Children ages one through kindergarten take in a tremendous amount of information from their environment with what Maria Montessori called “the absorbent mind.” Our Primary preschool and kindergarten program provides an enriching hands-on learning experience with specially designed Montessori materials for math, language, sensorial exploration, practical life activities, art, science, and geography. By providing choice of activity and freedom of movement, students develop self-control, observational skills, and problem-solving skills. Through experimentation and discovery, our students move from concrete learning to abstraction as they prepare for more complex studies in our Country Day Lower Elementary program.
Based on best educational research in early childhood development practices, our rich classroom environments encourage exploration to build speech and language skills, practical life skills, and fine and gross motor skills. Montessori Primary Curriculum and accelerated learning opportunities promote languages and cognitive development through hands-on and experiential learning. Integration of Spanish, Chinese, American Sign Language, art, music, and movement are designed to meet the developmental needs of toddlers. Students move up from our program confident and well prepared for the transition into the Lower Elementary Montessori classrooms. Expand and explore the sections below for more details.
Country Day School is licensed by the Pinellas County Licensing Board: Children’s Center License #C980023. We service students and families in Belleair, Largo, Seminole, and surrounding areas.
Montessori Language and Pre-Reading
The Montessori environment offers daily experiences with language materials for our youngest students. Language work centers on reinforcing verbal communication and developing vocabulary through rich language opportunities. Pre-reading foundational skills are established through matching, discrimination, and tracing activities. Written language is experienced through daily book studies.
Following Montessori principles, our Pre-Primary program guides preschool students to understanding mathematical concepts of order and perceptual awareness as they are acquired logically from concrete to abstract and simple to complex. Experiential learning activities with sensorial materials include counting, sorting, and concepts of time.
Through observation and interaction with physical properties in the natural environment, Pre-Primary students have daily opportunities to discover and create. Life science activities include plant care, animal care, nature walks, and investigation of the living and nonliving. Students learn about early earth and physical sciences through study of water properties, weather and seasons, color mixing, and sink/float activities. Early scientific reasoning develops through observation and measurement.
By developing and refining the child’s senses, sensorial lessons foster an awareness of the environment. Pre-math and pre-reading abilities are nurtured through organization, patterning, and repetition.
Montessori Practical Life
Practical life materials in the Pre-Primary classroom are designed to facilitate independence and the development of fine and gross motor skills. Activities including Control of Movement, Silence Game, and Walking the Line all develop physical skills for the young student. Respect and care of the environment are developed through Sponge Squeezing, Floor Sweeping, Pouring, Clothespin Clamping, Rug Rolling, and Jar Lids. Activities that promote independence are constantly incorporated into daily routines and include Dressing Frame, Large Button Frame, Snapping Frame, Hand Washing, and Food Preparation. Finally, grace, courtesy, and etiquette are always emphasized through all greetings, modeling of “please” and “thank you,” walking around the rug, and shaking hands.
The World Language program is designed to enable our youngest students to express basic thoughts and questions in multiple languages of the world. Students learn to express themselves in Spanish and American Sign Language in the area of numbers, body parts, songs, animals, and foods. Our Pre-Primary World Language program promotes confidence and creativity through interactive activities including early language concepts, conversation, and music.
The Country Day Arts program seeks to foster creativity, problem solving, and self-expression as it relates to each child’s level of development from Pre-Primary to Middle School. Experiential art lessons use a variety of kinesthetic and visual components. As the curriculum focuses on the exploration of different materials, students are encouraged to experience the art process as each concept is thematically presented using a variety of 2-D and 3-D materials to help them truly absorb and understand the lesson’s objectives. Lessons include drawing, painting, and collage making.
Musical & Performing Arts
The music curriculum combines individual and group work with lessons designed to appeal to a variety of learning styles. By incorporating Orff Methods and Montessori principles, curriculum allows children to learn about music by engaging their minds and bodies through a mixture of singing, dancing, acting, and the use of percussion instruments. Lessons are presented with an element of “play” helping the children to learn at their own level of understanding. Improvisation, composition, and a child’s natural sense of play are encouraged.
- High and Low Pitch
- Fast and Slow Tempo
- Loud and Soft Dynamics
- Head Voice
- Chest Voice
Story Songs & Games
- Circle Songs with Movement
- Game Dances
- Tone & Rhythmic Poems/Songs
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. Students learn about our Little Barn animals through encounters in our outdoor classroom experiences. Whether it is a visit from a llama, baby goats, a miniature horse, a cow, a bunny, or a baby goose, our barnyard animal program is a hit for our Pre-Primary students!
To foster an early love of reading, the Pre-Primary classroom library offers our youngest students access to a collection of beautiful books. Each week, new books fill the shelves with the changing themes and seasons. Story time is an integral part of the daily experience for the Pre-Primary students. For more information on our school library and commitment to reading and writing, please visit the Reading & Writing Center page.
