Elementary Environment

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Elementary Overview

The Elementary program, for students in grades 1st – 6th, is organized as two three-year cycles:


       Lower Elementary for grades 1st – 3rd
         Upper Elementary for grades 4th – 6th

    As in the Primary classes, students spend all three years in the same class, building community with one another and deepening relationships with teachers. Elementary age children continue to learn through the use of concrete materials as they move gradually toward more and more abstract thinking. The Elementary lessons and materials are multi-sensory, dramatic, and impressionistic, serving to ignite the imagination and curiosity of the students.



     Our Montessori curriculum inspires students to become independent learners who appreciate and understand their world. Integrated studies provide students with unique and age-appropriate materials that help them to become accountable for their use of time, for accuracy in their work and to evaluate their strengths and areas of growth. Our students have individualized work plans to allow them to use time effectively and to make appropriate choices. Students demonstrate great joy in their learning and achievements. The following is an overview of each academic subject that is studied in the elementary classrooms. 

   Elementary students engage in building practical skills such as cooking, organizing fund raising activities, and time management. Each student is accountable for completing her class work in the time allotted, and confers with her teachers weekly to chart her progress. As children get older, they are given more and more responsibility in planning and executing their weekly tasks.





     The Montessori Language Arts curriculum is designed to enhance the students’ skills in reading, comprehension, writing and speaking; and to provide connections with history, literature, science, math, and geography. Reading increases comprehension skills through various reading activities such as silent reading, reading aloud to peers and teachers during literature class, reading booklets related to academic studies and reading chapter books at home. Writing exercises creative writing and allows the student to express thoughts before spelling and grammar are mastered. As the children’s skills progress, sentence structure becomes more complex, spelling improves, and story-writing skills develop.hildren write book reports, poetry and journals, compose books of their own and then learn to analyze sentences, build complex sentences and refine research skills.

     Grammatical studies include the parts of speech and their functions using classical Montessori materials such as Grammar Boxes and the Farm. Definitions and symbols are correlated with each part of speech. Grammar studies are integrated to reinforce work the child has already mastered. For Vocabulary building and Spelling the students study word families, create spelling lists, study word origins and meanings, and test their spelling skills. Nomenclature and sight words are practiced. Handwriting skills are fostered by reinforcing print and cursive skills during journal writing and class work. Foreign Languages are studied in small groups so that every student can participate in an oral and hands-on way. Cattoira Montessori offers Spanish as a foreign language.


     Children entering an elementary Montessori program usually have a good math foundation. Elementary Montessori materials allow children to develop an in-depth understanding of math concepts followed by memorization of math facts. Students receive individual and small group lessons and work at their own pace. Math curriculum is organized so that students can independently follow the math sequence under the teacher’s guidance. We also use a series of (Mortensen Math) booklets that aid students gain a better understanding in their mathematical career. Math lessons include; Addition, Multiplication, Subtraction, Division. Operations: static & dynamic, Skip Counting, memorization of math facts, fractions and multiples. Estimating, rounding, squaring, decimals, time, money, estimation, word problems, and math history.

       Diagrams: tables, graphs, & charts. Mortensen Math booklets include the study of Algebra, Arithmetic, Calculus, Problem Solving, and Measurement.

     Comprehensive geometry studies begin with experiences with the line and its parts and continue through studies of angles, polygons, triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, area and volume. The concepts of similarity, congruence and equivalency are also studied. We use geometry sticks and geometry cards to provide a deeper understanding. Nomenclatures of each study are also studied.



     Geography studies are integrated with history and science. Students learn about many different cultures as they learn about other countries. Students also study biomes, flags, capital cities, languages, plants and foods native to each continent. Some favorite activities include drawing maps and identifying countries and oceans. Studies also include the following; the Earth, major land and water forms around the world, learning the names of the oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, volcanoes, mountains and islands, physical, cultural, economic and political geography.


     History begins with the concept of the passage of time, then geologic time and the study of civilizations throughout history. An in-depth study of the Timeline of life on Earth and the fundamental needs of humans. Other lessons include the history of the days of the week and the months of the year.


     Our physical science curriculum integrates physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, earth sciences, and electricity. Projects and research help students to understand abstract concepts. Studies include discussion and experiments. Some favorite activities include constructing models of planets, atoms, and molecules.   The study of the universe, solar system, the sun, planet earth, matter, electricity, and magnetism are studied in depth.


The Universe: formation, nebulae, galaxies, gravity, Milky Way.

Solar System: the Sun, the nine planets, and their orbits.

