Grades 1-3Lower Elementary Curriculum
Montessori education at the Lower Elementary level is designed to spark the imagination and to address the child’s need to interact with others. The Lower Elementary program is a mixed-age classroom for children in grades 1-3. Children who are entering the Lower Elementary are often characterized as having endless curiosity and a passion for hands-on exploratory research.
The elementary curriculum is designed to develop critical thinking, foster self-management, and cultivate independence. In an elementary classroom, students are guided by teachers who closely observe each student’s progress, teach individual and group lessons, assist in creating personal work plans, and offer students support that is non-intrusive, but fosters self-discovery. Through observation, teachers outline individual plans for each child’s developmental level.
The language arts curriculum enhances the child’s skills in reading, writing, listening, comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary. This core area of learning is bridged to other areas of the curriculum. Reading and writing is used for acquiring knowledge in biology, geography, history, and science. Writing plays and studying folklore from different cultures inspires the child’s writing process and develops reading strategies.
Math Montessori materials are used to provide the child with understanding of math concepts from concrete to abstract reasoning. Through continual practice, the child masters math facts and operation processes. Linking the history of math of how numbers evolved gives the child a connection to the need and use of numbers.
The child explores the study of lines and its parts. The child uses Montessori materials to form angles and polygons; learning their names, concepts of similarity, congruency, equivalency, and measurement. Art is used to compare and contrast shapes, learn characteristics, and define fractions.
Cosmic education is the centerpiece of the elementary program. Beginning with the creation of the universe through the appearance of humans, discoveries are made in the developments of time, calendar, writing, math, and fundamental needs of humans.
In a three year cycle, the child studies each continent in depth. The biomes (grasslands, forests, …) are introduced across the earth to show the interconnectedness of life at the kindergarten level. Biomes are studied within each continent at the elementary level. Mapping, building land and water forms, and studying earth, air and water gives insight to the dynamics of the world. Political and economic geography highlights boundaries, capitals, flags, and interdependence of people and materials.
Biology is the study of plant and animal kingdoms, their classification, characteristics, and habitat. The child explores this through working with nomenclature material, research, field trips, observations, and caring for animals and plants in the classroom.
The child explores the energies of the earth by studying the effects of magnetism, electricity, gravity, states of matter, and the solar system. Much of this is presented by questioning and discovering answers through experiments and building models.
Children learn how to cook and bake, use a washing machine, iron a shirt, arrange flowers, tie knots, use hand tools, plan a party, dress appropriately for any occasion, write thank-you letters, pack a suitcase or backpack, first-aid, self-defense, and everyday rules of etiquette.
The Montessori classroom is a small community run almost entirely by the students. They keep the room in order, care for classroom animals, tend to the plants, and set up for special events.
Practical life is incorporated throughout the curriculum. Math processes are used for cooking, sewing, weaving and experiments. Cultural studies incorporates many hands-on activities that require practical skills from caring for the environment to shopping, planning for needs of the classroom and oneself. Additionally, the outdoor classroom is an important aspect for exploring and caring for plants, animals and formations of the earth.
Grades 4-6Upper Elementary Curriculum
The Upper Elementary program is composed of students in grades 4-6. Moving towards adolescence, students of this age group are transitioning to more abstract thinking, relying heavily on resource materials to build upon the work begun in Lower Elementary. They have new ownership of a reasoning mind, full of capacities and enthusiasm for exploring, theorizing, planning, and creating. The Upper Elementary student begins to apply and expand upon previous learning and skills through varied work areas for individual and group projects. Emphasis is placed on the integration of subjects including math, geometry, language, history, geography, and biology.
Analyzing the components and structure of the English language are the primary focus of the Upper Elementary grammar. Students use a variety of grammar materials to learn structure, sentence analysis and the function of words. Additional lessons may include punctuation, capitalization, spelling and proper usage of words. Students reinforce their understanding of the concept learned through activities and assignments with a focus on editing their own work to apply what they are learning.
