Safety Harbor Montessori Academy Curriculum Guide

Safety Harbor Montessori Academy is a community of teachers and learners whose goal is to inspire passionate scholarship and compassionate citizenship. Children are guided by a deep sense of integrity, responsibility, compassion, and determination to achieve one's personal best, from ages 2-3 years old all the way through Middle School.

The Montessori philosophy is at the center of everything we do at Safety Harbor Montessori Academy. We emphasize the natural rewards of learning that go hand-in-hand with an engaging, child-centered approach to education. All learning spaces encourage curiosity, independence, creative thought, a strong work ethic, and respect for our local and global communities.

We created this curriculum guide with the goal of sharing and explaining the different types of work that our learners experience at each level of their development at Safety Harbor Montessori Academy.

Early Childhood Level: The First Plane of Development
Pre-Primary (Ages 2-3)

The “absorbent mind” is blossoming at this stage of development. Until age three, children learn by what Maria Montessori referred to as an “unconscious mind,” which they use to develop themselves effortlessly and without awareness of doing so. They are driven by an intense desire to “do it myself.” In response, the classroom is prepared so that the children can function as independently as possible. Preprimary children are at the peak of their sensitivity to order and language acquisition. Socializing with peers is primarily through playing individually, side by side with their peers.

Practical Life

Practical Life activities provide a link between the home and school environments and develop everyday life skills. Many of the activities at this level help to develop the child’s independence, such as toileting, dressing, and preparing a snack. Others help develop social skills, such as saying “please” and “thank you.” Practical life activities provide opportunities for fine and gross motor development, lengthening of the attention span, and development of organizational skills.


Young children are sensorial learners. At this level they are exposed to a variety of sounds using music and rhythm instruments. They experience many textures in art activities such as finger painting and sand and water play.

The children are given activities to help them distinguish the primary and secondary colors.

They experience different smells and tastes through gardening and snack time. A variety of sensorial tools allow them to experience concepts such as length, width, and varying weights.

Montessori manipulatives such as the broad stair, pink tower, knobbed cylinders, red rods, and color tablets may be introduced at this level.

Activities such as ‘sink or float,’ color mixing, and working with various manipulatives provide a sensorial experience for concepts that will be explored more in-depth in later years.


The children are experiencing a burst of language development and are especially open to absorbing new vocabulary given to them. As they explore the world around them, they learn the names, labels, and meanings of the objects in their environment, giving them relevancy.

Activities to develop visual discrimination abound at this level. When they are ready, the children are introduced to beginning letter sounds, letter recognition, opposites, sequencing, and storytelling.

Much of their spoken language development occurs through social interactions with both peers and adults. Through grace and courtesy lessons, the children learn to express their feelings and properly interact with one another. Language development is enriched through songs and finger plays. The adults in the environment speak to the children with respect and in complete sentences to be a model for proper language usage.


The use of concrete materials in math allows the child to experience the concepts of size, shape, and quantity. One-to-one correspondence, simple pattern work, numeral symbols, quantity, and geometric shapes are introduced in the classroom. Activities include peg work, puzzles, counting materials, use of the long number rods, and lessons with the sandpaper numerals. Counting and numeral recognition are also reinforced during large group activities, such as during circle time.

Cultural Studies

The outdoor environment introduces children to the world of nature. We seek to encourage a sense of wonder as children observe their natural environment, from the tiniest flower to an emerging butterfly.

In the classroom, the children are introduced to caring for their garden and class pets as an initial exposure to the needs of other living things. In addition, they are also introduced to sensorial concepts that will be developed in future years.

Children learn about community helpers through visits from the local fire department and the sheriff’s office. They learn that they are in Safety Harbor, in the state of Florida, in the United States of America, and they learn about other countries and cultures by preparing for and attending our annual International Spring Festival.


There are many outlets for creative expression within daily work cycles and planned group exercises. Children are guided through group lessons using songs, finger plays, instruments and rhythm activities. Not only do these exercises aid in the development of fine and gross motor skills, visual perception, and auditory processing skills, but they also help develop self-confidence and an appreciation for music.


