About Elementary I & II Curriculum
Elementary & Middle Curriculum

Children begin by learning the phonetic sounds of the alphabet and use their growing knowledge to read and write increasingly complex words and sentences.

We begin to teach very young children the functions of grammar and sentence structure to students as young as first grade, just as they are first learning how to put words together to express themselves. This leads them to master these vital skills during a time in their lives when it is a delight, rather than a chore.

During the Elementary years, we increasingly focus on the development of research and composition skills. Our students write every day, learning to organize increasingly complex ideas and information into well written stories, poems, and reports.


Because of our multi-age classroom design, our youngest students are constantly exposed to the older children in the class who are already reading. The total environment of the Primary class (3 to 6 years-old) tends to create and reinforce in our young children a spontaneous interest in learning how to read. We begin to teach reading as soon as that interest is first expressed.

  • The children are helped to develop a sophisticated vocabulary and command of the language.
  • The children are taught through a variety of approaches to listen for and recognize the individual phonetic sounds in words.
  • We introduce the children to literature by reading aloud and discussing a wide range of classic stories and poetry.
  • We help our youngest students to recognize the shape and phonetic sounds of the alphabet through the sandpaper letters: a tactile alphabet.


  • Sounding out simple three or four-letter phonetic words.
  • Early exercises to practice reading: labeling objects with written name tags, matching picture cards to labels, creating word lists.
  • Reading specially selected or prepared small books on topics that really interest the child, such as in science, geography, nature or history.
  • Interpretive reading for comprehension at ever increasing levels of difficulty, beginning in the early elementary grades.
  • Use of reference books for both research and pleasure.
  • An introduction to the world’s classical children’s literature at increasing depth and sophistication.


Control of the hand in preparation for writing is developed through many exercises, including specially designed tasks in the use of the pencil. Such exercises begin with very young children and extend over several years so that mastery is gradually, but thoroughly, attained.

  • At first, by tracing letters into sand.
  • Later, by writing on special writing tablets
  • Cursive writing (elementary students)


Early tasks:

  • Preparing written answers to simple questions.
  • Composing stories to follow a picture series.

Elementary tasks:

  • Beginning to write stories or poems on given simple themes.
  • Preparing written descriptions and reports.
  • Learning how to write letters.
  • By age 9, research skills and the preparation of reports become major components of the educational program. Students research areas of interest or topics that have been assigned in depth, and prepare both formal and informal, written and oral reports.
  • Creative and expository composition skills continue to develop as the children advance from level to level. Students are typically asked to write on a daily basis.


Children begin to spell using the moveable alphabet to sound out and spell words as they are first learning to read.

  • Learning to sound out and spell simple phonetic words.
  • Learning to recognize and spell words involving phonograms, such as ei, ai, or ough.
  • Learning to recognize and spell the “puzzle words” of English: words that are non-phonetic and are not spelled as they sound.

Elementary tasks:

Continued study of phonograms

  • Studying words: involving compound words, contractions, singular–plural, masculine–feminine words, prefixes, suffixes, synonyms, antonyms, homonyms.


The study of grammar begins almost immediately after the child begins to read, during the sensitive period when he is spontaneously interested in language. It continues over several years until mastered. The idea is to introduce grammar to the young child as she is first learning how to put thoughts down on paper, when the process is natural and interesting, rather than waiting until the student is much older and finds the work tedious.

Early tasks

We introduce our children to the function of the parts of speech one at a time through many games and exercises that isolate the one element under study. The younger children gain the concept of a noun by labeling objects with written name tags and to recognize verbs by reading a card with a simple command printed out (such as run or sit) and demonstrate their understanding by acting it out. As their reading vocabulary increases, verbal commands involve full sentences and multiple steps: “Place the mat on the table and bring back a red pencil.” At this level, each part of speech is studied in a simple, concrete way. Montessori has assigned a geometric symbol to represent each element of grammar. (For example, verbs are represented by a large red circle.) The older children analyze sentences by placing the symbols for the appropriate part of speech over each word.

Elementary tasks

  • Once students have mastered the concrete symbols for the parts of speech, they perform more advanced exercises for several years with grammar boxes set up to allow them to analyze sentences by their parts of speech.
  • Sentence analysis: simple, compound and complex sentences, clauses, verb voices, and logical analysis of all sorts of sentences are studied using many different concrete materials and exercises.

