Montessori cosmic education teaches children about the interconnectedness of all living things. In the first plane (0-6) this is experienced with sensory learning and connecting with nature. Sensorial experiences are also incorporated in the classroom to deepen the understanding of our planet.
Once the child is introduced to cosmic nesting boxes and sandpaper globe, we begin our study of the planet Earth. These topics are introduced in the form of Unit Study in the classroom. Not all unit studies will interest all children, so it really depends how deep you delve in the unit study topic based on your child’s interests.
Cosmic education starts with macro (whole) and moves toward micro (parts) of the Earth. The lessons in early childhood (3-6) includes: Land, Air, Water Sorting, Sandpaper Globe, Montessori Puzzle Maps, Study of Planet Earth, Botany, Science, Geography, Geology, History, and more.
In our Monti-Story Box, we decided to look at the layers of the Earth. The book we chose for this box, represented illustrations of planets to as accurate as possible and the activities are simple but purposeful. There are 5 activities pertaining each curriculum of Montessori classroom and 1 art activity based on the artist study of the box.
Transfer with tong activities prepare hands for writing. It promotes and strengthens tripod grasp. This activity builds concentration and allows repetition. With repetition comes normalization.
One to one correspondence with ten frames. Ten frames are a great graphic tool to teach children place value. This graphic organizer can also be used for simple addition and subtraction activity
Always pick a book with realistic illustrations for younger children
“Pointillism, also called divisionism in painting, the practice of applying small strokes or dots of color to a surface so that from a distance they visually blend together.”
Impressionistic lesson of Layers of the Earth. We used avocado pit for inner core, ketchup for outer core, gravel for mantle, and apple skin for crust
This box also comes with sensorial activity, paint, parts of Earth layers three-part cards, digital downloadable instructions. All of this you can get for only $50 in our Etsy Shop
Thanksgiving is turned into a day of gratitude. A mere symbol to be grateful for bountiful food, football, Black Friday shopping, and really celebrating the excess. However, nobody remembers or even thinks that when Pilgrims reached this New World in the Mayflower, it was followed by the annihilation of the Native Americans. They were slaughtered because they were different. Their way of living, their religion, their skin color, their language were different from the Pilgrims, so they felt like a threat. Apparently, being different is a crime.
Are we so different now?
Come to think of it, we are not so different even now. The death of Black Americans, Muslims, Asian Americans, the deportation of Hispanics, and keeping them away from their children doesn’t weigh on any of us as long as we are sleeping comfortably in our beds knowing our children are safely tucked in their beds. We do not care about these issues or sometimes we care but we don’t do anything about it. But, those are still major issues and sometimes require a different kind of courage and resources to stand up. However, we don’t do anything about the micro-segregation that most of us have faced in our society. We accept it sheepishly because we think speaking up will be too much effort.
Segregation in Montessori is as real as the air we breathe….
What about the segregation we often encounter in our Montessori world? It is sad to say but it is the truth that the Montessori world is a highly segregated world. The idea that it is for rich white people isn’t wrong. That stereotype is very true and not just in private Montessori schools but also the so-called charter Montessori schools. Shouldn’t Charter schools accept everyone?
Is this even developmentally appropriate?
Recently, we had an interview in a local Montessori school for my 2-year-old. First of all, the whole idea of a 2-year-old interview seems preposterous. My son was invited for an Open House which is basically vetting out the process of anybody that doesn’t fit their “Montessori Box”. He was invited along with 6 other children and they were asked to go to the classroom all by themselves with a brand new person (a teacher, an assessor). Everything about this process is developmentally and humanely wrong! A toddler is not equipped to be separated from their primary caregiver and judging them on how well they will separate from parents isn’t a realistic expectation.
My son passed this test but at the cost of what, I wonder. How much harm did I do? How did he feel? Did he feel that I abandoned him? His fears seem so real and I couldn’t help to think that something in our mother-son connection was broken that day. The shame and guilt that followed were so big for me to recover from. I felt helpless because if he doesn’t go through this process then he may not get in and our financial conditions require me to go back to work. The schools that prey on parents’ fears like this are NOT Montessori in my opinion.
He was invited to a second interview, this time in the full functioning classroom with students. The teacher didn’t come out of the classroom to greet my child or make him feel comfortable one on one. We walked into the classroom and my son totally freaked out to see all the children and this time a brand new teacher, not the teacher who he was with the first time. The trauma he felt was so visible on his face. He was anxious and wanted to get out and at this moment he wanted to be with his safe person, which wasn’t me. He wanted to be with his dad because he identified me as the person who dropped him in this strange place before.
