The Lower Elementary Montessori Curriculum

“The elementary child has reached a new level of development.
Before, he was interested in things: working with his hands, learning their names.
Now he is interested mainly in the how and why…the problem of cause and effect”

Maria Montessori

                 Academic subjects are integrated into a comprehensive program designed not to teach, but to allow children to learn at their own pace.


Great Lessons


       Each year, our work in the elementary class begins with five important stories called the “Great Lessons”. These stories dramatize known facts about the universe and the progression of human civilization. Through dramatic stories, experiments, charts timelines, and illustrations we center the children’s interests by helping them create a picture of the whole universe at work. From here, our classroom opens up to endless possibilities as students follow their own particular interests with a large measure of freedom. This unit of study forms the backbone that integrates our daily curriculum.


        The Great Lessons are part of what Montessori called “cosmic education”. This is the child’s gradual discovery of how all things on earth in the past, present and future are interrelated. Through this work, the children develop a greater global vision of their world.


Language and Literature


        The elementary language curriculum emphasizes creative and expository writing, interpretive reading of literature and poetry. Children read in groups, independently, and to each other; they play spelling games and receive one-on-one attention from their teachers.


        We focus on word study (including antonyms, synonyms, homonyms, and compounds, as well as the parts of speech), spelling, grammar, punctuation, penmanship and capitalization. Writing begins with process writing, developing skills for editing and revising. We concentrate on written forms to include story form, where students analyze literary components of setting, characters, plot, and fact vs. fiction.


        Report form is another focus, as are journals, logs and book reports. In this way our Lower Elementary children strengthen their reading comprehension, research skills, and writing capabilities.


        Research skills are introduced, practiced through individual project work and refined as students work with a wide range of research materials. Students practice and further enhance their critical thinking, reading and writing skills throughout the curriculum.




       Following the continuum established in the Primary class, children learn math by working their way from the concrete to the abstract. Through extensive use of multisensory materials, early math lessons involve manipulatives like beads, tiles, and cubes, which may be color-coded or range in size. As the child uses these objects, numeration, measurement, and basic operations are strengthened.


       Presented with concrete materials the mathematics curriculum reveals arithmetic, geometric, and algebraic connections. Work with the Montessori mathematics materials ensures that mathematics is not simply memorized, but understood.


       We extend the children’s knowledge of decimal system as they explore its quantities and qualities. Students practice operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, problem solving, work with graphs and charts and geometry. We study number hierarchy, fractions, decimals, negative numbers, squaring and cubing.


       Throughout math work, students are continuously applying what they learn to how it relates in daily situations.




       Geometry is a fascinating area of Montessori. Elementary students continue exploring geometry on a sensorial level. Students gain a strong understanding of fundamental geometric concepts through consecutive lessons with Montessori materials. Children use actual wooden shapes to master the terminology of all of the plane figures and solids. Matching cards introduce types and positions of lines, types and positions of angles, and special characteristics of shapes. Experimentation with other materials leads children to their own discoveries of spatial relationships, including congruence, symmetry, and equivalency.