Princeton Montessori School infant through eighth grade
A Guide to Elementary Princeton Montessori Schoolâ€™s Elementary program is designed to support the emerging student as they enter a new developmental phase filled with wonder, interest and active enthusiasm. The curriculum is purposefully designed to support the developmental needs of elementary-aged children, such as an increased ability to think abstractly, a developing sense of justice and moral development, and a strong desire for peer acceptance. By sparking imagination and following a studentâ€™s passion, our teachers create an environment that allows children to thrive academically as well as develop a sense of belonging in the classroom and school community.
Curriculum Overview Junior 1 (Grades 1-2)
Junior 2 (Grades 3-5)
Reading & Language Arts
Reading: independent, shared, guided, instructional, oral, read aloud, creative response to reading, and comprehension activities Author studies Thematic studies Creative writing Writing process: pre-writing activities, writing, editing, publishing, sharing Introduction to Poetry
Instructional Lessons: • Mechanics, punctuation • Handwriting • Spelling • Phonics • Grammar • Word study • Sentence analysis
Literary studies: independent, shared, guided, instructional, and oral reading accompanied by comprehension building activities Daily homework relating to the day’s lessons Vocabulary: study & introduction of quizzes Use of inference, prediction, theme and other literary tools Creative writing skills and creative projects based on literary themes Identification and use of literary elements: simile, metaphor, foreshadowing, flashback, and personification
Concrete materials Personalized lessons and practice Portfolio journal of math work All four basic mathematical operations Generalization of math concepts Procedures and process of math Memorization activities
Math facts Application of math skills Word problems Time Money Measurement Geometry
Focus on math vocabulary Daily homework relating to day’s lessons Concrete materials Varied textbooks to supplement instruction Memorization of multiplication facts Problem solving strategies Computation and application of concepts Mastery of all whole number operations Introduction to all decimal and fraction operations
Small group, whole group and individual lessons as needed Introduction of test taking skills Measurement Temperature Time and money Probability Geometry: concrete application and deriving of formulas
Great Lesson – Coming of Humans Age of the Earth Age of the Universe Timeline of Life Fundamental needs of people Study of community and culture History of written language Passage of time
Measurement of time: days, weeks, months, years Past, present and future concepts Compare and contrast present with earlier periods to build a historical perspective
Great Lesson, “Coming of Humans” Basic needs of all people Study of community and culture (in specific regions) History of written language Hands-on projects from various continents and cultures Individual research projects
Study of world religions Study of holidays and historical connections Immigration study Introduction to Civil Rights Movement American history through literature and discussion of historical fiction and related current events
Map skills Study of globe and puzzle maps Continents study and research Flag study US states
Biomes Hydrosphere Landforms, elevations and geodynamics Layers of the Earth
World continent and country studies: geographic and cultural influences Map and atlas skills Capital studies
Political and physical map studies Major geographic features – land and water forms
Universe Study: Laws of the Universe experiments Structure and properties of matter Great Lessons – Impressionistic charts Physical science
Solar system studies Functional geography experiments Earth Science – rocks and geology
Use of scientific method Study of scientists, inventors and inventions Hands on experiments and demonstrations to illustrate scientific concepts Physics: simple machines, motion and forces, electromagnetic spectrum, sound, electricity, magnetism
Chemistry: Chemical reactions, acids and bases, changes in states of matter, periodic chart of elements, Bohr’s model Geology: classification of rocks and sedimentation, study of weather and clouds, composition of the geological fossil periods
Life Sciences & Biology
Great Lesson – Coming of Life to Earth Outdoor Nature studies Botany – parts of plants Zoology – characteristics of animals Beginning classification Vertebrate and invertebrate studies Clock of eras
Six kingdoms and three domains study Timeline of plant Life Timelines of animal Life Study of fossils Gardening Nature observations on school grounds Journal keeping and scientific observation skills
Observation of specimens of all major animal groupings External and internal parts of major animal groups from invertebrates to mammals Scientific classification of plants and animals Study of six of kingdoms of life Reading for information, research, creative projects, note taking skills and scientific vocabulary
Life cycles Environments and habitats Vital functions of plants and the chemical exchanges during photosynthesis Microscope study Nature Journaling and outdoor observation Timeline of Life – all eras and periods including major animal groupings
Age appropriate activities – classroom jobs and monthly home assignments Grace and courtesy
Care of self Care of environment Birthday celebrations
Age appropriate activities – classroom jobs and monthly home assignments Social problem-solving skills for emotional intelligence development
Annual overnight field trip Oldest students have leadership roles Annual public speaking assignment
Specials & Events
Art, music, fitness, Spanish meet once per week Daily outdoor recess period Annual Ski trips - three per year Publish a bound book
Junior I Musical performance Parent presentations Outdoor gardens In-class celebrations and guests
Art, music, fitness, Spanish meet once per week Character development class Technology Instruction - word processing, keyboarding and digital citizenship skills Daily outdoor recess period Annual Ski trips – three per year
Various field trips connected to curricular content (2-4 each year) Environmental camping overnight trip Research reports Operetta Musical performance Parent presentations In-class celebrations and guests
Study & Organizational Skills
Home folders Planners Graphic organizers for writing Weekly homework for spelling and math facts
Portfolios of work Daily schedule Work bins Materials Preparedness for lessons
Organization modeled and taught in each subject area Filing of work – building a portfolio Daily, weekly and monthly assignments Beginning note-taking instruction Research skills: reading and note-taking, paraphrasing
Collaboration Cooperative learning groups Leadership skills for third levels Building responsibility with each year Morning circle Student planners Class meetings
Six traits of Writing: Idea generation, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions Formal weekly lessons in grammar and language mechanics Spelling: letter patterns, root words, and spelling within context of meaningful writing, weekly spelling tests Research skills: book and computer based Instruction of proofreading skills Forms of writing: poetry, prose, paragraphs, narratives, essays, reports and letters
Montessori in the Elementary Years (Grades 1-5) Maria Montessori designed a program for elementary students that would support the whole child — socially, emotionally, academically and intellectually. The development of critical thinking skills is a prime task of this age, as the child begins to seek function over fact. Elementary students are naturally curious and have a strong internal drive to discover how our world works. Instead of simply giving the correct answers, Montessori teachers ask questions; they tell stories to inspire the children’s imagination and tantalize them to explore on their own to find out more. Driven by their passions, the children are open to the input from the teacher that refines their reading, writing, reasoning, and research skills.
Key Experiences Working – Concrete work is integrated with abstract concepts. Developing the Intellect – The child begins to seek function over fact, investigating the how and why of things. As basic skills are acquired, students move into more interdisciplinary-themed studies. Acquisition of Culture – The child is seeking his place in the environment around him. The child seeks development of a world view, and develops an interest in going beyond the classroom to explore cultures near and far.
“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” – Maria Montessori
Developing Social Responsibility – Learning to cooperate and collaborate for the benefit of a group, negotiation and compromise skills, taking responsibility for one’s self and actions, and standing up for one’s self are emerging at this age. Self-Expression – Through art, music, creative arts, crafts, drama, public speaking and performance, writing, speaking, and presenting, students are allowed to express themselves freely. Relating to Adults – Students have the opportunity to develop positive, respectful and meaningful relationships with healthy adult role-models who serve as mentors. Building Community – Taking a role in class meetings and leadership in the classroom, group problem-solving, complimenting and acknowledging one another’s efforts, cooperative activities, and peace education facilitate communitybuilding. Self-reflection – Developing the ability to reflect and regulate one’s self, set goals, and monitor learning and progress helps a child understand their own self. Relating to Peers – Taking turns, speaking and listening in group lessons, conflict resolution skills, and role-playing scenarios give students the ability to see another’s perspective.
Academic Preparation The Princeton Montessori School Elementary program consists of Junior I, which includes grades one and two, and Junior II which includes grades three though five. In addition to an emphasis on developing basic skills like reading, written expression and primary math operations, the comprehensive curriculum also contains rich and abstract concepts that are introduced each year in the form of five “Great Lessons”. These interactive “stories” encompass concepts in physical
and life science, global perspectives of human needs, and the history of math and writing. By seeing â€œthe whole,â€? students are better able to make sense of the details to come as they have a framework with which to organize their lessons. The lessons vary in complexity and depth as the student ages, constantly building on what they have learned while providing for further interest and investigation. The curriculum then builds from these lessons, raising questions and enticing the student to want to learn more. Each student in our elementary classrooms is encouraged to work at his or her own pace. To ensure proper academic achievement, every assignment comes with clearly communicated expectations and goals for each individual student. These goals are related to their emotional, social and intellectual growth. Students are encouraged to reflect upon their own work; over time they are able to begin to set appropriate expectations and goals for themselves. There is a sequence to the curriculum, and students are expected to reach certain benchmarks at key developmental points. Assessment is done in both formal and informal ways, and our goal is to use mainly authentic assessment tools. Authentic assessment occurs when the student can apply the skills and key knowledge they have learned and practiced to meaningful tasks. This involves more than simply recalling information; it involves the actual thinking and processing behind the work, as much as the finished product. Although many teachers work with each student, one teacher is assigned to oversee each childâ€™s progress, and communicate that progress to the parents. This is also the teacher the parents may contact with any concerns or questions, academic or otherwise, at any time during the year. Portfolios are shared in depth with parents at two scheduled conferences per year. By developing multi-year, supportive relationships with students, teachers are able to best support each student and his or her individual learning profile, interests and strengths. Our expectations for students tend to rest at or above national norms for all subject areas. We frequently hear from former students and families that their preparations exceeded the expectations for their new school, whether public or private. Homework is given at these ages on a weekly basis to begin the routine of working at home and to give an opportunity for students to practice and strengthen their basic skills and enhance their experiences in the classroom.
