“Every year we re-evaluate the value proposition of Oak Meadow and know that if we left, we would regret it.”
Lower Elementary: Grades 1–3
Lower Elementary students at Oak Meadow embody a sense of excitement and wonder about the world. Their imagination propels them forward as they work hard to figure things out. The most effective way to harness their enthusiasm is to start with big picture ideas and work toward the details through layers of understanding. Stories about big events, people that accomplish big things…these are the onramps to academic engagement. Add in the concrete materials that develop focus and stimulate exploration, and students start to connect the dots in meaningful ways.
Prior attendance at a Montessori school is not a prerequisite for admission.
The program is interdisciplinary, experiential, and open-ended, presented in an environment of mutual respect and appreciation.
Explore the Lower Elementary Program curriculum below.
The Lower Elementary math curriculum deepens the students’ understanding of simple mathematical operations introduced in Children’s House. Through the use of Montessori manipulative materials, students establish a concrete basis of understanding to support more abstract concepts such as algebra and geometry. Students develop a conceptual understanding of basic number facts and functions, the value of money, the meaning of time and spatial relationships, as well as computational and problem solving skills. When they are ready, students are introduced to more advanced materials that help them understand complex concepts including fractions, multiplication, and division.
Comprehension, grammar, spelling, reading, and group discussion skills are further developed at the Lower Elementary level. Essay writing is introduced and simple research reports give students an opportunity to practice their composition skills. In grammar lessons, students learn the parts of speech. Once they they become fluent with the function of words, they learn to break down increasingly complex sentences with sentence analysis. Reading fluency is addressed with the Wilson Fundations Program, which provides the tools for phonetic decoding, reading, and spelling, while complementing the Montessori curriculum. Students also participate in weekly guided reading groups to practice reading comprehension strategies, literature groups to explore different genres of literature, and writing workshops to practice different writing styles including expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative.
Cultural studies in the Lower Elementary program are comprised of geography, history, and science. The cross-curricular nature of topics appeals to students and capitalizes on their interests and learning styles. The broad scope of the curriculum cultivates students who are culturally aware and have a true appreciation for the diversity and interest in the world around them. Students begin to gain an understanding of time and history with an overview of human history through storytelling and colorful timelines. Through research and experimentation they gain a basic knowledge of the political, physical, and economic geography of the continents.
Lower Elementary science lessons incorporate biology, chemistry, physics, and earth sciences. Through storytelling, hands-on experiments, exploration, and research, students gain a knowledge of the basic land and water formations, longitude and latitude, the use of a compass, and the study of different flora and fauna. Students also learn about the families of the animal kingdom, including vertebrates and invertebrates. The scientific method is taught at the elementary level, and students in the third year (grade) of Lower Elementary and older synthesize a multitude of skills in a scientific presentation at the Oak Meadow Science Fair in the spring.
Lower Elementary students attend Spanish classes once a week and begin to learn useful phrases, such as, “May I come in?” “I need…,” “Please pass me…,” and “It’s your/my turn.” Additional common courtesies are practiced between teacher and student, and among classmates.
Familiar themes are revisited and expanded upon, and new ones are introduced adapting the Montessori technique of the three period lesson. This spiral approach to vocabulary allows for the development of second language acquisition, and eventual fluency in four areas: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Activities are presented to target auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners. Classroom activities incorporate movement, singing, rhyming, and drawing. Students also practice simple skits, and play familiar vocabulary games, such as Bingo (Lotería) and Memory (Memoría).
Social and emotional learning includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making and relationship skills. By developing these skills and promoting prosocial behavior, we strive to create learning environments where students feel safe, valued, and connected. Lower Elementary students explore developmentally appropriate concepts of social and emotional learning. Topics may include the uniqueness of individuals, managing big emotions, the hidden rules in social situations, conflict resolution, kindness, mentoring, friendship, and more. Classes are facilitated in both small groups by grade level, and in large groups by class. Lessons are taught through role-playing activities, stories, hands-on activities, visuals, and guided discussions.
Lower Elementary students attend art classes by grade level, once a week. Students explore a wide range of materials and processes as they begin to develop a deeper understanding of how art materials can be used and manipulated to create unique, personal expressions of their creativity. Experimentation with mixed media and exploration of original ideas is encouraged. The teacher provides a foundation in which students work independently on projects of their choice. Studio Habits of Mind (HGSE) are used as a framework for further investigation and collaboration. Awareness of art history and art as an expression of culture is emphasized through focused projects on specific artists, styles, periods, or methods.
The Lower Elementary Music curriculum emphasizes group singing, dance, musical literacy, ear-training, rhythmic training, individual confidence, and improvisation. Classes incorporate songs and dances from many traditions, including rounds, canons, and American Sign Language. Increasingly complex notation symbols are introduced, such as clefs, measures, meters, dynamics, articulations, and key signatures. Musical instruments from around the world are utilized in hands-on lessons, which incorporate discussion of instrument construction and acoustics. Students enjoy performing at school assemblies, and many participate in a fully-staged, after school musical. Recent shows have included Frozen, Seussical, Peter Pan, Madagascar, Alice in Wonderland, Charlotte’s Web, and The Aristocats. Third Year students learn rudiments of wind instruments, using Baroque recorders and Irish tin whistles, and may join the Oak Meadow Concert Choir.
Lower Elementary students attend physical education classes by grade, twice a week. Students are introduced to the importance of muscular development through gross and fine motor skills. Students participate in team and group games, which emphasize balance, body awareness and movement exploration. Students are introduced to simple team games and cooperative games, with an emphasis on sportsmanship and working together.
Experiential Education is an important part of the Lower Elementary program. This type of learning provides opportunities for students to apply academic and social/emotional skills beyond the classroom. Off-campus experiences are carefully chosen to extend the in-classroom learning through hands-on and engaging experiences that build on the student’s prior knowledge. Previously, Lower Elementary has visited The Worcester EcoTarium, Drumlin Farms in Lincoln, the Peabody Museum in Cambridge, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and the Boott Cotton Mills in Lowell.
Lower Elementary students continue building their practical life skills through service to the community. Students begin to internalize and embrace their responsibilities as members of a greater community. Students work together cooperatively to contribute to the community through community service projects, mentoring, and personal passions. Lessons in grace and courtesy continue in Lower Elementary where students learn the importance of peaceful interactions within the community.
Oak Meadow’s nature program is built on a variety of dynamic, outdoor adventures. As much as possible, the nature program follows the seasons guided by the 13 Native American moons of the turtle’s back, integrating Native American wisdom with a Three Sisters garden, snowshoeing, and vernal pool exploration. In the fall, children are guided by the harvest moon in activities such as working in the garden, digging potatoes and carrots, and harvesting corn. As the leaves change, students move toward the forest to study seed dispersal and the transition to winter. Students learn to appreciate the magical rhythm of nature. Like the seasons, nature-based learning is full of the expected and the unexpected.
Hands-on challenges that invite students to collaborate to solve real-world problems while applying the engineering design process, scientific method and academic knowledge are the vehicles by which students experience Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Students work in the laboratory weekly, where they use scientific equipment and their developing experience of the process to discover the world around them. STEM classes also support projects developed by all students in third through eighth grade for the annual Oak Meadow Science Fair.