A child is born into this world to a community, and Montessori Cultural and Science lessons teach little citizens that we are all part of a larger global community which is interconnected to all life on earth. A child recognizes his/her family first, and as s/he grows, the world around the child and the role s/he plays in it expands. Montessori Cultural and Science curriculum starts with the whole (i.e. the universe, The Big Bang and the birth of galaxies) and works towards the parts (i.e. our planet Earth, the continent child lives on, home country, neighborhood, and so on) eventually leading to discussions of the anatomy of the body, atoms, and energy. Such a presentation, from broad to specific, allows a child to form a foundational sense of this big picture perspective in order to mentally organize new information. Within the big picture of the universe, everything the child learns is perceived as interconnected parts of a whole, so the information gains relevance, which is a crucial part of capturing a child’s attention and curiosity.
To illustrate this big picture perspective, we are using Montessori Pink Tower. You would start from the bottom up, with your largest block representing the galaxy (the biggest). You can download for your personal use labels PDF here. Some labels such as “My Country” have a space for your child or you to fill and customize. Some of the books that we referenced while discussing this are National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space and National Geographic Kids Beginner’s World Atlas. A simple version of this activity is presented in a Montessori classroom to children three to six years of age, although older children in a Montessori elementary classroom ( 6- to 12-year-old), use this same model during the lessons of “Cosmic Education” but in much depth. Cosmic Education during the “second plane of development” similarly begins with the whole (i.e. the universe) and works toward the parts, (i.e. individual cultures, history, geography, biomes, life forms, etc.).
If you do not have Montessori Pink Tower you can use upside-down paper or plastic cups. Here, you would reverse the order: starting with energy and an atom on the bottom, and then gradually stacking the cups on each other, finishing with the Galaxy label.
Start a discussion with your child about the Galaxy and solar system and continue “zooming” in by describing the planet, continent, country, state, city, house address, and so forth. Explain to your child that this organization begins very broad and becomes very specific.
By recognizing that we are all part of a larger global interconnected community, we can instill in our children an understanding that all humanity must be agents for peace, respect and harmony. “Peace is what every human being is craving for, and it can be brought about by humanity through the child.” – Maria Montessori.
You can see this activity on Instagram here.
To learn more about the Montessori Pink Tower presentation, read here.