Early Childhood Curriculum

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The goal of the Montessori Early Childhood curriculum is to provide an environment that meets the needs and tendencies of the child between the ages of 2 ½ to 6 years of age. The Little Miners Montessori program fosters the children’s curiosity and their natural inclination to learn. By manipulating, experimenting, exploring, and inventing through hands-on learning at their own pace, children gain a profound understanding of academic and social concepts. Our Montessori program provides children a pathway to discovering their own independence as they develop to their fullest capability. A life-long love and joy of learning and accomplishment ensure high self-esteem and happiness. Through Culture Studies and Global Awareness, children learn to respect all life forms, encouraging them to become stewards of the earth.

Characteristics of the Early Childhood age child include:

  • Sensorial exploration
  • An “absorbent mind” that effortlessly takes in the impressions of the environment
  • An ability to concentrate for long periods of time
  • A desire for independence
  • A need to manipulate concrete materials
  • Observable “sensitive periods” of intense attraction to certain experiences
Practical LifeSensorialLanguageMathematicsCultural Studies and Science

These are the first exercises introduced to the children.  They create the foundation upon which all other work in the classroom depends. Practical Life exercises include care of self and the environment, as well as the development of large and fine motor control. These practical experiences in everyday activities are the cornerstone of the Montessori Method.

The focus of the Practical Life area is to develop coordination, independence, a sense of order, and above all, concentration.

Control of Movement

  • Pulling out a chair/ carrying a tray carefully
  • Rolling a mat
  • Walking purposefully
  • Making silence
  • Wet and dry pouring
  • Spooning, tweezing, scooping, squeezing
  • Opening and closing using various containers
  • Cutting, peeling, grating, serving various types of foods

 Care of Self

  • Respect for self
  • Personal care
  • Hand washing
  • Dressing frames
  • Sorting
  • Cleaning and polishing

Care of the Indoor and Outdoor Environment

  • Carefully returning work back to original place and order
  • Rolling a mat nicely and pushing in a chair
  • Showing respect for materials
  • Dusting, sweeping, polishing, folding, sponging
  • Raking, digging, watering
  • Recycling and gardening
  • Choosing and performing class jobs
  • Caring for animals and plants

 Lessons in Grace and Courtesy

  • Manners and respect toward others
  • Classroom and table manners
  • Waiting for turns
  • Being polite and respecting each other
  • Helping others, sharing, caring for others
  • Quiet voices and listening
  • Peaceful problem solving with peace object such as a peace flower or peace rock

The Sensorial materials are critical for academics in the Montessori classroom. These activities begin with the youngest children in the class. Through various extensions and games they remain interesting to even the oldest children. The Sensorial materials build on the Practical Life activities and prepare the child for math and language through lessons in observation and problem solving.

The goals of the Sensorial Area are to strengthen and refine each of the child’s senses and pincer grasp, develop a rich vocabulary, and provide for the internalization of Sensorial images. These materials guide children to observe, compare, make distinctions, and learn to think and reason.

Visual Sense

Learning qualities of size, shape, color and dimension through these materials:

  • Pink Tower
  • Brown Stair
  • Color Tablets
  • Knobbed Cylinders
  • Geometric Cabinet
  • Matching, grading, comparing, and contrasting shapes, sizes, colors and textures through these materials:
    • Knobless Cylinders
    • Red Rods
    • Triangle Box
    • Hexagon Boxes
    • Rectangle Boxes

Tactile Sense

  • Recognition of differing textures and weights through touch using these materials:
  • Rough and Smooth Boards
  • Fabric Box
  • Weight Cylinders
  • Baric Tablets

Auditory Sense

  • Distinguishing sounds that vary in pitch and volume through these materials:
    • Sound Cylinders
    • Musical Instruments

Thermic Sense

  • Distinguishing differences in temperature by matching and grading these materials:
    • Thermic Tablets
    • Thermic Cylinders

Olfactory Sense

  • Identifying basic tastes and learning the related language (salty, sweet, sour, bitter).

 Sterognostic Sense

  • Sorting and grading various Sensorial materials solely by touch through exploring these materials:
    • Mystery Box
    •  Mystery Bag
    • Blind-fold activities

Maria Montessori observed that the potential exists for children to develop the higher language skills of reading and writing with the same ease with which they acquire oral speech. This “explosion” into literacy occurs naturally in the primary years if children are presented with the tools and experiences needed to nourish this organic inclination to learn.

The goals of the Language Materials are for the child to develop a rich vocabulary and a strong foundation in phonetics. A child’s natural desire to read and express her thoughts through writing are stimulated. An appreciation for the rhythm and beauty of language through literature and poetry is instilled.

Pre-Reading and Vocabulary Enrichment

  • Introduction to the nomenclature of the Montessori classroom and vocabulary and classification beyond the classroom.
  • Language concepts including patterns, opposites, rhyming, sequencing, and categories.
  • Exposure to high~quality children’s literature, proper care and handling of books.
  • Many opportunities to speak and gain confidence before a group of peers.
  • Encouraging the use of oral language for discussion, presentation, and problem solving purposes.

Indirect Preparation for Reading and Writing

  • The Metal Insets provide development and refinement of the pencil grip through tracing the frame, the inset, controlling parallel lines and working within a given space.
  • The Sandpaper Letters encourage assimilation of the form of letters into muscular memory through repeated tracing.
  • Practical life and Sensorial Exercises encourage repeated use of the pincer grasp.

