The Lower Elementary students aged 6-9 years, have begun the expansion of the mind and imagination that takes in the whole world. They amass facts and continue to build for themselves a solid educational foundation. Skills in classification are developed in all academic areas: geometry, geography, needs of man, biology, art, music and phonics. Basic skills in math are practiced daily. Reading and writing threads run throughout the entire curriculum. The transition from concrete to abstract takes place at this age and imagination flourishes.
The Elementary Montessori curriculum is highly enriched and challenging, and is organized into three components:
1. Mastery of Fundamental Skills and Basic Core Knowledge
Elementary Montessori Students explore the realm of mathematics, science and technology, the world of myth, great literature, history, world geography, civics, economics, anthropology, and the basic organization of human societies. Their studies cover the basics found in traditional curriculum, such as memorization of math facts, spelling lessons, and the study of vocabulary, grammar, sentence analysis, creative and expository writing, and library research skills.
2. Dr. Montessori’s “Great Lessons”
The Great Lessons are five key areas of interconnected studies traditionally presented to all elementary Montessori students in the form of inspiring stories and related experiences and research projects.
The Great Lessons include the story of how the world came to be, the development of life on earth, the story of humankind, the development of language and writing, and the development of mathematics. They are intended to give children a cosmic perspective of Earth and humanity’s place within the cosmos. The lessons, studies, and projects surrounding each of the lessons normally span many months, and the question that the children pose, along with their efforts to find the answers to their own questions, may continue for many years.
3. Individually Chosen Research
Elementary students are encouraged to explore topics that capture their imagination. They rarely use textbooks. The approach is largely based on library research, with students gathering information, assembling reports, teaching what they have learned to their classmates, and assembling portfolios and handmade books of their own.
Beginning by using an encyclopedia to find the answers to a list of questions prepared by their teacher, Montessori students are taught how to use reference materials, libraries, and even the Internet to gather information and uncover the facts. Their oral presentations and written research reports grow in sophistication and complexity over the years.
Studies come alive through hands-on projects and activities. For example, a small group of students who are interested in Greek mythology might build a model of ancient Athens, make and decorate their own Grecian vases to illustrate a particular story, prepare dioramas of a scene from mythology, or write and produce their own play for the rest of the class.
The advanced elementary Montessori materials move on to more complex and abstract concepts in mathematics, geometry, and pre-algebra. The goal is to lead the child away from a dependency on concrete models that visually represent abstract concepts toward the ability to solve problems with pen and paper alone. Similar hands-on materials help students understand grammar, sentence analysis, geographical facts, and concepts in science.