Lower Elementary Curriculum Overview
The Montessori curriculum is taught from large scope to small, moving from big picture understanding to a focus on details. The children continue to work with concrete materials to explore academic areas, quickly discovering abstract methods to utilize.
Dr. Montessori referred to the elementary stage as the Intellectual Period. The child, entering a period of uniform growth, focuses on mental explorations. Given an open and rich environment, there are no limits to what the child may learn and explore. Dr. Montessori saw this time as a critical time for expansive education, giving the children lessons and questions to guide their explorations of culture, science, mathematics, language and social rules and morals.
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,
Students use materials to work toward the abstraction of math concepts, naturally formulating rules and formulas themselves. Traditionally, the study of mathematics starts with the rules and the drills follow. 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.
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 Montessori Made Manageable, which is a sequential set of worksheets that cover the elementary program math curriculum. They are used for both classwork and homework in a supplementary nature, along with various textbooks and workbooks that compliment specific concepts and skills. 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.
Passage of time
Adding same denominators
The Lower Elementary science curriculum is deeply integrated with the cultural studies curriculum and the presentation of the five Great Lessons which center around themes of progress and interdependency. The stories present not only the changes the earth has undergone since its beginning, but also the ways in which each new animal or plant affects all others. Maria Montessori wrote, "Let us give [the elementary children] a vision of the whole universe...all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity."
Biology (kingdoms of life, systems of the human body)
Botany (classification of plants, form and function of plants, parts of plants, interdependencies of animals and plants)
Zoology (classification of animals, form and function of animals, parts of the animal, interdependencies of animals and plants)
The process of scientific inquiry
Composition of the earth
Three states of matter
Laws of attraction and gravity
Balance and motion
Sun and earth
Air and weather
Land and water forms
Map skills (puzzle maps, pin maps)
Scientific Reasoning and Technology
All Lower Elementary students take Spanish. The Spanish program is designed to enable students to speak and write their basic thoughts and questions in a second language. The curriculum utilizes a combination of speaking, writing, and activities that are often based on music, art or Total Physical Response. Students learn to express themselves in a second language environment that promotes confidence and creativity.
Lower Elementary Spanish curriculum covers:
Use of existing classroom materials
Routine activities are carried out in Spanish
Greetings, numbers 1-100, day/month, food
Cultural studies In the Lower Elementary classroom flows from themes developed in what Maria Montessori called the Great Lessons. These lessons, presented with highly impressionistic stories and materials, offer the child a panoramic view of the universe and a sense of humanity across time. The great questions that arise from this view then serve as a blueprint for further study in all cultural areas.
The Great Lessons include:
Story of the universe
Coming of life
Coming of humans
Story of communication
Story of numbers
The use of hands-on materials, coupled with developing reading, writing, and research skills allow the elementary student to ask and attempt to answer questions no less profound than "How did the world begin?" "Where did we come from?” and "Why...?" The hands-on experience at this age prepares the child for future abstract thinking in upper elementary, where he gets to understand that which is not directly contacted by the senses.
MMA presents a school-wide, three-year rotation of content so special events such as cultural festivals, assemblies, field trips, and reading lists can be thematically planned for the whole school. Each year, a central question is posed and each level has its own sub-questions that focus the lessons and studies. Each level delves into the year's subject according to its appropriate developmental capabilities.
Year One: Ancient Civilizations
The school-wide question is:
"How and why were ancient civilizations created?"
The Lower Elementary focus is:
"What is an ancient civilization?"
"What stories do artifacts tell?"
"What inventions helped ancient civilizations develop?"
Year Two: American Civilization
The school-wide central question is:
"How and why has American civilization changed?
The Lower Elementary focus is:
"What is immigration?"
"Who are the Immigrants in America?"
"Why do people Immigrate?"
"What events and people caused change In America?"
"What is a hero?"
Year Three: World Civilizations
The school-wide central question is:
"How and why do world civilizations connect?"
The Lower Elementary focus is:
"What causes people around the world to live differently and the same?"
"What traditional ceremonies are practiced throughout the world?"
Coordination of fine motor and gross movements
Balance and exactness of movement
Respect and care of environment
Caring for plants and animals
Caring for the classroom and coat areas
Grace, courtesy, and etiquette
Extending kindness and empathy to others
Sharing and taking turns
Care of self
Health and safety
Nutrition and food preparation
Time management skills
Students practice these life skills by coming to lessons prepared and keeping track of both class and homework assignments.
We believe that service beyond the classroom promotes respect and awareness beyond our global community. All elementary students participate in school-wide project
The music curriculum combines individual and group work with work designed to appeal to a variety of learning styles. This directly relates to our philosophy of enhancing the Montessori philosophy with other innovative methods. The music curriculum also offers significant opportunities to build community through our numerous performances, field trips, and assemblies.
Elements of music
Introduction of two-part rounds, harmony memorization of longer form songs
Recognition of notes on the staff and reading and writing note values
The ultimate goal of the CMMA Movement Arts program is to assist all children along the path to lifetime physical fitness, which aligns with our holistic mission. The benefits of this journey are many: health, longevity, positive body Image, Improved overall self esteem, and increased energy and concentration in all areas. All students from toddler to middle school participate regularly In Movement Arts classes and activities. Movement Arts at CMMA embraces the philosophy of the school as a whole. The program, at each level, Is responsive to the needs and Interests of the children, and the ultimate goal is the joyful discovery of movement and Its benefits, both physical and psychological.
CMMA Movement Arts seeks to benefit ALL children, not just those with particular interest or talent in this area. Volumes have been written about the connection between body Image and overall self-esteem, as well as the dangers of introducing children to competitive sports at an early age. Care is taken to keep the emphasis on fitness and fun, as opposed to Individual superiority of skills.
Combined locomotor and axial movement skills
Increased ability in manipulative skills
Creative self-expression through dance and movement
Exploration of space, time, force and body mechanics
Awareness and control of movement
All CMMA sports curriculum units include stretching, running, basic movements, and games, Students participate in skill building games focusing on developing team building, learning individual strengths and areas for development, self-discipline, coordination, balance, endurance, sportsmanship, overall fitness and skill building for specific sports.
Students are introduced to a variety of games and exercise, throwing and catching, relay races, obstacle courses, and drills. They also learn the fundamentals of soccer and basketball, building to the ability to scrimmage and play short games.
"The secret of good teaching is to regard the child's intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming Imagination."