The Carbon Cycle, Montessori RD

  • Biogeochemistry 9-12
  • I have been looking for chemistry materials that would help contextualize elements and molecules. Montessori Research and Development Biogeochemical Cycles materials have given life to the study of elements. It provides reasons for children to learn elements, to build molecules, to write formulas like little scientists.
  • This post presents the Carbon Cycle, which is part of a series of Biogeochemical cycles materials that can be purchased as a set or separately (Oxygen, Nitrogen, Sulfur, Phosphorous, Calcium cycles).


  • 1 Erasable Chart showing the Carbon Cycle
  • 1 Marker
  • 2 Control Charts on the Carbon Cycle
  • 1 Booklet
  • 1 Set of three part nomenclature cards
  • all materials are made of durable laminated materials
The Carbon Cycle as a stand alone material

Why we like it

  • The Biogeochemical Carbon Cycle is organized in a manner that children can process. It contains outlines in bold characters that consistently explain how elements “enter” or “exit” 4 carriers: the Lithosphere (land), the Hydrosphere (water), the Atmosphere (air), and the Biosphere (living things).
  • Besides demonstrating the transfers mentioned above, the processes by which they are cycled is also explained. Ex: We learned that Sea Spray Aerosols play a role in absorbing carbon from the atmosphere resulting in increasing ocean acidification.
  • We are also reinforcing molecular compounds. The beginning of the booklet provides the molecular formula and complete names for each compound involved in the cycle. Ex: CaCO³, Calcium Carbonate with which shells are made. CO², Carbon Dioxide needed for photosynthesis. H²CO³, Carbonic Acid which is responsible for increasing ocean acidification.
  • The material ignites conversations, and generates research topics. The children learned and understand natural phenomena and global issues. They are preparing for making responsible choices to preserve the Earth.
  • The work is more than a book that will end up in our library. The material comes with an erasable Chart on which children can write formulas and draw arrows to process and assess their knowledge. They can use the 3 part cards to sort their understanding, while the booklet serves as a control, along with 2 control charts (see below)
On the left, control charts. On the right, mute chart
  • Finally, there are 5 more cycles for us to explore. You need no other resources except a molecule kit, which Dr. Montessori deemed truly appealing to children of the second plane (Ref. Montessori RD Chemistry manual).
MOLECULES KIT we use to build molecules (aff.)

How we use it

  • We previously encountered carbon through simple exposure when studying ecology (greenhouse effects), health (20% of human composition), history (coal deposit), chemistry (atom structure), and again in biology (photosynthesis, shell formation, organic compound).
  • The material offered us to connect all the pieces together and see the big picture. We read the booklet together, and laid out all the nomenclature cards. They made a lot of sense in the way they are organized.
Rewriting the molecular formulas to process the carbon cycle
  • Each nomenclature card demonstrates how carbon enters or exits the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, or the biosphere.
  • We practiced reading and writing molecular formulas (CaCO³…) provided in the booklet, using the erasable Chart (see picture below).
Carbon Mute Dry Erase Chart
  • Another day, we read and matched the nomenclature cards again, to assess our comprehension. The 2 control charts are helpful to quickly check if we matched the correct labels to the pictures. This exercise forces learners to pay close attention to the pictures that contains arrows showing how carbon circulates. It’s almost like a puzzle to solve.
  • You will find repetitions throughout the booklet, which has been helpful in truly remembering how things work.
  • In conclusion, just as promising as it looks, the Biogeochemical Carbon Cycle has put together all the knowledge we had learned in bits, and added the missing pieces. The fact that they are manipulatives help children continue to practice with the materials independently. If you are looking for in-depth knowledge that will be part of the child, this is a successful route to take.

I hope you enjoyed this personal experience made possible by Montessori Research and Development. This material was my choice to try, at no cost, and no obligation. I write honest reviews on materials that I can guarantee would be a great asset for my readers. The materials I review are used year round in our home-based classroom. Please visit our classroom on IGTV on Instagram at @lilamontessori Thank you!

Booklets, Control Charts
Mute Chart, Nomenclature Cards
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