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

Child cutting bark off of a stick

“Never forget that you are part of me. You are part of my wild and dazzling dream. Remember too, that I am inside you. Every cell in your body is packed with hydrogen, made when I was born. Your bones are hardened with calcium made by stars. Your backbone was fashioned by fish. The deepest part of your brain was built by reptiles. The love you feel for another deepened inside the very first mammals. Your awe-filled wonder began on starry nights around campfires, long, long ago.”

– The Universe, as told by Jennifer Morgan

We’re so excited to share our Montessori Third Great Lesson materials and follow-up for the Primary and Elementary years. We hope you find it useful for planning your own experiences.

We’re really enjoying ourselves and this Third Great Lesson experience was no less interesting than the previous two. We spent some time exploring works related to The Coming of Humans and our follow-up work contained a nice mix of printables, hands-on activities and some longer project-based learning experiences.

You can check out our Montessori Elementary Curriculum resources as well as our Montessori Zoology Books and Montessori Indigenous Education 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 Third Great Lesson?

The Third Great Lesson in Montessori’s Cosmic Education a.k.a. The Coming of Humans picks up where the Montessori Second Great Lesson ended: the timeline of life on earth up to the appearance of humans. The Third Great Lesson introduces students to early humans, the timeline of hominids, modern humans, civilizations, and fundamental needs. It’s traditionally given to Elementary students after The Second Great Lesson Follow-Up work is complete. It tells the story of human survival and adaptation, how early civilizations arose, and how we met our needs in the past as well as in modern times.

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 Third Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up

Since we are including Primary and Elementary students in our Third Great Lesson, our goal is always to strike a balance between what we’ve taught in Primary in the past with our Montessori Food Prep, our Montessori Gardening, our Montessori Community Helpers Unit Study, 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 Third Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up for Primary and Elementary covers Sensorial, Language, Practical Life, Math, Science, Nature, Geography, History, Art, and Music. There are many different directions you can take with this lesson. Our kids spent a lot of time engaged in activities related to the Timeline of Humans, Fundamental Needs, Tools, Indigenous People & Culture, and Inventions.

The Work of Wool book, wooden spindles in a basket and sheep roving in a basket

Montessori Third Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up

This Montessori Third 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 Timelines, Fundamental Needs, Tools, Native Americans, Simple Machines and Inventions.

We also revisited some of our Montessori Community Helpers Unit Study materials, including our Multicultural Community Helpers.

Mammals Who Morph and When We Became Humans Evolutionary History Books

Third Great Lesson

These are the books we used for the telling of the Third Great Lesson. Mammals Who Morph has a really captivating approach to the story that our kids enjoyed as much as the previous two books from this series. Also, When We Became Humans is really helpful for additional exploration.

Timeline of homids and child sitting next to it

Timeline of Hominids

Afterwards, our oldest explored the Timeline of Hominids. She read the captions and discussed how the images compared to each other as she made her way through the timeline.

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Timeline of homids and children sitting next to it, one with a book

She was really interested in this great work, so she also explored the blank version of the same timeline, placing the images and description cards in the appropriate spots while her brother enjoyed his truck book.

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Two children standing next to a golden bead chain of a thousand

Thousand Bead Chain and Skip Counting

She explored the concept of a century using the 1000 Bead Chain and labels. We’ve had some lovely Fall rain here recently so we decided to roll out the chain in the playroom. There were a lot of laughs about how they laid it out in our space.

She liked changing up her skip counting each time she worked with the chain, either counting by tens or by hundreds, and using handwritten labels.

child hold image card underneath timeline card

Timeline Matching

Our daughter explored these History Timeline Cards by placing the BCE/CE dates in order with assistance and then matching the images to the description.

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My Fundamental Needs printable on a flat surface

My Fundamental Needs

Another day, we briefly looked at the Hand Chart and the Spiritual and Material Needs Chart in the FREE Cultivating Dharma History Album. These My Fundamental Needs printables were a great follow-up to those discussions and really useful for both our older kids.

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booklet with a child's drawing and the word love

Our oldest also created this My Fundamental Needs booklet which is part of the same printable.

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three children sitting at a table with paper, crayons, and pencils

Fundamental Needs Extensions

These Fundamental Needs Extensions are awesome because they have several suggestions for each need. It’s also easy to adapt the activity to each child’s abilities. Our kids focused on food here.

Our oldest daughter drew 10 grocery items, labeled them, and researched the price of each item with assistance. Finally, she calculated the total cost. Our 4 y.o. son drew and colored 10 containers of yogurt – his favorite food right now. Our youngest daughter happily doodled her interpretation of the assignment alongside her siblings.

Get 16% off your purchase from Montessorikiwi here. You can also find a freebie sampler version of the Fundamental Needs Extensions in the Montessorikiwi freebie library for subscribers.

cards with images of human needs, descriptions, and headers

Fundamental Needs Then and Now

This Fundamental Needs Then and Now Sorting Activity was a big hit. This led to a lot of discussion about older forms of communication and housing. Our daughter read the captions and our son placed the picture card under the then and now headings.

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window with the words needs and wants, a circle with pictures taped inside

Needs vs. Wants

This was excellent follow-up work to the Third Great Lesson from Wings, Worms, and Wonder. Our kids cut out some images from a popular gardening magazine. Afterwards, they taped them to the window and together we drew the pie graph. I would definitely recommend doing this for a variety of lessons and conversation starters. They also had a lot of laughs and creative thinking about what can be considered a need.

