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Lower Elementary (6-9) Program

Grades 1-3

At Wilmington Montessori School, the Lower Elementary (6-9) Program is designed to meet the developmental needs of children as they enter Maria Montessori’s second stage of development, which is characterized by a heightened sense of imagination rooted in reality, social awareness, and a sense of morality and justice. The child’s sense of curiosity grows as he or she begins asking “why?” and “how?” rather than “what is that?”  

Like in the Primary Program, Lower Elementary students are inspired by their older classmates’ more challenging work. Many Montessori materials seen in the Primary classroom are used in new ways in the Lower Elementary Program to better suit the students’ expanding minds. These hands-on materials allow Lower Elementary students to tackle a wide range of tasks, including studying spelling patterns, learning punctuation, exploring advanced math concepts, and discerning number and spatial relationships.

Over time, Lower Elementary students rely less on hands-on materials and more on their sense memory and knowledge of math, language, geography, social studies and science concepts. They also learn to use a daily/weekly work plan, which outlines assignments, academic goals and work choices.



As students enter the second plane of development, many develop a strong drive to be social and collaborate.

Lower Elementary students experience a shift in their understanding of their peers and the power of the group. They benefit from Montessori grace and courtesy lessons, as well as the principles and activities of Responsive Classroom, a social curriculum used at all age levels at WMS. The emphasis is on students learning to care for themselves, others and the environment.

The Peace Table is a key Montessori concept that also assists students with peer-to-peer problem-solving within the classroom. When students have a conflict or problem, they are asked to sit together at the Peace Table to discuss their challenges in a systematic way. They practice using “I” statements to describe what is needed to make a tough situation better, and learn the basics of communicating their concerns and ideas in a responsible way.

In the 6-9 Program, students most often participate in small and large group academic lessons, which contrasts with the Primary Program’s one-on-one approach. Lower Elementary students benefit from opportunities to share strategies and ideas with their classmates.

Language Arts

Learning to read is the hallmark of the 6-9 Program and involves moving well beyond simple letter and sound correspondence. By the end of the final 6-9 Program year, the third-grader is well-equipped to pursue academic interests and conduct research independently.

In addition, students begin the important work of becoming writers - learning to express their ideas effectively in writing. Part of this process involves refining oral presentation skills and learning to speak with peers and adults as a part of a classroom community.

Here are some samples of what your child will be working on in the 6-9 Program:

Reading Skills
  • Understanding the concept of rhyme
  • Associating sound/letter symbols for consonants and vowels
  • Identifying familiar sight words
  • Using context and picture clues
  • Identifying fiction/nonfiction
  • Retelling familiar stories using beginning, middle and end
  • Identifying character, setting (time and place), main idea and plot

Writing Skills
  • Using drawings to share experiences and develop text
  • Experimenting with different forms of writing (e.g., labels, signs, lists, messages)
  • Writing with appropriate organization, development of ideas, use of voice, word choice and transitions
  • Prewriting, drafting, revising and editing components of the writing process
  • Practicing sentence/paragraph structure
  • Writing expressive, informative and persuasive texts
  • Applying appropriate mechanics of writing

Oral Communication Skills
  • Using oral language for different purposes (to inform, persuade and express oneself)
  • Sharing ideas in a sequential order (including beginning, middle and end)
  • Paraphrasing information shared orally by others
  • Speaking clearly and audibly using appropriate expression and tone
  • Practicing the rules for conversation (taking turns, staying on topic)
  • Using audio/visual aids
  • Responding to feedback and answering questions


Lower Elementary students learn to solve problems, communicate and reason mathematically, and make mathematical connections. WMS’s math program includes lessons and activities that help students identify patterns of all types and recognize their importance, develop their number sense, use operations for computation, explain the relationships between numbers and develop concepts of place value (using hands-on, manipulative materials).

Students extend their spatial sense and understanding of geometry, begin to practice estimation and measurement, and learn basic concepts of algebra, statistics and probability.

Here is a sample of what your child will be working on in the 6-9 Program, depending on his or her developmental stage:
  • Skip counting by 2s, 5s, 10s and beyond
  • Solving oral word problems
  • Learning about place values up to 1,000 and beyond
  • Building and reading whole numbers to one million
  • Using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division on whole numbers
  • Studying inverse relationships of addition and subtraction, and multiplication and division
  • Identifying equal parts of a whole and equal parts of a set using halves, thirds, fourths, etc.
  • Identifying coins, knowing their values and writing their decimal notation
  • Identifying, constructing, and defining regular and irregular polygons, triangles and angles
  • Using probability experiments to find the likelihood of the outcomes of a simple chance event

Cultural Studies

Maria Montessori believed 6-9 students are primed to participate in what she called “cosmic education,” because they are innately curious about the universe, the world and the larger stories of natural history, human history and the phenomena of the physical world.

Through the Cultural Studies lessons and activities, children are encouraged to ask questions, observe, collect and analyze data, conduct experiments and communicate information with others.

Each year begins with an exploration of Montessori’s Great Lessons - the Story of the Universe, the Coming of Life, the Coming of Humans, the Story of Numbers and the Story of Language - which provide a context for future studies of the natural and physical sciences, cultural and physical geography and history.

Your 6-9 student will be:

  • Developing concepts of time and learning to use clocks, calendars and schedules to record or locate events in time.
  • Identifying the living and non-living parts of a given environment and observing how plants and animals can physically change the environment.
  • Exploring basic life cycles.
  • Distinguishing different types of climate and landforms and explaining why they occur.
  • Analyzing the structure/physical properties of materials, chemical reactivity and use (i.e., water cycle, weather systems, electrical systems and mechanical systems).
  • Learning that people design technology to help solve problems and use resources effectively.