Safety Harbor Montessori Academy Curriculum Guide
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.
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.
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.
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.