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Upper Elementary
4th - 6th Grade

In the upper elementary classroom (fourth through sixth grade, or ages nine to 12), content is not presented in “course subject” form; instead, ideas and concepts are explored across the breadth and to the depth demanded by the child. For example, flowers are not just observed in books or through the window. The flower (possibly cultivated by the child) is brought into the environment, touched, named, identified by parts, compared and contrasted with other plants (temporally and historically), reviewed within its life cycle, located in the world, etc. Thus, education is more about experiencing and relationships than dissemination of isolated facts from a pre-selected course of study. The senses are engaged whenever possible, aiding in the child’s natural capacity to learn.

In the natural order of development, the child is now more capable of understanding the abstract and visionary elements of life. Thus, in the upper elementary, the child is further transitioning from concrete to abstract appreciation of life. The educational process continues to follow the child through its inherent flexibility and adaptability. The teacher remains the facilitator or guide, assessing and then challenging the child’s natural curiosity.

Social development takes on a more prominent development at this age. Individual morals and values are further established, particularly within the framework of peers. The sense of self is expanded beyond personal experience. Abstract experiencing through literature, arts, etc. further develops and can modify the child’s sense of self. Decision-making skills and problem-solving skills are self-tested, and success is qualified as learning from both the positive and negative experiences of life.

The Elementary Montessori curriculum is highly enriched and challenging, and is organized into three components:
1.  Mastery of Fundamental Skills and Basic Core Knowledge


Elementary Montessori Students explore the realm of mathematics, science and technology, the world of myth, great literature, history, world geography, civics, economics, anthropology, and the basic organization of human societies. Their studies cover the basics found in traditional curriculum, such as memorization of math facts, spelling lessons, and the study of vocabulary, grammar, sentence analysis, creative and expository writing, and library research skills.


2.   Dr. Montessori’s “Great Lessons”


The Great Lessons are five key areas of interconnected studies traditionally presented to all elementary Montessori students in the form of inspiring stories and related experiences and research projects.


The Great Lessons include the story of how the world came to be, the development of life on earth, the story of humankind, the development of language and writing, and the development of mathematics. They are intended to give children a cosmic perspective of Earth and humanity’s place within the cosmos. The lessons, studies, and projects surrounding each of the lessons normally span many months, and the question that the children pose, along with their efforts to find the answers to their own questions, may continue for many years.


3.   Individually Chosen Research


Elementary students are encouraged to explore topics that capture their imagination. They rarely use textbooks. The approach is largely based on library research, with students gathering information, assembling reports, teaching what they have learned to their classmates, and assembling portfolios and handmade books of their own.


Beginning by using an encyclopedia to find the answers to a list of questions prepared by their teacher, Montessori students are taught how to use reference materials, libraries, and even the Internet to gather information and uncover the facts. Their oral presentations and written research reports grow in sophistication and complexity over the years.


Studies come alive through hands-on projects and activities. For example, a small group of students who are interested in Greek mythology might build a model of ancient Athens, make and decorate their own Grecian vases to illustrate a particular story, prepare dioramas of a scene from mythology, or write and produce their own play for the rest of the class.

The advanced elementary Montessori materials move on to more complex and abstract concepts in mathematics, geometry, and pre-algebra. The goal is to lead the child away from a dependency on concrete models that visually represent abstract concepts toward the ability to solve problems with pen and paper alone. Similar hands-on materials help students understand grammar, sentence analysis, geographical facts, and concepts in science.


Language Arts








Montessori &

The Arts


History and Cultural Studies


Social Skills and Character

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