Lower Elementary Curriculum

In the Language Arts area, the first two years in the lower elementary classroom are usually spent working phonetically to build Reading skills.   The directress will work with children to develop their comprehension skills, and children participate in peer discussions, and are introduced to classic literature books.  Reading materials are cross-curricular, integrating history, geography and science content areas.  Children are also exposed to a variety of genre or types of literature throughout the school year.  The study of Grammar begins almost immediately after children begin to read.  During the three year cycle in the lower elementary classroom, children are presented experiences with the nine parts of speech each year, developing a solid foundation of how words function within sentences.  Maria Montessori has assigned a geometric symbol to represent each element of grammar, and children symbolize sentences by placing symbols for the appropriate part of speech over each word.  In their first year, children are presented basic information about a part of speech, and work to label parts of the farm and the classroom.  When they are ready, they begin to identify words by their function in a sentence.  To deepen their understanding, in the second and third year, children have additional experiences in classifying parts of speech with language grammar materials including the grammar command cards and grammar boxes.  They then move into learning about the parts of the sentence through analysis, beginning with searching for the predicate and subject, then analyzing direct object, indirect object, adjectives and adverbs.  Those children who are not yet ready for Writing with a pencil and paper are able to create sentences and stories with the Movable Alphabet.  A process of writing that helps students to get their thoughts on paper in an organized fashion is done in a concrete way that helps them to internalize the skills they need to become proficient writers.  Students learn about the mechanics of writing:  sentences, paragraphs, editing, capitalization and punctuation.  They experience a variety of styles of writing, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and letters.  They learn the basic research skills needed to be competent writers, including use of the dictionary and children’s encyclopedia.

Lower elementary level children study Mathematics, including the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, and the memorization of math facts.  The Montessori Golden Bead materials present the place values of the decimal system, helping children to gain a strong foundation of number sense.  Moving toward abstraction, the children utilize the Golden Beads, Stamp Game, and Bead Frame.  The Montessori materials bring active learning to the memorization of facts.  Fractions are introduced using concrete materials, and children begin addition and subtraction work with the fraction materials.  They are exposed to measurement of length, weight, area and temperature using English and metric units.  As they build on the concrete introduction to plane and solid geometry from the preschool classroom, children continue to study geometric nomenclature, including the study of a variety of geometric shapes in the Geometry Cabinet, and an introduction to the study of types of angles and triangles.  Children will learn to recognize coins and bills and count money; they will tell time with an analog clock; and they will read bar graphs and pie charts in conjunction with word problems.

The Biology work done in the lower elementary classroom falls into the subject areas of Botany and Zoology.  Children become aware of the classification of all living things.  They are introduced to the Domains and Kingdoms Chart before moving into the specific study of plants and animals.  The Botany materials and lessons allow the children to learn about the parts of the plant, leaf and flower.  Nomenclature cards and real specimens introduce children to each part of the plant.  The Botany Cabinet is used to identify and sort different leaf shapes, and the Zoology materials expose children to the study of the animal kingdom.  Using nomenclature cards, animal puzzles and real specimens, children observe, research and give presentations about vertebrates and invertebrates. 

In the Physical Science area, the first presentation of the school year, an amazing story of how earth came into being, sparks the children’s imagination and becomes the springboard into the rest of the curriculum studies.  Children learn about the formation of the universe and of the solar system and specifically, about the planet Earth.  They experience and research the laws of the universe, the states of matter, the earth’s orbit around the sun, the earth’s composition, and the seasons.

In the study of Geography, children have view how the earth came into being, leading to the study of the land and water forms, continents and oceans.  Children begin the study of a continent, labeling puzzle maps and creating maps of their own.  They spend time researching countries to learn about their cultures, economics, government, capitals, flags and languages.  Their independent researching of information culminates with presentations so that everyone learns about many countries.

Children begin the History curriculum with a study of the universe, and end with specific studies of how life came to be on Earth as it is today.  Timelines and great stories are the foundation of the study of History.  Beginning with the concept of time and the passage of time enables the children to better grasp the sense of where we are in the big picture of geological time.  Studying the needs of humans throughout time, children research and make connections to those who came before us, and what contributions they made to humanity.  During their third year in lower elementary, students study and research the Timeline of Life, covering the earliest forms of life to the coming of humans on Earth.

Practical Life retains an important role in the elementary classroom, as the children care for their classroom, keeping it clean and orderly and providing care for plants and animals.  Snack and meal preparation may also be included, and grace and courtesy are still vital in the elementary classroom.  Children will greet visitors and give tours, learn to give support to others as they learn, and learn communication skills and conflict resolution skills.  Community service includes elementary children working in primary classrooms to support younger students by reading to them, listening to preschoolers read, or supporting classroom work.  Students may also learn about others who are in need in the world or in their own community, and plan a service project to help them.  Going out or field trips to attend plays, concerts or museums allows elementary children to practice appropriate behavior at community events.   

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