Lower & Upper Elementary: Grades 1-6

The Montessori approach emphasizes the development of the whole child. At North Shore Montessori School, we work to provide an environment where the lower elementary child may develop emotionally, socially, and academically. We strive to foster natural growth and to help the child prepare him/her self for their world, their life, and their community at large.

Our Elementary classroom is designed to give the child a chance to begin to explore a world in a holistic way. Cosmic education, a keystone in Montessori philosophy, grants students the chance to enter into society practiced in thinking about who they are as individuals, as part of the human species, as citizens of a nation. Ultimately, the expectation is that through learning about humans through time and across the world today, the child may begin to appreciate his or her own place in the greater whole of humanity. By learning about those who have walked the earth before us, we come to better understand our own individual path.

Cosmic Education is intended to help each of us search for our cosmic task as a species and as individuals. To do this, we must understand ourselves in context. It is only against the background of our place in the universe, our relationships with other living organisms, and our understanding of human unity within cultural diversity, that we can attempt to answer the question, ‘Who am I ?

From Children of the Universe: Cosmic Education in the Montessori Elementary Classroom by Michael and D’Neil Duffy

Let us give the elementary child a vision of the whole universe. -Maria Montessori

‘Help me help myself,’ is the fundamental philosophy around which the Montessori classroom revolves. The Montessori classroom or prepared environment is designed to suit the child’s age, size, comfort and intellectual needs. The child may choose where to work as well as where to sit and with whom to spend his/her time. There is freedom of movement and choice inherent in much of the child’s day.

The teacher is thought of more as a “guide,” one who is carefully trained to observe the children, present appropriate lessons to each child, and leave appropriate space for independent choices. Children often learn from watching and helping each other, a major advantage of the mixed age classroom.

Our lower elementary classroom is designed with the Second Plane Child in mind. Therefore, what follows is an overview of the Montessori Elementary Curriculum. A Lower Elementary student is allowed the chance to explore a wide array of materials and concepts without being limited by grade. That is, a third year student is not excluded from taking part in a fifth or sixth year lesson.

Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment. ― Maria Montessori

The Curriculum

The Montessori Elementary curriculum is as follows: Our job as elementary teachers is to bring the child the universe. Our classroom is divided into eight subject areas, each of which is related in some way to the next.



• Origin of the universe
• Creation stories of various cultures
• Structure of the universe
• Origin of Earth: sun and solar system
• Geological composition of the Earth
• Effects of Earth’s rotation
• Time zones
• Longitude and latitude
• Effects of Earth’s revolution
• Solstices, equinoxes, and seasons
• Temperature zones
• Geography nomenclature (land and water forms)
• The atmosphere
• Winds
• Interaction of heat, wind, water, wind and snow
• Ocean currents
• Erosion by water and wind
• Oceans and rivers
• Vegetation in different zones
• Human populations
• The water cycle
• Political geography (continents, countries, cities)
• Types of government
• Imports and exports
• Flow of trade
• Money
• Interdependence of humans beings in society
• Geology (composition of the Earth, plate tectonics, earthquakes, rock cycle)
• Chemistry (phases of matter, atom, table of elements, physical characteristics of materials, lab equipment, procedures and safety, molecule modeling, ions, acids, bases, types of reactions, experimental method, measurement science)
• Physics (energy, force and motion, simple machines, sound, electromagnetic spectrum, electronics, light)


• Planetary history
• Timeline of life (geologic timescale with associated evolution of life)
• Timeline of human beings (pre-historic humans)
• Fundamental needs of human beings
• Phases of history (nomadic, agricultural, urban)
• Ancient civilizations (Sumer, Egypt, Greece, China, Indus Valley, Rome, Mayans, etc.)
• Human migrations
• United States history
• Child’s own family history
• History of other subject areas

Grammar and Mechanics

• Phonology of English
• Word study (affixes, compound words, word families)
• Etymology
• Nouns (number, gender, classification)
• Articles (definite and indefinite)
• Adjectives (classification, positive/comparative/superlative)
• Verbs (tense, mood, voice, verbals, complete conjugation of regular and irregular verbs)
• Prepositions
• Adverbs
• Conjunctions
• Interjections
• Analysis of simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences
• Cursive penmanship and calligraphy
• Spelling
• Punctuation

Reading and Expression

• Origin of writing and the alphabet
• Writing persuasive essays
• History of spoken language
• Writing poetry
• Interpretive reading
• Writing biographies
• Memorizing and reciting poetry
• Dramatic improvisation
• Reading aloud
• Producing plays
• Oral presentation skills
• Research skills
• Sentence structure in writing
• Literary genres
• Paragraphs
• Expository writing
• Writing stories with dialogue
• Journaling
• Writing letters



• Basic numeracy
• Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing positive and negative integers through billions
• Associative, commutative, distributive laws
• Order of operations
• Multiples and common multiples
• Factors, prime numbers, prime factorization
• Lowest common multiple and Greatest common factor
• Tests of divisibility by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 25
• Long multiplication
• Long division
• Fractions (equivalence, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, reducing, converting to decimal fractions, mixed numbers)
• Decimal fractions (categories, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, powers of 10, percentage, converting to mixed numbers)
• Powers of numbers (concept, arithmetic and geometric interpretations, algebraic laws of exponents, scientific notation)
• Squaring and cubing binomials, trinomials and quadranomials      numerically and algebraically, with applications to squaring of 2,3, and 4-  digit numbers
• Square root and cube root (concept, algorithm for calculating roots of numbers of arbitrary size)
• Measurement (length, weight, time, force, unit conversions)
• Non-decimal bases (concept, counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, conversion to a different base)
• Balancing equations and solving for one unknown
• Ratio and proportion (concept, ratio as fractions, cross-multiplication, word problems)
• Distance, rate and time problems
• Principal and interest problems
• Graphing (interpreting and creating histograms, line graphs, pie charts, graphing functions)
• Cartesian coordinates


• History of geometry
• Congruence, similarity, equivalence
• Polygons (concepts, nomenclature, relationships, sum of angles, types of triangles)
• Theorem of Pythagoras
• Circles (concepts, nomenclature, computing circumference)
• Lines, rays, line segments, parallel lines
• Angles (parts, types, measuring with a protractor, complementary/supplementary, etc.)
• Transformations of triangle, rhombus, trapezoid, pentagon and decagon to equivalent rectangle
• Generalization of Pythagorean Theorem to other polygons
• Area of plane figures (rectangle, parallelogram, triangle, trapezoid, rhombus, decagon, circle)
• Solids (building models, nomenclature, polyhedra, lateral and total surface area)
• Volume (rectangular prisms, other right prisms, pyramid, cylinder, cone, sphere, ellipsoid)
• Geometric construction with compass and straight edge.


• Plant anatomy and function
• Botany nomenclature
• Classical taxonomy of the plant kingdom
• Using dichotomous plant keys
• Body function of vertebrates
• Classical taxonomy of the animal kingdom
• Modern classification (Archaea, Eubacteria, Eukaryota)
• Cells
• Human body (major systems, nutrition, physical education)
• Ecology (major biomes, food webs, interdependence)leo.

Art and Handwork

• Art History (major schools and artists)
• Drawing (line, perspective, shading, proportion, pencil, charcoal)
• Painting (basic color theory, water color, acrylic)
• Making dioramas
• Weaving
• Sculpture
• Handwork (crochet, knitting, quilting)


• Singing
• Rhythm (clapping, reading rhythmic notation, rhythmic dictation)
• Ear training (matching pitches, ordering pitches, interval training)
• Music theory (musical notation, keys, transposition, scales, circle of fifths)