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 into two stages, 6-9 year olds and 9-12 year olds is based on the students’ developmental needs as they move towards adolescence. The work in the lower elementary is done with extensive Montessori material allowing the children not only to experience the depth and breadth of the curriculum, but also to become comfortable with their own learning styles. The 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 the Montessori Upper Elementary is to provide a prepared environment that meets the needs and tendencies of the child at this stage of their development.

Characteristics of children in the second half of the Second Plane of Development (ages 9-12):
1. The reasoning mind is very important.
2. For every answer the children have a question, “Why?”
3. By the time they reach the Second Plane, the child has achieved a certain degree
of independence and will continue to strive for more independence.
4. Exploration is another characteristic of this age level and often the child wants to
go beyond usual expectations for their age level.
5. The child often turns outward to broader society and the world beyond himself.
6. Friends become increasingly important to children at this age.
7. The child often becomes more adventurous and daring.
8. Some children become “untidy” with personal belongings.
9. During this stage of development, the children’s conscience becomes keener; they
develop better ideas of right and wrong and often seem to have a better
understanding of rules and regulations.
10. Hero worship is characteristic of this age level.
11. Children have enormous potential of intellect and a tremendous power of
imagination during this stage of development.
Our alphabet has a fascinating history, and it is with the story of “Communication in Signs” that the
elementary language program begins. What part did Phoenician merchants play in the
development of written symbols? What did the Romans contribute? How is our alphabet different
from Chinese characters? These are some of the questions the children may pose for further
research. In addition, language is more than ‘a fascinating subject of study in itself. It is the vehicle
of human communication, the way in which we exchange ideas, thoughts and feelings. Thus, the
language curriculum covers in depth written and spoken language, reading, grammar and
research, the keys to both self-expression and the acquisition of knowledge.
For Montessori children, writing typically precedes reading. In the primary classroom, children
often develop writing skills, and these, combined with the desire to communicate, lead to many
varieties of written composition in the elementary classroom.

In addition to the story of written language, stories about oral language, such as “The Story of
Human Speech” and “The History of the English Language,” are presented to the children.
The teachers use storytelling across the curriculum to convey information and to model the
power of spoken language. Children are encouraged to discuss and share their ideas with one
another and with the larger group. Many choose to share their reports orally, recite poems,
and produce plays.
Most children begin reading in the primary classroom. In the elementary program, they continue
learning to read and truly begin reading to learn. Books of all literary types are available in the
classrooms. Both fiction and non-fiction serve to expand the children’s knowledge and
awareness. Adults and children read orally and silently throughout the day, and the children
develop a love of literature. They discuss shared readings of stories and books, following a
seminar format. This involves preparation of the reading and a willingness to listen and discuss,
respectfully, ideas about the text.
The study of grammar in Montessori is unique. Having been introduced to the “function of words”
in the primary classroom, elementary children study the parts of speech in more detail. What work
does a pronoun do and how is it related to the verb? If its place is changed in the sentence, does
the meaning remain the same? Each part of speech has a distinctive, colorful symbol. Children
place these symbols above the words of a poem or a prose passage to “see its grammatical
structure.” Later, they begin to analyze the style of different writers using the grammar symbols.
Visits to the library give the children opportunities to find out more about language. They learn to
use reference materials, and they come to appreciate the library as a source of many kinds of
information. Their language research may involve the comparison of works by a particular
author, the derivation of idioms, or a multi-cultural study of similar folk tales. Library visits are
one of many kinds of language explorations children undertake beyond the classroom.
I. Written Language
A. The History of Writing (key lessons on topics such as cave paintings, the
Rosetta Stone, heraldry, paper making, contributions of Charlemagne.)
B. Composition
1. Paragraph organization
2. Kinds of paragraphs (descriptive, narrative, expository, persuasive)
3. Reports (taking notes, outlining)
4. Essays
5. Letters (informal and business)
6. Poetry (quatrain, cinquain, haiku, limerick, etc.)
7. Stories (setting, characters, plot development, dialogue)
8. Play writing
9. Speech writing

C. Mechanics
1. Spelling
2. Punctuation and capitalization
3. Proofreading and editing
D. Handwriting
1. Cursive and manuscript
2. Calligraphy (italics, copperplate, etc.)
3. Illuminated letters and borders
E. Word processing
1. Individual written work
2. Class publications (newspaper, literary magazine, etc.)