Masterpieces are displayed through out the classroom to introduce the children to art appreciation. These artworks and their creators connect with the cultural lessons being taught throughout the year, and are used to introduce the language of art to the children.

The children are exposed to art exploration with multiple mediums and tools. They are encouraged to create with paint and brushes of varying sizes, clay, glue, crayons, markers, scissors, and much more.


We believe young children need to work with concrete objects, and that most young children are exposed to an excessive amount of “screen time” through television, smart phones, tablets, and computers. For this reason, we minimize the use of screen-based technology until first grade.

Physical Education

Children explore what their bodies can do through creative play, movement to music, and obstacle courses. They are introduced to locomotor activities such as hopping and jumping and manipulative skills such as throwing and rolling. They also follow simple directions. Daily outdoor playtime allows the children to develop their muscles and coordination through climbing, swinging, sliding, running, and learning to ride a tricycle and scooter.


Children at this level effortlessly absorb the Spanish language lessons through songs, simple conversation, and concrete object lessons given twice a week in the classroom. The children learn the building blocks of the Spanish language such as colors, numbers, days of the week, and basic vocabulary.


The media specialist comes to the classroom twice a week with story books that support the lessons being focused on in the classroom. The children learn proper care of books, sequencing and to love literature!

Primary (Ages 3-6)

Primary children remain in a sensitive stage for order, language development, and sensorial learning. They now possess a “conscious mind” which allows them to direct themselves more effectively, and to apply themselves to a more complex task and bring it to completion. They will repeat an activity until they have mastered it and then be ready to move on. By giving the children freedom with responsibility, they are able to progress through the curriculum at their own pace, making choices that enable them to maximize their development.

Practical Life

Practical life exercises are the foundation of the primary level. They help to develop the children’s independence, sense of order, concentration, and fine motor skills. These exercises can be divided into four categories: preliminary, applied, grace and courtesy, and control of movement.

Preliminary exercises help children learn the basic movements of all societies such as pouring, scooping, and carrying work. Applied exercises enable the child to learn about care and maintenance that is helpful in every day life, including care of person (hand washing) and care of environment (sweeping and table washing). Through grace and courtesy activities the children learn to engage in proper social interactions, enabling them to be thoughtful and respectful friends. In the control of movement area, the child refines his coordination through activities such as walking on the line, jumping, and dancing.

As the children become more capable, the practical life activities increase in complexity, progressing from simple one step exercises, to multiple step activities that require great concentration and organization, more refined motor control, planning, and an increased attention span. They also help the child feel empowered by his own abilities.


The sensorial materials allow the children to develop observation, comparison, judgment, reasoning, organization, and decision making skills. They also help prepare the child for math through the activities of matching, sequencing, sorting, grading, classifying, and patterning. The sensorial materials make it possible for the child to distinguish and classify in areas such as color, shape, size, sound, smell, texture, weight, and temperature. The children become organized thinkers as they complete these exercises.


The language area helps the children to develop an appreciation for spoken and written language and literacy readiness. It stimulates the children's natural love of language and literature. Spoken language is introduced first, utilizing the child's sensitive period for language, and progresses to written language and then reading. Through a variety of lessons, games, and activities the children develop their auditory, visual, and fine motor skills. Through repeated exposure to sounds and how they join together to make words, the children develop their phonetic awareness. The sounds of the letters are introduced through spoken language and also through the sense of touch by using the sandpaper letters. Gradually the children begin to combine the letters into words using the movable alphabet. At the same time the children are developing their fine motor and visual skills in preparation for reading. They essentially teach themselves to read and write by combining these skills.


The mathematics program introduces concepts in a hands-on, concrete manner before moving to more abstract concepts. Each math concept is isolated and introduced to the child individually; starting with quantity, then numeral symbol, and then the correspondence between the two. This parallels the work they receive in the practical life and sensorial areas by exposing the children to patterning, sequencing, and matching.

