The Study of Humans

By Joe Hayes, Lower Elementary Guide – 

Studying the lives of human beings is a central theme of Montessori education at the elementary level. Elementary students have an ability to consider the lives of other people and imagine what life may have been like for those who came before us. Through history studies of human beings, students learn about and build an appreciation of the sense of exploration and invention that has led to the human civilization we know today.

Our study of human begins with a Great Lesson about the arrival of humans on earth and the special gifts these humans had that set humans apart from other animals. These gifts are the mind with which to think, the hand for putting thoughts into action, and a special kind of love that extends to all humans.

In our lessons we place a lot of emphasis on the coming together of people to collaborate toward common goals, along with all of the communication and resourcefulness these people would have needed to work together successfully. We
consider ideas such as:

  • What was it like to be the first human to have tasted cooked food?
  • What would life have been like before humans learned to harness and control fire?
  • Imagine being a member of a mammoth hunting clan!
  •  Who was the first person who had the idea of planting a seed?

Through open-ended stories and teaching tools like the Timeline of Humans, we present these ideas and allow students to ponder their significance and research these areas in more detail as they are inspired.