Early tasks:

Learning the numbers and number symbols one to ten.

Introduction to the decimal system: Units, tens, hundreds, thousands are represented by specially prepared concrete learning materials that show the decimal hierarchy in three dimensional form: units = single beads, tens = a bar of 10 units, hundreds = 10 ten bars fastened together into a square, thousands = a cube ten units long ten units wide and ten units high. The children learn to first recognize the quantities, then to form numbers with the bead or cube materials through 9,999 and to read them back, to read and write numerals up to 9,999, and to exchange equivalent quantities of units for tens, tens for hundreds, etc.

Linear counting.

Development of the concept of the four basic mathematical operations: addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication through work with the Montessori Golden Bead Material. The child builds numbers with the bead material and performs mathematical operations concretely. Work with this material over a long period is critical to the full understanding of abstract mathematics.

Development of the concept of “dynamic” addition and subtraction through the manipulation of the concrete math materials. (Addition and subtraction where exchanging and regrouping of numbers is necessary.)

Elementary tasks:

  • Memorization of the basic math facts: adding and subtracting numbers under 10 without the aid of the concrete materials.
  • Development of further abstract understanding of addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication with large numbers through the Stamp Game (a manipulative system that represents the decimal system as color–keyed “stamps”) and the Small and Large Bead Frames (color–coded abacuses).
  • Skip counting with the chains of the squares of the numbers from zero to ten: i.e., counting to 25 by 5’s, to 36 by 6’s, etc. Developing first understanding of the concept of the “square” of a number.
  • Skip counting with the chains of the cubes of the numbers zero to ten: i.e., counting to 1,000 by ones or tens. Developing the first understanding of the concept of a “cube” of a number.
  • Beginning the “passage to abstraction,” the child begins to solve problems with paper and pencil while working with the concrete materials. Eventually, the materials are no longer needed.
  • Development of the concept of long multiplication and division through concrete work with the bead and cube materials.
  • Development of more abstract understanding of “short” division through more advanced manipulative materials (Division Board); movement to paper and pencil problems, and memorization of basic division facts.
  • Development of still more abstract understanding of “long” multiplication through highly advanced and manipulative materials (the Multiplication Checkerboard)
  • Development of still more abstract understanding of “long division” through highly advanced manipulative materials (Test Tube Division apparatus)
  • Solving problems involving parentheses, such as (3 X 4) - (2 + 9) = ?
  • Introduction to problems involving tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions
  • Study of fractions: The study of fractions begins with very concrete materials (the fraction circles), and involves learning names, symbols, equivalencies common denominators, and simple addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication of fractions up to “tenths”
  • Study of decimal fractions: All four mathematical operations.
  • Practical application problems, solving word problems, and determining arithmetic procedures in real situations becomes a major focus.
  • Money: units, equivalent sums, counting, performing mathematical operations
  • Reinforcing application of all mathematical skills to practical problems around the school and in everyday life.


Sensorial exploration of plane and solid figures at the Primary level (Ages 3 to 6): the children learn to recognize the names and basic shapes of plane and solid geometry through manipulation of special wooden geometric insets. They then learn to order them by size or degree.

Early tasks:

  • Basic geometric shapes.
  • More advanced plane geometric shapes-triangles, polygons, various rectangles and irregular forms.
  • Introduction to solid geometric forms and their relationship to plane geometric shapes.

Elementary tasks:

  • Study of the basic properties and definitions of the geometric shapes.
  • More advanced study of the nomenclature, characteristics, measurement and drawing of the geometric shapes and concepts such as points, line, angle, surface, solid, properties of triangles, circles, etc.
  • Congruence, similarity, equality, and equivalence.
  • The history of applications of geometry.
  • The theorem of Pythagoras.
  • The calculation of area and volume.

Physical Geography

Early tasks:

The Primary Globes: These are specially prepared globes for the very young child that isolate single concepts of globe study—how land and water are shown, and the corresponding shapes of the continents that they learned from the puzzle maps.

The Puzzle Maps: These are specially made maps in the forms of intricate, color-coded, wooden jigsaw puzzles representing the continents, the countries of each continent, and the states of the U.S. They first enjoyed simply as challenging puzzles. Soon, however, the children begin to learn the names of given countries, and begin to become familiar with them.