Each new concept is introduced using step-by-step progression. After the quantities 1-10 are mastered using a variety of materials, the decimal system is introduced, beginning with work from 1-100. This is followed by many lessons using the golden beads to facilitate understanding of our base 10 system through the thousands. Numeral cards correspond to this work that help the child understand place value.

The four operations of mathematics are introduced, as well as an introduction to fractional parts. Materials are available to help with understanding these concepts and in memorizing basic facts. The senses are also used to introduce two and three dimensional geometric figures and their names.

In order for the child to move from the concrete to the abstract, much repetition is necessary. Most concepts are introduced using multiple materials, allowing the child to construct mathematical concepts through discovery, rather than through formal teaching. The children progress through the curriculum at their own pace, allowing for genuine understanding before moving on.

Cultural Studies

Children's natural curiosity is encouraged as they question, observe, analyze, and communicate about the world. Exploration of the world and the continents is done through the use of maps, globes, and land and water forms.

They are encouraged to explore various cultures through pictures, objects, food, songs, and games. World flags are also introduced starting with their own country's flag.

The passage of time is presented with the units of time, days of the week, months of the year, and seasons. Annual holiday traditions and celebrations around the world are also introduced.

Our school-wide International Spring Festival provides each classroom the opportunity to study a specific country’s customs, geography, music, food, clothing, and language.


Music is a daily part of the primary classroom, both during group time, and in work cycle. An introduction to the classic composers, beginning musical notation, and exploration with musical instruments, such as tone bars and bells, help children develop their ears. Various genres of music are played during rest and group time, and children are introduced to sounds made by a variety of instruments.


Art is a part of the daily environment at the early childhood level. Mini masterpieces from Degas to Warhol, displayed along with images of the artist, are displayed in the room. These are used to introduce the language of art, including medium, artist, art history, format, and style.

Exploring with materials: including paint with brushes of variable sizes, crayons, markers, glue, scissors, and play dough, helps students develop into creative artists.

Kindergarten children visit the art room once a week for formal art lessons.


An iPad is available in each primary classroom for teacher use, learning applications for kindergarten students, and to play music. Additional technology is sometimes used to support reading activities.

TV/DVD players are occasionally used in the primary classrooms for virtual field trips and educational videos that coincide with unit studies.

Physical Education

Skill building activities, non-competitive games, and music movement allow children to develop a positive attitude towards exercise. Activities include simple, non-competitive games, instruction, and practice with locomotor skills such as hopping, skipping, and jumping, use of equipment such as jump ropes and floor scooters, and manipulative skills with balls and bats. Children participate in field day activities at the end of each school year to showcase what they have learned.


The preprimary and primary Spanish curriculum takes advantage of the fact that children are in a sensitive period for learning languages. The children effortlessly absorb the Spanish language, introduced through simple conversation and song.

Students learn introductory conversation, colors, numbers, family names, and basic vocabulary. Verbal skills are practiced through songs, games, finger plays and conversational patterns. Simple, natural, conversational structure is used to facilitate understanding.

Spanish lessons are twice a week.


Story time is the focus of media lessons at this age level. Lessons are focused on listening skills, book care, illustrations, and verbal interaction about the story being read. Authors and illustrators are introduced with pictures, along with the books being read. The main goal is to foster a love of reading through fiction/nonfiction materials, felt boards, puppets, and art and song.

Children visit the library/media center once a week.

elementary Level: The second Plane of Development
Lower Elementary (Ages 6-9)

At ages six to nine years, children have entered the second plane of development. This age group brings about the development of the ‘reasoning mind’, along with a vivid imagination. Thinking abstractly is now possible, although concrete materials are still necessary to help students develop genuine understanding. Students need time and freedom to explore concepts of interest. “Big work” holds great appeal at this stage of development.

Practical Life

Students continue to refine their skills and their abilities to be independent and care for themselves. This includes food preparation, portioning and nutrition, and responsibility for personal items.

