Great Lessons

Each year, 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.  Dramatic stories, experiments, charts timelines, and illustrations center the children's interests by helping them create a picture of the whole universe at work. From here, the 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 the 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.



History work in the elementary class begins with the development of the solar system and early life on earth.  Students study aspects of early civilizations, the development of humankind, and recorded history.  Students learn how the contributions of humankind throughout history have brought us to where we are today.



Elementary students extend their knowledge of continents and countries with further research about the people, language and cultures of different lands.  Map work continues with the study of geographical features and landforms.  Project work crosses several subject areas, and students strive to achieve their own personal best while cooperating with others.



In this area, the children's natural curiosity is stimulated through discovery projects and experiments, from which they draw their own conclusions.  The first science experiments are designed to give the children basic knowledge, which will help them to understand the development of the solar system, the earth and its configurations, life on earth and the needs of plants and animals.  As they progress, the curriculum encompasses physics, chemistry, botany, biology and zoology.  Students learn how to collect and analyze data, observe systematically and carry out experiments using appropriate scientific methods.



The elementary language curriculum emphasizes creative and expository writing, interpretive reading of literature and poetry. The elementary language curriculum emphasizes creative and expository writing, interpretive reading of literature and poetry. The focus is on word study, spelling, grammar, punctuation, penmanship and capitalization.  Research skills are introduced, practiced through individual project work and refined as students work with a wide range of research materials.  The computer is used for some research.   The children are encouraged to present their projects and read their stories with confidence, clarity and expression, strengthening their oral language skills. Good literature is always available in the classroom library.  The children enjoy well-written story and information books on all subject areas of the curriculum.  In addition, the classroom uses SRA Reading Comprehension books.  Students practice and use their reading and writing skills throughout the curriculum supplemented by weekly writers' workshops and daily independent reading time.



The mathematics curriculum is presented with concrete materials, which reveal arithmetic, geometric, and algebraic connections. Work with the Montessori mathematics materials ensures that mathematics is not simply memorized, but understood.  These concrete materials help the student transition into working mathematical concepts abstractly.  The children´┐Żs knowledge of the decimal system is extended as they explore its quantities & qualities. Students practice operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Number hierarchy, fractions, decimals, negative numbers, squaring & cubing are studied. Throughout math work, what is learned is continuously applied to daily situations.  Elementary students continue exploring geometry on a sensorial level.  Students gain a strong understanding of fundamental geometric concepts through consecutive lessons with Montessori materials.  Students gradually begin to study geometry abstractly.  Students begin with a study of congruency, similarity, equivalence, and fractions which prepare them for later area and theorem work.  The study of lines, measurement of angles and the construction of geometric figures is also introduced.



Self-expression is nurtured in all children.  Children experience visual art, music, poetry, theatre, writing, dance and other forms of creative arts with confidence and passion.  As current research continues to indicate the importance of this area of study, we find it a very natural part of our curriculum.  

  • Art Appreciation and Art History is as natural part of the curriculum as technique and use of various media.  We learn about art as we do everything else, from the perspective of history.  We study the various forms of media as we study the artists who created and used them.  Weekly formal art instruction from Art and Montessori trained teacher Kelly Rauscher introduces new techniques, materials, and art experiences.

  • Music is an important part of our classroom as well.  Daily singing and listening are accentuated by weekly training on rhythm and singing from our specialist, Dr. David Eslick.  The arts are naturally integrated into cultural studies and language (creative writing).  Special guests will join the class occasionally to share cultural art forms.  The students attend at least one performance of children's theatre each year.  Classroom-based drama production and performance encourages the public speaking, poise, self-control, and games.  

  • Continuing our commitment to foreign language instruction that began in the Early Childhood Environment, each Elementary student receives instruction in Spanish language. The children are introduced to vocabulary, conversation, music and dance. Spanish is spoken frequently in the classroom, both by teachers and students. Supplemental Spanish language materials will be available in the classroom for independent study.


Large muscle skills are a heavy focus during this stage.  Games and team sports are encouraged to teach good sportsmanship skills.  Each week, the students attend Physical Education class to develop stretching, flexibility, coordination, balance, breath-awareness and strength-building techniques.  This is in addition to daily largely unstructured outdoor time.


Peace Education

The 6 to 12 year-old child is eager to be part of a community. Acceptance, justice and fairness are of supreme importance.  With the Cosmic Curriculum as the foundation, peace education and conflict resolution are taught daily so that children learn to be part of a warm, respectful and supportive community. Our peace education emphasis also reaches beyond the classroom, through community service projects and pen pals. The students are closely involved in both school-wide and classroom-based community service projects.  


Outdoor Education

Our gardens and animals provide an indoor-outdoor classroom for our elementary students.  Life science studies will have direct correlation to our botanical and zoological resources.  Ecology, environmental studies and conservation are integral to the children's outdoor activities.  Students have opportunities to experience first-hand care of animals, care of earth, and gardening.  Weekly animal husbandry and gardening experiences are incorporated into the integrated cultural curriculum.



The computer is a vital learning tool for the elementary student.  Students learn basic word processing and design skills to enable independent and efficient computer use. In addition to practicing basic keyboarding and computer operation skills, students learn how to conduct research using educational software and how to safely navigate the internet.  The worldwide web provides unique and exciting opportunities for the older student to interact with the world, and to be part of a truly global community.