Upper Elementary Curriculum


The Montessori elementary curriculum was developed as an integrated whole to serve the developmental needs of children from ages 6 to 12. Dr. Montessori termed this period the Second Plane of Development. The continuity of the curriculum allows individual children to move through the various subject areas at the pace that supports mastering the subject material, building confidence and genuine self-esteem. The division of the elementary 6-9 year olds and 9-12 year olds is based on the students’ developmental needs as they move towards adolescence. The work in lower elementary is done with extensive Montessori materials, allowing children not only to experience the depth and breadth of the curriculum, but also to become comfortable with their own learning styles. Upper elementary students, ages 9-12, transition to more abstract thinking relying more heavily on books and other resource material as they strengthen the work begun in the lower elementary. The overall goal of Montessori Upper Elementary is to provide a prepared environment that meets the needs and tendencies of the child at this stage of development.

Some of the characteristics of children in the second half of the Second Plane of Development (ages 9-12) are as follows:

  • The reasoning mind is very important.
  • For every answer they have a question, “Why?”
  • They have achieved a degree of independence, and strive for more independence.
  • Exploration is another characteristic – they want to go beyond usual expectations for their age.
  • They often turn outward to broader society and the world beyond.
  • Friends become increasingly important.
  • They become more adventurous and daring.
  • Some become “untidy” with personal belongings.
  • They develop a keener conscience, a better understanding of right, wrong and rules.
  • Hero worship is characteristic.
  • They develop enormous potential of intellect and a tremendous power of imagination.



Geography, the study of our home, the Earth, opens the door to the elementary curriculum. It
sets the stage for the unfolding of Earth’s story, from its inception to its present state. We
begin with the story of “The Creation of the Universe” to give a vision of the whole. Then we
move to more detailed studies of Earth and its place in the universe. Geography is thus fully
integrated with the physical sciences. In fact, as the children learn about the Earth and its

place in the universe, they form an intellectual framework for all their studies. From the non-living world to the succession of life forms, to human beings and the development of their

unique abilities, children study all the sciences and humanities in relation to one another.
In the study of history and geography, we inspire the children to explore. Maria Montessori
called her course of studies for elementary children “cosmic education.” There are two
principles involved in this concept. First, we always begin with a study of “the whole,” which
gives the children a unique vision and a holistic foundation for their education. Second, we
emphasize that each part of the cosmos is related and contributes to the whole. As the children
study geography and other subjects, they become interested not merely in the world and how it
functions, but in their individual roles and what part they might play in the continuing story of
After geography lessons, the children’s questions are greeted with enthusiasm. They lead to
conversation, experiments, and reading. Research and reports may follow. In this


children’s interest and understanding develop. They actively engage in the study of the sciences,
using the resources available within the classroom, around the school environment, and in the
community. For example, “the age of volcanoes” section of the creation story often leads to a
study of extinct volcanoes and the “Ring of Fire,” or it could lead to the study of the rock cycle.
Children may initiate further studies beyond the classroom, such as a visit to a natural science
museum or an interview with a geology professor. The older children may also plan field studies
away from home that support their explorations of study.

I. Physical Science
II. Astronomy
A. Space exploration
III. Physics
A. Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation matter and energy
1. Potential and kinetic energy
2. Simple machines

3. Gravity and motion
4. Light
5. Heat
6. Sound
7. Electricity and magnetism

IV. Chemistry
A. States of matter
B. Elements and the Periodic Table
C. Atomic and molecular structures
V. Earth Science
A. Relationship of the earth and the sun
1. Rotation and revolution of the earth and their effects
2. Radiant energy
3. Solstices, equinoxes, and seasons
B. Composition of the earth
1. Layers of the earth
2. Minerals and gemstones
3. The rock cycle
4. Plate tectonics and continental drift
5. Mountain formation, volcanoes, and earthquakes
6. Rock layers and the fossil record
C. The atmosphere and its work
1. Local and global winds and their effects
2. Concepts of weather: cloud formation, precipitation, air mass,
fronts, storms
3. Climate zones

D. The hydrosphere and its work
1. Rivers, lakes, and oceans
2. Glaciers
3. Water erosion
4. Caves

VI. Cartography and Reference Materials
A. Globe studies (hemispheres, latitude & longitude, time zones)
B. Map studies (directions, scale, symbols)
C. Map-making (kinds of maps, different world-map projections)
D. Atlases and almanacs
VII. Physical and Political Geography
A. Land and water forms of the continents
B. Research on particular countries
C. Cultural studies
D. Detailed study of North America
E. Regional studies of the United States of America
F. Florida geography
VIII. Economic Geography
A. Natural resources and their distribution
B. Production and consumption of goods
C. Global trade and interdependence
D. Banking and currency exchange
IX. Texas Geography
A. Regions
B. Ecology

C. Cities
X. Ocean Topography
A. Hands-on activities on this theme
Xl. Use of the scientific method through experimentation

