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  • A Glimpse into Montessori Elementary: Part 1

    What is taught in the Montessori elementary classroom? The elementary curriculum is rich in depth and breadth of topics.

    In this blog, there is a brief description of the content found in each area of the classroom.

    This is a two part blog. This blog, part 1, describes elementary practical life, reading, grammar, writing, and math. These are the core subjects.

    Part 2 consists of what is known as the “cultural” subjects: history, geography, physical sciences, botany, and zoology.

    Elementary Curriculum

    The Montessori elementary curriculum is, by nature, interdisciplinary. It is carefully structured and integrated to tie the separate disciplines of the curriculum together into studies of the physical universe, the worlds of nature and the human experience, allowing the child to glean his place in it.

    The elementary Montessori curriculum encompasses the full mastery of basic skills, going well beyond by promoting independent thinking and creativity. In addition, Montessori imparts other valuable life lessons such as how to work with others; peaceful resolution to conflicts; teaching and leading others; service to the community and social responsibility.

    Practical Life –Practical life retains its importance in the elementary classroom. Children care for their classroom, keeping it clean and orderly and providing care for plants and animals. Practical life also may include snack and meal preparation. Grace and courtesy are still vital in the elementary classroom. Children may great visitors and give tours, learn to support others in their learning, learn communication skills and conflict resolution skills.

    “Going out” (field trips or walks off campus) are another part of practical life in the elementary classroom. Children attend plays, concerts or go to museums to practice appropriate behavior at community events. Children help in planning going out experiences based on their interests.

    Reading – For most students, the first two years in the lower elementary classroom are spent working to build reading skills. During this process, the child is also developing comprehension skills by participating in peer discussions, predicting and using context cues.

    Reading materials are cross curricular, integrating history, geography and science. As students work with special 3-part cards, their reading and comprehension skills are bolstered. Children are exposed to a variety of literature genres throughout the school year.

    Grammar – The study of grammar begins almost immediately after the child begins to read.

    During the three-year cycle in the lower elementary classroom, children are given key experiences with the nine parts of speech every year. These experiences are lessons and activities that introduce them to the Montessori grammar symbol and function of each part of speech by using objects and actions. This layering of information is necessary to develop a solid foundation of how words function within sentences.

    The children symbolize sentences by placing symbols for the appropriate part of speech over each word. When ready, a child begins to identify words by their function and have additional experiences in classifying parts of speech with language grammar materials including the grammar command cards and grammar boxes to deepen their understanding. They then move into learning about the parts of the sentence through analysis.

    Writing – Even children who are not yet ready to write with pencil and paper can create sentences and stories with the movable alphabet. Students work through a process of writing that helps them to get their thoughts on paper in an organized fashion. This process is done using concrete materials, using the Four-Square Writing Method and Ralph Fletcher’s Writer’s Notebook. As they practice, children internalize the skills needed to become proficient writers.

    Throughout the writing process, students learn about the mechanics of writing: sentences, paragraphs, editing, capitalization and punctuation. Children experience a variety of styles of writing. They write fiction, non-fiction, comparative paragraph, poetry and friendly letters. Within this process, children learn the basic research skills need to be competent writers, which includes dictionary and children’s encyclopedia use.

    Mathematics – In the lower elementary classroom, children work on two paths of mathematics, the study of the operations of addition, multiplication, subtraction and division and the memorization of math facts.

    Using Montessori materials, the child begins with the golden beads, which present place value. As the child becomes more proficient, he utilizes materials that incrementally become more abstract. The process of the memorization of facts is also presented in this tangible way. The Montessori materials bring active learning into the rote memorization process through games and charts.

    Children are introduced to fractions using materials and begin addition and subtraction work with the fraction materials. Children are exposed to measurement of length, weight, area and temperature including English and metric units.

    Building on the introduction to plane and solid geometry in the preschool classroom, using puzzle shapes, triangular pieces, and blocks,

    children continue to study geometric nomenclature using 3-part cards. These include the study of a variety of geometric shapes and an introduction to the study of angles and triangles.

    Children learn to recognize coins and bills and count money; to tell time with an analog clock; and to read bar graphs and pie charts.

    Word problems are used to incorporate all these concepts.

     

    Coming next- the “cultural” subjects: history, geography, physical sciences, botany, and zoology.