Thursday, 29 October 2015

Great Lesson 1 : Types of Galaxies [Post 5]

Galaxies are another fantastic follow up to the first great lesson.

Since galaxies are incredibly beautiful, I wasn't satisfied with printing out pictures for this lesson. I wanted pictures that would inspire awe and creativity. So with a friend of mine, I created these galaxy pastel drawings. 

We first spoke about the formation of galaxies, recalling what was discussed in the great lesson. Next we introduced three types of galaxies; spiral, elliptical and irregular.  

Here is a layout of all three galaxies.

Spiral Galaxy

 Elliptical Galaxy

 Irregular Galaxy

We used this poster as a guide for the types of galaxies. This can be downloaded for free from my shop here.

Next we looked at different galaxies which have been discovered. I made these 3-part cards for ten different galaxies.
These can also be downloaded for free on my site
(all photos were taken from Wikipedia)

Children were encouraged to pick a galaxy and research it further.

This book fit perfectly with this lesson.

Of course, the children were inspired by the pastel pictures and eagerly drew their own. 

Here is an old photo of  Noah drawing spiral galaxies using pastels at the age of 9. As you can see he got right in and even smudged pastels on his face lol! Noah is now 11 years and he still enjoys this activity each time we tell the great lesson.

Sunday, 25 October 2015


I am having another giveaway on my The Learning Ark Materials Shop Facebook page and would like to invite you to join!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Great Lesson 1: Volcano Studies [Post 4]

After telling the first great lesson each year, the most loved follow up work is always the volcano activities. Here are some ideas I use in my class and my children enjoy.

Volcano Experiment

Firstly, I always have two volcanoes on display. One is my grand big brilliant volcano which I use for lessons. The second is a much smaller one which children can use independently. The children are able to take out the smaller volcano anytime and follow the instructions to make it erupt. 

The main volcano in the picture shows my large grand one. Just behind the white box you can see the top of a smaller volcano.

In the white tray I have a supply of vinegar and baking soda. The children use a spatula to fill the volcano with baking soda and a pipette to add the vinegar. This way they don't use to much of the ingredients at once. 

As you can probably tell from the photos, these volcanoes are handmade. Both volcanoes have removable bottles which make them easy to clean. I used this youtube video, but did not follow the exact instruction.

Montessori Beginnings has another good tutorial on how to make a volcano.

Each of these volcanoes has a built in tray which holds the lava and mess from the eruption. This has been perfect for avoiding the terrible disasters I previously had when the volcanoes stands in a separate tray.

Parts of a Volcano

 Alongside the volcanoes, children will work with the part of the volcano cards. I have a set available at my store, shown below and available here

Alongside the volcano cards, the children use the above printout to make their own volcano booklet. This is available for free here. The picture of the volcano was taken from Free Colouring Pages.

Of course the volcanoes make appearances in various other lessons. Below, I was presenting a lesson on the use of a comma and a child decided that the volcano was the perfect prop to use.

Types of Volcanoes

I used this great chart to make three part cards for types of volcanoes. I am not sure who is the author of the chart so I can't share the cards. The chart is available here. 

Real Volcanoes

It is also great fun for the children to look at real volcanoes. 

Helpful garden has a free download for pictures of volcanoes. 

Pinay Homeschooler has a free set of volcano cards from around the world. 

Volcano Research

For children who have a great interest in volcanoes, I encourage them to carry out research on an actual volcano. The below picture shows research guidelines which the children use as a basis of their research. Unfortunately, I can't remember where the pictures came from so I can't share this. Sorry!

Make a Volcano Model

Of course, making a volcano is the ultimate volcano activity children love. Making a clay or papermache volcano is always nice but can get a bit messy. Here are some great paper volcanoes I found online.

Volcano cross section from Papermau.

Canon have a print out for Mt. Fuji. This model is beautiful!

Map of Active Volcanoes

Another activity is to make a map of active volcanoes. I provide the children with a blank world map and some good books on volcanoes, as well as the above chart (found on wikipedia). The children make their own charts and discuss where it may not be safe to live!

I am sure there are many more things which can be done about volcanoes. If you have anymore ideas please let me know.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Great Lesson 1: Experiments on laws of the universe [Post 3]

After telling the great lesson, I try to present the Laws of the Universe experiments daily. I only set up a few experiments on my shelves. For the rest, the child chooses a card, gathers the materials needed and carries out the experiment following the directions.

Experiments set up and ready to explore,

The blue drawers contain additional apparatus for other experiments. 

I use Montessori R&D experiments for the younger children. A sample of their experiments can be found here. I printed each experiment and statement on an individual card. Unfortunately, I can not share them on here due to copyrights.

I used the experiments from Montessori for Everyone for my older children. They can be found here.

