White Pine Classroom

Curriculum

SERVING CHILDREN 2 1/2 TO 6 YEARS OF AGE

PRACTICAL LIFE

  • Through these “humble tasks of daily living”, the child is able to gain coordination of his large and small muscles. Each lesson of practical life indirectly prepares the child for skills he will use in areas of his life. Additionally, these lessons help the child develop concentration and gain physical independence. Self-discipline is assisted as the child develops coordination and is able to control his movements. The child is learning how to be independent as he learns to care for himself and his environment; this supports his sense of dignity. 

  • Dr. Montessori observed that a child prefers these real activities to play.

  • The lessons in this avenue of the curriculum extend beyond the pink shelves lining the classroom walls. The children care for the environment in the classroom for example caring for pets and plants and tending to the garden. “Line Work” is performed on the elliptical line in the classroom. The various movements provided by Line Work assist the development of the child’s equilibrium. Additionally, it builds a foundation for music and dance. The “Silence Game” calls to the child’s spiritual self.  The child has a natural response to silence and a natural enjoyment of it. Silence to the child is an individual conquest, a moment when he is in touch with his soul.  While silent, the intellect of the child detaches itself from sensorial experiences, blind movements, and unconscious distractions.

SENSORIAL

  • Many believe that the materials Dr. Maria Montessori designed for sensorial development is one of the greatest gifts to early education. The scientifically designed materials isolate concepts such as dimension, color, texture, taste, smell or sound.  The materials are demonstrated to an individual child by the teacher and then are made available for the child’s independent exploration.

  • The sensorial materials make learning easier by indirectly preparing the child for later academics.  This preparation begins with the concrete idea of something, which helps the child understand the abstract idea of it in later academics. The materials are all materialized abstractions. They are concrete forms of specific abstract ideas; for example, the Pink Tower gives the child experience with the concept of size, large to small. It consists of ten pink wooden cubes varying in size from one cubic centimeter to one cubic decimeter, varying in three dimensions: length, height and width. It prepares the child for further mathematics while indirectly introducing the child to: the decimal system (the ten cubes), volume (the largest holds one liter) and cube root (number two cube holds eight of number one cube, number three cube holds twenty seven of number one, number four cube holds sixty four of number one cube and the cubes represent the cubes of numbers one through ten).

  • The sensorial avenue of learning gives feedback to adults as to any sensorial limitations a child may be experiencing.  Thus, allowing adults to assist with the limitations early in the child’s learning, for example, while listening to the Sound Cylinders, the child may show the teacher that he isn’t hearing the sound.  Discovering this early in the child’s life can indicate to adults he needs help with his hearing.

LANGUAGE

  • Development of language begins by helping the young child increase in the working vocabulary of objects of every day life from the child’s experience, such as names of foods, animals, flowers, and other items found in the school, home and garden. In order to help the child’s understanding and mastery of spoken language, the items are classified by subject and are clearly enunciated by the teacher.

  • The child is helped to prepare for writing and reading by indirect activities that develop strength and coordination of the hand, awareness of individual sounds in words (phonemic awareness), and visual discrimination of shapes and forms. When the child is ready for direct work in writing and reading, concrete activities are shown to the child such as sandpaper letters, which introduce the phonetic alphabet through three senses: touch, sight and sound. After learning the sounds of the alphabetic letters (one sound, one letter) the child learns to build short vowel words with a moveable alphabet, such as c – a – t. Blending the sounds and reading of short vowel words follows; next comes experience in reading sentences and later long vowel words and words with other phonetic patterns. The child is considered a “general reader” when the reading is organized according to subject and not according to phonetic pattern. The child then has learned to read and begins reading to learn.

  • In the Montessori language program, the children continually go back to familiar materials with a new interest. Objects earlier presented for vocabulary now have labels to read. Puzzles of geography and zoology can be traced and labeled or books can be made of the separate pieces. Sensorial materials can be measured and qualities defined. Individual and collaborative projects that involve reading, writing and exploring the bigger world invite the child to learn and increase in awareness. Most Montessori preschool graduates are able to read and write with confidence before entering the elementary school.

  • Exposure to cultural subjects, such as science and history, comes through exploration of the natural environment and the increased awareness of time as it is lived throughout the year with changing seasons and cultural celebrations. Life is lived in the Montessori environment and it is shared with plants and animals that are studied and cared for by the children.

MATH

  • Early preparation of the mathematical mind is achieved through use of manipulative materials which present abstract concepts in concrete form, thereby laying a foundation for higher math in later years. Montessori materials allow children to learn at their own pace. Only when they have had sufficient practice with suitable concrete materials do they advance to more complex operations and concepts.

  • The presentation of math materials begins with learning to count quantities from one to ten. When it is seen that the concept of number being quantity is understood, the numerals are taught, and finally, the quantity and the numerals are associated with each other. From there the decimal system of units, tens, hundreds, and thousands is presented in various displays and games. Children experience with interest the arithmetic operations of addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division with the beautiful golden bead material. Advanced counting continues exploration of the number system. Many lessons with varied material give the children opportunity to practice arithmetic operations with the result that many of the facts become memorized effortlessly. The beauty and order of the materials appeal to the young children who find the mathematics’ precision to be interesting and the order comforting.

  • This early experience with interesting manipulative materials helps every child become confident and capable. Collaboration, not competition, is the shared experience with classmates. Studies confirm that with only one year of Montessori math in the preschool, children score higher years later on math tests, but most importantly, Montessori children are not intimidated by math, they love it.

Cultural

  • Cultural activities come through exploration of the natural environment and the increased awareness of time as it is lived throughout the year with changing seasons and cultural celebrations. 

  • Life is lived in the Montessori environment and it is shared with plants and animals that are studied and cared for by the children. 

Art, Music, and Motion

  • Art, Music and Motion are daily activities that occur in the Montessori classroom.

  • They are effective ways to introduce and reinforce such concepts as fellowship, fun, discovery and expression. 

 

Curriculum information provided with permission of Caspari Montessori Institute