Students are introduced to a wide variety of reading material in the Upper Elementary program, this may include different genres, novels, research and history materials. Students receive reading instruction and practice comprehension skills through group reading. Learning how to become an “active reader” is a key lesson for the Upper Elementary student. They learn to question, summarize, make inferences and predictions as well as draw conclusions from what they have read.
Writing in the Upper elementary is taught through the Six Traits writing process. Focus lessons are given on ideas, organization, word choice, sentence fluency, voice, and conventions. These traits help to guide the children to a variety of writing with a focus on writing research papers. Students learn techniques for researching and locating information from various sources. There are lessons on note taking, as well as organizing the information collected and understanding how to put that information into the students own words. They receive instruction in paragraph structure and the structure of reports, as well as learning how to format a bibliography.
Students receive instruction in creative writing and have many opportunities to write stories, poetry, and even plays. Students work with brainstorming techniques, figurative language and editing skills. They review their knowledge of language mechanics in their writing and practice editing others’ work.
The Upper Elementary Math and Geometry programs continue from the Lower Elementary curriculum and progress based on the individual students’ needs. Lessons are held in small groups of students working on the same material at the same pace or one-on-one as needed. While the Upper Elementary classroom includes Math “materials” that are familiar to the child from Lower Elementary, the focus moves to higher math including beginning algebra, square and cube roots, base systems and powers of numbers. Upper Elementary is the time when many students become ready for Abstraction in Math.
Traditionally, the study of Geometry is undertaken in later years as an abstract series of rules, theorems, and propositions. Maria Montessori saw Geometry as firmly rooted in reality, and built a curriculum for lower elementary students that uses concrete, sensorial experimentation, leading students to concepts through their own creative research. Although sophisticated in content, Geometry at the Upper Elementary level continues to be well grounded in concrete experiences with manipulative materials. In this way, etymology is discovered, relationships and concepts are explored and researched, and the child’s conclusions serve as a basis for theorems, proofs, and formulas.
The Upper Elementary curriculum for social and cultural studies includes the disciplines of Geography and History. Our Geography curriculum is designed to show how the physical configurations of the earth contribute to history. It includes a study of physical geography, political geography and economic geography.
Students learn, compare and contrast the themes of geography that impact societies’ growth and development, including location, place, interactions of people and environments, movements and regions. Our students expand on their knowledge of political boundaries, map skills, cultures, communities and basic human needs.
Our Upper Elementary history curriculum carries forth from the Lower Elementary foundation of the Time-line of Life to focus on the Coming of Humans and the ensuing rise of civilizations, including our own. Our history themes are presented in three year cycles, allowing students to build a foundation of knowledge for historic comparison and contrast.
The Upper Elementary Science curriculum is a hands-on approach to science that motivates and stimulates curiosity. Utilizing the Full Optic Science System (FOSS), students learn to think scientifically by investigating, experimenting, gathering data, organizing results, and drawing conclusions based on their actions and observations. Follow-up questions to weekly experiments motivate students to think about new ideas and help them realize connections to other areas of study. Recall questions get them to remember information. Integrating questions get them to process information. Open-ended questions get them to infer, create, solve problems. Thematic questions help them realize connections between scientific ideas and processes. Areas of study include:
• Food and nutrition
• Human body
• Physics of sound
• Magnetism and electricity
• Levers and pulleys
• Mixtures and solutions
• Solar energy
• Land forms
Scientific Reasoning and Technology
• Models and design
The Information Technology Curriculum integrates seamlessly with classroom academics. Students acquire a progression of skills through teacher instruction, self-directed software programs, and cooperative and independent learning. Students use age-appropriate learning programs, growing to become competent in the Apple-based software (iWork – Pages, Keynote, Numbers) and/or Microsoft Office Suite (Work, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, FrontPage), as well as safely and effectively utilize the Internet. Higher-order thinking skills and digital citizenship are critical for students to learn effectively for a lifetime and live productively in our emerging global society.