Primary (3 - 6 years)
The Primary environment is divided into 5 main categories: Practical Life, Sensorial, Mathematics, Language, and Cultural. The program also includes Art and Music Fitness.
The purpose of Practical Life activities is to promote a sense of order, concentration, and independence; assist in educating movement; restore the child’s energy; and help develop the “mathematical mind” (Pascal) by following a precise routine. Skills learned in this area of the classroom lay a foundation for the rest of the curriculum. Socialization skills and the work cycle are introduced, and fine and gross motor skills are practiced. The lessons teach responsibility for oneself, others, and the environment.
The role of the Sensorial activities is to increase powers of discrimination and awareness as the children isolate various sense perceptions. These activities help children differentiate the various objects in their world. This is done through matching, grading, and sequencing objects. These lessons form the foundation for mathematical, musical and scientific studies. Examples in the Sensorial area are: matching sounds or smells, matching or grading colors, grading by size, and learning plane and solid shapes.
The Sensorial then forms the basis of the concrete approach to Mathematics. Through a wide variety of manipulatives, children use movement to understand mathematical concepts. Lessons in this area begin with the very concrete and move to the more abstract. A variety of objects are manipulated to learn basic number concepts; place value is learned through manipulating the golden beads. Some examples are: sandpaper numerals for learning the symbols 1 – 9, the spindle box for understanding the concept of 0, the teens board and tens board for matching quantity and symbol, the colored beads for addition, subtraction and multiplication, and the golden beads for understanding the decimal system and performing mathematical operations.
Mathematics at the Primary level begins with a sensorial discovery of shape, volume, quantity, symbol, sequence, length, height, and width. From the sensorial awareness comes the more specific introduction of mathematic concepts including quantity/symbol correspondence, odd and even and the concept of zero.
Throughout the Primary curriculum, the children are learning to associate the knowledge they have gained from their sensorial experiences with the new information they are exploring with the mathematic materials. With concrete materials, the children are learning to identify quantity and symbols for numbers from 1-100. Once their understanding of these numbers is solid, the children are then introduced to the decimal system. Their exploration of the base 10 system will span the next few years in the Montessori classroom.
The Language materials begin with the pre-cursors to reading and writing, the thorough development and understanding of those areas through a phoneme-based program, and the ability to break down and analyze the language through hands-on manipulatives. Our language materials will help your child develop the skills needed for verbal communication, reading and writing. Examples in this area include games that provide opportunities for speaking, sandpaper letters for learning the sounds of the alphabet, movable alphabet for constructing words and sentences, many opportunities for reading, and metal insets of design for perfecting pencil grip.
For purposes of discussion, the Montessori Cultural areas include Science, Geography, and History with further delineations within each of these areas. The study of these subjects provides a greater understanding of the children’s world and their place in it and provides a connection for your child to the outside world. Topics are explored through games, songs, stories, and hands-on activities. We use our five senses for discovering the wonders of the earth and the diversity of its people.
We study the world’s seven continents with globes and puzzle maps, cultural items from the continents, and opportunities for tasting foods, dancing to music, and enjoying folk tales. We try to understand the similarities and the differences in the way plants, animals, and people adapt to the ecosystem in which they live.
Through observations, experimentation, and research, we explore the worlds of physical and natural science. In zoology we study the five vertebrate animals and the invertebrate world’s insects and arachnids. In botany we learn about trees, seeds, and flowers with gardening activities and observations on our playground.
The world of art is opened to the children through a comprehensive, process-oriented program. The easel is always available for mixing colors and self-expression. Concepts such as primary, secondary, complementary, cool and warm colors are taught with a variety of media available to the children. Art appreciation is pursued with a simple overview of the history of art, as well as a study of individual artists and their work. The children enjoy learning about many famous artists with activities such as experimenting with the pointillist technique of Seurat or creating their own “cutouts” as did Matisse.
As with all subject areas in the Montessori environment, new knowledge is built on the foundation of the old and is all inter-connected. No subject area stands on its own, but draws from all others to present a contextual whole. This is known as Maria Montessori’s Cosmic Education.