Montessori Language: Reading, Writing, Speaking, & Listening
At Country Day, we are committed to fostering exceptional communication skills. Language rich Montessori classrooms incorporate study in all four areas of communication: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Pre-reading and pre-writing preparation in work of practical life and sensorial areas refine auditory, oral, visual, and sensory/motor skills. Language study spans every classroom areas as an integrated source of preparation for a well-planned approach to future learning.
- Conversational Speech
- Identifying & Discriminating Sounds
- Sequencing & Repetition
- Poetry, Rhymes, & Finger Plays
- Listening Skills & Comprehension
- Hand/Eye Coordination
- Hand Strengthening
- Pattern Recognition
- Matching & Sorting
Reading: Sound, Word, & Sentence Analysis
- Phonogram & Blends
- Vocabulary & Expression of Objects, Attributes, and Actions
- Beginning Writing
- Sentence-Level Reading
- Parts of Speech
Following a child’s natural interest in all aspects of math, including geometry, weight, order, counting, and time, the aim of the math curriculum at the Primary level is to help students organize and categorize thought processes. Concrete learning is hands-on and promotes experimentation and invention. Studies of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with the decimal system (the Golden Bead material) prepares students for abstract study at the Lower Elementary level.
Numbers 0-10 – Goals: establish numbers one to ten; understand quantity and sequence of numbers using manipulatives; establish recognition of numerical symbols; learn relationships of quantity to symbol.
- Number Rods & Cards
- Set Baskets
- Spindle Boxes
- Sandpaper Numbers
- Cards & Counters
Decimal System – Goals: understand the concept of base ten; learn composition of numbers, including place value and equivalencies.
- Introduction tray
- Tray of Nine
- Golden Bead Layout
- Bead and Numeral Layout
- Composition of Numbers
- Place Value
Numbers 11-99 – Goals: ability to recognize tens and teens.
- Bead Stair
- Teens Board
- Tens Board
Linear Counting – Goals: develop ability to recognize and count to any number; learn skip counting.
- Hundred Board
- 100 Square Chain
- 1000 Cube Chain
Operations – Goals: provide a concrete introduction to the four basic arithmetic operations; moves into abstract work with operations.
- Golden Beads (Addition, Multiplication, Subtraction, Division)
- Stamp Game (Addition, Multiplication, Subtraction, Division)
- Bead Board (Multiplication, Division)
Continued Operations/ Passage to Abstraction
- Addition (Snake Game, Addition Strip board, Addition Charts)
- Multiplication (Bead Bars, Multiplication Board, Multiplication Charts)
- Subtraction (Negative Snake Game, Subtraction Strip Board, Subtraction Charts)
- Geometric Solids
- Geometry Cabinet (Regular Polygons, Quadrilaterals, Triangles, Circles, Curved Figures)
Between the ages of three to six, children learn through Inquiry and curiosity. Experimentation and discovery are encouraged through studies of earth, astronomy, ecology, botany, physics, and chemistry. Scientific study is offered through gardening, observation of nature, and experiments. Some early science lessons include animal sorting and matching, identification of animal body parts, plants, and trees, and investigation of plants and animals. More advanced lessons include shell identification, animal classification, rock and mineral identification, and study of prehistoric animals and fossils.
- Botany (Plant Care, Tree and Leaf Studies, Flowers, Gardening)
- Zoology (Animal Study, Animal Kingdoms, Vertibrate/Invertebrate)
- Physical Science (Magnetism, Sink and Float)
- Earth Science (Weather, Seasons)
- Scientific Reasoning & Technology (Observational Skills)
Montessori Cultural Studies
The Montessori classroom offers a rich cultural curriculum. By exploring cultural activities including maps, music, food, and artifacts, with a focus on the similarities of people throughout the world, the child builds awareness of the world around. The diversity of our families and faculty, in conjunction with the cultural materials to study geography, social studies, and history, helps our students develop a respect for all people and cultures.
Montessori Practical Life
“The child can only develop by means of experience in his environment. We call such experiences work.”– Dr. Maria Montessori. Authentic, everyday activities prepare students for later work in mathematics, language, and socialization. Ultimately, students learn independence and the ability to concentrate deeply for prolonged periods of time. The many varied activities include care of the environment, care of the person, and grace and courtesy. Through practical life experiences, students learn to work for a purpose, to focus and concentrate, and to persevere through completion of tasks.
- Elementary Movements
- Gross & Fine Motor Skills
- Activities to Promote: Concentration, Coordination, Independence, Order
- Respect and Care of Environment: Indoor Environment, Outdoor Environment, Recycling
- Grace, Courtesy, & Etiquette: Caring about Others, Problem Solving, Conflict Resolution, Peace Table
- Independence: Care of Person, Health & Safety, Nutrition & Food Preparation
Montessori Sensorial Work
Through the Sensorial Curriculum, Montessori students prepare to progress into academic work through development of observation and problem-solving skills through the development of abilities to think creatively, reason, observe, make decisions, and better appreciate the world. Students learn to distinguish and differentiate physical properties through the senses of touch, taste, hearing, seeing, and smelling.