They care for and maintain a clean and organized learning environment. This includes the classroom as well as the outdoor garden area.

Patience, movement with purpose, respect, and manners are just a few examples of the work students practice within the community. Exploring peace education is a main emphasis of the classroom.


The Montessori language curriculum naturally and seamlessly immerses students in a language rich environment filled with diverse nomenclature. It utilizes an integrated and crosscurricular approach in teaching language skills. This approach includes the history of language.

Reading comprehension and fluency are a focal point. Independent and group reading is promoted through a wide variety of texts encompassing many genres of literature, classic and current. Comprehension skills are taught through sequencing activities, vocabulary building, and group discussions. Readers also practice higher level skills, such as finding the main idea and learning to make inferences.

More fluent readers are encouraged to use reading skills to research areas of personal interest. It is our goal to instill a life-long love of reading for information and enjoyment in our students.

Many types of writing are introduced, including letter and poetry writing. Narrative writing is practiced through creative story and journal writing. Students learn to read through writing and to write through reading. For expository writing practice, students are encouraged to read for information and to write research papers. Proper paragraph form is modeled. Cursive handwriting is formally introduced at this level. This activity appeals to students’ senses and is a point of interest.

Stories written by Maria Montessori accompany concrete symbols for the parts of speech. The stories help students make connections and remember abstract grammar concepts. Students analyze sentences using these symbols.

Word study cards encourage independence in learning. Through “word studies” students sequence, classify, and match a progressive series of cards acquiring knowledge about compound words, abc order, antonyms, synonyms, homophones, homographs, suffixes, prefixes, capital letters, abbreviations, apostrophes, contractions, commas, and quotes.

Our spelling program remains based on phonetic work introduced at the primary level, which continues into the study of more abstract phonograms. Spoken language is encouraged with opportunities for public speaking, sharing, story telling, play performances, and singing on a daily basis.


Specialized Montessori math materials provide the foundation for our math curriculum. These materials are aesthetically pleasing and reveal relationships in arithmetic, geometry, and algebra, helping students to both understand and memorize. Our materials build upon each other and have similar elements that allow students to master new work quickly. These materials give students the opportunity to have independent practice after receiving teacher directed lessons, allowing students to progress at their own pace.

Students work through the math materials learning about odd and even numbers, greater than/less than, patterning, place value, graphing, time, estimation, rounding, money, decimals, and fractions. Students learn to understand, read, and write large numbers. Our three dimensional hierarchy materials allow students to practice building numbers, combining, borrowing, and exchanging concretely. They work with these and other materials to learn the four basic mathematical operations. The materials allow students to perform operations with large numbers up to billions, an idea that is especially appealing to students at this age. Students move towards abstraction and are introduced to word problems and algebraic concepts.

Geometry studies allow students to explore geometric solids, triangles and other polygons, angles, lines, parts of a circle, congruence, equivalence, symmetry, and measurement.

Cultural Studies

The elementary cultural curriculum is centered on the Five Great Lessons. These “great lessons” are designed to capture the spirit and imagination of the students, impressing upon them the vastness and wonder of our universe. They provide a foundation for our exploration of history, geography, science, measurement, and human culture. As part of our integrated curriculum these stories and lessons offer extensions to our study of language, math, and geometry. The Great Lessons initially tell stories of history; from the creation of the universe to the timeline of life. The later lessons introduce students to the history of writing and math.

From these impressionistic lessons we delve into the study of geography. We explore and research physical and political geography topics such as landforms, the layers and composition of the earth, flags, resources, economics, and cartography. Further study of the biosphere and habitats ties into our work involving the universal needs of humans and cultural traditions throughout the world.

The Great Lessons also begin our initial studies into the sciences; from chemistry and electricity to botany and zoology. The students learn to classify, research, paraphrase, write science reports, and enjoy the discoveries they make as scientists. Experiments help round out the skill sets of students as they learn to observe, record, publish and share their results.


