Students in grades one to three were described by Dr. Maria Montessori as being in the elementary stage referred to as the “Intellectual Period.” The child enters this period focusing on mental explorations. Given an open and rich environment, there are no limits to what the child may learn and explore. Seen as a critical time for expansive education, the Lower Elementary student follows guided lessons and exploration of culture, science, mathematics, language, and social rules. The Montessori students continue to work with concrete materials to explore academic areas, then transition into utilization of abstract methods.
At Country Day School, we believe that children learn best through their interactions with and within the purposefully prepared Montessori environment. By exploring, experimenting, touching, building, and doing, students progress through the developmentally responsive curriculum of math, language, cultural studies, science, art, and geography. Ceiling-less and individualized approaches allow for limitless opportunities of learning. Process-based learning encourages students to ask questions and seek answers. Expand and explore the sections below for more details.
Language: Reading, Writing, Speaking, & Listening
Language is at the center of all elementary studies. The Lower Elementary student develops a deep understanding of communication through studies of reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
Speaking, Listening, & Understanding
- Conversational Speech
- Sequencing & Repetition
- Poetry, Rhymes, Prose, & Plays
- Listening Skills & Comprehension
- Folktales, Legends, & Myths
- Newspapers & Current Event
- Oral Language
- Speech & Presentation
- Hand/Eye Coordination
- Hand Strengthening
- Handwriting & Fine-Motor Skills
- Writing & Expression
- Sound, Word, & Sentence Analysis
- Vocabulary & Word Study
- Genre-Study & Literature
- Parts of Speech
- Language Mechanics
At the Lower Elementary level, students use Montessori materials to proceed to abstract problem solving. In addition to Montessori math materials, we use the Kumon Math Program for repetition and daily practice. Further, students receive concrete experiences with geometry and learn to explore concepts to identify relationships.
- Number Sequencing
- Place Value
- Hours & Minutes
- Passage of Time
- Adding Same & Different Denominators
- Coin Identification & Value
- Adding & Subtracting Money
Math Facts & Word Problems
- Math Facts
- Word Problems
- Geometric Solids
- Geometry Cabinet (Lines, Regular Polygons, Quadrilaterals, Triangles, Angles, Perimeter, Area)
Science and nature are important curricular areas at Country Day School. Scientific concepts are presented through an integrated curriculum of study. Students experience science through specially designed materials, gardens, the animals at our Little Barn, and our campus pond. Field visits, observations, journaling, and measurement provide the foundation for the use of the scientific method. The sciences, from botany to physics, are incredibly important to our student’s understanding of our physical world. Lower Elementary Montessori classrooms emphasize the processes by which young scientists can explore and further comprehend the nature of Earth and of our universe.
- Biology (Kindoms of Life, Systems of the Human Body)
- Botany (Classification of Plants, Form & Function of Plants, Parts of Plants, Interdependencies of Animals & Plants)
- Zoology (Classifications of Animals, Form & Function of Animals, Parts of the Animal, Interdependencies of Animals & Plants)
- The Process of Scientific Inquiry
- Composition of the Earth
- Three States of Matter
- Laws of Attraction & Gravity
- Balance & Motion
- Sun & Earth
- Air & Weather
- Land & Water Forms
- Map Skills (Puzzle Maps, Pin Maps)
Scientific Reasoning & Technology
Montessori Cultural Studies
Montessori Great Lessons guide cultural studies in the Lower Elementary classrooms. These impressionistic lessons offer students a comprehensive view of the universe across time and across borders. Further study is guided by questions and encourages independent study.
The Great Lessons
- Coming of the Universe
- Coming of Life
- Coming of Humans
- Story of Writing
- Story of Numbers
Montessori Peace Curriculum
Montessori believed education was the most powerful and universal way through which to reconstruct society; a way to transition from war to peace. Therefore, it is necessary to think of education as peace, not education for peace. We understand the importance of creating an environment that will promote the development of peaceful individuals.
Country Day’s Visual Arts program seeks to foster creativity, problem solving, and self-expression as it relates to each child’s level of development. Lessons focus primarily on the arts of drawing, painting, and sculpting.
- Concepts of Line, Shape, & Form
- Concepts of Color
- Concepts of Texture
- Whole-to-Part Relationships
- Processes of Change
Musical & Performing Arts
The music curriculum combines individual and group work all designed to appeal to a variety of learning styles. Through incorporation of music, Montessori materials, technology including GarageBand, singing, and dancing, students learn and appreciate the elements of music and performing. The music program further offers many opportunities to build community through our numerous performances, field trips, and assemblies.
