- need for food, shelter, and clothing
- need to defend oneself from danger
- need to move from place to place
- need to receive care when ill
- the need to communicate
- the need to express oneself (through artistic works)
- the need for meaning in their lives
Maria Montessori believed it was important to study what humans have in common to instill in the child a greater sense of belonging to the universe. Humans all over the world share the same common needs. By examining the similarities and differences of humans around the globe, we build a sense of connection to all human beings, thus creating a deeper sense of cosmic community.
Celebrating Cultural Diversity in the Montessori Classroom - Heritage Survey ActivityThe Montessori curriculum strives to create a connection between home and school environment. In an effort to make this connection, some Montessori teachers have found that creating a cultural heritage survey helps not only the children to make this connection, but also involves the parents with what is occurring in the Montessori classroom. By explaining that the Montessori curriculum looks at both the Common Needs of People as well as the differences of others, it sends the message that it is okay to be different, along with the need to respect the differences of others. Parents can assist their children in filling in the survey.
Items to Include on Your Cultural Heritage Survey
- Child’s name
- Child’s birthplace
- Family members (name, relationship, birthplace)
- Languages spoken at home (primary and others)
- Family’s cultural heritage (all applicable heritages and cultures that influence family traditions)
- Special customs and traditions
- Traditional cultural items, clothing, music, dance that can be shared with the classroom/school
- Traditional foods that can be shared with the classroom/school
- Important family celebrations or festivals
You may also want to arrange some other related cultural activities such as a potluck where each student either brings a traditional dish, or a dish their family enjoys.
NAMC’s Lower Elementary History manual contains many activities for studying the Common Needs of People, as well as the Concept of Time, Timeline of Life, Timeline of People, and Introduction to Civilizations. The NAMC Elementary History blackline masters (see sample), available on CD-ROM, provide curriculum support material for the Montessori classroom as well.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.