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Two DIYs for the Montessori Second Great Lesson

One of my favorite parts of being at home with my Elementary aged children this year have been the Great Lessons! The five great lessons are foundational to the Montessori Elementary scope and sequence. They speak to the needs of elementary students in a way that engages their academic learning and sparks creativity. It's through the great lessons that children dive into science, history, mathematics, social studies, and so much more. Children return to these lesson each year for their six years of elementary, and can dive deeper into areas of interest over those times. The first lesson focuses on the creation of the universe, the second on the coming of life, the third on the coming of man, the fourth on the history of writing, and the fifth on the history of mathematics. 


I don't know how long we'll homeschool at this point. The plan is just for this year, so I knew that I needed to do the Great Lessons but didn't necessarily want to invest in a ton of new materials in order to do that. Well, I love a good DIY, so I thought up two that are really sparking a lot of joy for our Second Great Lesson. 

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DIY Timeline of Life

The Timeline of Life is used as part of the Great Lesson itself but also for lots of follow up work. The actual material looks a bit differently then the one that I have made, but mine works really well for our purposes. 

To make it, I used this book as a jumping off point. It has excellent information about each of the Eras and great examples for the life found in each. I actually purchased two copies - one to read and one to sacrifice for the timeline. I cut a few examples of plants and animals for each period of time, so that when added to my timeline it would create a complete chart. 


For the timeline itself, I used watercolor paper to watercolor the labels. At the top, I made a light blue strip for Eons. Then under those I made a strip in rainbow order of the Eras. I decided on a rainbow because it would be easier for my kids to put the multiple pieces of paper together in the right order that way. Then, under the Eras, I picked color families for the Periods in a smaller bar. Then, I simply labeled with a marker, and used some single sided lamination paper to laminate (because I couldn't get these sheets into my regular laminator.) I happened to already have this lamination paper, but I would have left it unlaminated otherwise (or picked slightly smaller paper to begin with.) 


That's it! For follow up we are learning about the Eras, we are learning about the types of life present in each. We are also pairing with our set of fossils and sorting those out. It's been very popular, especially with Nora who has never worked with it before. 

Tree of Life

My second DIY for this time period is the Tree of Life. One way that we are using this lesson to jump into further studies is by talking about the Kingdoms of Life and further scientific classification of living things. The tree of life is a great way to jump into some fun research but also make art, read, talk about math and so much more! 


To make the tree, I simply hot glued brown felt onto a green felt sheet in the shape of a tree. Then I added little wooden leaf and oval shapes for the "leaves" and some larger wooden tablets for our "research cards." I printed some information from each of the kingdoms of life to label 


So how it works is that my kids will take the leaves and research different real living things to add to the tree from all the different Kingdoms of Life. So some animals, some plants, some fungi, protists and bacteria. The research cards are used to record facts about those things and they can draw pictures of the thing on the little wooden leaves. Then, they can sort those leaves as the tree fills in. 


Henry will use this research for larger research projects and we will dive into further scientific classification. Nora will just learn some basics and have fun sorting. Eventually we should have a big tree full of fun living things! 

We should work with these materials for several weeks before moving on to our Third Great Lesson! 
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