THE LOWER ELEMENTARY PROGRAM AT THE MONTESSORI SCHOOL OF SAN ANTONIO
Mathematics: Many of the mathematic materials in the Lower Elementary level are familiar to the child from the Primary environment. Now, however, the child uses them specifically to learn different concepts that are useful, interesting, and integral to his/her understanding of mathematics. Within this area, the categories are:
• Numerals and quantities from 1 to 1,000,000
• The decimal system and its four basic operations
• Memorization of number facts
• Fractions with the four basic operations
• Squaring and cubing of numbers
• The formation of binomials and trinomials
The child must first demonstrate mastery of the didactic materials before working on abstract concepts.
Geometry: Prior work in the sensorial area of the Primary level has resulted in the child’s clear mental imaging of different geometric shapes, particularly triangles and solids. In the Lower Elementary level, emphasis is placed on Euclidean geometry, such as learning the names, types and properties of many different shapes and solids. Mathematically precise materials not only present concepts of perimeter, similarity, congruence, and equivalence, but also advance and refine the understanding of planar geometry.
Language: The development and sophistication of the child’s oral and written language are critical to his/her success in school. An insatiable intellectual curiosity demands that knowledge not only is absorbed and retained, but expressed and acknowledged by others in the learning environment. Careful attention is paid to the child’s:
• Reading comprehension
• Composition (descriptive, expository, persuasive)
• Language arts
• Sentence construction
• Study and use of different verbs and their tenses
• Oral expression
These skills are taught in isolation and in direct association with writing and reading, which is where the child’s true interests lie. Didactic materials, which are as precise, orderly, and appealing as those in mathematics and geometry, are the means for delivering instruction and enabling mastery.
Cultural Studies: The Lower Elementary child is fascinated with the culture of humans. From this deep-seated interest, a series of five “Great Lessons” have been created to stir the child’s imagination and enable him/her to explore various topics in depth with didactic materials. These lessons include:
• The formation of the universe
• The coming of life on Earth
• The appearance of humans
• The story of language
• The story of mathematics
In conjunction with these lessons, the child is introduced to a series of functional science experiments that illustrate and clarify key concepts of gravity, light, heat, density, and air pressure.
Geography is another cultural study that fascinates the child at this age. This includes the following categories – all richly endowed with beautiful didactic materials to engage and challenge the child:
• Political (continents, countries, cities, flags)
• Physical (basic land and water forms)
• Functional (systems of the earth, the solar systems, parts of the earth)
• Ecological (biomes of the continents)
Science: Life science introduces the child to five kingdoms of life, particularly to the animal and plant kingdoms:
• Zoology focuses on beginning the classification or taxonomy of the five vertebrate classes and the invertebrate phyla. The basic needs of animals are the subjects of several carefully prepared lessons with didactic materials.
• Botany examines the parts and types of plants, leaves, flowers, and seeds. A series of botany charts and experiments focus the child’s attention on the basic needs of plants, as well as on the water cycle.
• Earth science includes the study and classification of different rocks and minerals, layers of the earth, and the forces within the atmosphere.
Art: Integrated into the Lower Elementary child’s work are opportunities to use different types of media and techniques for research and self-expression. Lessons involving watercolors, collages, drawing, etc. are available to all children.
Practical Life: The Lower Elementary child is involved in many practical life experiences, such as cleaning and maintaining the learning environments, outdoor gardens, and classroom pets. It is important that the child understands how to use the natural environment while at the same time preserving its original beauty and function.