While working in a Montessori elementary classroom, the other teacher and I would alternate taking small groups to the local public library. Sometimes we would take a parent from the classroom as an additional adult. These trips allowed our Montessori students to complete research using resources that we were unable to provide in our classroom.
The elementary Montessori curriculum has many research components and as teachers, we can’t always have all of the needed resources in our classroom or school. For younger children, we called ahead and, if possible, set up a time for our students to receive a library lesson from the children’s librarian. For older children, we did the lesson ourselves. If your school has its own library, the librarian would surely be delighted to give your students lessons on any aspects of the library.
The Library: A Wealth of Activities for the Montessori ClassroomBefore going to the library, ask students what they already know about the library. It’s possible many of your students have already been to a library. Discuss with your students that at the library they will see books, computers and other people. Explain that because of the other people, the appropriate voice volume for a library is to whisper. You can share with them that we also keep our bodies quiet in a library. We walk with soft steps and look with our eyes and not our hands. It might also be helpful to discuss that a public library is for everyone. Remind students to stay with the group until told otherwise.
After a tour of the library (including the computer card catalog), I like to send my students on a scavenger hunt. Depending on the length of the visit and the age of the students, I prepare index cards before hand that are labeled with either a subject keyword, author or book title. For example, one card might say llamas, another Judy Blume and a third might say Miss Nelson is Missing! For younger students, I would give one card and if time permits, give them another when they complete the task on the first card. For older students, I would prepare a bingo grid of tasks and consider it complete when they complete a bingo row or the whole card. Another option for older Montessori students would be more challenging clues such as, “Find a book that would help you write a research paper on the war that was taking place during Adolf Hitler’s lifetime.”
No matter the age group, it is important to remind students of library grace and courtesy before this activity. Their excitement can make it challenging for them to remember! Whether it’s your school library or the local public library, utilizing the library is an opportunity to work with your students on practical life skills, practicing grace and courtesy, history and research skills.
- Please Bury Me in the Library, by J. Patrick Lewis
- Library Mouse, by Daniel Kirk
- "L" Is for Library, by Sonya Terry
- Manners in the Library, by Carrie Finn
- Dewey: There's a Cat in the Library!, by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter
- Curious George Visits the Library, by H. A. and Margret Rey
- Learning About Books and Libraries: A Gold Mine of Games, by Carol K. Lee and Janet Langford
- Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians, by Jackie Mims Hopkins
- The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians, by Carla Morris
- Richard Wright and the Library Card, by William Miller and Gregory Christie
- The Library of Alexandria, by Kelly Trumble
- The Librarian Who Measured the Earth, by Kathryn Lasky
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. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, December 15, 2009.