The afternoon primary class is akin to the kindergarten level of a traditional school, and therefore is entered around five years of age, or as the teacher sees readiness in the child. The time in the afternoon class is very important, as it is an opportunity to solidify concepts learned in the first years of the classroom.
The Golden Beads are a math activity that allows children to concretely explore the four operations in math - addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In the photos below, the children are doing an addition problem.
The children start by setting up cards to represent the quantities. (Yes - they are using 4 digit numbers!)
Then, they choose cards and get 'golden' beads. The beads are a concrete representation of the abstract symbol (the number).
There are 4 types of golden beads - 1000s, 100s, 10s, and units.
Setting up the beads and cards is a process that requires concentration, memory, fine motor skills, and following a sequence.
Once everything is set up, the children combine all their beads together. Then they organize and count the beads by category.
Finally, they combine the big number cards to see the total. These exercises give the children a very real idea of what it means to do any of the 4 operations. In the above example, they are physically combining 3 smaller numbers to make one larger number. They are also learning about exchanging - 10 units are exchanged for 1 ten, and so forth.
After a lot of practice with sounds and symbols (letters), she is reading phonetic cards. In addition to phonetic reading, the children learn 'puzzle words', also known as 'sight words'.
Geography is an important part of the curriculum that encompasses many other subjects, such as reading and writing. Montessori aims to create 'citizens of the world', and the classroom brings in countless opportunities for the children to learn about other countries and cultures.
The girls above are working in the Science area. They are learning the names of the parts of a turtle. Did you know a turtle's shell is called a carapace?
In addition to the academic work, Practical Life remains a part of the curriculum. The girl above is embroidering a design. This requires a lot of manual dexterity and hand control. Here is an interesting article from the BBC about the importance of a well rounded education: 'Surgery Students Losing Dexterity to Stitch Patients'
At the end of the afternoon, the children help get the class ready for the next day. They all contribute to the community in different ways. The girls above are unloading the dishwasher and putting the lunch dishes away for tomorrow. In addition to practical skills, the children are gaining refinement of movement, functional independence, concentration, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
Thank you Meg Porter of Meg Porter Photography for the lovely images used in this blog post!
We are an AMI accredited Montessori school growing daily in spirit & intellect!