Montessori Peace Curriculum
The essential elements of peace education are inherent in every level of the Montessori curriculum. Continent and People of the World studies provide a global view of life and humanity’s part in it. As all students are viewed on a lifelong path of peace, the curriculum of peace is presented through use of cultural activities from tradition, storytelling, and books. Students learn to listen actively, communicate positively, and create compromise and solutions. Using concrete materials designed to help children create peace within them first, all students work to take responsibility for creating a peaceful classroom community.
In the Primary classrooms, World Language instruction is integrated each day into the Montessori environment. Students learn Spanish and Chinese in group and individualized instruction. Age-appropriate learning materials help build a solid foundation in vocabulary for the years to come. In both world languages, students are exposed to oral, visual, and written components.
The World Languages curriculum exposes the children to monthly themes in Spanish, Chinese, and American Sign Language, in a range of concepts such as greetings, numbers, colors, and farm animals to reinforce and build new vocabulary. Instructors introduce basic vocabulary through circle-time songs and activities. Following the introduction of small-group Montessori lessons, students have the opportunity to connect new knowledge with Montessori World Language manipulatives. We are proud of our students who learn how to write simple Chinese characters using correct stroke sequence; or transition from oral to the written languages. Through presentations of art, music, geography, and ethnic festivals from around the world, children are exposed to cultural experiences that enhance their understanding of others in our global community.
The Primary program visual arts program seeks to foster creativity, problem solving, and self-expression as it relates to each child’s level of development from toddler to middle school. Students use a wide variety of 2D and 3D materials and methods to truly absorb and understand the objectives of lessons. Lessons include drawing, painting, sculpting, collage making, and printmaking. Objectives include recognition and understanding of line/shape/form, concepts of color, concepts of texture, basic patterns of organization, whole-to-part relationships, and change processes. The program emphasizes the planning, preparation and process needed for the completion of artwork. Through study of famous artist and their works, students are able to be inspired by pieces by artists, including Monet, Van Gogh, O’Keefe, Kandinsky, and Matisse. Each child gains self-esteem and is able to grow in his or her imagination in a relaxed atmosphere.
Musical & Performing Arts
Music is a daily part of the classroom activities. Singing and dancing give the child a way to express emotions. Singing provides practice in language through words, poetry, rhythm, and cultural information. Dance helps the child develop large muscles and coordination.
Students also benefit from Orff methodologies. The Orff Method is a way of teaching children about music that engages their mind and body through a mixture of singing, dancing, acting and the use of percussion instruments. Lessons are presented with an element of “play” helping the children learn at their own level of understanding.
Musical concepts are learned through singing, chanting, dance, movement, drama and the playing of percussion instruments. Improvisation, composition and a child’s natural sense of play are encouraged.
- Awareness of Beat
- Long and Short Durations
- High and Low Pitch
- Fast and Slow Tempo
- Loud and Soft Dynamics
Story Song and Games
- Circle Dance with Movement
- Game Dances
- Tone and Rhythmic Poems/Songs
Identify Classroom Instruments
Identify Musical Terms
Vocal Production & Performance
- Tonal Placement: Chest, Mask, Voice
- Matching Pitch
- Respond to the Cues of a Conductor
- Integrate Basic Acting Skills & Story Telling through Song
Kindergarten students participate in our Author Studies program to ignite and develop a love of reading and literature. By studying exceptional literature, young students are able to connect to authors and learn foundational skills for reading and writing. Class times focus on studying the lives and styles of specific authors, examining books, and learning about illustrators and the portrayal of the word through illustrations. Class topics highlight the importance of prediction, inferencing, and understanding the development of plot, characters, setting, and problem/solutions. Our young students love our interactive and thematic-based program that sets the stage for years of happy reading!
Playing, running, jumping, kicking, throwing—so many ways to get moving! At Country Day, we use times outdoors to enhance the physical development of our students by taking advantage of our beautiful Florida weather. Each day, our students are busy in our Movement program for gross motor development, fine motor development, and teamwork/social skill development. Our students love our physical education program as care is always taken to ensure that the energetic lessons are harmonious and fun for all!
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 Primary classrooms are home to different types of animals, and students learn about our Little Barn animals through encounters in our outdoor classroom experiences. Whether it is a visit from a llama, baby goats, a miniature horse, a cow, a bunny, or a baby goose, our barnyard animal program is a hit for our young students!
Library & Technology
Country Day is committed to reading and fostering the love of the written word. Primary students read daily in the class library and kindergarten students learn in Author Studies surrounded by our library of books each week. Further, they are able to read with teachers and borrow books to read at home with families. Our students also enjoy our Reading Parent Program where parent volunteers read stories to them in the classroom. Stress is placed on how to care for a book, understanding the roles of authors and illustrators, and appropriately choosing picture books, beginning readers, and non-fiction books. Students are exposed to early experiences with technology including use of iPads and laptops.