Great Lesson 1 : Follow Up Ideas [Post 2]

The Montessori great lessons inspire further study in many different directions. Each lesson should be told every year. This allows for the elementary child to hear every story at least 6 times. After each lesson the child is free to follow which ever topic interests him/her. Naturally, over the 6 years the child would have had the chance to explore all the topics which follow on from the great lessons.

The list on this post is specifically related to follow up work/topics related to the first great lesson. I do not expect children to cover these topics in one year. Instead, I anticipate the child showing interest in all areas over the six year span. My shelves are set up with activities for each topic in order to ensure that children can show an interest in which ever topic interests them.

Here is a look at the set up of my shelves. Due to space I do not have every single material on display.

 Materials for study on volcanoes, galaxies, space, stars, moon, sun, earth, planets, rocks, geography impressionistic charts and science experiments to support first great lesson.

Materials for the study of atoms, molecules and elements.

I also have other materials on my geography shelf which is not pictured here. 

Here is a list of topic ideas which I use when setting up my shelves. Each year more ideas are added. I am intending to expand on these topics in individual posts.

1. Experiments on laws of the universe.
2. Volcanoes
3. Planets and solar system
4. Galaxies types
5. Moon phases
6. Parts of the sun
7. Earth
8. Stars
9. States of matter
10. Gravity experiments
11. Elements
12. Molecules
13. Rocks
14. Geography impressionistic charts

Free Downloads Updated

I have updated my download page and fixed any broken links.

Please find the latest verion of my downloads here. I will continue adding to this list as I post new material. Please let me know if a link is not working or if there is an error on a file. Feel free to download and use these files but link back to my blog when you share them. Do not copy or sell these files.





Organ Cards - post

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Great Lessons Round Up Intro [Post 1]

Each year, I search the internet for inspiration for new activities to follow on from the Great Lessons. There are so many great ideas out there. But I have not yet come across a Great Lesson round up post. So my task for this year is to gather all the inspirations I have come across in the blog world for each Great Lessons. 

For those of you who are not familiar with the Great Lessons, Montessori designed these as the foundation of the Montessori elementary curriculum. They form the backbone of Montessori elementary education and are often the starting point for all other learning. The Great Lessons are designed to meet the sensitive periods of the elementary child and provide the child with the context of the place of man in the universe. Through introducing these lessons, all aspects of the cosmic curriculum are covered. 

The five [maybe 6] Great Lessons are:

1. The Creation of the Universe
2. The Coming of Life
3. The Coming of Man
4. The Story of Writing
5. The Story of Numerals
[6. The Great River]

Some Montessorians present these lessons every six weeks, providing time for follow up work before moving onto a different lesson. Others present all the lessons in the first few weeks and spend the rest of the year doing follow up lessons. I have only presented these in the first way and have found that this was helpful for my class.

Each time I present a great lesson, I set up a specific shelf for follow up activities and scatter various other activities across the class in each curriculum area. This creates an atmosphere of the great lesson and really engages children.

I am a strong believer that these great lessons should be kept for the elementary child and not introduced too early.  The elementary child presents us with different needs which make these lessons suitable. Whereas the younger child has different needs and sensitivities and so these lessons are not ideal. I believe there are so many more relevant things a child who is under six can do before approaching these lessons.

I run the same lessons every year for my entire elementary class. This means that my 12 year old children would have heard this lesson 6 times in their elementary years. Each year I add a few more details and tell the lesson slightly differently. I also encourage my 11 and 12 year olds to join in telling the stories or presenting follow up activities. 

My favorite Montessori quotes on cosmic education and the elementary child:

"Since it has been seen to be necessary to give so much to the child, let us give him a vision of the whole universe.  The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions." 
(To Educate the Human Potential, p. 5)

"If the idea of the universe be presented to the child in the right way, it will do more for him than just arouse his interest, for it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying.  The child’s mind will then no longer wander, but becomes fixed and can work.  The knowledge he acquires is organized and systematic; his intelligence becomes whole and complete because of the vision of the whole that has been presented to him, and his interest spreads to all, for all are linked and have their place in the universe on which his mind is centred." 
(To Educate the Human Potential, p. 6)

"No matter what we touch, an atom, or a cell, we cannot explain it without knowledge of the wide universe.  What better answer can be given to those seekers for knowledge?  It becomes doubtful whether even the universe will suffice.  How did it come into being?  How will it end?  A greater curiosity arises, which can never be satiated; so will last through a lifetime.  The laws governing the universe can be made interesting and wonderful to the child, more interesting even than things in themselves, and he begins to ask:  What am I?  What is the task of man in this wonderful universe?  Do we merely live here for ourselves, or is there something more for us to do?  Why do we struggle and fight?  What is good and evil?  Where will it all end?" (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 6)

If you would like to know more about the great lessons I suggest reading the following:

AMI article on Cosmic Education

The Learning Ark Materials Shop GIVEAWAY!

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Hop over to my online shop and see if you fancy any files.

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Winner will be randomly selected on the 10th of October.