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The Montessori Casa Curriculum

Casa 1 - (2 1/2 - 4 years )

Casa 2 - (4 years - 6 years)

General Description

Children are placed in two seperate age groups and the full curriculum is designed to be completed over a 3 year period. /> The Program is based on 5 basic areas of learning.

1. Personal Independence and Care of the Environment
2. Education of the Senses
3. Language/French
4. Math
5. Cultural Studies

1. Personal Independence and Care of the Environment (Practical Life Exercises)

Children have an innate desire to become independent and take care of their own personal needs. The Montessori curriculum supports this inner drive by providing an environment and the necessary materials to support the path to independence.
  • Exercises in personal hygiene
  • Dressing
  • Care of clothing


These are an integral part of the early childhood Montessori classroom.  Activities to support the many skills young children need to accomplish on the way towards independence are all taught as specific lessons, with their own set of materials, e.g. dressing frames, hand-washing exercises.  In order to work independently in a mixed age group, children are taught the rules of the classroom and how to move and work successfully within it.

 Carrying and handling the many Montessori materials

  • Using floor mats
  • Putting away work
  • Looking after classroom pets and plants
  • Taking care of books
  • Preparing refreshments

These skills are all taught as separate exercises which are designed to give children the freedom and confidence they need in order to work at their own individual pace in the classroom.  Exercises in grace and courtesy are presented daily during "circle time" and in small informal group lessons.  The children learn how to behave in certain situations and acquire the social skills essential for everyday living in society.

The children develop a sense of personal dignity, an understanding of their own culture, and an awareness and respect for people of all ages and traditions.  Having the appropriate social and language skills enables a child to engage positively in the classroom, community and beyond.  Early conflict resolution skills are taught and attention is given to making good choices.
Exercises are designed to teach the child how to:

·  Ask politely, Apologize, Offer help to others, Shake hands, Work cooperatively, Walk with a partner, Behave in public places, Wait one's turn, Introduce oneself, Make eye contact, Welcome visitors, Offer refreshments, Behave at the table.

Through the social interaction involved in carrying out these exercises, the children develop the ability to work harmoniously in a carefully prepared environment.  Exercises for the development of fine and gross motor skills are carefully developed as part of the Practical Life curriculum.

·  Rolling mats, Threading, Spooning, Carrying chairs, Carrying large materials to a work space, Pouring liquids, Cutting, Sweeping, Walking carefully.

These activities and many others develop dexterity and coordination, and are closely linked to other areas of the curriculum. The Practical Life component of a Montessori early childhood curriculum is the underlying foundation for success in the other four areas of the curriculum.  Each task allows the child to gain independence and to develop a sense of order, concentration, responsibility and coordination of movement. Children gain enormous freedom and confidence to work successfully, both independently and cooperatively.

The future success of the Elementary Montessori environment is based in this core foundation of learning skills.



2. Education of the Senses (Sensorial Materials) Early Childhood (Casa)

The Montessori Sensorial curriculum allows the child to discriminate and order the impressions that have entered through each of his senses.

Scientifically designed materials that isolate each sense, facilitate in the development of the intellect through hands-on exploration.

The child learns to separate and classify forms, colours, textures, tastes and smells.

Exercises in this area refine the senses and develop skills in thinking, judging, concentrating, comparing and sequencing.  The materials offer unlimited opportunities for the development of vocabulary and the essential development of dexterity that will lead to writing and reading.

The Sensorial curriculum is divided into the following areas:

Visual Sense
Children learn to discriminate by size, length, dimension, colour, similarity and difference.

Tactile Sense
Children learn to discriminate by touch.  They match sandpaper and fabrics of varying textures according to their similarities.  They order material from rough to smooth and learn to contrast and compare.

Auditory Sense
Children continue the process of matching, ordering, contrasting and comparing, this time using various sounds and instruments.  In addition, the school has a Music-of-the-Month program where a different classical composer is studied each month.  The Musikgarten program is also available to the Casa children as an extra curricular activity.

Complex Senses (Weight, Heat, Shape, Smell, Taste)

Children explore all of the above qualities by using carefully designed materials and exercises which sharpen their senses at a time when they have a particular, developmental interest (sensitive period) in this work.  The Sensorial exercises are designed to prepare the child for more complex learning in Language, Math and Cultural Studies.

 

3. Language Curriculum Early Childhood (Casa)

 

Language in the Montessori early childhood curriculum focuses on the following  areas:

a)   Oral Language

·         Listening                                                                                                    

·         Speaking

 

b) Written Language

·         Reading

·         Writing

 

a)  The oral language curriculum is designed to meet the young child’s innate need to acquire language.  Significant emphasis is placed on building vocabulary and oral competency. Through the use of the Montessori materials, children acquire a rich vocabulary for labeling, describing, comparing and contrasting their environment and the people in it.  Precise terminology is used.  The following is a brief description of the general for reading.