- Difference between Rhythm & Beat
- Note Value Patterns
Pitch & Style Understanding
- Treble Clef Staff Pitch Names
- Musical Styles, Pitch, & Rhythmic Differences
Vocal Production & Performance
- Tonal Placement: Chest, Mask, Voice
- Matching Pitch
- Response to Cues of Conductor
- Integration of Basic Acting Skills & Story Telling through Song
- Memorization & Rehearsal Etiquette
- Composition of Short Pieces
- Creation of an Original Opera
- Respect for Composing & Arranging Efforts of Others
Readers & Writers Workshops
Country Day School is committed to providing highly effective and rigorous literacy instruction with the ultimate goal of fostering a love of reading and a passion for writing. All Lower Elementary students participate in reading and writing workshops daily. Daily rituals and routines are established and practiced enabling students to function independently with a high level of accountability. Our reading units of instruction offers students the skills needed to be successful readers and to truly see themselves each as “a reader.” This approach emphasizes the interaction between readers and text, encouraging students to make connections with prior knowledge, ask questions to clarify understanding, and develop the love and an appreciation of the written word. Similarly, lessons in the craft of writing take young authors on a journey to developing their personal style through direct instruction and exploration through genres and the writing process concluding with the celebration of publishing at the end of each unit.
The Lower Elementary teachers work in conjunction with the World Language teachers to guide the World Language vocabulary building process. In addition, students work independently on Spanish and Chinese studies using the Rosetta Stone online software program. The interactive program alongside physical manipulatives in the classroom is designed to enable students to speak and write their basic thoughts and questions in a World Language. The curriculum uses a combination of speaking, writing, and activities that are based on music, art, and collaboration.
Lower Elementary World Language Programs
- Use & Expansion of Existing Classroom Materials & Lessons
- Routine Activities
- Culture Topics & Holidays
At Country Day, we believe in preparing our students for the digital age of today and of their futures. Starting in 1st grade, students use iPads and laptops on a daily basis for research, reading, and project-based learning. Students explore a variety of Web 2.0 sites, including Wordle, Voicethread and Google Maps. Each student is enrolled in Typing Pal to practice their typing skills, and development is augmented throughout the year as they complete homework and other assignments. With Google Maps and Google Earth, they create a guided tour of the countries studied in social studies. We believe that students should be prepared to be competent and responsible digital citizens in our 21st century world of technology.
International mindedness is learned and practiced by all Country Day students through our International Studies program. Beyond the intercultural experiences provided in our Chinese and Spanish World Language program, students are immersed in culture, history, and diversity in our fine arts, music, and social studies classes in Early Childhood and the Lower School. Students have been accepted into multiple Global Projects with students from around the world including the Rock Our World Project and the Flat Classroom Building Bridges to Tomorrow Project. Through our Montessori Peace Curriculum and school-wide celebrations such as International Day of Peace, our students are familiar with global issues and current events, and are able to examine issues from different perspectives using critical-thinking skills.
Our Lower Elementary students love to move! Students experience a wide variety of units in our Physical Education program from throwing and catching to yoga practice. They develop the skills needed to play different sports and games, and explore each of these skills during class. Throughout the year, students work on sportsmanship, teamwork, game strategies and, most importantly, having fun! Activities include: locomotion (skipping, hopping and tag games), soccer, tossing, throwing, catching, basketball, yoga, balance, rhythmic activities, lacrosse, jumprope, and Field Day practice.
Respect for and an understanding of animals is an important aspect of the Montessori philosophy. Through interacting with animal life, children develop a connection to nature and learn to be responsible and courteous stewards of the world. Our Lower Elementary classrooms are home to different types of animals, including guinea pigs, a tortoise, fish, and a hamster, and students learn about our Little Barn animals through encounters in our outdoor classroom barnyard experiences. Whether it is visiting and caring for a llama, a baby goat, a miniature horse, a cow, a bunny, or a baby goose, our barnyard animal program is an authentic learning experience for our Lower Elementary students!
Country Day is committed to reading and fostering a love of the written word. The integrated library program offers students a supportive environment where they can become curious learners and life-long readers. Each day in Lower Elementary includes sustained silent reading time, followed by read-alouds, activities, or storytelling. Students are encouraged to use our library of non-fiction and fiction books for research and enjoyment.