Our Children’s House comprises several different curriculum areas, including:
Practical Life is a unique component of the Children’s House curriculum. Children are presented with various activities that represent tasks associated with daily routines characteristic of their culture. Children delight in these activities, utilizing real child-sized tools and materials, including food preparation, fastening clothes, washing dishes, carrying objects, and other fine motor skills such as spooning, pouring, or using chopsticks. The area of practical life also incorporates lessons in grace and courtesy. Children learn the social graces of how to set a table, greet a visitor, or interrupt a friend to ask for help.
Sensorial is another curriculum area distinctive of the Montessori method. The sensorial area of the classroom displays colorful and dynamic materials that provoke the tactile, gustatory, olfactory, visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and stereognostic senses. Through the use of the sensorial materials, children also develop skills in the discrimination of dimension, form, color, pattern, temperature, and weight. These materials serve as the foundation for future lessons in mathematics, language, art, and the sciences, for it is through the senses that children discover the world around them.
Mathematics is presented to the children using concrete materials that represent abstract concepts, giving the child a hands-on and dynamic experience. Children integrate their development in mind and body as they move through the classroom carrying the number rods to their work area or delicately hanging a bead chain in the bead cabinet. Through their work with the mathematics materials, the children experience the numbers one through ten, the concepts of the four operations, the concept of the decimal (base ten) system, and the idea of fractions.
Language activities begin with an environment rich in vocabulary. Young children love learning new words, the longer and more complex the better. Children enjoy a vast array of nomenclature materials in areas as diverse as orchestral instruments, types of backyard birds, and transportation vehicles. Opportunities for the acquisition of written language are presented through sound games, to build sound consciousness; sandpaper letters, to learn the shapes of the letters kinesthetically; the movable alphabet, to facilitate the child’s first attempts at forming words from sounds; and on to beginning and advanced reading, writing, and early grammar activities to reinforce the function of words.
Cultural Subjects and Sciences are integrated into the curriculum through the use of puzzle maps, nomenclature cards, beautiful artifacts, and other materials designed to help children learn about the earth, its people, and animals. The classroom is full of living plants for the children to care for, and it is not uncommon to see a pet or two (like a turtle or fish) take up residence on a shelf. Children learn to distinguish landforms, name countries, and learn about the cultures of people who live there. Children discover the needs of plants and animals, and begin to develop an understanding of the interdependence of earth’s life and resources.
Art and Music in the Children’s House is purposefully left open ended, as the children are developing the skills needed to use tools in various art mediums. Children are given the freedom to explore in drawing, painting, weaving, clay, paper, pastels, crayons, stamps, and other mediums to create art of their own. Through the Montessori music curriculum, the children explore sound with the special Montessori bells. The children engage in a progression of activities to help them explore pitch, and to write and read simple pieces of music. The children also explore the mechanics of sound through sets of experiments and explorations, as well as using rhythm instruments and learning music history through stories.
Movement is incorporated into all the curriculum areas and is an integral part of many lessons as children learn to move gracefully in their environment while carrying materials from place to place. The classroom adult, or guide, also engages children in yoga, cooperative games, and rhythm activities. Full-day children have opportunities to play out in the yard with a variety of equipment, including balance beams, jump ropes, a sand box, sports equipment, and a small structure for climbing.