The lessons are designed to best meet the needs and interests of the child and to encourage a lifelong joy of making and appreciating music. Students are introduced to the basic elements of music. Activities like drum circles help internalize concepts like rhythm and tempo, while singing and playing pitched instruments puts the students’ knowledge of melody, harmony, and notation into practice. Students also learn from the lives and music of composers of the past and present.


At this level, the timeline of art is used to teach the progression of mankind’s understanding. To enhance students’ awareness of art as a visual journey, students use assorted mediums and complete a variety of projects.

Classes meet for an hour each week, and students work on basic drawing skills as well as spending time on longer-term projects during these sessions.


Basic typing and formatting are taught so that students can turn research and other writing into a finished product. Students gain exposure to using a keyboard and all of the word processing basics: font selection, centering, and alignment. They also begin to use computers and iPads in their research at this level. In addition, Montessori apps and educational games are used for independent practice and extra academic review. The teachers use their large screen computer for lessons and presentations to the class.

Physical Education

Sportsmanship and teamwork are stressed at this level. Students participate in gym and outdoor games, which are often set to music. Students are introduced to team sports, such as flag football, basketball, soccer, wiffle ball, and volleyball. For football, they practice catching, throwing, flag pulling, hand-offs, offense and defense, receiver routes, rules, and game strategies. In basketball, students practice dribbling, shooting, passing, offense and defense, pivoting, rebounding, lay-ups, and rules. Students learn the basics of soccer. They learn dribbling, proper throw-ins, headers, corner kicks, offense and defense, how to play different positions, and rules. During our wiffle ball unit, students learn to throw, catch, how to play various positions, batting, proper grip, proper stance, fielding, and rules. For volleyball, students learn to say the score correctly, to rotate so that they may play different positions, proper volleying techniques, serving, setting, and rules. Students also learn square dancing. Along with dance moves, square dancing helps students practice social graces.

The students have the opportunity to participate in after-school co-ed intramural sports, including flag football, basketball, soccer, and wiffle ball. Students participate in field day activities at the end of each school year.


Culture and geography of Spanish speaking countries is introduced, in addition to day to day conversational skills. Lessons teach vocabulary in different situations and places complemented by games and songs in an encouraging atmosphere. Basic vocabulary such as colors, numbers, days of the week, food, animals, body parts, and clothing are learned through these songs and games. The focus is on oral language, accompanied by an introduction to the Spanish phonetic code.


Media classes are held each week for 30 minutes. Students are taught about the various sections of the library, how to navigate the library, and the computer skills required to find the books they want. They learn the parts of a book, genres, and how to locate information efficiently through games, hands-on activities, scavenger hunts, stories, and songs. Book talks are frequently held throughout the year to promote novels or chapter books of interest, helping to encourage our students to become avid readers. Students check out books on a weekly basis.

Upper Elementary (Ages 9-12)

Nine to twelve year olds are becoming more socially centered, exploring the wider society outside of their family. It is in these wider relationships that they see and build a strong sense of morality, exploring what society deems to be right and wrong. Fairness and justice are hugely important. Abstract thought is well-developed so students work less frequently with concrete materials, although they still make use of them to aid their understanding of complex concepts.

Practical Life

Students develop life skills through sharing the care and maintenance of their environment. Some examples include washing tables, preparing the daily snack, caring for class plants and animals, and raising and lowering the flag. Students help develop and implement community service and philanthropic projects.

Cultural based group projects provide opportunities to explore public speaking, presentation development, and working collaboratively with a group. Students are encouraged to develop a system of organization to aid in time management.

Practical life work at the upper elementary level provides students with life skills that will be useful as they grow into adulthood.


The language areas of study include guided and independent reading, advanced comprehension strategies, spelling, vocabulary, the writing process and mechanics, as well as advanced grammar work, sentence study, and the development of oral language skills.

Students learn about the diversity of language through the study of the parts of speech. Each part of speech is introduced with a concrete symbol, and students move through an advanced, in-depth study of each part of speech. Sentence analysis work follows, which helps students learn to structure sentences and analyze them to ensure grammatical correctness.