It was interesting to note that out of the 10 items they cut out, more were categorized as wants than needs. Also, our daughter pointed out that this particular gardening magazine (we’re not subscribers so we don’t have any prior experience with it) had what she referred to as the world’s largest chocolate bar and the world’s smallest plant image. That led to an interesting discussion about advertisements.

children using toy bow and arrows

Tools for Hunting

Early season bow hunting just concluded by us and everyone gets excited about the opportunity for target practice. These Large Wooden Bow and Arrows are great practice for little ones.

two children reading a book on the floor

Our oldest likes reading aloud to everyone. She read Skin Again and All the Colors We Are to her siblings. Afterwards, she decided to grab some materials out of her Art cabinet.

art supplies and tools on a table with two children

Tools for Creating Art

Our kids explored Art materials as tools. We’ve done this particular Skin Tone Painting activity from Different Differenter a couple times already and it’s always fun using the watercolor paint palette, Stabilo 3-in-1 watercolor crayons, and these Lyra Skin Tone Colored Pencils.

First, they experimented with using a paintbrush to mix the red, yellow, and blue watercolor paints in order to create their own unique skin tone. Next, they experimented with the watercolor crayons and some water. Finally, they used the skin tone pencils.

They concluded that the watercolor paints are the easiest to mix together but also more difficult to create a match to their skin color. In addition, they noted that the skin tone colored pencils are the easiest to use on paper, but they don’t mix together easily to create a new color. They found that the watercolor crayons gave them the color combination that is closest to their skin tone.

two pieces of painted paper

Skin tones using Stabilo 3-in-1 watercolor crayons on the left and the watercolor palette on the right. They identified that they both have pale white skin and our son has cool, red-pink undertones.

The Work of Wool book, wooden spindles in a basket and sheep roving in a basket

Handwork Tools

We used stories and lessons from The Work of Wool: A Montessori Handwork Album to learn about the history of wool, the process of wool and types of spindles.

They made their own drop spindles using small branches from an apple tree. Also, they picked out a Black Walnut Turkish Drop Spindle for comparison and some Oregon Merino Wool Roving for their introduction to spinning. It was really neat for them to be able to see the farm and the sheep that provided the wool for our handwork lessons.

Child cutting bark off of a stick

We introduced some knife safety rules and they took turns using my Smith & Wesson knife. It worked well because it has a safety mechanism that prevents the blade from closing unintentionally.

children sanding two sticks

Sanding using coarse and fine sanding tools. There were a couple iterations to the process as they experimented with various weights for the whorl of the spindle. They settled on a mason jar top and small block of wood that they secured underneath.

shelf with a basket and a tray with printed school materials

Third Great Lesson Shelf Work

Here we have some Fundamental Needs of Native Americans Nomenclature Cards on a shelf next to our timeline.

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Fry Bread book and bowl of fry bread on table

Native American Fry Bread and Kitchen Tools

If you’ve seen our collection Montessori Indigenous Education Books, you know how much we’ve enjoyed reading Fry Bread. We recently had the opportunity to follow the recipe and read the book aloud while we waited between steps of the recipe. It was a nice family experience. Our kids tried out different kitchen tools when mixing the dough and then frying it in the pan, switching between a wooden spoon and whisk.

child stirring pot with wooden spoon
bowl of risen dough
rolled dough frying in a pan with oil

If you have the opportunity, I would definitely recommend Fry Bread for your family. We all really enjoyed reading it together and it has so much to offer in terms of Sensorial, Practical Life, History, and Geography experiences.

Tools in Music and Dance

One of the most exciting parts of the Third Great Lesson follow-up work for our kids was watching the videos provided by the Grande Ronde Cultural Education Program. Our oldest especially liked watching the Canoe Singing and Dancing Lesson 4 – Paddle Dance and the significance of honoring the paddle that enables them to move to the next place. It’s pretty incredible to watch. We’re definitely going to view more of these videos as we explore the history, culture, and contemporary existence of the Indigenous people of our area.

physics experiment book and scientific method printables

Simple Machines

Our last bit of follow-up work and explorations revolved around simple machines and inventions. Using Physics for Every Kid along with this Scientific Method Package, our oldest two learned that a winding mountain road is considered a simple machine as it decreases the work required to get to the top of the mountain. The trade-off is the increase in time required for the journey. Pretty cool stuff.

child reading papers with image and text at a table


Lastly, our daughter explored the Inventors and Inventions Bundle by Montessorikiwi. She particularly liked learning about Ada Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. There were several inventors and inventions included in the bundle and more than enough follow-up activities to keep an aspiring inventor curious.

Montessori Third Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up Conclusion

We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how we do the Third Great Lesson. Using our Montessori Elementary Curriculum Resources, we put together a great mix of books, printables, and project-based learning 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 Third 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 Third Great Lesson Resources

Thanks for stopping by!

– Kristin


Montessori Third Great Lesson Materials & Follow-Up Family Unit. Timeline of Humans, Fundamental Needs, Indigenous Peoples & Cultures, Inventions. #montessori #homeschool #cosmiceducation #thirdgreatlesson #montessoripracticallife

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