History Of Writing, Montessori Great Lessons At Home

I posted about our experience with the Montessori Great lessons

In this post we explored the development of human communication. We began with reading the story from our Montessori Research and Development Manual - Language Arts Manual 1.

The history is long and there is a ton of information so we went though the majority, and then moved on to a series of documents that I created for Xander. I had a map out for reference.

The documents I prepared are below, I included symbols/characters, brief histories and photos. The documents gave a simple synopsis of each. All of the information I used came from Wikipedia.

Egyptian Hieroglyphs
Phoenician Alphabet
Hebrew Alphabet
Arabic Alphabet
Greek Alphabet
Chinese Alphabet
Chinese Characters for common words
Japanese Characters
Cave drawings
Rosetta Stone, Photograph and history
Sign Language

Both Xander and Ava's names in Chinese and Arabic for practice writing.
I also included a sheet called Say Hello! This doc contained the greeting Hello in 14 different languages and the phonetic pronunciation guide.

  We will read the story and documents again, but this was a first look and as I mentioned it is a ton of information, so it will be fun to revisit during our History of Ancient Cultures Units.

There were many books that we used. The book below is a History of Book Making and it contains a load of information! This is a Scholastic book that is part of a series called Voyages of discovery and we have several in the series. It contains information and photographs of Ancient writing and History to modern day printing. It covers paper making to the early writing tools and implements.

The History of Making Books: From Clay Tablets, Papyrus Rolls, and Illuminated Manuscripts to the Printing Press (Scholastic Voyages of Discovery. Visual Arts, 18)

This is an old book that I found used on Amazon. The 26 Letters is a fantastic history of human communication and writing.

The table of contents. I love this book and so did Xander!

We used the iPad for tons of research!! Below he is reading about the history and making of papyrus paper and at papyrus plants. He learned about the ancient and modern day methods for making it.

Onto some hands on fun!! We decided it would be fun to make a crafty version of papyrus paper. We used strips of tracing paper, a cup of slightly watered glue and brushes.

Xander brushed along the edges of the strips and glued them together horizontally.

Then he repeated the process vertically. We let our paper dry and trimmed the edges.

We watched a great video from The British Museum called Young explorers: a brief history of writing on Youtube.

We decided to make a version of the quill and reed writing instruments. This video also gives instructions for making a quill. We made a very makeshift quick and simple version by simply cutting the spine of a feather. This video is fairly dry but short, and does have great information from the Virtual History of writing.
We used a simple bamboo skewer to make the reed. We did buy ink later from Micheal's crafts in a kit with a simple calligraphy pen that he tried later. For this purpose we used slightly diluted liquid water colour and it worked amazingly well with great saturation of colour.

We also prepared plaster tablets for hieroglyph and petroglyph writing.
This is a quick set plaster and I made a for one with modelling clay on an old sheet pan I also created our water forms this way.
I used plastic containers for the rest, and popped them out once the plaster had set.

We used anything we had on hand for carving, but later used a little set of cheap carving tools. The plaster is soft so anything will do the trick.

Washing the tablets with water colour.

Using the quills and reeds we made to create characters and letters.

I bought an inexpensive set of Chinese Calligraphy brushes.

We used a foam wedge brush to try some Arabic writing.

We had the laptop close by for amazing examples!!

This is a great world map that we used along with some early printouts.

Here he is reading about the Rosetta Stone.

One thing we did not get to but are preparing to do, is making rice paper. We did watch videos and learn about how it is made.

We also visit a Children's Museum located at the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa on a regular basis, and they have an Egyptian Pyramid loaded with amazing learning resources. I though I would share this photo from one of our visits.
Xander is matching the symbols of the Egyptian Alphabet. Ava loves this one as well!

This was our initial introduction to this lesson and we are excited to revisit these resources with added new finds in the future!!

I hope you all are enjoying your exploration of the Great Lessons!!

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 This post is linked up at Living Montessori Now!!
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  1. I love this post!! What fantastic learning!!

    1. Thank you!! This work was so much fun and interesting!!

  2. Oh, you're going to laugh when you see my post today :) What timing! I will have the kids look at the pictures in your post this week. I'm sure seeing what Xander is doing will inspire some copycat work at our house. Thank you for sharing all the details!

  3. This is amazing! Its so far away for us, but I'm going to save it for then. Thank you :)

    1. Thank you so much!! Oh my, I have done that a ton!! I hope it becomes useful:)

  4. You did so many wonderful projects with this lesson. I love it! We will be doing this lesson probably next week, if I can get everything together by then. I was also planning to do some of the same things as you have shown (maybe because we use the same Manuals). I'm hoping the little hands on projects will peek some interest in my son.

    1. Thank you!! We had a lot of fun with this. Xander was facinated with trying differnet forms of writing. The projects really made this lesson come alive for him! He also loved the paper making process. I hope you have fun with it!! I'll have to come see!!:)


I greatly appreciate your friendly comments and feedback. I love to see what others are making, so please feel free to include a links and share your site with us!!! If you have any questions regarding any of the materials we have made...I'd love to help!!! Thank you for visiting us:)



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