Maria Montessori wished for children to recognize the contributions of great and unknown
persons to modern civilizations. We thank the inventor of the wheel and the medieval scribes
for their contributions to history. According to Dr. Montessori, each child has a significant role
to play as contributor to the family and society.
The child’s personal sense of time is the starting point for the history curriculum. By noting the
passage of days, months, and birthdays, the children develop this awareness of time. Children
create personal and family timelines a precursor to their work with timelines of human history.
We also develop a historical sense of time through the Timelines of Life and Early People, and
then the B.C.E./C.E. Timeline. These visual aids, presented with stories, specimens, and
artifacts, help the children understand the evolution of life and development of civilizations.
The children study this panoply of history in detail, and there is particular emphasis placed on
world history. During their research, the children make links between classical and modern
civilizations. They also engage in field studies to enhance their understanding and appreciation
of history. They often read the literature of a particular civilization or study their language, and
sometimes they write and perform plays based on historical events or literary figures.

I. The history of the universe and geological time periods
II. Key lessons on the Timeline of Life
III. Early Human History
A. Significance of the Coming of Human Beings
B. The First Timeline of Humans
C. The Second Timeline of Humans
D. Study of human evolution Australopithecus, Homo erectus, Homo habilis,
Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon, Homo sapiens (specific study depends on interest shown by student)

IV. Civilization: Meeting the Physical and Spiritual Needs of People
A. The agricultural revolution and literacy
B. Selected ancient civilizations (such as Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese,
Indus River Valley, Greek, Hebrew, Roman, Mayan)
C. The Middle Ages
D. The Renaissance and the Enlightenment
V. American History
A. Story of the United States of America
B. American historyTimeline
C. Key lessons (colonial history, the new nation, westward expansion,
social upheaval, the age of industry and invention, the modern age)
VI. Texas History (from Paleo-Indians to the present, with emphasis on
multicultural studies)
A. Study of Native American Life
B. Texas line (Wars and Conflicts)
VII. Exploration of other states history and geography through research and reports

Students use a wide variety of art techniques for presentations and projects. The students
are periodically introduced to media and basic art principles such as the use of lines and
light. The children expand on the principals of music with body movements, instrumental
accompaniment and song. They also use musical instruments as well as their voices.
I. Art
A. Artistic Awareness and Sensitivity
1. Exploration of natural and man-made objects and environments
2. Discovery of art elements: line, color, shape, value, texture,
forms, space, and pattern
3. Principles of art (relationship of elements): unity, emphasis,
balance, variety, proportion, movement, and rhythm
4. Reading and research about artists
B. Creative Expression through Art Materials and Tools
1. Expression of ideas and feelings in a variety of media: drawing,
painting, print-making, constructing, sculpting, collage, modeling 3-
D forms, and using fibers
2. Experimenting with various media to understand their properties
and to develop skills in using them (drawing media, painting media,
sculpting media)
3. Production of group art projects (sometimes for exhibits in local
community: displays, class gallery, art sales)

C. Art Appreciation
1. Viewing and discussing contemporary and historical works of art
and architecture
2. Analysis and evaluation of works of art (primary sources and
visuals); developing an aesthetic sense through positive criticism
3. Appreciating art from various cultures

II. Music
A. Music Listening and Appreciation
1. Active listening for musical elements: melody, harmony, rhythm,
meter, timbre (instrumental or vocal variety), dynamics, major and
minor modes, mood and form
2. Listening to American music of different genres (e.g., folk,
spirituals, jazz) and historical periods
3. Recognition and classification of musical instruments
(orchestral popular, and ethnic)
4. Listening to music of different historical periods and cultures,
focusing on great composers
5. Appreciation of music from around the world
B. Music Production and Response
1. Vocal production (matching pitches; singing popular, folk,
patriotic, seasonal, action songs, and rounds)
2. Playing rhythm and melody instruments
3. Performing action songs and movements to music
4. Dancing and creating dances
5. Keeping steady beat; distinguish macro and micro beats

C. Playing rhythm and melody instruments
1. Instrumental accompaniment to songs
2. Dancing and choreography
D. Music Theory
1. Pitch: the grand staff (treble and bass), notes, chords, major and
minor scales, circle of fifths, transposing simple melodies
2. Rhythm and meter: note values, rests, dotted notes, rhythm
recognition and dictation, duple and triple meters
3. Reading and writing music
4. Musical terminology
5. Composing music
6. Use of dynamics
7. Distinguish major and minor tonalities
8. Recognize duple and triple meters

Ill. Drama and Theater
A. Use of Body and Voice
B. Refining body and spatial awareness, stage terms and directions
C. Diction, inflection, and elocution
D. Identifying and portraying emotions
1. Creative dramatics

2. Storytelling
3. Creating a character
4. Producing various forms: readers’ theater, puppetry, musicals
E. Play production (set design and building, costumes, stage management,
advertising and playbill etc.)
F. Theater Appreciation
1. Attendance of theatrical productions
2. Preparation and audience etiquette
3. Discussion of theater event