In the course of a 3-year cycle, students explore topics from the beginning of recorded history to the present-day. Early civilizations, including the Fertile Crescent and Ancient Greece, are studied, as well as Medieval and Renaissance Europe, among others. After that, they concentrate on United States history, covering early colonization up to the 20th century. They study a variety of cultures in many ways, including how those cultures met their basic human needs, and how the geography of the regions impacted the culture.
Students use primary source data from the time periods whenever possible, as well as timelines, resource books, and literature. Novels read in Great Books and in Language Arts often correspond to the time period that is currently being studied. Students complete projects of their own choosing, both independently and in small groups.
Children in the Upper Elementary classroom cover two branches of science – a life science, such as biology, botany or environmental science, and a physical science, such as physics, chemistry or earth science. There are both independent and group projects throughout the year, culminating in a major research project in the spring on the topic of their choice, which they then present to the class. Students use Montessori and scientific materials, and research scientific concepts to reinforce their understanding.
Children learn the scientific method, conduct experiments and record data in their science labs. They learn to hypothesize and adjust their thinking according to how their experiment plays out. They also learn to work and negotiate in small groups and listen to others’ opinions and ideas. Some typical experiments/demonstrations include building the Bohr model of an atom, river erosion, and momentum.