For the past several months, we have taken an in-depth look at the areas that comprise the Montessori classroom. Our final area to discuss is Cultural Studies. The Montessori cultural studies curriculum provides opportunities for children to explore the larger world. Students learn about the people, terrain and animals of each continent as part of a rich exploration of different world cultures.
Children are also introduced to the physical world around them and are allowed to explore real things and learn scientific names for plants and animals. They learn about geography, zoology, botany, biology, earth science and social studies.
At Villa Montessori Preschool Leesburg, it is important to us to support the personal interests of our children. Although our teachers have a specific culture curriculum, some areas may be studied more deeply depending on what the children are curious to know. We encourage curiosity, as it is the gateway to learning and leads to internal motivation as the children grow and develop. Instilling the joy of learning is one of our guiding principles – and what better way to do this than giving our children freedom to explore what they want to learn?
Our children learn about the continents and biomes of the world using specialized globes, wooden puzzle maps, water and landforms, flags of the world, and other materials. First, children are introduced to special globes. One globe teaches the idea of how land areas and water are represented on a globe. Land is shown as a rough brown area, and water is depicted as a smooth blue surface. Another globe introduces the seven continents, which are shown in a distinct color. Children learn the names and locations of each continent. The color code on the Continent Globe is carried on with the Puzzle Map of the World, and in early work in continent studies. During our geography studies, children learn about the different countries of the world; the culture of the people who live there, as well as the animals that reside there.
The large wooden puzzle maps are some of the most popular activities in the classroom. Students can put puzzle pieces into place by using the little knob on each piece. After working with the world map (which has a separate piece for each continent) a student can complete the seven continent maps, which is comprised of puzzle pieces of each country. The map of the United States has a separate piece for each state.
The globes and puzzles provide a hands-on, concrete way for students to learn about the different countries in each continent. We provide many extensions beyond the initial introduction. Children have the opportunity to pin-punch each country out of the appropriate color construction paper, then assemble them into the whole continent using the puzzle maps as a control. Additionally, older children can use the puzzle pieces to trace onto a blank sheet of paper creating a given continent. The traced countries are then colored and labeled. These methods of learning the countries and continents are much better than memorization methods generally used in a more traditional school setting.
Students at Villa Montessori Preschool Leesburg are introduced to the concept of living vs. non-living early in their three-year Montessori cycle. Once they understand the difference, the children are taught the five vertebrae animal classes: mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds. Throughout the three-year curriculum, students will learn more about the animals that belong to each of these classes. Children also learn about dinosaurs and insects. We also offer many Reggio activities that correlate to what students are learning in the Montessori cycle: students are given opportunities to study the life cycle of butterflies from caterpillar to releasing the butterflies outside; creating fossil imprints with shells, bones, and plants; as well as archeology digs where they use tools and brushes to “unearth” and uncover fossils.
The children are introduced to plants, flowers, and trees using beautifully illustrated nomenclature cards. By utilizing these cards – as well as puzzles – children learn the parts of a flower, tree and leaf; and they learn to match the illustrations with the corresponding names. Learning the correct terminology allows our students to become more observant of the characteristics of things that grow around them. Part of our Montessori curriculum includes taking care of plants inside the classroom, as well as maintaining flowers and vegetables in our outdoor gardens. Our students are encouraged to bring in samples they have collected in nature to match with the illustrations found on the nomenclature cards.
As part of the Montessori curriculum, students conduct experiments to help them learn the concepts of “sink and float,” “magnetic vs. non-magnetic,” and “hot vs. cold.” At Villa Montessori Preschool, monthly themes include the solar system, volcanoes and the weather.
Want to learn more? We believe the best way to understanding the benefits of a Montessori education is to visit our school. We welcome you to schedule a virtual or in-person tour by calling 571-281-5800. Come see for yourself how we instill a joy of learning in our students that they will carry with them throughout their lifetime!