II. Spoken Language
A. Theories on the origin of speech
B. Dialogues and interviews
C. Class discussions and meetings
D. Oral reports and recitations
E. Drama
III. Grammar
A. Word Study
1. Root words and affixes
2. Word families and etymologies of words
3. Synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms
4. Vocabulary building
B Parts of Speech
1. Kinds of nouns
2. Kinds of adjectives
3. Verbals (infinitives, participles, gerunds)
4. Kinds of verbs (action, auxiliary, linking, transitive and intransitive),
verb phrases, and conjugations
5. Prepositional Phrases
6. Pronouns (cases and antecedents)
7. Use of modifiers (adjectives and adverbs)
8. Kinds of conjunctions
C. Sentence analysis
1. Parts of a sentence (subject predicate, etc.)
2. Kinds of clauses (main and subordinate, noun, adverbial adjectival)
3. Sentence diagramming
D Foreign Languages (Spanish etc.)
1. Introduction to the language and its history

IV. Reading and Literature
A. Oral and silent reading by adults and children
B. Literary circles (discussions of shared stories and books)
C. Variety in prose (mysteries, historical fiction, biographies, etc.)
D. Poetry analysis and appreciation
1. Meter
2. Rhyme scheme
3. Poetic devices: simile, metaphor, alliteration, personification
E. Reading and analysis of drama
V. Style
A. Different writing styles
B. Voice and audience
C. Analysis of writing style, using grammar symbols
VI. Research
A. Areas of language research
1. History of language; history of English
2. Derivation of idioms
3. Changes in spelling (historical perspective)
4. History of a literary genre (drama, letter writing, etc.)
5. History of English literature (British and American)
6. Study of a selected author
7. Introduction to foreign languages and independent research
B. Resources
1. Library resources
2. Other community resources (museums, theaters, universities,
local newspapers, etc.

The “Story of Numbers” helps children understand the power of mathematics and motivates
them to continue exploring numbers. Progression through the Montessori math curriculum is
not strictly linear. Instead, Maria Montessori envisioned elementary math as a three-tiered
progression. The first tier consists of the numbers to ten, place value, and the four operations.
The second tier is dedicated to the memorization of math facts. The third tier is where the
children study hierarchy, that is, how the numbers in the decimal system are related and
grouped. The children explore different concepts of math simultaneously.
Children frequently ask for the biggest problems possible. They also enjoy writing their own BIG
problems. The younger children practice using the materials representing whole numbers,
fractions and decimals, and through repeated experiences with them, they “discover” algorithms
or concepts by themselves or under the guidance of the teacher.
Montessori places great emphasis on the study of geometry, and all the math materials have a
geometric aspect. Children in the lower elementary classrooms study lines, angles, and plane
figures, as well as linear and cubic measurement. In the upper elementary the children use boxes
of cubes and prisms, which they previously manipulated in the primary classroom, to cube a
binomial or trinomial. Through their studies, the students are able to discover abstract concepts of
algebra, using materials that once were a part of their sensorial experiences only.
The upper elementary children also take great delight in further study of different systems of
numeration, both those used by ancient civilizations, and other possible systems, such as
base two or base twelve.
I. The History of Mathematics
A. Key lessons on the history of mathematics (e.g., the invention of zero)
B. Work with different systems (Babylonian, Roman, Mayan, etc.)
C. Comparison of number systems (Number bases vs. place-value)
II. Numeration and Concepts of Numbers
A. Writing and reading large numbers – expanded notation
B. Rounding to the nearest ten, hundred, thousand, etc.
C. Estimation
D. Properties of numbers: commutative, associative, distributive
E. Number sentences (order of operations, use of parentheses)
F. Ratio and proportion
G. Arithmetic mean and median
H. Statistics and probability
I. Integers (positive and negative numbers)
J. Representation of pairs of numbers on a coordinate plane
K. Numeration and operations in other number bases
III. Whole Number Operations
A. Review of facts for all operations
B. Review of dynamic subtraction, especially with zeros
C. Mental multiplication of factors with zeros
D. Multiple-digit multiplication and division problems
E. Cross-multiplication
F. All four operations with integers

