ELEMENTARY - AGES 6-9 YEARS
For a video clip about Montessori elementary click here: Elementary Video Clip
Early in elementary, the names (or nomenclature) of the geometrical solids are reintroduced from the first exposure in 3-6. Now that the children are older they will explore them in greater detail. The teacher adds etymology to the nomenclature. "This ellipsoid isn't quite a sphere. That's why the Greeks chose the word, 'not quite a sphere, something lacking." One can see clearly that Montessori has a very integrated curriculum. Geometry, language and history are part of this one lesson on geometric solids. The children then learn the parts of a solid and classify them.
This student is making her own geometric solid.
(By permission of The Michael Olaf Montessori Company, www.michaelolaf.net)
There is no subject in the elementary class that is taught in isolation; all of the work is interrelated and a child's interest and developing passion in one area of study gradually leads her to all the rest. The teacher does not require specific work, but guides the children as individuals or self-formed small groups in doing research. The children follow their own interests in creating and finishing research projects, and in finding a way to express them. The teacher gives the basic lessons over and over, but never knows where this research will go each year, with each individual child, and each group of children. This is as exciting for the teacher as for the children.
ASTRONOMY TO GEOLOGY, COSMIC
How often is the soul of man, especially that of the child, deprived because one does not put him in contact with nature.
There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees which speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving. The wood reveals that it is not only the trees that exist, but a whole, interrelated collection of lives. And this earth, this climate, this cosmic power are necessary for the development of all these lives. The myriad lives around the trees, the majesty, the variety are things one must hunt for, and which no one can bring into the school. —Dr. Maria Montessori, MD
In the elementary class, for children from age six to twelve, the study of biology has three main focuses:
At the beginning of each year the teacher inspires children to carry out research in these areas by telling stories, and presenting beautiful books, posters, charts, and timelines. Then each child begins a personal journey of discovery, joining others for research projects and presentations. Every year is unpredictable, not even the teacher knowing what will be covered, as the rule is to "follow the child."
CLASSIFICATION OF PLANTS & ANIMALS
SOCIAL SCIENCES - GEOGRAPHY, HISTORY, BIOGRAPHY
Today those things which occupy us in the field of education, are the interests of humanity at large and of civilization. Before such great forces we can recognize only one country—the entire world. —Dr. Montessori, MD
History, geography, and biography—the history of a people cannot be separated from the possibilities of the environment in which it develops, and the leadership of its great men and women.
In the beginning of each year the children are introduced to the study of humankind with stories, beautiful books, maps, posters, timelines and other research inspirations.
Throughout the six years in the elementary class, the child moves from the general to the specific in the following way:
Of course all of these studies are going on at the same time and the child is free to follow her interests, no matter what the age.
History is essentially a record of how humans fulfilled their physical, mental, and spiritual needs. These can be thought of as:
These subjects are also experienced subjectively in the classroom. For example, as the child learns about how different people obtain food, he learns to grow and prepare food. As he learns about clothing he may learn to knit or to make clothing or costumes. He studies the arts of other cultures while developing his own musical and other artistic talents. And while studying the ethics and religions of other cultures he is exploring his own relationship with friends, family and God.
This creates, not only new abilities, but an empathy with members of other cultures in the present and the past.
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it. —Santayana, philosopher, Harvard University
CREATING A LANGUAGE ENVIRONMENT
THE HISTORY OF LANGUAGE
At this age children in many ways are repeating the history of humans on earth. They want to cook, sew, garden, begin to learn all of the skills of adults. Children and adults alike find it fascinating to trace the development of the language, to realize that in the past only a few people, sometimes only priests, knew how to read and write. They find the connection between the migrations and other contacts between groups of people and the many different languages on earth.
Many great educators and philosophers have stated that there is nothing that cannot be taught if the student and the subject matter are well understood and creatively put in touch with each other. We try to make everything interesting, so that it will be enjoyed and retained.
In the elementary class stories are told and experiments carried out to show children how humans used their imaginations in the past, and how they are using them today, to solve problems and come up with great inventions—the use of fire, measuring the earth, compasses, boats, and many others. They see how inventions, geometry and math came about as the result of human progress, to meet specific needs.
Geometry, for example, arose from the practical need to reestablish planting boundaries after the annual flooding of the Nile in Egypt. In "geometry," geo stands for earth, and metry for measure.
Children of this age love to reach back into history with their imaginations and reconstruct these needs and solutions and the creation of systems of learning. The Hindus introduced the use of "0." Let the child try to do math without it! Where did algebra, calculus, trigonometry come from? They want to know!
Children are inspired by these stories, and by examples and pictures, to find out more. Children come to realize that mathematics has evolved and is still evolving from a practical need. Math, graphing, fractions, all become logical tools for recording and measuring, and algebra a short cut for recording.
Geometry, math, and invention are languages used to explore and manipulate, to theorize and create, real objects in a real world. At this age children continue to enjoy exploring math and geometry concepts if they are related to real life, and if they are presented with materials which can be handled, manipulated, used to create. We must keep sight of this fact when teaching children. We give manipulative materials in all areas of math and leave it to each child to decide when she is ready to work without materials—in the abstract—on paper with pencil.
We encourage children to make up their own problems—especially story problems related to their lives and the subjects they are studying—for themselves and for their friends, in order to come to a very practical and clear understanding of geometry and math. Children enjoy making up problems for each other, and examples that stump their teachers. This process of math concepts makes them stick in the child's mind.
With higher math, geometry and algebra, we give many practical examples and help the children come up with their own formulae after much experience. For example, if a child measures all of the rectangles in the room—tables, windows, books, etc. for figuring surface area, he will easily create, and even better understand, the formula "A=lw."
For each grade level, from 1st through high school, the children are shown the state requirements of math, just as any other subject. Then they learn to plan and schedule their work. It is left to each child to decide the best system and schedule, through trial and error, and with adult help, depending on learning styles, and interests.
This teaches the math of planning, scheduling, allotting sufficient time, and it teaches responsibility.
When children are given this solid, material foundation, and see the relationship of geometry and math to the real world, it makes it easier for them, in later years, to spend long periods of time working on paper.
This is because they know that these steps are just that—steps which will take them to a new level of understanding in the exciting world of math and science.
All of the academic work in the elementary class is
connected with and expressed by means of the arts. Instead of unrelated art and
music lessons for the few, the techniques of creating in all areas (art, music,
drama, dance, etc.) are taught by the teacher (often with the help of parents or
specialists, but only when called upon by the students, for a reason), and then
used to make learning exciting. There might be a play acting out the process of
photosynthesis or the population of the world, a quilt made with squares of leaf
shapes as a school fundraiser, or a series of beautiful watercolors
demonstrating the principles of geometry. Just as in all areas, the teacher is
in charge of teaching the tools and the students of designing and executing the
When information is processed in some active, musical or
artistic way—graphs, posters, drawings, creating maps, songs, plays, and so
forth, the knowledge becomes permanent and it strengthens the creative part of
the brain. Processing means The Arts!
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05/01/2012 - Last Modified