GRADES 1 - 3
In the Lower Elementary, there is a great deal of overlap within the different disciplines. For the sake of planning and discussion these are separated into the following subject areas: language arts, math and geometry, science, history and geography, practical life (government and community).
A great deal of emphasis is put on what Montessori refers to as “The Great Lessons.” These five lessons are: Creation of the Universe, The Coming of Life, The Coming of Human Beings, Communication in Signs (The History of Language,) and The Story of Numbers. These five lessons are given early in the school year and represent a framework for subsequent lessons.
Practical Life: The practical life component to the curriculum now expands to include much more than it did in the Children’s House. Students are expected to discuss important issues and make decisions. Elementary aged students join the rest of the school at what we call our weekly “Town Meeting.” It is here the students discover the democratic process and the organizational processes of government. We emphasize peaceful approaches to conflict resolution. Students are encouraged to voice their opinions in polite and appropriate ways. Other practical life activities in the Lower Elementary include care of the environment and grace and courtesy. We also explore safety and health issues and promote global awareness.
Math and Geometry: In the Lower Elementary, math and geometry are both presented in the following manner: first a concrete example is presented, then the student is expected to practice using concrete materials, and finally, the student moves into abstraction and derives rules using deductive reasoning and number sense. Our goal is that the students will achieve a level of fluency with numbers and shapes that will allow them to construct meaning on their own, rather than the teacher handing students rules (such as “carry the one”) that may or may not have meaning to the individual learner. A wide variety of hands-on materials are available in the classroom and are used to present and practice new concepts. When students master a concept, they typically abandon taking out manipulatives.
Language Arts: The language arts program in the Lower Elementary includes reading and writing, and it is addressed across the curriculum. Students will be given opportunities to read and match pictures to definition cards in all subject areas. They will be expected to use the moveable alphabet on a daily basis for word study and spelling enhancement. They will also be allowed opportunities to follow their interests, do research, and write reports.
History and Geography: History in the Lower Elementary opens with the story of creation. The concept of time is explored with stories and books. We attempt to give the students an impression of the great amount of time that went by before the earth was ready to support life. The progression of life on earth from a single cell to the coming of humans is presented in its basic form. Then, the story of humans is addressed in a fashion that highlights all they have accomplished. The history of humans is explored with stories and books. In the third year of Lower Elementary, students choose ancient civilizations that they are interested in, conduct research, and make presentations to the class. Through the study of geography, students gain an appreciation of the beauty of the world and the interdependence of the living things that inhabit the world. We focus on both physical and cultural geography, concepts that are particularly applied and explored in depth every year with our Continent Study.