IV. Fractions, Decimals, and Percent
A. Addition and subtraction with fractions and mixed numbers (like and
unlike denominators)
B. Multiplication and division with fractions and mixed numbers
C. Changing fractions to decimals
D. Changing decimals to fractions
E. Decimals in expanded notation
F. Skip counting, comparing, and rounding decimals
G. Addition and subtraction of decimals
H. Multiplication and division of decimals
I. Concept of percent
J. Comparison and equivalence of fractions, decimals, and percent
K. Finding the percent of a number
V. Multiples and Factors
A. Factor trees and prime factorization
B. Using primes to find the LCM and GCF
C. Divisibility
VI. Powers of Numbers
A. Squaring a polynomial (geometric and algebraic representations)
B. Finding the numerical value of the square of a polynomial
C. Finding square roots, with materials and abstractly
D. Cubing a binomial
E. Cubing a trinomial
F. Powers of ten
G. Powers of other numbers
H. Expanded notation, including with exponents
VII. Measurement
A. English and metric units of measurement (length, weight, liquid capacity)
Equivalences within a system (e.g. converting inches to yards)
B. Introduction to very small and very large measurements, scientific notation
VIII. Geometry
A. History of geometry (contributions by various people and cultures)
B. Geometric design: tessellations, 3-D constructions, origami, scale
drawing, symmetry, computer applications, plane figures
C. Review of triangles, quadrilaterals and their parts
D. Translation, rotation and reflection
E. The circle: its parts and relationship to other figures
F. The theorem of Pythagoras
G. Area of triangles, rhombi, trapezoids, regular polygons, circles
H. Review of solids and their parts
I. Surface area of polyhedrons
J. Volume of cubes, prisms, pyramids
K. Volume of cylinders, cones, spheres
IX. Algebra
A. Concepts (variables and constants, expressions, introduction to
functions, equations, etc.)
B. Computations (order of operations)
X. Problem-solving
A. Techniques of problem solving
B. Problems using whole numbers, fractions, decimals, percents, and integer
C. Problems involving traveling: velocity, distance, and time

D. Money problems (purchasing, figuring tax, interest, tip, check-writing)
E. Geometry problems (angles, perimeter, area and volume)
F. Other practical applications of math (weather, sports, nutrition. etc.)
G. Interpretation and construction of tables and graphs (line, bar, circle)
H. Use of calculators and computers to record and relay data.
Plants and animals are an essential part of the elementary environment. Some reside in the
classrooms while others visit. As children observe and care for these living things, they
acquire the experiential basis for their future understanding and love of biology. They further
extend their knowledge by going out to wildlife sanctuaries, arboretums, and nature parks to
view animals and plants in their natural habitats.
With this foundation, children become interested in studying the wide variety of life forms on
our planet. They read “Who am l” stories about the lives and characteristics of plants and
animals. They examine specimens of different invertebrates and vertebrates. They perform
plant experiments that demonstrate the basic functions of each part of a plant.
Although the plant and animal kingdoms receive the most attention, all five kingdoms of living
organisms are introduced: Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plant, and Animal. Children study the
anatomy, physiology, and classification of living things using classroom resources such as
books, card material, and charts. They write reports, ranging in complexity from a simple
study of one organism, to a more advanced study of several organisms. Similarities and
differences are noted.

Out of the comparative study of life forms, the children make connections between present-
day organisms and their predecessors on the Timeline of Life. As conditions on earth

changed, organisms that were more complex evolved. In satisfying its needs, each creature
seemed to contribute to, or create a niche for, another. As insects evolved, so did flowering
plants. Furthermore, these interdependencies still exist today. A lichen breaks down the rock
upon which it lives, creating soil, in which mosses can grow. The interdependence of all
things in the universe is stressed, with people being the most powerful living thing, but also
the most dependent. An appreciation and sense of wonder unfolds as the harmony of
creation is revealed.
I. The Five Kingdoms of Living Things
II. Cells (parts & functions)
III. Zoology
A. Vital functions of animals
1. Physiology, respiration, circulation, nutrition, reproduction,
locomotion, sensitivity
2. Adaptations
B. Human physiology (organs & systems)
C. Evolution & comparative physiology of animals by phyla
D. Classification of animals by division, phylum, class, order, family,
genus, species
E. Animal reports
IV. Botany
A. Vital functions of plants with emphasis on photosynthesis, transpiration,

tropisms & reproduction
B. Evolution of plants
C. Classification of plants
D. Plant reports
V. Ecology
A. Ecosystems
1. Living & non-living components
2. Roles of living things: producers, consumers. decomposer
B. Mineral cycles (nitrogen, oxygen, carbon)
C. Endangered species
D. The role of humans in maintaining the environment

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 way the
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 history Timeline
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