It broke my heart and I don’t think I will be able to gain my child’s trust the same way again. My husband and I were interviewed and the series of questionnaires felt like a big vetting process. I was asked if I had any complications during pregnancy or if our family had any mental disorders, if my son was ever told to be diagnosed for special needs, if he needs speech therapy, and the list goes on.
The idea is to segregate any neurodiversity. Neurodiverse children are not welcomed. Everybody should fall into the category of their “normal”. Needless, to say that this particular Montessori school is 98% White population even though they claim to be a “Charter” school. There are other charter schools in the area but when it comes to diversity of any kind they are all the same more or less.
Nobody talks about desegregation in schools
How many times do you open Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest do you hear about segregation in Montessori? None, of the influencers or content creators, talk about the topics that really matter. What do we focus on, wooden toys, prepared home, things that we can just buy with a swipe of a credit card. And lately, there has been a trend of talking about “Risky Play” and once again completely ignoring neurodiversity. Not all children are into risky play and continuous posts about showing off toddlers rock climbing or independently doing things that may not be developmentally appropriate for all, leave parents feeling inadequate in themselves.
Segregation is happening everywhere and all the time. From the smallest world of Montessori in social media to Montessori schools.
We must speak up and start small. We must start with our Montessori world and stand up to schools that are practicing these unethical ways of choosing students. Only then we can honor Dr. Montessori’s work and bring the change. We must believe in our hearts, “All are Welcome, Loved, and Respected.” Honestly, the whole idea of “Normal” when it comes to children seems highly “Abnormal”.
Montessori materials are very intentional. There is a science behind each and every material. In Montessori (3-6) classroom, children get the first introduction to mathematics. This abstract concept is very concrete for Montessori children. In fact, it is so concrete that children learn binomial theorem with material and can learn to manipulate this abstract concept in a concrete way. Did I spark your interest in Montessori math yet?
Needless to say, Montessori math is my favorite. It begins in a sensorial area, where children learn to visually discriminate among different sizes and learn three dimension and two-dimension shapes.
Montessori math follows a pattern of left-right, concrete to abstract. The very first material that your child will ever work with is Number Rods. Number Rods are so big and concrete for children to deeply understand the difference between rising quantities. The number 10 rod is exactly 10 times more than the number 1 rod. This concept is fascinating for children.
As we move away from concrete and more into abstract, the first introduction is to the short beads material. Montessori short beads material is small compared to Number Rods and Spindle Box. This is the first lesson that will build a solid foundation in Montessori math material. The colors of the bead repeat in other Montessori materials such as bead chains, decanomial work, checkerboard, and more.
Children do this work over and over that they learn the colors for each number. This lesson is so appealing to children due to their sensitive period for counting and for small objects.
Did you like this material? You can get this now in our shop. We also added some printable activities that you can do with your little one after the presentation.
One of the classic Montessori pre-writing materials is Metal Insets. The design of this simple material is genius. By tracing each shape in the set, a child actually learn every stroke of letter formation. Not only that, but this work also builds curiosity in geometry and encourages art appreciation. Now, wouldn’t you call this material genius Montessori design too?
So, what is Montessori Metal Insets? Montessori Metal Insets are made of metal consists 5 straight line shapes and 5 curved line shapes. We recently launched our wooden shapes inspired by the original Metal Insets in our shop.
In Montessori, we emphasize learning the proper technique for handwriting. Research shows that tracing letters is not as effective as preparing the hands for writing. The typical tracing activities involve tracing broken lines. Children would be so focused on the tracing part that they forget the letter formation and shape. “It is important to remember that learning to write letters starts with learning the motor plan for the letters and being able to fluently link the successive strokes to form the letter”
The Metal Inset builds:
correct pincer grasp
control of small movement
the result of pressure on pencil by forming dark versus light lines
geometric sense and artistic abilities
movement of tracing curved shapes and straight shapes which directly transfers to letter formation
The beauty of this material is that there are 7 different presentations with the same material. This work is explored in early childhood for tracing and then in the elementary classroom to understand plane geometry. I love the versatility of this material. It can be used in so many different ways. Here are some of the resources on Montessori Metal Inset Extensions
Knobbed Cylinders are one of Montessori’s genius and original material. Montessori classroom sensorial area begins with this wonderful material. This material is designed to teach children to visually discriminate between dimensions. There are four variations to Knobbed Cylinders, helping child to develop that mathematical mind to distinguish by size and weight. As the child practices with this work, they gain muscle memory and can able to distinguish each cylinder by touch. The Knobbed Cylinders comprised of 10 cylinders again for developing that mathematical mind that Montessori refers to in many of her writings.
