Lesson?

The Second Great Lesson in Montessori’s Cosmic Education a.k.a. The Coming of Life picks up where the First Great Lesson ended: the formation of the Earth. The Second Great Lesson introduces students to the Long Black Line, the Clock of Eras, and the Timeline of Life. It’s traditionally given to Elementary students after The First Great Lesson Follow-Up work is complete. It tells the story of how Mother Earth changed over time and came to be the home of a variety of life forms, beginning with the simplest microscopic life in the ocean all the way to the appearance of humans.

The Long Black Line was originally used by Maria Montessori as a lesson in humility for a group of students. 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 Second Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up

Since we are including Primary and Elementary students in our Second Great Lesson, our goal was, again, to strike a balance between what we’ve taught in Primary in the past with our Montessori Geology & Paleontology Unit Study, our Montessori Tree Unit Study, our Montessori Bee Unit Study for Primary and Elementary, and what we would like 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 Second Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up for Primary and Elementary covers Sensorial, Language, 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 Clock of Eras, Earth’s layers, Earth’s atmosphere, Water, and Botany. We’re in the middle of harvest season, so that has definitely added interest to Botany-related work.

Montessori kids working on Earth Layers and Earth Atmosphere puzzles

Montessori Second Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up

This Montessori Second 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 Clock of Eras, Layers of the Earth, Layers of the Atmosphere, the Water Cycle, Landforms, First Plants, and First Animals.

We also revisited some of our Montessori Geology & Paleontology Unit Study materials, including our dinosaurs and our Geology and Paleontology books.

Waseca Biomes Animals of the World Measuring Tape marked at 0

Second Great Lesson

For the Long Black Line demonstration, we decided to create our own line on the floor using some washi tape and our Waseca Biomes Animals of the World Measuring Tape. The original Long Black Line is 30 meters with 1 cm of red at one end, indicating the appearance of humans on Earth.

I divided the original measurements by 3 to make it simpler for us to create. Maybe not as dramatic as the original line, but just as effective for our storytelling purposes. I followed the suggestions of Children of the Universe and told The Story of the Earth and The Story of Life as we walked the line. At the end of the line, our kids finally found out what the red mark they drew actually signified.

As practice for this great work, our kids spent time using these Montessori Measurement printables prior to the Second Great Lesson. Get 16% off your purchase from Montessorikiwi here.

Montessori kids and Second Great Lesson books and materials

Second Great Lesson Revisited

The next day we revisited the Second Great Lesson using From Lava to Life. We read the story together before making our way over to a workspace to explore the Clock of Eras Charts. I explained how the Clock of Eras relates to a regular clock using a Montessori Learning Clock. Then, I gave a simple explanation of how it tells time on Earth up to the present day, just like our Long Black Line.

Afterwards, they explored the Mirus Toys Fraction Manipulation Board as we learned more about each era. Our 4 y.o. used the Time Ring with his Fraction Circles and our 5 y.o. used the Fraction Ring. I originally thought it may be a bit confusing to learn about all the eras on the clock. However, we found the colors on the Clock of Eras helpful for remembering what took place during each era.

The Clock of Eras

The purpose of the fraction manipulation board is to stimulate interest and explore geometric concepts, not replicate the clock of eras. The beginning of the Cenozoic Era is very close to present day or 12:00 and is therefore smaller than the smallest fraction piece (1/10). However, that is precisely the point. It’s meant to reinforce the impression of how short a period of time humans have been on Earth.

A precise clock can be made using the Clock of Eras Charts printables mentioned above.Get 16% off your purchase from Montessorikiwi here.

Montessori kids looking at Early Fish during the Second Great Story

We also had some books out as additional timeline resources and for examples of early plant and animal life. The Dunkleosteus has always been a big hit in our homeschool.

Second Great Story Geography Shelf with Layers of the Earth and Layers of the Atmosphere shelf work

Earth and Atmosphere Shelf Work

The Layers of the Earth nomenclature cards were included with the Layers of the Earth Puzzle and Guide. The Layers of the Earth Guide that comes with the puzzle is an excellent resource for homeschoolers. There’s a lot of content that covers several topics (landforms, plate tectonics, etc.), helpful images and diagrams, and it even includes a couple activities. Our kids have been working with these materials a lot.

The Spanish Nature Cards are gorgeous and we’ve been changing them out as we rotate the materials on our shelves. They’re a great way for us to label the environment. You’ll notice further down we also use them with our Movable Alphabet as Language shelf work.

Montessori kids working on Earth Layers and Earth Atmosphere puzzles
Kids cutting paper to make Earth craft
Montessori kids holding Layers of the Earth fans

Layers of the Earth Fan craft activity included with Mirus Toys Layers of the Earth Puzzle, Guide, and Nomenclature Cards.

Mirus Toys Layers of the Atmosphere Puzzle

This Layers of the Atmosphere Puzzle was also a great segue into weather and the Water Cycle. Both of our older kids enjoyed matching the appropriate puzzle piece to its corresponding layer.

