The Five Great Lessons of Montessori Philosophy

three boys being silly n the playground at grace montessori school

One of the cornerstones of the Montessori curriculum, designed to awaken young minds to the possibilities of the world around them, is The Five Great Lessons. Maria Montessori, the creator of the Montessori philosophy, formulated these lessons for elementary students as part of the “Cosmic Education.” 

The Five Great Lessons are exciting stories that convey an understanding of the origins of the universe, life on Earth, and the impressive advancement of human beings. These lessons create a rich framework that encourages students to build their own maps of understanding to use later on in the Montessori curriculum. These maps help them grasp how other subject areas relate to each other, their lives, and our planet. 


Coming of the Universe and the Earth

The first of the five great lessons is the coming of the universe and the Earth. This introductory section provides a large framework for the beginning of the universe, including the origins of the oceans and continents. Starting with this lesson helps students see “the bigger picture” into which they can fit the subsequent four lessons. 

Coming of Life

In the second lesson, students learn about the timeline of life. We emphasize the diversity of life and how many species there are beyond humans! This is a very science-focused lesson, which leads to later discussions on biology, plants, animal habitats, invertebrates, vertebrates, and more. 

Coming of Human Beings

This lesson focuses on three essential gifts that make humans special: a mind to imagine, a hand to do work, and a heart that can love. We use this reference point to explore early civilization and the universal needs of humans, even those who lived centuries ago. This is the groundwork for future lessons in history and geography. 

Communication in Signs

With our fourth lesson, we arrive at the story of writing. Discussing the development of communication, first through pictures and then the alphabet, helps students see the amazing ability of humans to use letters, words, and sentences to share their thoughts with other humans. As students progress in their Montessori education, they build on this lesson as they progress in their reading and writing levels. 

The Story of Numbers

The fifth and final great lesson gives students a look at the history of mathematics. They can see how numbers have evolved over time; many ancient civilizations simply used “one,” “two,” and “more than two” as their number system. Students can appreciate later mathematics lessons when they see how far our numeric system has come. 

The Five Great Lessons are typically taught for the first time in our lower elementary classrooms to build a strong foundation at a young age. These lessons contribute to our goal of nurturing the child’s spirit and love of learning. By allowing them to discover these five fundamental truths about their world, we naturally awaken their curiosity and desire for more information. To learn more about our GMS curriculum, click here.

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