Back to Back Issues Page
Teaching History's Big Picture: The Coming of Humans
April 08, 2008


Table of Contents

  • Fossil News
    • Recovery from The Permian Mass Extinction
    • Trilobites
  • Featured Articles
    • Teaching History: The Big Picture #4 The Coming of Humans
  • What’s New at
  • Spring Fossil Deals
  • Work in Progress


Don’t miss a single issue: Whitelist us NOW!


Fossil News

This is an interesting article

Ecosystems took 30 million years to recovery from the Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction

Do you like trilobites? Look at this website for all you ever wanted to know about trilobites and then some : A Guide To The Orders Of Trilobites


Featured Article

The Coming of Humans

Did you miss any of the first three installments of our featured article, Teaching History’s Big Picture? Click here to read Teaching History's Big Picture Parts 1, 2, and 3

The following is the fourth of a series of articles on teaching history based on Montessori methods. Future articles will cover the remaining Montessori Great Lessons in detail.

The Coming of Humans

This Great Lesson takes up where the Time Line of Life left off.

The third of Montessori’s Great lessons is titled The Coming of Humans. At the very end of the Time Line of Life is a tiny red section that represents the Holocene Epoch. Compared to the length of time represented by the entire time line, this small section representing the time of the emergence of Homo Sapiens and its ancestors is minute! Just the impression we are going for!

If you’ve been following these articles, you may remember that in Montessori classrooms, time is represented linearly for several reasons. First, a time line gives students a visual representation of a very abstract concept: the passage of time. The Montessori time lines are large so children can see lots of visual representations of the primary characteristics of each time period, whether it be plant or animal life forms, human cultures or geologic events. Finally, the time lines are in two versions: a complete, full colored version that is called the control and a blank chart with loose pieces that is called a mute. Children place the loose pieces in their proper area on the mute chart. This helps with organization, attention to detail, and, because they place the control at a distance away from where they are working, exercises their memories as they hold the information and move back and forth between the charts.

You may also have picked up that Montessori works from the general to the specific, starting with a “big picture” view of a subject and allowing the students to move into greater and greater detail as their interest and inspirations dictate. The first Great Lesson, the God Who Has No Hands, told the story of the “Big Bang” and how the planet came to be as it is today. It included impressionistic demonstrations of the various natural laws that resulted in the formation of the planet.

From this big picture, the students performed the demonstrations on their own and began to research the various aspects of the formation of the earth. Subsequent lessons helped them comprehend the great expanse of time (the Long Black Line) and the characteristic changes that occurred (The Clock of Eras)


Next they were presented the Time Line of Life: a big picture lesson on how all the life on earth has developed and changed over time. Related to the Long Black Line presentation and activities, this time line was a “stretching out” of the end of the black line.

The final impressionistic lesson before the new Time Line of Humans is a stretching out of the tiny segment that represents the Holocene. As the teacher gives the presentation, her comments direct the children to wonder about how human life came to be. The thoughts of students who have observed the rise of species over time through work with the TLL are well prepared to consider this new species in its place among all the others. Her comments will guide their inquisition to discover what set this species apart - how its particular characteristics helped it survive, develop and thrive. All the while, this impressionistic timeline, usually a solid red cloth with no pictures or guiding information attached, is being slowly extended until the center reveals a hand holding a tool.

The use of a tool distinguishes humans from nearly all other primate species and it was this particular event that led to the changes in brain formation and thought that led to modern humans. At the very end of this Hand Chart is a golden strip to represent the most unique of all human qualities: symbolic language or writing.

This vivid impression sets the stage perfectly for the new time line and next Great Lesson: the Coming of Humans The time line for the Coming of Humans is a visual representation of all the significant events, changes and developments that have occurred as human beings emerged from their earliest ancestors. Children will use the time line to investigate body changes that led to walking upright, the use of tools, control of fire, burial of the dead and, finally, picture writing, these being the primary developments in the creation of Modern Humans.

For more information about this and other variations of the Great Lessons, contact

The details of the Comming of Humans


What’s New at

We have lots of new products available this spring! If something catches you eye just click on it to go to that page. We are in the process of expanding the rocks and minerals section of fossilicious. Some of the new items are listed here:

New fossil entries include:

Coming Soon! look for Baculites, chrysocholla, amazonite, geodes, and more individual mineral specimens.


Spring Fossil Deals


Many teachers and parents give small gifts as tokens of moving on and moving up at the end of the school year. For teachers with 20 to 30 students even the cost of small gifts can add up.

At fossilicious we have several reasonably-priced options so you can give your students a truly memorable token of their achievement. For $15.00 (includes shipping) you can give every student in your class real fossil mementos to mark their transition from your class. We have many kinds to choose from. See them here: Classroom Packs

For our e-zine subscribers we have a special offer:

From now through the end of May you may take 15% off of any order, for any fossilicious products.

Just enter the coupon code springfever in the box at the bottom of the check out page.

If you are a VIP member you automatically receive an additional 10% discount. That gives you a full 25% savings on your orders this spring.

You must be logged in as a VIP member to take advantage of Your VIP status


What do you have to do to become a VIP at Fossilicious?

Its easy and its Free! Just sign up! Look for the VIP Registration link at the left of this Page It takes about a day to process. It is not automatic to prevent spammers from abusing the system.

If you are not sure if you are a VIP member log in and check your profile. The log in link is at the top of the page. At the top of the section that says user name and password is a little box that says sign up for membership. Make sure it says VIP Members. If it does you are already set up for your discount. If not, change it and click the submit button at the bottom of the page.

This is our way of saying thank you to those of you who come back to again and again.


Work in Progress

If you have been receiving our newsletter for a while the next section should look very familiar. Claudia and I started a new Montessori school last fall so some of our new project ideas for fossilicious have not gotten the energy they deserve.

The Fossil Coloring E-Book will likely be ready by fall.

This coloring book will be full size 8 ˝ x 11 in a pdf format. It will include scenes from all the various geologic times: Precambrian time through the Quaternary period. We are sorting through hundreds of drawings of original artwork used in illustrating our children's books. For a taste of this fossil coloring book follow this link. downloadable coloring Pages


Our new rock and mineral collections, Getting to Know Rocks and Minerals, are very near to completion. Most of the time spent on this project has been spent on writing lesson plans and creating materials to accompany the collections. These will be put into an ebook to go with each collection. These should be ready for shipping by mid-may at the latest. Watch the website for this exciting addition to our educational materials.

Look for these educational earth science collections in the future:

  • Igneous Rocks
  • Metamorphic Rocks
  • Sedimentary rocks
  • Mohs Hardness Scale Set

Is there something you would like to see offered on or Drop us a note: or


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

Back to Back Issues Page