The Sun: composition, sunspots, corona, flares, prominences, solar storms, solar winds, aurora borealis, aurora australis, the source of energy, eclipses.

Planet Earth: origin, inner structure, plate tectonics and effects, continental drift, volcanism, earthquakes (movement & consequences), tsunami, tides.

Matter: atomic structure, the periodic table of elements, molecules, effects of gasses on the human body.

Electricity: concept, a test of conductive vs. non-conductive materials.

Magnetism: theory, examples of magnets, a test of materials attracted by magnets.


Botany: Many hands-on activities including various nature walk on school grounds, and experiments pique the students’ curiosity and engage them in the study of botany. Students study botany nomenclature and definitions, plant classification, biomes, and ecosystems. These studies include in-depth studies of the plant, the leaf, and the flower, classifications of the edible leaves, roots, stems, flowers, fruits, and seeds. Students observe the needs, growth and classify different plants. Older students research native plants and help care for them in the environment. Various gardening activities aid and nurture their interest in these studies.

Zoology: Children have a natural curiosity about the earth’s creatures. These studies allow children to understand the system of organizing the animal kingdom. Zoological studies include living and non-living organisms, The Five Kingdoms of Life, Various classifications such as plants and animals, invertebrates and vertebrates, chordates and non-chordates. Introduction to various invertebrates including poriferans, cnidarians, platyhelminths, nematodes, annelids, arthropods, mollusks, and echinoderms. Introduction to vertebrates including the fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Along with geographical studies, animals and their continents are studied and researched. Students begin their studies by observing real creatures, then use cards, booklets, nomenclatures of the external and internal parts of vertebrates and invertebrates, control charts, books and internet research to continue their studies. Older students study and research the internal organs and perform various dissections such as the fetal pig, the fish, the frog, etc.

Biology: Our biology curriculum includes model making and other hands-on activities which stimulate the student’s curiosity and creativity and solidifying the concepts introduced in class. Studies include cell biology where they explore organelles and their functions, photosynthesis, atoms and molecules. Animal anatomy and physiology include the exploration of the respiratory, circulatory, nervous, and digestive systems. Life science experiences such as the study of the human body are also introduced and researched.


NESTT: The Nurturing Environmental Stewards of Today and Tomorrow (NESTT) Program is part of our Montessori Elementary curriculum. NESTT is a science-based curriculum that includes activities, fossils, specimens and materials for studies in ecology, biology, marine biology, geology, archaeology and environmental science.  The program educates our students about preserving our biodiversity through environmental stewardship, environmental sustainability, and overall resource management. Ultimately, we hope to instill in them an understanding that we can conserve the life-sustaining resources of our planet.

The curriculum used in the program is collaboratively developed by the Education and the Interpretive team at the Deering Estate at Cutler and Cattoira Montessori teachers and administrators. The classes are interrelated with our unique Montessori curriculum.


Computers: in the classroom allow students to gain a better understanding of how to properly use computers. Internet access is also incorporated to aid in research studies in areas such as geography, language, and science lessons. Students are also taught to create their own power point presentations in order to give their presentations.


STEM: Engineering classes build on the students natural curiosity by teaching engineering concepts through hands-on learning. Students are introducing to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) which is gears toward the discovery of what engineers do and explore what opportunities are available to them.


Music & Creative Dance: Students enjoy learning new songs and choreography. Music is integrated into the winter and end of the productions. The creative dance program teaches students teamwork while integrating the visual and performing arts. We also have music classes such as keyboarding and guitar.


Physical Education: Conditioning, strengthening, rules, cooperation and sportsmanship are taught, along with basic skills in a variety of activities.


Peace Education: The peaceful resolution of conflicts continues to be a goal in the Elementary classroom. The older the students get, the better they are able to resolve disputes on their own. Teachers are always available to facilitate discussions between students, but props like a stack of “feeling words” written on cards can aid students in resolving conflicts independently.


Grace and Courtesy: Acting with grace and courtesy toward others is modeled by the adults in the Elementary classrooms and courteous behavior and consideration for others are expected of Elementary students.

Children can help one another remember to use polite language and that their actions affect others.


Yearly Traditions: Traditions enrich all students’ experiences. Each year our students participate in field trips related to curriculum studies. Short outings have included visits to science centers, museums, libraries, and children’s theater productions. Out of state field trips have included visits to various museums, the White House, and the Capital in Washington DC., New York City, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The winter production and end of year production are performed for families and friends. 

Art: Art lessons are taught using various techniques and media around the world.

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