The great thing about most of our geography, and science materials is that they are very open-ended and can be used in a variety of ways, for a wide range of ages.
We've been asked how to use our printable Montessori materials. And why so many of our materials don't include step-by-step instructions (many include basic instructions). We don't include them because we want the materials to be open-ended for both the teacher and the students. We don't want the presentation of the lessons to be constricted by how we think it should be presented - our version may not be appropriate for your students and their abilities.
The presentation of the materials will vary greatly depending on the students; their level of interest, their previous exposure to preparatory materials, and their overall abilities. The materials will not be very effective if you're locked into a presentation that isn't suitable for the children you're working with. As the Montessori Guide, it's your responsibility to adjust the presentation of the materials for the children in your presence. This is why observation in the Montessori environment is so important!
We want our materials to offer a starting point for the children to learn about the topics that they're interested in. The materials are meant to be a point of departure - not a point of arrival. They’re meant to offer general/basic information on the topic, provoke thoughts and questions, and inspire the children to study the topic in greater depth. The information we've provided in the materials is by no means complete. First of all, that would be impossible - is any research ever complete? Secondly, if we provided all the information then the children wouldn't have any reason to search for further knowledge and find the answers to their questions. Think of our materials as the 'springboard' that launches the children's desire for greater knowledge.
So now you're asking - "How do you know how to present the materials to the children?"
Good question! First off, you need to familiarize yourself with the various parts included in material (examples: 3-Part Cards, Definition Cards, Information Cards, Sorting Cards, Control Chart, etc.). You'll have a chance to do this while you prepare (print, laminate, trim) the materials - that's the beauty in preparing your own materials.
Let's use the Types of Mountains material to explore the various ways the materials can be used. This will give you some ideas for presentations of other materials/topics - simply follow a similar format. You can make the presentation as simple or as complicated as you feel the children can manage.
1. We suggest you use the page "The Importance of Mountains" as a starting point. The information on this page should generate thoughts, questions, and conversation. This will provoke greater interest and depth into this particular topic and related topics.
2. For the youngest children, simply learning the names of the 5 types of mountains (using the non-photographic cards) is a great start. You can use a 3 Period Lesson for this.
5. Introduce the photographic mountain cards. Learn the names of them using the 3-part cards.
7. Match the non-photographic images to the photographic images.
6. Group the photographic mountain cards by type, and then check the sorting using the Control Chart.
8. Using an outline map of the world, the children can indicate where each of the mountains in this material are located.
This work can go as in depth as the children are interested. Often the work will lead to other questions and interests, such as learning about rocks, natural resources, the water cycle, a huge variety of land & water forms, and animals and their habitats and adaptations.
The most important thing to remember when presenting new materials to the children is to "follow the child" and their interests. Allow your mind to be open to their interests and give them the creative room they desire to learn about the world we live in. Don't offer them all the answers, encourage them to discover the ways in which they can find their own answers. This will lay a strong foundation for life-long learning.
4. Match the definition cards with the non-photographic cards - putting the images and information together.
3. Once they've learned the names of them, you can move on to the definition of each type of mountain. If they are able to read they can test their own knowledge of the definitions by using the 3-part definition cards that are included.