Physical and Cultural Studies about the Earth in Montessori Classrooms

Our experience with children in elementary schools has shown us that the age between six and twelve years is a period of life during which the elements of all sciences should be given. It is a period that, psychologically, is especially sensitive and might be called the “sensitive period of culture” during which the abstract plane of the human mind is organized.
— Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 85

To teach to the human potential in the Elementary environments, Maria Montessori utilized the study of the Earth in both its physical composition and the cultural development of man in relationship to geography. Montessori closely linked all living things as interdependent through the concrete work of experiments, observation, impressionistic charts and map exploration, and left open the possibilities of further study outside the classroom (Going Outs). The curriculum of Geography can be divided into two segments: Physical studies and cultural studies of the Earth. In this article, you will be presented the aspects and importance of the study of Geography and how the work in this field contributes to the delivery of the complete Cosmic Education curriculum.

The subject of Earth’s evolution through time opens up endless topics for study in both physical and cultural geography that can be presented by the teacher or created by the child’s driven interest or inquiry. The class starts each year with the Great Story, “God Who Has No Hands” and throughout the remainder of the year depending on the interest revealed by the children further exploration will be made possible. Concepts and inquiry are brought to life in form of scientific investigation. Science experiments demonstrate in an observable and provable manner the answers to the Natural & Universal Laws that children naturally ask about. The children get to discover for themselves by reasoning a conclusion based on their hands on experiment, observation, and experience. A child might explore for instance: how gravity is a force that can’t be seen but can be proven that it exists or that water has three states of matter (solid, liquid, gas - ice, water, vapor).

Mankind’s impact and relationship with the Earth is given a close view in the studies of Cultural Geography. A child can explore, analyze and reason in a group conversation what he sees are the needs of humans and plot on a chart how living things are interdependent. The idea of the role of the Earth interconnecting all living things is a motif that continues throughout the six years of the Cosmic Education curriculum where the child will immerse himself in different aspects of geographical cultural studies as well as in other disciplines such as History, Art or Music.

The exploration of culture begins with concrete examples of the home culture. Then it is expanded from the home culture to other cultures and other places. The guide presents as many aspects of culture as possible throughout the year(s) to set the attitude that all cultures are valuable and deserving of respect and inquiry. The child gets a view of what is universal and what is different in the context of physical and political geography. They then can consider what commonalities can be found in the different cultures.

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?
— M. Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential, p. 6

In a period of six years the second plane child will have the opportunity to explore the many aspects of the study of geography in a way that their imagination is fully empowered and fueled by points of interest. Some of the series of lessons that are presented and can be studied in depth throughout the elementary years are:

  • The Composition of the Earth: all of earth’s history as a planet and the study of how the Earth works. The physical understanding of the layers of the Earth both visible and not visible including the atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere (crust), and barysphere (mantle and core). Further studies involve geological studies on the formation of mountains, fault lines, continental drift, and volcanoes and its impact on life’s development.
  • Work of Water: the study of how water impacts the Earth and how it is vital to all living beings. The Work of Water studies attracted Maria Montessori the most. It was one of her biggest interests and fascination. She talked about the water as,
a toiler that sculpts the land, how it builds and transforms by dissolving other substances to make them more suitable, useful, and accessible for living things.
— (Maria Montessori)

 Children of all ages love water! They are fascinated by what it can do and how it moves. Cosmic Education brings to the child opportunities to work with water to serve their imagination. At the second plane of development, the urge is to understand the larger environment of the universe. Presenting this concept that water shapes the earth and the life on the planet. How the Earth got its current shape and topography together with the perfect balance of oxygen, carbon, and life is a deduction that the children can make as they build their understanding linking presentations.

The study of Water begins with a presentation of the River Model that represents how water moves from mountain to sea and shows some of the forces at work. Water carves, carries, and deposits. These presentations leave children with a fascination, awe, and eagerness to learn more about how this powerful force influences the face of the planet and life on it. Then follows the work of physical/topographical maps that show the location of principal rivers of the world and various continents, and discussions are held on the cultural significance of the rivers. Further work: Erosion caused by rain, rivers, glaciers and oceans, the water cycle. The children are immersed in many possibilities of exploration of the work of water on our planet and will in some way concretely see, create, research and produce products of their own (models, timelines, maps, etc…).

