I am pleased to welcome Sharmeen Niazi of MOM_tessori_Guide to Trillium! Sharmeen is a Montessori Elementary guide at the Archgate Montessori Academy in Dallas, TX. Today she is sharing with us some insights about the role of cosmic education in the Elementary classroom.
Keeping into consideration the inquisitive minds during the second plane of development, Maria Montessori developed a specific curriculum that caters to the needs of the development of 6-12 year olds. She called this ‘Cosmic Education’ and it is the heart of the Montessori Elementary Curriculum.
During the second plane of development the child begins to explore his identity and searches for answers to questions like
“Who am I?”
“Where do I come from?”
“Why am I here or where am I heading?”
Imagination is the most powerful force at the elementary age. As the child is ready to explore, it is very important for the guides to base this imagination on things that are real. We do not want them to be lost in emptiness.
See more details about the Cosmic Nesting Dolls here.
It is the role of the teacher to look for details that will enlighten the concept of the whole. For this we must understand and love the universe in order to pass it on to our students.
The First Great Lesson
Let’s talk about the ‘First Great Lesson’ and its significance in the Elementary curriculum. We always begin our academic year with the presentation of the ‘First Great Lesson’ during the first two weeks of school.
My Elementary team and I are able to strike the imagination of those young minds as we present it collectively to our Elementary community. I truly feel nothing less than a narrator as I share with them one of my favorite stories, while the rest of the team leads the students to see the bigger picture with the help of the materials, experiments and impressionistic charts.
We begin the lesson with a dark room (lights out) and the air turned down to make the room cold. The narration begins with a scientific story that happened a long time ago. (This is the story of the ‘Creation of the Universe.’) The preparation of this lesson takes a lot of planning and set-up is about 45 minutes (provided that we have the materials ready.)
Since I am not able to record the whole lesson here, I would like to summarize it for you. The story is about how the Earth cooled and looked like a tiny pearl. The sun just kept looking at it and then one day it began to rain… and it rained and rained. It washed off the rocks and the salts from the sea. The sun kept looking at the Earth and wondered who was responsible for all this… On this thought we leave them wondering… until they are presented the ‘Second Great Lesson.’
One of my favorite resources as a guide is the book, “Children of the Universe,” by Micheal and D’Neil Duffy. (Affiliate link)
Each year I am absolutely in awe as I rediscover during lesson planning how the curriculum unfolds under the significance of these ‘Five Great Lessons.’ Below I share with you the lessons/curriculum that is presented under the First Great Lesson during the three-year cycle.
Story of the Universe (First Great Lesson)
Laws of Universe
- Charts 7-12
- Milky Way Poster
- Research Cards
- SS Models
- Research Cards
Layers of the Earth
- Model and labels
- Rock Making
Hatching the Cosmic Egg
Another great resource that I would like to share is Michael Dorer’s latest book, ‘Hatching the Cosmic Egg.’ (Affiliate link)
This book is an amazing read and follow up for the lessons. The illustrations are breathtaking. At the end of the book there is a CD that takes you on a musical journey. It is a profound discovery of where we all come from and where we all belong.
Rather I’d say that this book puts all the ‘Great Lessons’ in a nutshell or more like an eggshell 😉
Sharmeen is a Lead Lower Elementary Guide at Archgate Montessori Academy in Dallas, TX. She holds AMS 3-6 |6-9 certifications. She is also certified in MACAR (Montessori Applied to children at risk) and deeply understands the specific needs of children with learning differences and additional exceptionalities. Sharmeen strongly believes that being a teacher is not only about loving children, but loving to learn as well.