Lower Elementary

Mrs. Myra Stenhammar and Ms. Katie McDonald
Myra Stenhammar
  
Katie McDonald
THE 6 TO 9 YEAR OLD

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One of the characteristics of this child is the developing imagination. He asks “Why?” or “How does it work?” He wants to know the essence or function of something he can't really touch. The imagination lets him see how and why relationships. He is also developing his intellect or the ability to reason. He needs lots of content knowledge to form relationships. The power of abstraction enables him to understand people better by putting himself in the other person's shoes.

Birth of the social personality is another characteristic. The child wants to separate from his family and have adventures with his peers. He has a group instinct, he can't help it. He wants to explore new environments with his friends. Hero worship is very typical of this child. These may be heroes and heroines of history, people who are known and people who are unknown, not necessarily famous people. This child loves extraordinary things of all kinds. This is also a time of moral development as the conscience develops. The child thinks about what is good or bad, fair and unfair. He is very concerned with the rules, whether it is a game at recess or classroom procedure. He loves stories and fables of good and evil. He is developing a sense of responsibility which gives a feeling of worth that others appreciate.

The child is the strongest physically he will be in his whole life. He is typically energetic, not often tired, healthy, shrugs off illness and gets well quickly. There is a mental toughness too. He will work with maximum effort on projects he is interested in.

THE LOWER ELEMENTARY CURRICULUM

The Montessori curriculum includes history, mathematics, biology, language, geography and physical science, and geometry. It is carefully structured and integrated to show the child the connections among the different subject areas. For example, history lessons link architecture, art, science and technology. It is individualized to meet the needs of each child in the classroom, from the remedial to the gifted. There is no limit to it, there are always new questions, more knowledge to gain, something new every day. Learning is a hands-on experience as the child works with specialized Montessori materials, charts, time lines, artifacts, specimen, maps and science equipment.

There are five components to the Montessori curriculum including: mastery of fundamental skills and basic core knowledge, the Great Lessons, the Key Lessons, individually chosen research, and going out of the classroom to learn. In addition to exploring the mysteries of the universe, principles of mathematics, and human societies, the child also covers the basics found in a traditional curriculum, such as memorizing math facts, spelling lessons, vocabulary, grammar and sentence analysis, creative and expository writing and library research skills.

The Great Lessons are a series of five interconnected stories that give an inspiring vision of the whole universe. These include: The Story of How the World Came to Be, The Development of Life on the Earth, The Story of Humankind, The Development of Language and Writing and the Development of Mathematics. Each story is a different part of the whole picture. The Key Lessons are specific lessons for each subject area and are given to an individual or small group based on the child's needs or interest.


Students are encouraged to explore topics that capture their interest. This is based on research with the child gathering information and assembling it into a report and sharing it with the class. The child begins by using an encyclopedia, field guide, or other informational books to find answers to a list of questions prepared by the teacher. The reports and presentations grow in complexity over the years.

Field trips are an important part of the Lower Elementary Class. The child needs to explore outside the classroom and make new connections with the work done inside the classroom.
These are learning outings to deepen understanding.

Little Rock Montessori First Grade
Everything in the classroom is carefully chosen and arranged to meet the social, emotional, physical and academic needs of the child. The furniture is his size, and arranged for freedom of movement, group work and collaboration. There is lots of natural light and floor space for long time lines and bead chains. The room is decorated with beautiful pieces of art work, there are all types of plants and class pets to care for. There are specimen, artifacts and wonderful books to capture interest and inspire the imagination. The classroom is arranged into curriculum areas, materials are attractive, orderly and sequential. Supplies are stocked and ready for the child to use. The child has everything he needs to work.

The Lower Elementary child learns by doing, from concrete experience and manipulation. He needs to manipulate, move, explore and work with his friends. The Montessori Materials stimulate the child into logical thought and discovery. Although each material is designed to teach only one new concept at a time, they have multiple levels of challenge for repetition and exploration. The hands-on math materials make abstract concepts clear and concrete. As the child works he can see and explore what is going on as each math process unfolds before his eyes. The goal of the Montessori math material is to make the abstract concrete until the child has internalized the process and no longer needs the material.

Although the child has considerable freedom to move, to talk, to set his own schedule, choose his work, workspace and partners, this freedom is not absolute. He must move and work quietly and make responsible choices. The child has a work journal and develops a weekly work plan with the help of the teacher. The child records work done each day and checks off work completed on his weekly plan. This encourages responsibility, time management, and helps the child monitor his own progress.

Strong bonds of friendship form as students work together, teach and help each other. The child learns to respect his classmates, to resolve conflicts, work and play cooperatively. The classroom community gives the child a sense of belonging and self-esteem. The child develops self-discipline, independence and confidence by making choices and working at his own pace. Each accomplishment fuels a desire to learn more.