At around age six, a change occurs in the child that gives us a key to the elementary years. The child develops the mental power to visualize and explore, which has not been experienced first-hand. We call this the ability to abstract. This new ability opens vast new arenas for learning. The elementary child is able to learn about anything that can be held in the intellect, including the entire world and the universe. Accordingly, Montessori provides the elementary-age child with large and noble themes.
Earlier Montessori classroom experiences has prepared him with the skills to move from concrete learning to more abstract and higher order thinking. As his ability to concentrate, ability to organize, manage time and self direct develops he is able to accomplish more advanced projects.
The foundation of the Montessori Elementary curriculum is centered around the 5 Great Lessons.
Elementary teachers offer the tools, teach the skills and provide the time for students to learn and explore as they delve deeply into new areas of learning. Music, art and writing are integrated into the classroom to promote creativity and individual expression.
Teamwork is promoted. Learning takes place both in group lessons and on an individual basis. Teachers assess and reflect on each child's progress and supply lessons adapted to fit each learner.
The Classroom Community
Elementary children are interested in understanding their place in the social world. They are concerned about right and wrong, fairness and respect for themselves and as a member of a peer group. Class meetings help facilitate communication skills, conflict resolution techniques and the understanding of shared social values. The teacher may start a discussion at a class meeting to help the children with something that happened at recess or in the classroom. She may bring up ideas for the peer group to discuss like truth, no violence, kindness, doing the right thing when no one is looking, respecting each other, compassion for others, what is independence, what is cooperation, etc.
“To do well, it is necessary to aim at giving the elementary age child an idea of all fields of study, not in precise detail, but on impression. The idea is to sow the seeds of knowledge at this age, when a sort of sensitive period for the imagination exists.”
Dr. Maria Montessori
MATHEMATICS - Skip-counting; operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with large numbers; math facts using a variety of methods; word problems; math facts memorization; fractions, equivalence; time; money; linear measurement; factors, multiples; rounding, estimation; weight, temperature; simple graphs; inequalities.
GEOMETRY - Learning nomenclature; formation of geometric shapes; measurement of perimeter; measurement of angles; study of lines, polygons, circles, solids; congruence; use of compass and rule.
READING - Study of blends, digraphs, phonograms, sight words; reading for understanding; cause and effect, plot inference, main idea; character traits; book presentations once a month for second and third-year students; reading selections from short stories, poems, folk tales, mythology, chapter books, reference materials.
LANGUAGE - Logical expression; functions of words (grammar); parts of a sentence; punctuation, including use of word ending marks, commas, apostrophes, quotation marks; abbreviations; capitalization; alphabetizing; study of synonyms, antonyms, compound words, homophones, prefixes, suffixes, contractions, homonyms; dictionary and thesaurus use.
GRAMMAR - Study, analysis and labeling of noun, article, adjective, verb, preposition, adverb, pronoun, conjunction and interjection; use of sentence analysis charts to analyze and construct simple compound and complex sentences.
WRITING AND SPELLING - Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears; creative writing of stories and poems shared in Writer Workshops; study of elements of a story; types of writing (i.e. point of view); writing using children's literature; letter writing; spelling: phonograms, homophones.
RESEARCH - Home research projects (Biography Day, Passion Projects); research topic chosen to do in class, history of language; alphabetizing skills; use of dictionary and various reference materials.
LITERATURE - Daily oral reading of children's literature; discussion of plot, sequence, cause-effect, setting, character; book projects, study of poets; writing based on literature; story telling; silent reading every day of many good fiction and non-fiction selections.
SCIENCE - Study of the universe, stars, solar system, sun, moon; study of atoms and molecules, states of matter; laws of physics; heat, light, electricity; magnetism; sound; earth science, geology, weather; classification in botany and zoology; experimental science, anatomy, health.
GEOGRAPHY - Oceans, continents, countries; land and water forms; study of biomes; interior of the Earth, study of volcanoes; climate; resources, needs of people.
HISTORY - Study of the calendar, clock, seasons; time line of natural history; study of geological eras; study of early people; needs of people throughout history; myths.
PRACTICAL LIVING - Care of classroom, including plants and animals, gardening, food preparation, cooking, using tools, sewing and handwork; care of outdoors; care of self.
SOCIAL SKILLS - Exercises in grace and courtesy; role playing; weekly class meetings with lessons and experiences in problem-solving skills.
INDEPENDENCE - Weekly work plans agreed on each week; teacher / child conferences weekly; individual choices of topic for research and special projects.
SERVICE - Opportunities to help others in the classroom as a daily occurrence; weekly responsibilities help maintain indoor and outdoor environments; third-year students read stories to primary children.
PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT - Organized physical education activity twice a week at the Boys and Girls Club gym, outdoor ball play involving large muscle development, running, games, activities, etc.; management of large muscle movement in the classroom so as not to disturb activities of others.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE - Spanish language instruction for the lower elementary woven into the day; calendar is done in Spanish, dismissal is done in Spanish, beginning vocabulary in items found at home, preparing dinner, etc. Simple conversation and a formal introduction to the structure of the language starts at the Upper Elementary age.
ART/MUSIC - Study of great artists and composers; experience with art media; Monart style guided drawing; botanical and zoological illustrations; art connected to geography, math, language, history. Music each week with choral singing; simple stage blocking, spring play performance.
The Upper Elementary program at Monroe Montessori refines what has been taught in the Lower Elementary while expanding basic skills. It is an exciting time for the students as the curriculum becomes more challenging. As they refine their understanding of concepts, they do more work on paper as well as more research and collaborative work.
The Montessori materials are again used, but now as tools for advanced work in different subject areas. Students become more independent and proficient as they begin in-depth research and study for individual and group projects. The Upper Elementary students shift from concrete concepts to working in the abstract. Montessori materials are still available, and new subjects such as Advanced Science, and Literature Circles are added to the core curriculum. Because of their early immersion into these academic subjects, students are ready to tackle areas more often saved for later grades.
Creative writing, grammar, expository writing, poetry, research and literary analysis are covered in depth. In math, the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) have been committed to memory. The child is now able to begin the more abstract analysis of number and number systems: geometry, bases, factoring, fractions, decimals, probability, sets, ratios, percents, statistics, graphing, logic, patterns, and beginning algebra and trigonometry.
Geology, geography, chemistry, physics, and history are explored in depth and backed up by a series of hands-on experiments. The “Great Lessons” emphasis for the Upper Elementary is on learning how ancient civilizations, United States history and Washington state history and events have shaped their lives today.
Being in a community with one another is, perhaps, one of the greatest joys of a Montessori Elementary program. The children operate as a democratic community, where individual opinion is valued and personal responsibility is expected. Again, the Upper Elementary curriculum builds upon what has been learned in previous years. This is the time that Dr. Montessori saw the development of independence, and the refinement of moral sense, especially a sense of justice. Students completing the Upper Elementary Curriculum are very prepared academically as well as socially, for their entrance into middle school.