Spelling instruction is based on learning common rules and patterns, word origins, and Greek and Latin roots. Students proceed at their own pace through the programs Spelling Power and Words Their Way.

Vocabulary development occurs through the use of the vocabulary program, Vocabulary Workshop. Short stories, poetry, and nonfiction passages are studied through the Daybook of Critical Reading and Writing.

Students explore literary analysis in small groups using high interest novels. They are encouraged to use higher level critical thinking skills to analyze text. These critical thinking skills include: questioning, clarifying, predicting, summarizing, and inferencing. Reading for information is also a significant part of the curriculum and is woven throughout language and cultural studies. Reading comprehension is supplemented through the use of the SRA Reading Lab.

The writing process is taught in a writing workshop setting. Students focus on writing for an audience through the study of narrative, nonfiction, realistic fiction, poetry, persuasive, and opinion writing.

Research and expository writing is interwoven throughout the cultural curriculum. Students learn the steps of the research process from forming questions through writing a research paper. Prewriting, outlining, and editing are emphasized as part of the writing process.

Collaborative group projects help to develop interpersonal communication skills. These projects are presented to the class, providing frequent opportunities for public speaking. Students also participate in the Tropicana Public Speaking Competition each year.


The mathematics program introduces all new concepts in a hands-on, concrete manner before moving to abstraction. Students work at a pace and level appropriate for their individual development.

The curriculum typically includes multiplication and division, multiples and factors, fraction concepts and operations, decimal concepts and operations, ratio and percent, pre-algebra concepts, estimation, probability, and data analysis. Students also study geometry, including polygons, geometric solids, area, volume, lines, angles, congruence, similarity, and symmetry.

Students are presented with both application and computational problems. Logical reasoning, creativity, and problem solving are emphasized. There are several opportunities to apply mathematical knowledge across curriculum areas.

Students follow the Montessori mathematics curriculum in fourth and fifth grade and transition to a more traditional, text based program for sixth grade. Math classes for sixth graders are held in the middle school, and classes are mixed-age with the middle school students. This ensures a good fit between students’ ability and level of challenge.

Sixth grade math courses offered may include General Math, Pre-Algebra, Honors Pre-Algebra, and occasionally Honors Algebra 1. Texts are chosen for each group of between five and ten students, depending on their needs. For homework, students use Daily Math Practice.

Cultural Studies

Cultural studies are the heart of the upper elementary curriculum. We emphasize the interconnections between the social and natural sciences, mathematics, and language arts, as they are all expressions of the human struggle to understand the world around us.

Scientific studies begin with a review of the great lessons, followed by an introduction to the different branches of scientific study. The chemical foundations of the universe and the fundamentals of physics are introduced. Students learn about the organization of our biosphere through the Timeline of Life. Over the course of a three year cycle, students study biology, chemistry, physics and earth/space science. Through the use of the scientific method and hands-on experiments, they answer questions about our world.

By exploring our shared history and culture, we present opportunities for students to engage in meaningful dialogues about other cultures and environmentally different regions. We strive to show how interconnected we are as part of the larger community.

Physical, cultural, and economic geography is studied both independently and in relation to history. Students continue the study of the fundamental needs of humans and explore how different groups of people have met those needs throughout history. We explore topics on a three year cycle, including world and American history, and governments.


Concepts from lower elementary are reexamined and revisited. Activities like drum circles help internalize concepts like rhythm and tempo, while singing and playing pitched instruments puts into practice the students’ knowledge of melody, harmony and notation. Students learn from the lives and music of composers of the past and also explore more recent trends in music like recording and film music.

Creativity is greatly encouraged through activities like composing and visualizing music through art or movement.


Using the timeline of art as a starting point, students are introduced to famous artists and their works. Students also work on their own fundamentals.

During hour lessons each week, students start off with a drawing warm-up exercise designed to teach them to really look at their world. A sketchbook is kept with these warm-ups and sketches of plans for projects for the entire year as a “diary” of their art journey.