  • Work of Wind: the study of the function that wind has in our daily lives. Work of Wind studies begin with a set of experiments to spark the child’s imagination and show how air takes up space, how it moves upward when heated, how cool air flows in to replace the rising air, which leads to a series of presentation about the movements of air (global winds) in the atmosphere. Further work: heating and cooling of the earth and its effects on water, sea currents, seasons, local weather patterns, and erosive power of the air. All these studies are interconnected to the Great Story of  “God Who Has NO Hands” and the Creation of the Universe where the laws governing everything is proven through Command Card-Experiments.
  • Interdependencies & Fundamental Needs: the study of how all living things are inter-connected and necessary for the balance of survival. The Fundamental Needs Chart is a visual tool that the children can use to clearly plot out the particulars of a given culture with an illustrative common ground for all humanity in the present and past. The essential needs of man and how he meets each need in the particular time and space that he lives is an eye opening experience for the children. They begin to see the world’s diversity based on significant geographical differences, land composition and the climate, rather than a view based on historical context, personal difference and separation. The guide presents political geography as the creation of man to organize his world into social structures and governments based on topography, climate and time zones, vegetation and necessity.
  • Economic and Political Geography: the children learn the use of an Atlas and maps to plot their findings of a particular region, state or country. What is produced, the natural resources and man-made resources, impact of weather, topography; the study in political geography is an exciting work for children of this age because they have a drive for orientation and need to map out their growing surroundings.
  • Migrations of People and its Effects:  the study of how people travel across vast regions, countries, and continents to survive and meet their essential needs. Through the study of the Migration of People the children learn that they are not only the children of a given family but also the children of the Earth. The activity of investigating migration of people gives the child a connection with his world and compares it to any other place in the world or any other time. The reasoning mind has an opportunity to compare and contrast, analyze and draw conclusions.


The Cosmic Education Curriculum gives the study of Geography a very important task: to help in the creation of the human mind during the ages of six to twelve. The guide has a rich pool of lessons to share with the students that will lead the child to self-discovery of the world and who they are in relationship to the world. Physical and cultural geography, History, Language, Archaeology, Anthropology, Art and Science are studies that serve as entry to the reasoning mind. The purposeful interest and inspiration to discover and create one's individual identity and social identity is given opportunity for exploration and discovery. Each child will find their place in the world and decipher their connection with every living thing. In the end of the conversation, it will be realized that everything is interconnected as Maria Montessori has intentionally guided us to see. Once accepted this conclusion, the child will begin to take ownership of their special role as man to be in service to all living things. Tied together are the topics of 

The guides provide key lessons that inspire and stimulate the child’s curiosity. From the points of the lesson each child or a group of children will take from the conversation what they found specifically interesting and create their own strand of investigation. They will create models, timelines, draw pictures and read books. The purposeful work of studying: political maps, flags and research on political identity, Time Line of Human Beings, migration and exploration of humans and animals, customs of different people around the world, economic geography and man’s role in protecting and caring for the environment is an unfolding of the individual as he relates to the world. The child has plenty of avenues to satisfy his or her curiosity and then relate his findings to life itself. Together with the work of the hands and the reasoning mind the Elementary child reaches the understanding that the Earth is in a sense our Mother and that human beings are the stewards for the generations to come.

To give the whole of modern culture has become an impossibility and so a need arises for a special method, whereby all factors of culture may be introduced to the six-year-old; not in a syllabus to be imposed on him, or with exactitude of detail, but in the broadcasting of the maximum number of seeds of interest.  These will be held lightly in the mind, but will be capable of later germination, as the will becomes more directive, and thus he may become an individual suited to these expansive times.
— M. Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential, p. 3-4.

Peek inside the elementary classrooms:


Dear Parents,


Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful winter break. It was great to see your children returning back to the classroom with ease and to listen to their adventures they’ve experienced during the break. 


Thank you for attending our Parent Night last week where we had the opportunity to glimpse into our Elementary Montessori Sleep-over. I hope this gave you a quick glance at how we as Montessori Guides offer your children opportunities to develop their independence. 

Having our library procedures fine tuned, we are excited to make our Going-Out program solidify. These types of Going-Outs will make your children  realize that all the answers they seeks for their projects, research or personal interest are not readily accessible in the classroom. With this concept in mind the child becomes aware of the outside world and this gears them towards independence. 

“While we may believe we are “helping” the child, in fact, any time the adult offers assistance or interrupts, she becomes an impediment to the child’s growth.”

In Academics, we are focusing on nurturing the imagination and the reasoning mind. We personalize lessons to each child to engage their reasoning mind. They are able to then make connections from one area to another which leads them  to arrive at abstraction in their own time & through their  own experiences. This simply means, they work in the environment gaining understanding and  carry over into  information into future lessons and experiences with ease.  

Enjoy your weekend with your precious ones.   


Mr. Fernando & Ms. Ada 



Dear Falcon Families,

In the new calendar year the students returned from the winter break with a strong drive for work.

The researches and writing stories that were put on hold during the preparation for the play as well as new stretches from new lessons come to life with new energy: bird and lichen researches, story about life in ancient Egypt, migrations, studies about the Earth. Researches about snakes and seals are in process of organizing going outs.

During read aloud times new books about grace and courtesy were read about stretching the minds, talking out of turn as a volcano, filling our invisible buckets with happiness and joy, and other books. The students love to hear and relate to these stories as well as our new classroom jokes, phrases, and games that come out from this amazing stories.

Every morning we start with singing songs and learning new ones (Bob Dylan's - Blowing in the Wind, and Harry Connick Jr.'s - Let There Be Peace on Earth.) We warm ourselves for new plays and musicals in future.

Oldest students are very excited to organize the Sleepover that is going to happen on February 22nd. But that is the story for another month!


Mr. Denis and Ms. Rebeca

Denis Samarin