 

After the children’s speech becomes acute and they have been introduced to and understand the preliminary activities, the children begin what we call the “sandpaper letters”.   The sand paper letters are in cursive and they are shown to the children in a multi-sensorial fashion.   The children will hear, feel and say the sound.  When the children are able to recognize approximately 75% of their sandpaper letters they are shown the moveable alphabet.   The children will make 3, 4 and higher phonetic sounds, and do many other activities with this and similar material.  When they are able to read back the sounds they have made they are introduced to formal reading.   They are shown 3, 4 and higher phonetic words which are shown in various progressions that eventually lead to books.   The children are introduced to phonograms (“oo” for example) in the same fashion.   There are some words that simply must be remembered and these are introduced as “puzzle” words through what we call a three period lesson.  After this, the children MAY be introduced to many other advanced activities including grammar and sentence analysis depending on their level and ability.   This activity is also in the Elementary classes.

 

b)  Written language is introduced to children at about 4 years of age.  Skills are taught separately by careful use of specially designed materials.   The children start with creativity and design with the metal insets.   This activity helps with their manual dexterity, creativity and design and also introduces them to the 10 basic geometric shapes.

 

These exercises, when presented in sequence, lead the child to initial levels of competence in reading and writing skills.

 

Literacy skills develop rapidly as the child’s own inner drive to learn is supported by a carefully prepared program designed to meet this natural stage of  heightened awareness.

 

4.  French - Montessori Early Childhood Curriculum (Casa)

 

The Montessori French curriculum allows for the French assistant to speak mostly in French to the children.  Since pre-school children are in an absorbent stage for language, the children are absorbing the vocabulary and the nuances of the language through consistent everyday conversation with the French speaking assistant.

 

On completion of the Early Childhood curriculum (Casa), at a minimum the child is expected to be able to respond to French greetings.

 

5.  Math Montessori Early Childhood (Casa)

 

The Montessori Early Childhood Math curriculum is firmly based on learning through experience.  Children use a wide variety of carefully constructed materials to lead them to an understanding of the value and sequence of the numbers 1 to 10.  From there they are introduced to larger amounts and learn the concept of making groups of tens, hundreds and  thousands (the decimal system).

 

Number notation and place value are taught as the child develops an understanding of number concepts.

 

Four and five year olds are introduced to the basic operations:  addition, multiplication, subtraction and division, at a concrete level so that they experience what these activities really mean. 

 

Gradually the children move towards an abstract understanding of the concepts.   The children will begin with the number rods and work with various activities which will help internalize the numbers from 1 – 10.   Once this has been achieved the children are introduced to higher numbers up to 9,000.   They are shown the concrete counterparts to the numbers and begin adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing larger numbers (4 digits) with the use of the materials.  The rest of the many materials in the class assist the children in slowly abstracting the concepts so they will ultimately not need to rely on the aid of the materials.  There is material in each class that introduce the children to squaring and cubing (this is an advanced piece of work that is also in the Elementary class).  The rate at which all materials are shown to the children is dependent on their ability as each child is different.

 

Geometry is introduced in the Early Childhood program through the use of materials which are classified according to qualities, e.g. “These shapes have three sides.  They are called triangles.”   “The four sides on these shapes are all the same size.  They are called squares.”

 

The child learns to discriminate, classify and name circles, squares, rectangles and polygons, always using materials as a guide.

 

Fractions are introduced again in concrete form and an introduction to the concept of equal parts of a whole lay the foundation for further work in the Elementary level.

 

 

6. Cultural Studies Early Childhood (Casa)

 

The Montessori Early Childhood program is based on an integrated study of Science, the Social Sciences and the Arts.

 

In keeping with the Montessori philosophy of education, the children first experience general rules of the universe, e.g. the division of land and water.  These are gradually broken down into smaller parts: continents/oceans, provinces and territories of Canada.

 

Stories of animals and children from other lands help the children to understand fundamental needs and how these are influenced by climate, environment and lifestyle.

 

Cultural differences and similarities are explored through music, dance, costume and food.  Festivals and traditions, e.g. Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Divali and St. Patrick’s Day are celebrated through the arts, stories and geography.

 

Simple science experiments that demonstrate the qualities of matter:  sink/float, magnetic/non-magnetic, solid/liquid and living/non-living are made by the children as part of the study of their environment.

 

Weather observations and experiments help them to appreciate the variety of clothing, homes, and foods that exist to meet people’s needs.

 

Extra Events and Activities

  • Piano (Oct-May)
  • Ballet  (Oct- May)
  • Karate (Oct-May)
  • Soccer, Basketball, Floor Hockey, T-ball (8 week lunch or after school sessions)
  • Pizza Days
  • Class Trips (With parent volunteers in a bus)
  • Animals/Science and Special Events visit the classroom.
  • Holiday and Birthday Celebrations

Parent Volunteer Groups

  • Grandparents’ Day
  • Parent Nights
  • Interviews and Observations
  • Report Cards
  • Parent Education Evenings