Students’ are encouraged to use the internet as a research tool and for word processing. Students work daily with typing programs to build accuracy. Educational and skill-building computer games are used to enhance the class work. Presentation programs such as Keynote and Powerpoint are introduced, and students are encouraged to use digital videos and photos to present information. Computers are used on a daily basis and are an integral part of the classroom and curriculum.

Physical Education

Sportsmanship and teamwork continue to be a focus at this level. Students enjoy active indoor and outdoor games set to music as well as square dancing. They continue to improve their skills in flag football, basketball, soccer, wiffle ball, and volleyball. Personal-best fitness is introduced at this level. The students jog, do sprints, learn proper stretching techniques, jump rope, and do sit-ups. Students also work to improve upper body strength by doing planks, push-ups, modified and regular pull-ups, monkey bars, and parallel bars. Upper elementary students also have the opportunity to participate in after-school co-ed intramural sports. Students participate in field day activities at the end of each school year.


Conversational and writing skills are emphasized at this level. Grammatical concepts are introduced, such as verb conjugation. Conversational situations promote understanding and appreciation of the language and culture, and allow students to engage in activities that make use of their newly acquired language skills. Music and food are incorporated into the lessons to add practical interest. The text, Spanish is Fun, Level 1, is used at this level.


Media lessons consist of activities focused on navigating the library, genres, nonfiction organization, and utilizing reference materials for research. Using the “Big 6” research steps, the students begin to become more independent and problem-solve their queries. Internet safety and reliability is studied and discussed. Students actively participate through scavenger hunts, center activities, shelving, internet activities, and games. Book talks play an important part in the media curriculum throughout the year. Students come to the library to read silently and relax for the first session of each month. Students are allowed to check out books and/or Kindles during media hours all week.

Middle school Level: The third Plane of Development
Middle School (Ages 12-14)

Language Arts includes the study of vocabulary, literature, grammar, mechanics, writing, and oral communication. To increase students’ word variety and power, this course utilizes Vocabulary Workshop, a vocabulary development program. The study of genres and thematic development are at the core of the literature curriculum. Novels, short stories, and poetry are used to teach students to analyze and discuss the characteristics of genre, learn literary terms, and reinforce skills in decoding, comprehension, and reading fluency.

Instruction in English grammar usage and mechanics is emphasized. Notes are taken in class to strengthen skills and are to be applied in all writing assignments. Writing instruction focuses on paragraph development, as well as how to write a variety of assignments such as journals, short stories, newspaper article, business letters, and research papers. Oral communication includes listening skills, actively participating in group discussions, articulating ideas, and making formal presentations to the group. Students learn a variety of communication skills such as acknowledging others, “I” messages, active listening, goal setting, and group decision-making.


The mathematics curriculum is designed to develop mathematical thinking and enhance computational and problem-solving abilities. Students are provided instructional and enrichment opportunities which enable them to explore and discover concepts for themselves.

Courses may include General Math, Pre-Algebra, Honors Pre-Algebra, Introductory Algebra, Honors Algebra, and Honors Geometry. Ability grouping provides the flexibility necessary to meet individual developmental differences. Texts are selected based on the students' needs in each group. Group sizes range from five to ten students, allowing for individualized attention. Students are encouraged to present their mathematical thinking to the group.

The honors courses use a “flip the classroom” approach, making use of Sofia and Kahn Academy for introductory lessons. Each course of study emphasizes real-life connections and utilizes computers, calculators, and other math tools to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Cultural Studies

The Social Studies curriculum integrates history, geography, economics, and government in thematic units. Social Studies is centered around U.S. history, physical and cultural geography, and ancient world history. Every other year, students participate in an in-depth study of economics, culminating in a visit to Finance Park. Concepts are reinforced through short lectures, individual and group work/research, dramatic role play, strategic game simulations, and student led presentations. We follow an alternating two-year cycle of study:

  • Year A - World History
  • Year B - United States History

Classroom instruction and labs utilizing hands-on activities develop the students’ understanding of the world around them and the joy of discovery. With the use of the scientific method, math, technology, and research skills, students develop critical thinking skills. To clarify and understand key ideas and concepts, students develop creative projects. Upon completion, they present their research, diagrams, demonstrations, and experiments to the class. In addition, outdoor and off-campus educational experiences reinforce concepts studied in the classroom. As in Social Studies, we follow a two-year alternating cycle.

