Great Stories (Montessori)

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The Great Stories, also known as the Five Great Lessons, are a distinctive part of the Montessori curriculum for children aged 6-12[1]. These narratives aim to instill a sense of wonder about the universe and to provide a broad context to stimulate exploration and learning.

The five Great Stories include:

  • The Story of the Universe: This is an overview of the formation of the universe, Earth, and life, aiming to spark interest in physics, chemistry, astronomy, and earth sciences.
  • The Coming of Life: This story narrates the evolution of life on Earth, from single-celled organisms to the arrival of human beings, encouraging interest in biology and geology.
  • The Coming of Humans: This story introduces the concept of human prehistory and early civilizations, inspiring interest in archaeology, anthropology, and history.
  • The Story of Writing: This narrative examines the development of written language, stimulating interest in linguistics, history, and art.
  • The Story of Numbers: This story reviews the development of our number system and mathematics, igniting interest in mathematics and history.

Montessori Quotes on Great Stories

"It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself, and truly work at it."

— Maria Montessori, "The Absorbent Mind"

Research and Critiques on Great Stories


Supporters of the Montessori method assert that the Great Stories stimulate curiosity and provide context for exploring various subjects, fostering interdisciplinary connections[2].

The narrative approach of the Great Stories is suggested to enhance memory and understanding[3].


Critics argue that the abstract and broad scope of the Great Stories may be challenging for some children to grasp[4].

Some critics suggest that the storytelling approach might overly romanticize the subjects, potentially leading to misconceptions[5].

Comparison to Other Methods

In traditional education, subjects are often taught separately and factually, with less emphasis on the broader context and interconnections. In contrast, the Montessori Great Stories approach fosters an integrated, story-driven exploration of key academic areas, aiming to inspire curiosity, interconnection, and a broader understanding of the world[6].

Glossary of Montessori Terms

The Glossary of Montessori Terms is a collection of specific terms and vocabulary that are related to the Montessori method of education, primarily focusing on the theory and practice for children aged 3 to 6. The jargon used by Montessori educators offers a unique insight into child development as discussed by Maria Montessori. The 'Montepedia Glossary of Montessori Terms' originated from a glossary that was compiled by the late Annette Haines from the Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis, at the request of Molly O'Shaughnessy from the Montessori Centre of Minnesota. The reason behind the creation of this glossary was to supplement O'Shaughnessy's lecture at the Joint Annual Refresher Course that took place in Tampa, Florida, in February 2001.[7] The glossary has since been expanded and updated with additional 'Montessori Terms'.

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  1. Montessori, M. (1948). To Educate the Human Potential. Madras, India: Kalakshetra Press.
  2. Dorer, M. (2012). Montessori’s Five Great Lessons. Montessori Life, 24(1), 22–29.
  3. Zull, J. E. (2002). The art of changing the brain: Enriching the practice of teaching by exploring the biology of learning. Stylus Publishing, LLC.
  4. Gopnik, A. (2016). The gardener and the carpenter: What the new science of child development tells us about the relationship between parents and children. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  5. Egan, K. (2005). An imaginative approach to teaching. Jossey-Bass.
  6. Montessori, M. (1948). To Educate the Human Potential. Madras, India: Kalakshetra Press.
  7. Haines, A. (2001). Glossary of Montessori Terms. Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis.