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Lower Elementary

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Montessori Elementary School in Denver: Lower Elementary

Inspiring Joyful Scholars
Our Montessori lower elementary school celebrates and encourages our students as they embark on a new academic journey, one in which they transition from the concrete to the abstract, broadening their worldview and emerging as critical thinkers. We aim to follow the child’s lead in their learning, so that they are consistently engaged and excited by their own educational journey. 

  Available in Denver at: https://mchdenver.org/campuses/stapleton-campus/   |     Grades 1-3: Ages 6-9   |     Student-to-teacher ratio: 15:1

Meet the Child The Plane of Development

Childhood
Mental and Emotional Independence
Ages 6-9

Emerging from early childhood, the child is ready to transition from a time of absorbing the world around them to a time of thinking more critically about their experiences within the world. “Why are things the way they are? How should I live to fit in with it all?” They are aided in this quest for answers by their burgeoning imagination and creativity, which begin to unlock the world of abstract concepts. Peer relationships also become increasingly important, as does the nature of morality—right and wrong.

Areas of Development

  • The reasoning mind: abstraction, critical thinking, and problem-solving
  • Imagination and creativity
  • Interest in culture and origin
  • Peer relations and collaboration
  • Moral and social justice
  • Internalization of order

To learn more about the planes of development and how they inform our classrooms and approach, click here.


The Curriculum Cognitive Development

While our elementary classrooms continue to provide students with the uninterrupted, independently-guided work cycles they need to grow, the focus of the curriculum takes an exciting new step into the abstract. Through our Cosmic Education Curriculum, we give children “a vision of the universe,” meeting them head-on when they enter their questioning phase and are trying to understand the “whys” of the universe.

Starting with an impression of the whole—the Formation of the Universe—the Cosmic Curriculum works its way inward to life on earth, playing on the children’s fully-active imaginations to excite them about the rest of the curriculum, which ties into all other the academic areas. This foundational perspective teaches children how all things in the universe are connected, and gives them a cosmic framework with which to organize new information about the world and their role in it.

  • Language
    • Continue to grow as independent readers
    • Learn the jobs words have and a concrete formula for language (sentences and syntax)
    • Enjoy opportunities to write research reports and create stories
  • Math
    • Utilization of concrete materials to link to abstract concepts, such as the four operations
    • Introduction to geometric concepts through concrete applications
  • Cosmic Curriculum: The Great Stories
    • The Creation of the Universe: Introduction to Physics, Astronomy, Geography, and Chemistry
    • The Timeline of Life on Earth: Introduction to the Natural World – Botany, Biology, Biomes, Zoology
    • The Coming of Humans: Introduction to the Social World – Cultural Studies, History, Sociology, Anthropology, Innovation and Exploration
    • The Story of Language: Introduction to the History of Oral Language, Writing, Reading, Storytelling and Theater
    • The Story of Numbers: Introduction to the History of Mathematics and Geometry

    Through these stories and related lessons and timelines, students come to appreciate the vastness of the universe, the very short period of time humans have existed and their accomplishments, as well as the great responsibility we have to care for and appreciate the life around us. Our students are known for rescuing creatures that have found their way indoors, filled with the deep understanding that we must protect all living things.

  • Cultural Curriculum
    • Living World: Biology, Geology, Botany, Astronomy
    • Social World: Anthropology, History, Culture, Innovation, Geography

    In order to further immerse students in the Living World and Social World curriculum, we go out into the real world as often as possible. These experiences have included annual trips to Miller Farms to harvest our own vegetables, Bluff Lake Nature Center to further develop an appreciation for nature in their own backyard, and to the National Western Stock show to gain a deeper understanding of this aspect of Colorado history and agriculture. In addition, each year students may visit museums, botanic gardens, live performances, historical parks, nature centers, and other relevant cultural and natural destinations.

  • Supplemental Curriculum
    • Peace Education
    • Music 
    • Art and Art Appreciation
    • Sustainability and Mindfulness
    • Integrated Physical Education

Nurturing the Person Social Emotional Development

At this age, children begin their social and moral development and need a safe place to identify their value system and grow as social beings. Undergoing a shift towards external motivation, students are now energized by working and interacting with their peers. Thus, our Lower Elementary classroom puts an emphasis on collaborative work and whole group lessons, while still supporting each individual student on their own educational path. Capstone students are again given opportunities to teach younger students, as well as other leadership opportunities, such as running classroom meetings or organizing classroom events (like our annual winter solstice celebration).

Of course, with increased social interaction comes the possibility of conflict. Our highly trained, caring Montessori lead and assistant teachers are always available to guide and support students as they learn to negotiate peacefully with others and formulate effective problem solving strategies. We understand that nurturing our students’ abilities to create and sustain positive relationships with their peers is as important as their academic work, because conflict without resolution can erode a child’s interest and ability to learn.


Hands as Instruments of the Mind Physical Development

While elementary students are certainly more focused on traditional academic areas, such as language, mathematics, and the sciences, we recognize that they need to continue to develop and hone their fine and gross motor skills. Often, fine motor skills are refined through art materials, such as finger-knitting, using tiny parts to materials, and through the practice of handwriting. 

Children in this age are often characterized by their strength, grace, and fearlessness. Twice a week for physical education, our students participate in the Spartan program, which ties well into our Montessori philosophy. At the end of the year, the program culminates at our school-wide Spartan Race & Field Day, during which students face a variety of challenging physical obstacles that they must overcome.

The Spartan program teaches students:

  • How to set individual goals
  • How to find their True North: the strengths and passions that drive them
  • How to break down goals into achievable tasks
  • How to work cooperatively
  • Resilience: to never give up, no matter how impossible it seems
  • Confidence: to believe they are capable of more than they know

The Montessori Environment

The Classroom

Students are given more ownership and responsibility over their enriched environment, learning to be accountable to their family-like community by respecting the environment and those within it.

  • The classroom is thoughtfully designed with the needs of the students as the guiding principle. Materials are organized by subject and difficulty to encourage self-directed learning.
  • Materials begin to shift from the concrete to the more complex, helping students along the Path to Abstraction.
  • A variety of reading materials are available at varying levels to meet their developing needs and inspire the specific interests and passions of students. 
  • Our living world area is rich with plants and animals, bringing the curriculum to life and offering students opportunities to connect to and care for living things.
  • Students are expected to care for their classroom environment through rotating jobs.
  • Classroom doors lead outside for direct access to the beautiful outdoor deck, which serves as an outdoor classroom, a place to take breaks, and an outdoor lunch area. The natural playscape just beyond the deck provides opportunities for recess, organized sports, and gardening.
  • As with all Montessori classrooms, students are free to move around the room and work at tables or on the floor. The classroom is designed to their size and for their success, allowing them to access all of the works and feel physically and emotionally comfortable while at school. 

Daily Schedule

7:30-8:30 – Before care.

8:30-8:45 – Arrival and settling in. Creation of weekly work plans. 

8:45-9:00 – Morning meeting, which begins with a whole-class brain and body warm-up to prepare the mind and body to learn.

9:00-12:00 – 3 hour work-cycle, during which students receive individual and/or group lessons, in addition to self-directed learning.

12:00-1:00 – Community lunch and recess.

1:00-3:30 – The afternoon is for enrichment activities, including PE, sustainability classes, group cultural lessons (experiential), and read-aloud time.

3:30-6:00 – Aftercare.

As students arrive, we review their work plans, which are categorized by curricular areas. Through record-keeping and observation, we are acutely aware of where each child’s areas of strength and challenge are. We offer lessons when students are ready to move forward with new concepts and skills. Over the course of the three year cycle, we learn how to challenge and support each child in their educational journey, while keeping them excited and engaged in their own progress. 

While we evaluate student progress through a variety of methods, including benchmarking assessments and standardized tests, to understand their comprehension and mastery of the materials, we keep more formal methods to a minimum. We avoid emphasis on tests and, instead, assess primarily using more organic methods, which deters competition and supports individualized success. In this way, students celebrate their own learning without concern or even much awareness of other students’ progress. Indeed, students with specific differences often feel accepted and confident within this community, because they, just like every other student, are on their own learning trajectory. 




Accredited by the American Montessori Society    Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children   Accredited by the AdvancedED

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