  • Year A - Life Science
  • Year B - Physical Science

Each month, students are taught art history lessons or they will work on individual projects to strengthen skills they have learned previously. One project combines interior one-point perspective with art history. An art elective is taught every Friday afternoon. The focus of the art elective is student, driven and this focus changes each cycle. Different ideas are presented, and they choose an art project and medium to pursue for the elective. The principles of design: balance, emphasis, unity, rhythm, and proportion are reinforced. Two of the cycles are dedicated to producing the school’s yearbook. The yearbook staff learns to use an online site to design pages and spreads, while learning to incorporate the theme throughout the book.

Once a month, a music appreciation lesson is presented to the entire class, which focuses on different styles of music. Students learn about and perform the music and dance which is native to the areas of the world they are studying for the Spring Festival. Music electives are offered based on student interest. They have included guitar, rock band, drumming, song writing, and chorus.

When possible, a drama specialist works with the students every other week in areas that include improvisational skills, dramatic writing, stage presentation, and expressing emotions theatrically.


Media focuses on internet safety, reliability, validating sources, and citing sources properly.

A review of library skills is revisited at the beginning of the semester through games, scavenger hunts, and internet activities. An author study or novel is shared with the students. The first lesson of each month is dedicated to silent reading for pleasure (either a novel, newspaper, or magazine). Lively discussions are encouraged, focusing on netiquette, novels read, research techniques, bias found in media, and technological advancements. Students are allowed to check out books and/or Kindles during media hours all week


Online research using primary and secondary sources is conducted on a daily basis, and many writing assignments are required to be typed. Students are allowed to present projects in a format of their choosing, including slide show presentations (PowerPoint/Keynote), videos that are recorded and edited by students, writing and recording songs, and other creative formats. Online typing lessons are completed weekly, and personal goals are set to increase speed and accuracy. Additional typing, document creation, and proper formatting are taught and integrated throughout many assignments across all subjects. Online video lessons and tutorials are used in a variety of ways to reinforce what has been taught in class. Additionally, students use a web-based application to plan and manage the school lunch program.

Physical Education

Personal-best fitness is more of a focus at this level and is practiced twice weekly. Students continue to play sports and other active games, often set to music. Sports practice at this level focuses more on advanced strategies. Written assessments are given at this level to check for understanding of sports rules and exercise concepts. The students have the opportunity to participate in a co-educational athletic league, competing against other schools in flag football, soccer, and basketball. Off-campus electives, such as bowling, gymnastics, kayaking, rock-climbing, ice-skating, and volleyball allow students to explore additional interests.


Spanish lessons are structured to facilitate the transition to a traditional high school. The curriculum is designed to help students attain a desirable level of proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. More advanced vocabulary and verb conjugations are taught. Conversational skills are practiced daily to encourage practical usage. Hispanic cultures are explored more extensively, including samples of music, dancing, and food. Active learning games are incorporated to hold student interest. Students are able to earn high school credit for Spanish 1, and those willing to take on an additional challenge level are able to earn credit for Spanish 2 as well. Students use the text, Spanish is Fun, Levels 1 and 2.


Media focuses on internet safety, reliability, validating sources, and citing sources properly.

A review of library skills is revisited at the beginning of the semester through games, scavenger hunts, and internet activities. An author study or novel is shared with the students. The first lesson of each month is dedicated to silent reading for pleasure (either a novel, newspaper, or magazine). Lively discussions are encouraged, focusing on netiquette, novels read, research techniques, bias found in media and technological advancements. Students are allowed to check out books/kindles during media hours all week.