Dr. Montessori defined the curriculum as the universe, and it is the role of the teacher to present from the large to the small. Students may begin their studies in the cultural area with learning about our solar system, night and day, months of the year, days of the week and clocks. They then use the two Montessori Globes to see that our planet Earth is made of land and water, and the land is divided into continents. They apply many of the skills used in the Practical Life area to punch or cut out the shapes of the continents to glue them to their hemisphere maps.
As they learn to identify the continents, the students also learn about the cultures prevalent in that area. They learn about traditions, foods, flags, weather and coins. The students then learn that the land and water forms have names such as isthmus and bay. From there they learn the plants and animals that live on the land and in the water. The students conclude the year with the study of volcanoes, core and mantle, in other words, large to the small.
The Children’s House curriculum is designed to be a three year cycle with the classroom actually prepared for students 29 months to age 7. Each year the student is in the classroom, the information presented is in greater detail. The Cultural Area includes topics in geography, botany, zoology, history and international culture. Some sections include science experiments such as magnetic and non-magnetic hands-on activities. They accomplish this curriculum through the use of:
Puzzle map of continents
Foreign language instruction
Time Line of Life on the Earth
The Teaching Clock
Imaginary Island Puzzle
Clock of Eras
Land and water forms
Land formation definition cards
International songs and dances
Pin Maps with capitals and flags
International and Holiday festivals
Money and exchange
Puzzles of plants and animals
The children are taught that their classroom is a community and they are responsible for caring for each other. As they learn about the countries and cultures, they also learn that their classroom is one small group within a much larger community. Dr. Montessori believed she did not develop just a method of education, but a philosophy of life. Information is presented to children in a global perspective, with history and cultures as the foundation for greater understanding, community and peace.