Waseca Biomes Water Cycle Mat Work and Bilingual Spanish Card for Water

We also used our Waseca Biomes Water Cycle Mat and We Are Water Protectors to visualize the water cycle and learn more about the importance of stewardship.

Get $15 off your first Waseca Biomes purchase.

Montessori Second Great Lesson Leaf Painting

External Parts of Plants Nature Study

Using books such as Nature Anatomy and Trees: A Rooted History, we spent some time looking at the anatomy of early plants: seaweed, moss, ferns, conifers, and flowering plants. We also looked briefly at the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees.

Afterwards, they spent some time in the forest behind our house collecting leaves from ferns as well as pine, oak, and maple trees. They also gathered some pinecones and acorns for their journaling activity.

Montessori child looking at Pine Leaf through a microscope

They examined a pine leaf specimen under the microscope and then sketched what they saw in their notebooks. For First Knowledge questions, we talked about them very organically as we looked at our Montessori Botany Books.

Second Great Lesson Botany Shelves

Tree Shelf Work

We focused more on Botany this year. As a result, our Montessori Second Great Lesson materials and follow-up work included some tree shelf work. There was also an introduction to dendrochronology using the Parts of a Tree Trunk Puzzle. We studied flowering plants recently with our Montessori Bee Unit Study so that was also still fresh in their minds.

Our Periodic Table Puzzle and guide is still on the shelf from our Montessori First Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up. There is a persistent interest. Also, it’s still a very relevant part of the story as we examine The Story of the Earth and The Story of Life.

Get $15 off your first Waseca Biomes purchase.

Second Great Lesson Spanish Language Shelf Work

Spanish Language Shelf Work

Our oldest two worked together to write the Spanish and English for each card using the movable alphabet. This Montessori Second Great Lesson follow-up work is perfect for incorporating language work into nature studies.

Waseca Biomes Animal Nomenclature Cards in Trays

External Parts of Animals

Our kids looked at the parts of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals using the Waseca Biomes Nomenclature Cards. They used them alongside the associated Montessori Animal puzzles.

Get $15 off your first Waseca Biomes purchase.

Dinosaur Nouns Grammar Lesson

Montessori Grammar Work

We recently introduced nouns and verbs to our 5 y.o. using our grammar farm materials. As a follow-up, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to use the dinos. Therefore, for this Second Great Lesson materials and follow-up work, we decided to play around with some dinosaur nouns. Our 4 y.o. even got into it. He guessed which dinosaur to bring to the mat based on the first few letters of each label.

Traditionally, the Montessori Elementary sequence for introducing grammar is with the Fourth Great Lesson and The Story of Communication. We’re a bit early for this work. Also, the lesson given to a Primary versus Elementary child is usually different. It’s generally geared towards the plane of development of the child.

Waseca Biomes Noun Grammar Cards

We followed that up with a lesson on common and proper nouns using some of the Waseca Biomes Grammar Box Cards. Afterwards, they copied their work into their notebooks, including symbology.

Get $15 off your first Waseca Biomes purchase.

Apple and Pear Process Art

Apple and Pear Art

Our 2 y.o. never misses an opportunity to participate in art and this was no exception. We were inspired by this Painting with Apples Fall Craft for Kids. As a result, we decided to do the same with a couple apples and pears from our fall harvest. Lots of fun and a great activity for fine-motor strengthening.

This was a great way to bridge our older two kids’ studies on the Second Great Lesson with our youngest daughter’s desire to explore the world around her. An Autumn Apple Adventure is great seasonal fun for all ages.

Fall Lacing Card with Blunt Needle and Thread

Apple Lacing Cards

This apple lacing card is one of several fall lacing cards our 2 y.o. is enjoying right now. This is a great beginning sewing activity. She uses these along with a blunt needle and thread. Great for fine-motor skills and development of concentration. And yes, that’s a fully dressed giraffe behind her.

Apple Art Activity Drawer

Apple Art Activity Drawer

Our 2 y.o. and 4 y.o. really enjoyed these Apple activities with our 2 y.o. focusing on the cutting work. Our 4 y.o. reinforced his knowledge of the apple life cycle with nomenclature. Also, he explored apple anatomy some more with a cut and paste activity.

Apple Cutting Strips Activity

Montessori Second Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up Conclusion

We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how we do the Second 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 this great lesson. This is how we did it. We hope you find it useful as you plan your own Montessori Second Great Lesson experiences.

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 Second Great Lesson & Science Resources

Thanks for stopping by!

– Kristin


Montessori Second Great Lesson Materials & Follow-Up Family Unit. Interdisciplinary. Clock of Eras, Earth & Atmosphere, Water, Botany, etc. and most subjects.  Books, printables, activities,  #montessori #homeschool #montessoriscience #montessorisecondgreatlesson

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