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Teaching Historys Big Picture, Issue #005
April 03, 2007

Table of Contents

  • News
    1. New Raptor Species Identified
    2. Climate Was the Cause of Neanderthal Extinction
  • Featured Articles
    1. Teaching History's Big Picture
  • What’s New…
    1. @
    2. @
  • Work in Progress


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New Raptor Species Identified From Paleoblog

Tsaagan mangas was unearthed in 1993 but only recently identified as a new raptor species.

Tsaagan mangas, was found in the Ukhaa Tolgod region of Mongolia. Tsaagan was slightly larger than a turkey and its skull is one of the best preserved dromaeosaurid skulls ever found.

Read more on New Raptor at Paleoblog


Evidence Points to Climate as Cause of Neanderthal Extinction

Climate - and not modern humans - was the cause of the Neanderthal extinction in the Iberian Peninsula. Such is the conclusion of the University of Granada research group RNM 179.

Read more on Neanderthal Extinction


Teaching History's Big Picture

How did you learn history? What do you remember about those history lessons? If you were one of a lucky few whose history teachers brought history alive through stories and dramatic presentations, then you may have grown up with a passion for the unfolding of life and humanity on our planet.

But for many, history is taught as a series of dates and events, set in a line from one conflict-driven benchmark to the next. I think there is a better way. There is a drama behind historical events, no matter how significant or mundane; drama is the compelling force in the study of history. Teachers who capture and share the unfolding drama of history inspire learning and lifelong curiosity of the events that shape our past, our present and our future.

History, like any subject, must make sense in order to have any hope of being remembered. Even more significant for placement in long-term memory, the information must have personal meaning for the student. The student, regardless of age, must be able to feel, on some level, the significance of past events and put them into meaningful context for his/her own life.

With this in mind, I would like to take a look at the Montessori approach to the study of the whole of history. The goal of the Montessori history curriculum is to inspire children to see themselves as an important participant in the history of humankind. By understanding the past and feeling their significance in the present, Montessori believed that students would be prepared to make their conscious contribution to the world. This was her design for peace education.

Montessori’s approach to history begins with the telling of earth’s story from its beginning to the present. It continues with the story of life on the planet, the story of humans, the story of the development of language and, finally, the story of mathematics. Each of these five Great Lessons approaches its topic from a wholistic perspective. Each tells its respective story including scientific and social impacts of the events. Montessori saw the interconnectedness of all living and non-living things on the planet. The Great Lessons share the big picture story with plenty of opportunity for the student to investigate aspects on her own.

The Great Lessons on the History of Writing and the History of Mathematics give students a glimpse into how different cultures have made contributions to the subjects throughout time. Through these timeline lessons, students see in a direct way how different people from different cultures and perspectives played a unique role in the development of something we all use everyday. These timeline lessons, which can be applied to any subject that interests the child, are called vertical timelines in that they look at the various layers of our past like an archaeologist looks through layers of a dig.

The Montessori studies of history don’t stop with these timeline-based history lessons. The curriculum includes an emphasis on the study of cultures, both current and historical. A child in the Montessori classroom will have the opportunity to investigate the people of ancient times as well as modern peoples around the world. These horizontal studies look at a slice of time and the people and events that made it memorable. They are a natural extension to the vertical stories because children want to know more about the different time periods that are discussed along the way.

Teaching history as a big, overall picture gives a broader context in which the history can make sense. It imparts deeper meaning for the modern child’s experience. When brain researchers look at this sort of learning situation, they say there is optimal opportunity to transfer the pieces of data into long term memory.

But more important than the memory of specific facts is the processing of the logic behind the history. Most important is understanding how human nature responded to problems in the past and thinking about how humans will respond to problems in the present and the future. Teaching history from a big picture perspective allows the type of learning which is more likely to transfer when new topics and learning situations are presented. Students who have this kind of experience of history, will tend to look at modern problems from several different perspectives and be accepting of cultural, ethnic, and socio-economic differences of opinion.

Dr. Montessori’s goals went far beyond the learning of dates and events, people and places. She wanted children to learn important lessons from the events so they could take these lessons into the future to create a better world for those who would follow. She understood that children have a fierce desire to understand themselves and to feel important in their own lives. By acknowledging these fundamental characteristics of the child, she developed a curriculum that would put children in touch with a global view of the past and that would allow them to shape the future.

This is the first of a series of articles on teaching history based on Montessori methods. Future articles will cover Montessori’s Great Lessons in detail.


What’s New…?

@ : Childrens’ Books on Geologic Periods

For those of you who have been patiently awaiting the publication of our books on the geologic periods, well… they are finally ready for you!

As a special introductory offer for our Ezine subscribers only you will receive a $5.00 fossilicious gift certicicate with your purchase of each set of Books on Geologic Periods during the month of April. The gift certificate is valid for any other purchase from during 2007.

You can get yours at Childrens’ Books on Geologic Periods. Be sure to enter "gift certificate" in the customer comments section of the check out page.

This set of children’s books covers the Geologic Time Periods from the Precambrian to the Quaternary with explanations of the relatively new Paleogene and Neogene Periods.

All of the books follow a format that highlights the following information for each period:

  • The time in millions of years ago for the beginning and ending of the period
  • The geography of the period including the shifting of the continents
  • The climate
  • New plant and animal species that appear during the Period
  • Plant and animal species that became extinct during the period
  • Major extinction events

For Montessori Teachers these books follow the Time Line of Life and were designed to allow independent research as a follow up to time line presentations.

Thanks to all of you who visited our booth at the AMS conference in NYC.

@ :
We have added new pages on the Paleogene and Neogene Periods of geologic time. There is also the first of our dinosaur pages: Spinosaurus


Work in Progress

We are currently working on an e-coloring-book. This coloring book will be full size 8 ˝ x 11 in a pdf format. It will include scenes from all the periods from Precambrian through the Quaternary and many famous fossil species. We are sorting through hundreds of drawings of original artwork used in illustrating our childrens’ books. We hope to have it ready by late spring. For a taste of this fossil coloring book follow this link. downloadable coloring Pages

Is there something you would like to see offered on or ? Contact us Let us know what you think!


Written by….Doug and Claudia Mann
© copyright 2006/2007 by

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