Set A: Cylinders are decreasing in diameters successively from thick to thin while the height remains constant.
Set B: Each cylinders are decreasing in diameters from thick to thin and the height from tall to short
Set C: Each cylinders are decreasing in diameters from thick to thin while increasing in the height from short to tall.
Set D: The diameters stay constant only the height decreases from tall to short.
How to Present this Material:
1) Initial presentation begins with Set A as it is easier for children to match.
2) Invite the child for the lesson. Walk over to the shelf and name the material first before picking it up. Model how to carry the material to the work rug or to the table.
3) Place the material gently on the rug in front of the child. Present the material from left to right, thickest to thinnest.
4) Remember to use slow exaggerated hand movement and no words.
5) Take each cylinder out and mix them up. Tell the child that when we take them out we mix them up. (Point of Interest: Show the child how softly you can put it down on the rug or on the table)
6) Trace each cylinder around with your fingers to demonstrate the difference in diameters before putting them back.
7) Tell the child you will put them all back one by one. Model how to put them back.
8) Model how to put the material back on the shelf when you are done. Tell the child now it is his turn to work with the material.
Once the child has enough practice with each set isolated then we can begin with mixing up two sets, three sets, and then all four sets . One of the extension is to work with each set with a blindfold and then work with all four sets with a blindfold as child progresses with this material.
I hope this post helps your understanding on how to present this wonderful material to your child. Please write in the comments on what you would like to see more in our posts. Thank you for following this blog!
“Measurement of the Earth together with the consciousness of the reciprocal relationship between Man and the objects of the environment, and between the objects themselves.” ~ Maria Montessori
Geometry is seen as an abstract subject by many and sometimes given to babies and kids at a much later age. However, geometry is everywhere. We live in a world full of patterns and shapes. A butterfly displays symmetry, a soda can shows cylinder and volume, a house looks like a rectangular prism, and a rock can be an ovoid. Geometry is a part of us and when we look at the cosmic world, we see Geometry in us. This is why in Montessori education Geometry starts from Birth with Gobi Mobile and Octahedron Mobile. We can continuously see Geometry being a part of the child with Montessori materials. These materials enhances natural curiosity in among children. The child is engaging all of his/her senses and without realizing it, adding new senses such as the stereognostic sense and the basic sense such as the sense of mass, that is of heaviness or lightness.
Shapes on the Shelf
The way I design my shelf is from Left to Right, Easy to Hard, and Concrete to Abstract. The purpose is to prepare the child for reading indirectly.
This was a simple DIY Sensory Shapes Board. I created this with different materials around the house and hot glued it on a piece of wooden board that I found for free at Home Depot.
My little bug had so much watching the light reflect through these shapes. I love these wooden acrylic glass shapes because they are so versatile. They can be used for stacking, building, and for learning the names of different shapes. I found them on Amazon. (The link is at the bottom of this page).
Wooden Shapes Puzzle
I kept the lessons pretty simple and complete on the shelf. The reason I keep lessons complete on the shelf is because when he enters the sensitive period of order, he can put the activity back when its finished. It also teaches him to complete the task before returning it on the shelf.
This was a simple vertical dowel activity with shapes. This was also an Amazon find.
Finding Shapes in the nature engages child’s all senses and can make Geometry alive by relating it to real life objects.
Shapes Sensory Bin
Montessori Imbucare Box
This was by far the most loved lesson on the shelf. My little guy loved flipping the lid after he finished his lesson.
The simple rock washing activity is so peaceful and grounding activity for children. It involves geometry and sensory work.
Kandinsky Inspired Art
Kandinsky is famous for his geometric concentric circles in art. So, we created this easy version of Kandinsky for toddler. He painted on the laminating sheet first and then stamped different size circles with lids.
Making Stained glass with shapes by sticking sponges on the contact paper. These different color sponges from dollar tree are so versatile and you can create so many different activities with them.
This is the iconic Montessori lesson, one you will find in every Montessori classroom. This is such a great work for visual discrimination, learning the different diameters, thickness, height, and great activity for fine motor skills. This lesson is a pre-writing activity as it helps strengthens the hand and the activity is completed from left to right.
Art with Geometric Shapes
Sacred geometry involves sacred universal patterns used in the design of everything in our real lives. Although, we are limited to explore this subject with toddlers in depth but it shouldn’t stop us to introduce a little piece of geometry in our kid’s lives.
Below are some of the links of the work for older children that I created. Sacred Geometry unit was a very popular unit study in my classroom. Here are few glimpse of our work and some freebie to incorporate it in your classroom or in your home.