Schedule Mornings are spent working on math and language arts. Lessons are presented by direct instruction by the teacher, group work with peers, and independent efforts. Students work on reading, grammar, and math lessons. Older students work on more abstract math operations, develop more complex language skills, and focus on public speaking and project work. Afternoons are typically reserved for the cultural studies, which include life sciences, physical science, and social geography. Artistic and creative expression is included in all curriculum areas. Enrichment subjects include art, fitness, music and Spanish. Time is given each week to creative projects, individual and group work, and class- and school-wide activities. Junior II students also have class time dedicated each week to technology and character development classes. Weekly class meetings are held for community building, problem solving and group discussions, and games.
Physical Education Our philosophy in all subject areas is to teach skills for life. We see our role in physical education as one that teaches all students (not just the best athletes) the value and enjoyment of fitness and movement. Students gain confidence in and control of their bodies through exercise, body awareness activities, movement, and basic sports skills.
â€œTo aid life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that is the basic task of the educator.â€? --Maria Montessori
In the Elementary Program, field trips are an important aspect of the growing childâ€™s interest in life beyond his own classroom and community. Trips and visits are planned to provide a social experience, promote independence, foster practical life skills, and provide additional depth to aspects of the curriculum. Elementary students participate in our ski program, which includes three trips to Shawnee Mountain in the Poconos, PA, for ski instruction and practice. From the beginner who has never skied before to the competitive skier, students complete the Elementary program as competent skiers. Junior II students have unique field trips designed for their developmental readiness. Each Spring, these students enjoy an overnight camping experience with an emphasis on environmental awareness.
Additional Activities Teachers spend time developing and planning purposeful and meaningful activities that provide for new experiences and teachable moments beyond the classroom. Special community presentations give students the opportunity to hone their public speaking and presentation skills. Each program hosts School Spirit Day once a year where they share and present a topic to the entire student body. Math, science and performance assemblies are planned to enrich key areas of study and expose students to cultural events. Professionals and special visitors are invited into the classrooms to share stories and experiences with students throughout the year. Beginning in Junior I, students can choose to participate in after-school clubs. Choices are limited in Junior I and become more varied Junior II. Club choices have included chess, ceramics, cooking, science, photography, sewing, sports and art. All Elementary students participate in musical performances throughout the year. The level of involvement increases for each student from year to year. The annual Junior I Musical is an original production purposefully written and choreographed for students of this age. The Junior II Operetta is a week-long opera immersion experience, the culmination of weeks of practice and rehearsals.
Social Expectations Students start each year learning the rules and social expectations for the group. When students establish and agree upon the rules of the community, they care deeply about following them. The teachers model respect and provide freedom within limits. Teachers also work to reinforce desired behaviors while providing boundaries, choices, and logical consequences for infractions. Social problem solving skills are taught to the youngest students in small groups, by using concrete examples and strategies, such as a peace rock and talking stick,
to guide students to learn how to communicate towards a resolution. Older students are encouraged to be proactive in bringing their concerns forward to the class. Students place their issues or concerns on the class meeting agenda for the group to discuss and problem solve together. This allows all the students to work together towards group cohesiveness. Class meetings provide a forum for discussions, as well as a place where lessons important to the developmental age are discussed, such as how to make friends, how to play fairly, or how to ask for help if someone feels excluded.
Family-School Connection In the Elementary program, we see a triangle image as symbolic of the relationship between the student, family, and teacher. It takes connection and communication between all three to best support the child. Teachers see parents as partners in providing the best educational experience for the child. Teachers reach out to parents before the first day of school by phone. New students are invited to visit with their family prior to the start of school. Shortly after the start of school, teachers hold a homework meeting where the role of the student, parent, and teacher is defined, and expectations for each is explained. Each year, two formal conferences are held where teachers share observations and notes compiled from all faculty members who interact with each child. Goals and strengths are identified for each child. Other meetings are held at the teacher’s or parent’s request. Class observations and visits are scheduled throughout the year, so parents can come in and see the student in action. Parents are encouraged to volunteer and help for various trips and events, or schedule a presentation to the class. Building community is a shared goal with all families.
“My goal as an educator is to not only teach academics, but to ignite a sense of wonder in learning, nuture a child’s innate curiosity, and empower each student with the confidence to achieve great things. As Maya Angelou said, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ We strive to make each student feel intelligent, valued, and capable as members of the community. I invite you to come for a visit and see our Elementary program in action.” –Gwen Shangle, Director of Elementary Programs
www.princetonmontessori.org 487 Cherry Valley Road, Princeton, NJ 08540 609-924-4594
Princeton Montessori School holds the following accreditations and memberships: Accredited by National Accredited by Accredited by Member: National Council for Private American Montessori Middle States Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Society (AMS) Association (MSA) School Accreditation (NCPSA) Princeton Montessori School admits students of any race, color, nationality, or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, nationality, or ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, and other school-administered programs.
Princeton Montessori School’s Elementary program is designed to support the emerging student as they enter a new developmental phase filled...