Lower Elementary At-A-Glance
Lower Elementary (grades 1-3) At-A-Glance
Schedule: Each day begins with group time where teachers greet children. The calendar, current events and the monthly unit may be discussed. While many of our lessons are in small groups, there are opportunities to present group lessons which could include themes such as the Solar System, Marine Life, Botany, Geography, Nutrition, etc. Guest speakers and field trips will compliment group lessons and special units of study.
Following group time is a work period where students choose work (see sample September Workplan). Consistent with the Montessori philosophy, students will have a minimum of two hours for their morning work cycle, which allows them to complete activities and create extensions for a project that holds interest. During this morning work period, teachers invite students for group or individual lessons that correspond with the child’s needs and/or interests. Before lunch, the class will assemble again and the teacher will read from a chapter book, a collection of short stories or poems, etc.
After lunch and outdoor time, students have the opportunity to read quietly from a book of their choosing before beginning the second work cycle of the day. Enrichment activities during the week include Spanish, Yoga and Art (see description on pg. 3). The school day ends with students performing their practical life assignment for the week which may include tidying shelves, vacuuming, taking down and folding the flag, taking care of the class pets and plants, and sharpening pencils. These tasks, performed with the teacher, foster community responsibility and pride in caring for the classroom and school.
Reading: As in all academic areas, children learn at different levels and paces, from basic phonemic awareness to reading and grammar. Individual and small group lessons address the study of words including compound words, prefixes, suffixes, antonyms, synonyms, homonyms, homophones and homographs. First year Montessori students also continue their work with capitalization and punctuation and begin a deeper study of grammar and the parts of speech including nouns, articles, adjectives, verbs, prepositions, adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions and interjections. Students master these concepts using Montessori grammar boxes and parts of speech symbols. The use of Montessori materials makes this work hands-on, accessible and exciting. In addition, whole language experiences round out our program with the use of the Great Books curriculum (www.greatbooks.org), journal writing using various genres (book reports, creative writing/ storytelling, autobiographical writing, beginning research), small reading groups, teacher reading and student silent reading. Regular visits to our public library encourage a love of reading.
Math: Montessori math manipulatives cater to all levels of students. Through small group presentations, first year students gain exposure to and typically work with the hierarchy of numbers up to 1,000 (units, 10s, 100s, 1,000s). The golden beads (which physically represent the hierarchy), bead frame (similar to an abacus) and the decanomial bead square (to concretely reproduce the multiplication table) name a few Montessori work items. Lessons in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division from static (problems that do not involve “carrying” numbers) to dynamic equations are concretely presented using the Montessori addition and subtraction strip boards, division and multiplication boards, and the numerous addition, subtraction, multiplication and division control charts . These control charts allow students to self-correct and further internalize math facts. The snake games and the bank game are two of many hands-on activities that make abstract concepts concrete and accessible. Additional math concepts includes math fact memorization (addition and subtraction facts in Year 1, multiplication and division in Years 2 and 3), skip counting, measurement, arithmetic problem solving, geometric and plane figures, geometric solids, the line and its parts, work with fractions and money recognition are worked on in Year 1.
Science: Group themes in the sciences include Astronomy which could include a trip to Maturango Museum’s Planetarium. Students are introduced to vertebrates and invertebrates in Zoology as well as the five classes of vertebrates which include fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. A trip to the Rosamond Feline Conservation Center’s Cat House culminates our zoology studies. In Botany studies, students learn why plants are important and the parts of plants including leaves, stems and roots using the Montessori Botany Cabinet. Students will learn to identify types of plants and flowers. Students help plant, weed, water and harvest (and eat) the garden produce. Geography studies include our solar system, land forms of the world, an overview of the seven continents, flags of various countries, a deeper look at our country, as well as mapping skills. Teachers present science materials individually or in small groups.
History: It is in history where students work on the concept of time, from the passing of hours, to days, months, years and centuries. Students become adept at telling time using a clock, as well as recording their daily activities and work periods using the clock. Students enjoy history from a personal standpoint (Timeline of My Life) to a global standpoint (Fundamental Needs of Humans).
Peace Education: Maria Montessori firmly believed that each individual’s actions can make the world a more harmonious place. With this in mind, the classroom becomes a place where conflict resolution, grace, courtesy and kindness are discussed, practiced and reinforced. Students will help create a “Peace Place” in the classroom and are invited to participate in role-playing activities that encourage being a peacemaker and peaceably resolving conflict.
Art and Music: In addition to lessons with an artist, students will have opportunities to use the easel, watercolors and drawing implements. Art appreciation and the Monart program (www.monart.com) will compliment bi-monthly lessons to give students the sense of “Across the Curriculum” learning. Music used across the curriculum will also serve to connect academic disciplines with the arts. Music as a joyful experience in itself will allow for student self-expression and creativity.
Advanced Practical Life: As an extension of the primary-level experiences with practical life and sensorial materials, elementary 1-3 levels provide lessons in food preparation and cooking, fabric crafts, planting, social graces and planning an outing. Each student will have a weekly classroom job to reinforce the importance of chores in a positive and accessible way. Advanced Practical Life experiences are designed to develop gross and fine motor skills and coordination of movement through measuring, sifting, mixing, sorting, cleaning, weaving, doing tweezer work, etc. Sensorial materials in the elementary years are also used as extensions for geometry.
Enrichment Program: Enrichment classes include Spanish, art, yoga, and sign language. Our classes are taught by professionals, or those with significant experience in their field, on a weekly or bi-monthly basis. In addition, regular science experiments, cooking and gardening will allow students to take their classroom lessons into the field!