Elementary Program – Curricular Scope
“Human consciousness comes into the world as a flaming ball of imagination. Everything invented by man, physical or mental, is the fruit of someone’s imagination.” Dr. Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential
Dr. Montessori referred to her elementary curriculum as Cosmic Education. The word, cosmic, derives from the Greek word, kosmos, which means “ordered world”. Camino Montessori maintains this tradition by referring to our elementary curriculum in the same way.
At Camino Montessori, “Cosmic Education” is the essence of our educational framework. Because our practice is guided by the natural needs and tendencies of children this cosmic approach attracts the attention and imagination of elementary aged children, which leads to engagement, interest, and motivation, which, in turn lead to true learning. Our unified and integrated curriculum unfolds as a spiral, and uses themes, which are referred to as “Great Stories”, designed specifically to engage the child’s “awakened curiosity”, and to provoke within them an awakening sense of time–When did all of this happen?; of place—Where did everything come from?; and of purpose for being—Why am I here?. These fundamental questions are universal, and at this age the child is beginning to think more abstractly about life. It is also during these years that the child’s sense of justice, fairness, and life outside of the immediate family are emerging to the forefront of thought, intention, and action.
Peace Education (character education) is an integral piece of the framework. Montessori classrooms are viewed as “micro-democracies” which provide children a safe place and supportive environment in which to practice important life skills in real situations.
No two years are ever alike in a Montessori classroom—there are limitless possibilities of variation within our underlying themes for children to have opportunities to be active participants in the learning process. Essentially, our curricular framework provides the “fertile field” necessary for teaching children how to learn versus what to learn. Montessori education provides students with a strong foundation in the core academic skills (i.e., mathematics, reading, writing, and other language skills), and research tools and structures which can then be applied to learn about any subject, time, place, or event.
One of our basic methods of instruction involves using the power of ‘story’ to connect with and engage the child—hopefully activating their imaginations. The Great Stories set the stage for the presentation and unfolding of the integrated curriculum. These stories and impressionistic lessons give enough information to the student so that they become inspired to dig deeper into any of the related subject areas that they are interested in. The Montessori teacher serves as facilitator/director of student learning by actively engaging them in pursuing answers to their questions, either individually or in small research groups. Typically, the curriculum is organized into a 3 year, or 6 year cycle.
The Five Great Stories that Unify our Curriculum
- The Coming of the Universe and How the Earth was Formed –The story of the beginning of the Universe and the Earth’s origins.Leads to the study of: astronomy (the solar system, stars, galaxies, comets, constellations), meteorology (wind, currents, weather, erosion, water cycle, glaciers), physics (magnetism, electricity, gravity, energy, light, sound, heat, friction, motion), chemistry (reactions, elements, atoms, periodic table, compounds, molecules, chemical formulas, equations, experimentation), geology (rocks, minerals, land forms, volcanoes, earthquakes, plate tectonics, eras of the earth), geography (maps, globes, latitude/longitude, climates, land & water forms).
- The Origin of Life on Earth–The origin of life on Earth from single-celled organisms to plants and animals.Leads to the study of: biology (cells, five kingdoms, dissection, use of microscopes), botany (classification, plant kingdoms, families and species, plant functions, parts of plants), habitats (food chains/webs, symbiosis, adaptation, ecosystems, conservation), ancient life (eras of the earth, evolution, extinction, fossil records), animals (classification, animal kingdoms, families & species, adaptation and ecosystems), monera, protista, and fungi (what they are, classification, observation).
- The Coming of Human Beings–The story of the origin of humans and development of human civilizations.Leads to the study of: history (timelines, prehistory, ancient civilizations, world history, history of specific countries and continents), human culture (art, music, composers, dance, drama, architecture, philosophy, religion), social studies (current events, government, economics, commerce, mediation, peacemaking, volunteering & service), discovery and invention (scientists, inventors, scientific method, inventions).
- The Story of Writing & Language–The story of the development of the written alphabet including the study of pictographs, hieroglyphs, early alphabets, and the invention of the printing press.Leads to the study of: reading (literature, poetry, non-fiction, myths and folktales, authors, reading comprehension and analysis), writing (elements of style, function, voice, composition, letter writing, research, study skills), language (origins of spoken language, foreign languages, history of languages, speech, drama), structure (grammar, punctuation, sentence analysis, word study, figures of speech).
- The Story of Numbers & Mathematics– The story of the history of symbols, the magic of numbers, the use of geometry, different numbering systems used by humans and the modern decimal system.Leads to the study of: mathematics (operations, fractions, decimals, multiples, squares, cubes, percentages, ratio, probability, algebra), numbers (origins of numbers and systems, bases, types of numbers, scientific notation, mathematicians), geometry (congruency, similarity, nomenclature of lines, angles, shapes, solids, measurement, discovery of theorems), mathematical application (story problems, measurement, estimation, graphs, patterning, rounding, money concepts).
From these five stories come follow-up stories and impressionistic lessons designed to further activate curiosity and motivation to learn and know more. We always begin with “the whole” moving towards its parts. The Montessori Method’s learning process occurs within a “Story-to- study” (instruction leading to learning cycle).