The Lower Elementary Program at Firelands Montessori Academy is a multi-age environment that is designed for 6-9-year-old children to learn and thrive, as individuals and as a community. You will notice when you walk into the room that a flag of the earth hangs on the wall; this is a symbol of the classroom’s commitment to educating for peace and creating a more just and kind world, one child at a time. One of the favored mottos of the classroom is Mother Theresa’s quote: “There are three things in human life that are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.” This emphasis on Peace Education builds the foundation for a calm and caring classroom community. At the same time, the environment is buzzing with limitless intellectual curiosity, great concentration, and high levels of academic achievement.
The lower elementary level is designed to utilize and strengthen natural interests and energies within an environment that educates, inspires, and satisfies the desire to explore complex concepts and pose challenging questions.
The Montessori curriculum is an integrated thematic approach that ties the separate disciplines together into studies of the physical universe, the world of nature, and the human experience.
Dr. Montessori’s term for her approach to elementary education is called “Cosmic Education”. The basis of this method recognizes the young child’s developmental discovery of the greater world beyond themselves and the need to intellectually explore and understand the interconnectedness of all things. Cosmic Education is rooted in stories that span the enormity of time and space; they are called the Five Great Lessons.
These stories appeal to the child’s imagination and provide the framework from which all instruction in the subject areas emanates:
1. The Story of the Universe
2. The Coming of Life
3. The Coming of Humans
4. The Story of Communication in Signs.
5. The Story of Numbers. Each story provides a broad overview, each lesson, and activity that follows invites new learning, provokes new thought, and refines each skill.
The Great Lessons are intended to give the students a perspective to understand their own place in the world. The classroom is a carefully prepared environment that continues to incorporate traditional, hands-on Montessori Materials that allow children to learn concepts through the hand before they are abstracted in the mind. All subject areas are included in the prepared environment; like all of the programs at Firelands Montessori Academy, the Lower Elementary Program is holistic education at its best.
Here is a summary of the sequenced lessons covered during the first three Montessori elementary years.
- A decimal system including the concept of number and quantitative relationships
- The four fundamental operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimal fractions
- Mastering of math facts
- Nomenclature for geometric forms
- Introduction to congruency, similarity, and equivalence
- Reading taught through a combination of phonics and sight words: reading for comprehension, vocabulary development, interpretive reading, and beginning library and research skills. FMA employs a reading specialist to support children who benefit from more focused reading support.
- Writing strategies including the development of mechanical skills, creative writing of both prose and poetry, and beginning research skills
- Grammar studies
- Reading and sentence analysis
- Physical & Cultural Geography:
- Continents and oceans
- Countries and states
- Landforms: e.g. peninsula, gulf, bay, etc.
- Introduction to physical geography through mapping
- Astronomy and cosmology
- Structure of the Earth: the geological history
- Fundamental needs of humans
- Concept of time
- Natural history
- How past cultures through time have met fundamental needs
- Introduction to chemistry
- Energy studies: e.g. electricity, friction, and introductory physics
- Earth sciences/geology
- Seven elements of design (color, line, shape, form, texture, space, and value)
- Composition and perspective
- Introduction to various media
- Art and culture appreciation
- Orff-based approach to music, which integrates music and movement using a full range of pitched and unpitched instruments
- Uses literature to frame music and movement
- Incorporates world music in conjunction with our geography studies
- Vocabulary building
- Physical Education:
- Helps children to develop an initial positive feeling for vigorous physical activity while learning group games and “sports” of a competitive and cooperative nature
- Field Trips:
- “Experience is a key for the intensification of instruction given inside the school.”
The multi-age elementary classroom resembles both a family and a work group. Together, students create a welcoming and accepting atmosphere while developing considerate and cooperative relationships. As they study the fundamental needs of humans in the curriculum, they are active participants in the social progress of their own classroom, investing in one another, and challenging themselves. As they developmentally grow towards the cognitive and personal organization, the students prioritize, plan, and manage their time in both their daily work and with long-term, independent projects. What they learn during this stage of development helps them as they continue on in the Upper Elementary Program and into the broader world.
Our Lower Elementary Classroom doors open at 8:15 and the school day ends at 3:00. Extra hours are available through our before and aftercare programs.
When the child goes out, it is the world that offers itself to him. Let us take the child out to show him real things instead of (just) making objects which represent ideas. –Maria Montessori