Lower Elementary Curriculum

Lower Elementary Curriculum

The 6-9 Montessori curriculum moves from big-picture understanding to a focus on details that uses an inquiry approach that easily aligns with Common Core Standards. Lower elementary children continue to work with concrete materials to explore academic areas. Once children master the concrete materials they move into abstract concepts. Dr. Montessori referred to the elementary stage as the “Intellectual Period”. During this time the child enters a period of uniform growth, and mental explorations. Given an open and rich environment, there are no limits to what the child may learn and explore. Montessori viewed this period as a critical time for expansive education, giving the children lessons and questions to guide their explorations of culture, science, mathematics, language, social rules and morals.

Each year begins with 5 Great Lessons that introduce the class to all of the curriculum strands. The lessons incorporate science experiences, storytelling, history, artifacts, and beautifully illustrated timelines. These lessons are used to “strike the imagination” of the children. These Great Lessons include; The Big Bang, The Coming of Life, The Coming of Humans and the story of Mathematics and Language. Each story introduces a strand of the curriculum.

Our students are exposure to textbooks as follow up to concept lessons in Science and Social Studies. In addition, textbooks are used as support for research and further information. Scientific Reading Associates (SRA) are a daily reading comprehension material that supplements the reading and language arts curricula. The class writes five reports throughout the year including an Historical Person report, 2 book reports, Science Experience presentations, and a Black History report. The class develops research skills through informal in-class reports about animals, the Solar System, and State research.

Morning/Afternoon Classroom Design

Mornings start with a group meeting, which includes announcements, calendar and a review of the day’s activities. The children then proceed into what Montessori calls “Key Experience” presentations. These lessons are of academic concepts using a combination of conversation and manipulatives, designed to communicate concepts in a manner accessible to students with a variety of learning styles.  After the children have recorded their work, they transition to an extended work period. The focus of class in the morning is to continue building language arts and math skills. As children progress in their language arts skills, they are placed in reading groups. Small group lessons in math take place while other children are working independently on journaling, handwriting, language materials, and other activities. Special presentations and individual lessons are also given. During this time children may also participate in Writer’s Workshop, which helps them to develop their writing skills. Other resources include, computer, Library Skills, Art, P.E., Singing, and National Parks. An individual recording contract is maintained to track and account for tasks completed during the work period.

 

In the afternoon, the focus shifts to primarily enrichment studies. There are Cultural study presentations in Science, Geography and Biomes, Zoology, Botany, History, Geology, or Social Studies, and specific follow-up activities are carried over from the morning work period.

Academic Program time: 5 days per week, 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM

Curriculum

Cultural

The Cultural area for the upper elementary refers to the broad study of history and geography. The curriculum covers a three-year cycle that includes California and United States history, and the study of World Civilizations. The format we use is under the framework of Basic Needs of People. For California, we look at the history of the state of California, including Native Americans, the story of the Missions, and the events that have led us to our state today. For United States history, we cover major developments and events. For World Civilizations we study early cultures and compare how peoples’ needs have been met diversely through time.

Mathematics

In Mathematics, children use materials to work toward the abstraction of math concepts, thereby naturally formulating rules and formulas themselves. Traditionally, the study of mathematics starts with the rules and the drills follow. Using the Montessori Method, the rules are points of arrival, not departure. Through the child’s own effort, internalization of abstract concepts is achieved. As children transition from Lower to Upper Elementary, they will experience a sense of familiarity with most of the manipulatives, and be introduced to new ones. Once they internalize a specific math concept, they can then move on to abstract problem solving. In addition to utilizing the manipulatives, we integrate texts and special work sheets that provide more practice and exposure to other written formats.

Science

Life Science

  • Environments
  • Food and nutrition
  • Human body
  • Nature’s Classroom experiential field trip

Physical Science

  • Physics of sound
  • Magnetism and electricity
  • Levers and pulleys
  • Mixtures and solutions

Earth Science

  • Solar energy
  • Land forms
  • Nature’s Classroom experiential field trip

Language

Language is the foundation upon which we build all other elementary studies. We present the child with the practical tools for encoding and decoding words, sentences, and paragraphs, yet it is never seen as an isolated exercise. Language curriculum includes the following:

    • Phonics
    • Word Study
    • Grammar
    • Language Mechanics
    • Handwriting and Fine Motor Skills
    • Writing
    • Research Skills
    • Reading and Literature for Understanding
    • Elements of Literature
    • Major Genres
    • Prose, Poetry, Plays
    • Folktales, Legends, Myths
    • Newspapers and Current Events
    • Sayings, Phrases, Idioms
    • Oral Reading/ Language
    • Public Speaking

Library

In the Lower Elementary years, we stress library skills and include a basic instruction to technology as it relates to classroom work. Library is presented at each level and the skills are developed to build on the previous year. By the end of the year, a child should have the following library skills:

Exit Standards for Library Class

  • Understand the Rising Star library operation and how it is organized
  • Be able to define fiction, non-fiction, and biography
  • Locate picture books
  • Identify the basic parts of a book: author, title, illustrator
  • Understand why some books are considered “classics”
  • Ability to identify and use chapter headings, table of contents, and index
  • Use the collection of folk tales and fairy tales
  • Understand the organization of the reference shelf
  • Introduction to the Dewey decimal system
  • Be able to use encyclopedias, dictionaries, and atlases
  • Use the library for simple classroom initiated research

Exit Standards for Technology Class

  • Use correct terminology for basic components of the computer system
  • Start and quit programs
  • Know how to open, click, and double click
  • Be able to execute simple text entry and editing
  • Print a document
  • Use the internet with teacher as guide
  • Basic use of software
  • Exposure to the keyboard “home row”

Practical Life

Practical Life exercises include care for self, others, and the environment. The Lower Elementary curriculum continues to build upon the skills children have already started to develop in Pre-Kindergarten. They include:

Physical Skills

  • Coordination of fine motor and gross movements
  • Balance and exactness of movement
  • Sensory awareness

Respect and Care of Environment

Indoor Environment
  • Caring for plants and animals
  • Caring for the classroom and coat areas
  • Food preparation
  • Recycling
Outdoor Environment
  • Composting
  • Ecology
  • Planting

Grace, Courtesy, and Etiquette

  • Extending kindness and empathy to others
  • Sharing and taking turns

Independence

  • Care of self
  • Health and safety
  • Nutrition and food preparation
  • Time management skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Problem solving
  • Time management

Community Service

We believe that service beyond the classroom promotes respect and awareness beyond our global community. All elementary students participate in recycling cans and bottles and donating the proceeds to charities of their choice.

A child in his earliest years, when he is only two or a little more, is capable of tremendous achievements simply through his unconscious power of absorption, though he is himself still immobile. After the age of three he is able to acquire a great number of concepts through his own efforts in exploring his surroundings. In this period he lays hold of things through his own activity and assimilates them into his mind. ~ Dr. Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

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