Upper Elementary Curriculum

Upper Elementary Curriculum

Upper elementary is a defining period of social and intellectual exploration for children. In grades 3 to 5, the Montessori curriculum guides children into an age of abstraction and reason. Equipped with their imagination and a desire to understand how things work, children are now challenged with advanced ideas in literature, history, science, mathematics, and language.

As the children continue through what Dr. Montessori called the Intellectual Period, they develop intellectually, socially and morally, as active participants in their classroom community and their own learning. Group work is highlighted throughout the curriculum, to create a productive and positive social outlet. Ongoing independent work is also crucial, as it allows children to challenge themselves and continue building upon their organizational and academic learning.

Morning/Afternoon Classroom Design

Mornings start with a group meeting, which includes announcements, calendar and review of the day’s activities. The children then proceed into 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 working independently on journaling, handwriting, computer 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. An individual recording contract is maintained to track and account for tasks completed during this time.

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

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

*Extended Care Available

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.

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

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

Mathematics

As students 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 the manipulatives, we use selected texts and work sheets. They are used for both classwork and homework in a supplementary nature, along with various textbooks and workbooks that compliment specific concepts and skills.

Dr. 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. 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 use of mathematics arose thousands of years ago as a tool to meet a fundamental need for order and as a practical aid in daily life situations. Only later were rules applied. Students use materials to work toward the abstraction of math concepts, naturally formulating rules and formulas themselves. According to the Montessori method, the rules are points of arrival, not departure. Through the student’s own effort, internalization of abstract concepts is achieved. Upper Elementary math areas include:

  • Reading and writing numbers
  • Introduction to estimation
  • Rounding
  • Addition
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Problem solving
  • Factors
  • Fractions
  • Probability
  • Decimals
  • Percentages
  • Integers
  • Comparing integers
  • Rules for functions
  • Word problems
  • Ratio
  • Proportion
  • Introduction to algebra

Library

In Upper Elementary library and technology skills move beyond basic instruction into deeper research and evaluation of information.

Exit Standards for Library

  • How to use a book to answer specific inquiries
  • Use of other sorts of reference materials
  • Learn to make a bibliography/source page
  • Learn to judge source materials
  • Note taking
  • Answer questions verbally, or in writing, about a selection read
  • Understand how to narrow or broaden an inquiry
  • Evaluate and restate information in his/her own words from reference sources

Exit Standards for Technology

In support of the curriculum, children will learn and/or use software tools such as:

  • Word processing
  • Drawing
  • Presentation
  • Keyboarding practice

Practical Life

Community Service

We believe that service beyond the classroom promotes respect and awareness of our global community. All elementary students participate in school-wide projects.

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

The elementary child has reached a new level of development. Before he was interested in things: working with his hands, learning their names. Now he is interested mainly in the how and why… the problem of cause and effect.

~ Dr. Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

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