Land & Water Formations: These materials are designed to help the very young child understand basic land and water formations such as island, isthmus, peninsula, strait, lake, cape, bay, archipelago, and so on. At first, these concepts are represented by three-dimensional models of each, complete with water. Then the children learn to recognize the shapes on maps, and learn about famous examples of each.

The solar system is introduced with nomenclature cards and books on each planet.

Elementary tasks:

Transference to maps: Introduction to written names and various forms of maps, along with early study of the flora, fauna, landscapes, and people of the continents.

An introduction to humankind's search to understand how Earth was formed, from creation stories to the evidence of contemporary scientific research: origins, geologic forces, formations of the oceans and atmosphere, continental drift and tectonic plates, volcanoes, earth quakes, the ice ages and the formation of mountain ranges.

The study of the hydrosphere: ocean, rivers, lakes, the water cycle.

A more advanced study of the solar system: characteristics of each planet, the sun, and the moon, phases of the moon, distance between planets, etc.

Cultural Geography

Countries are studied in many ways at all levels, beginning at the primary level. A number of festivals are held every year to focus on specific cultures and to celebrate life together: an example being Chinese New Year, when the entire school might study China, prepare Chinese food, learn Chinese dances, and participate in a special dragon dance parade. Anything that the children find interesting is used to help them become familiar with the countries of the world: flags, boundaries, food, climate, traditional dress, houses, major cities, children’s toys and games, stamps, coins, traditional foods, art, music, and history. This interweaves through the entire curriculum.

Economic Geography

  • Natural Resources of the Earth.
  • Production: How natural resources are used by humankind.
  • Imports and Exports: The interdependence of nations.

Early tasks:

  • Simple time-telling
  • Simple time lines
  • Family trees

Elementary tasks:

The fundamental needs of man are food, shelter, clothing, defense, transportation, culture, law, religion or spiritual enlightenment, love, and adornment.

The concept of time and historical time is developed through many activities and repeated at deeper complexity:

  • Telling time on the clock
  • Time-lines of the child's life
  • Time-lines showing the activities of a day, week, month, year
  • History of the days of the week and months of the year
  • Time-line of Earth’s history
  • Time-line from 8,000 B.C.E. to 2,000 C.E. to study ancient to modern history

The story of the evolution of the planet and its life forms over the ages, along with an overview of human history. This is repeated throughout the curriculum in increasing depth of study.

Each year the child continues to study and analyze the needs, culture, technology, and social history of various periods in history. The trends of human achievement are charted, such as the development of transportation, architecture, great inventions, and great leaders.

Students begin to study the earliest humans. They consider early societies in terms of how they organized themselves to meet the common needs of all peoples: food, clothing, shelter, defense, transportation, medicine, arts, entertainment, government, and religion.


Early Tasks

  • Differentiation between living and non-living things.
  • Differentiation between animals and plants; basic characteristics

First puzzles representing the biological parts of flowers, root systems, and trees, along with the anatomical features of common animals. These are first used by very young children as puzzles, then as a means to learn the vocabulary, then are related to photos and/or the “real thing,” then traced onto paper, and finally with labels as a reading experience.

Nomenclature Cards:

  • Botany: identifying, naming, and labeling the parts of plants, trees, leaves, roots, and flowers.
  • Zoology: identifying, naming, and labeling the external parts of human beings, insects, fish, birds, and other animals.

Elementary tasks:

  • Introduction of the families of the animal kingdom, and identification and classification of animals into the broad families. Introduction to the basic characteristics, life-styles, habitats, and means of caring for young of each family in the animal kingdom.
  • Introduction to ecology: habitat, food chain, adaptation to environment and climate, and body adaptations of common animals.
  • Advanced biology study: the names and functions of different forms of leaves, flowers, seeds, trees, plants, and animals. This usually begins with considerably more field work collecting specimens or observing.
  • Study of evolution and the development of life on the Earth over the eons.
  • Study of vertebrates: Limbs, body coverings, lungs, heart, skeleton, reproduction.
  • Advanced study of plants in class and garden
  • More advanced study of the animal kingdom: classification by class and phyla.
  • The plant kingdom: Study of the major families of plant life on the Earth and classification by class and phyla.
  • Introduction to chemistry: the three states of matter, changes in states of matter, experiments

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