Direct Preparation for Reading and Writing

  • The Sandpaper Letters are used to teach the formation and recognition of the letters of the alphabet. Montessori Method teaches the sound followed by the name of the letter.
  • Beginning, middle and ending sounds are introduced through games and exercises to encourage sound isolation.
  • The Moveable Alphabet is used to create 3-letter phonetic words and simple sentences for beginners. Later it is used to build longer phonetic words, sight words, blends, diagraphs, and phonograms.
  • Object Boxes provide an opportunity for children to explore and learn how to write and spell many different words.
  • Countless opportunities are available for children to read, write and discover language through storytelling, songs, 3-part cards, journals, reading materials, books and tracing exercises.
  • Montessori Grammar Symbols introduce and teach the functions of words in phrases and sentences.

The early childhood Math curriculum presents concepts through sequential concrete materials. These materials allow the child the opportunity to manipulate, experiment and invent over and over again. This encouragement for repetition leads to internalization of abstract concepts inherent in these Math materials and better understanding of these concepts.

The goals of the Mathematics area are to develop a child’s thought-process through organization and categorization; give the child a concrete impression of quantities and processes in math; aid the child in connecting the symbols and language of mathematics; help the child gradually internalize the abstract concepts; and facilitate the child’s memorization of mathematical facts.

Numbers 0-10

  • One-to-one correspondence (Knobbed Cylinders)
  • Quantity 1-10
    • Red and Blue Rods
    • Spindle Boxes
    • Sandpaper Numerals
    • Cards and Counters
    • Short Bead Stair
    • Snake Game
    • Association of written symbol with quantity
    • Concept of Zero
    • First Impressions of odd and even numbers
    • Greater than and Less than
    • Addition and subtraction with quantities up to 10

Teens and Tens

  • The Teen Board is used to associate the written symbol and quantity of the teen numbers. Concrete quantities of the teen numbers as ten plus units provide a solid understanding of these numerals.
  • The Tens Board provides visual impressions of numbers 10-100; symbol and quantity
  • The Golden Beads are presented to further assist in recognition of teen numbers and present a concrete image of the decimal system
  • The Squaring Chains are used to present linear counting and skip counting up to 100
  • The 100 Board provides a hands~on way to explore the numbers 1-100 and for practicing number recognition
  • The Cubing Chains present linear and skip counting up to 1,000

The Decimal System

  • The Golden Beads Introduction Tray introduces the concept of quantity and the symbol for unit, ten, hundred, thousand
  • The Bird’s Eye View for decimal system layout using concrete materials
  • Fetching and forming numbers in tens, hundreds, and thousands
  • Bank Game
  • Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division with the Golden Beads: Using concrete materials for borrowing and exchanging
  • Stamp Game for a more abstract approach to add, subtract, multiply, and divide
  • Bead Frame: even more abstract than the Stamp Game
  • Bead Boards for multiplication and division
  • Addition and Subtraction Strip Boards to aid in memorization of facts

Fractions

  • Fraction Skittles
  • Fraction Insets

Concepts of Time, Money, and Measurement

Introduction to Geometry

Shapes and names of geometric figures

  • Polygons
  • Triangles
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Geometric solids: cube, sphere, pyramid

The Cultural area of the Montessori classroom can and should be as broad and varied as the world in which we live. Cultural Studies extend into the Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, and Language areas of the classroom and allow for further exploration with interesting and unique activities. The Cultural Area includes music, art, geography, history, ecology, geology, botany, zoology, and the physical sciences. These “key experiences” provide the child with a sense of wonder through sensorial experiences, literature, music, activities, and artifacts from all around the world. The Montessori classroom encourages exploration and curiosity to define a sense of self and the spirit of the people of the world.

The goals of Cultural studies include exposing the child to a wide variety of subjects and experiences; stimulate the child’s natural curiosity; provide a sensorial experience for key concepts; provide language and vocabulary for these subjects; and lead the child to an awareness of the interrelatedness of people, plants, and animals around the world.

Geography

  • Present a global perspective introducing the earth as a whole
  • Point out various physical characteristics of the earth such as land and water forms, processes such as the water cycle and geography-related vocabulary
  • Provide opportunities for the child to work with the puzzle maps on a sensorial level
  • Offer extensions according to the child’s interest such as the names of countries, flags, capitals, etc.
  • Arrange experiences that expose the child to various world cultures
  • Introduce the concept that physical geography influences the life of humankind

History

  • Present the concept of history in terms of the child’s personal history and sharing her individual biography and time-line
  • Explore the sense of time through the use of calendars, weather charts, current events, the clock, and stories from history

Music

  • Offer many opportunities to sing
  • Provide various styles and cultural expressions of music
  • Explore the life and works of musicians and composers

Art

  • Instruction in the care and proper use of various art mediums
  • Provide opportunities for the child to work with art media independently
  • Emphasize the process and not the product; encourage individuality
  • Expose the child to various artists and their life and works

Botany

  • Care and respect for plants
  • Living/non-living
  • Parts of plants
  • Parts, types and shapes of leaves
  • Types and parts of fruits, vegetables, and seeds
  • Plants around the world and in different biomes

Zoology

  • Care of and respect for all animals
  • Classification of animals
  • Parts of animals
  • Animal habitats, diets, and life cycles

Geology

  • Layers of the earth
  • Types of rocks
  • The life cycle of rocks
  • Types and parts of volcanoes

Physical Science

  • Sink verses float
  • Magnetic and non-magnetic
  • Land/air/water
  • Universe and the solar system
  • Seasons and weather
  • Nutrition and food groups