The standard Australian curriculum is taught but Montessori classes are quite different: hands-on, practical and child-centred. At this stage learning starts to become more abstract and there is even greater emphasis on creativity, problem-solving, risk-taking, global issues and life-long learning. Year 6s lead the School community and help those in our wider community.
Areas of Study
These are the main areas in the Cycle Three Montessori program:
Children attending Art class have a two-hour session once a week in the Art Room. These classes give the children the opportunity to develop skills, techniques and processes that will enable them to use art elements and principles to make aesthetic and creative choices to express themselves visually.
Students do this through a range of two- and three-dimensional media:
- Threads and textiles
By viewing artwork from their own culture and from other cultures and times, and through the introduction and use of specific language, concepts and ideas, the children are given opportunities to interpret, analyse and discuss their own and others’ artworks.
The children immerse themselves in a deep learning experience through their own art making and through specific preparation for a significant gallery exhibition visit, where the children practise and develop their ability to look at art and make the most of a gallery visit.
These skills are further developed and celebrated when all the children’s Art class artworks are displayed at the end of year Art Show. This is a time to honour the individuality, diligence and creativity of every art piece made by each child at particular times throughout the year, and is another chance to enhance gallery-visiting and art-viewing skills.
Cycle Three students refine studies of the plant and animal kingdoms further.
They place a particular plant or animal on the charts for each kingdom according to the characteristics of the plant or animal they are studying. Classification is a very important element of their studies at this stage.
The school employs a drama teacher to conduct weekly drama sessions with each class. The emphasis is on process drama so that every child, regardless of talent, has the opportunity to develop self-expression through drama activities. There is a whole school concert every year, usually in the middle of the year.
Those who wish to take their drama further can participate in the Melbourne Montessori Players. This group meets every weekend and the culminating event is a wonderful production performed over 3 nights (with one matinee performance).
At Cycle Three level, geography work takes on a deeper level of understanding.
Children study how various climatic zones influence vegetation, how vegetation and topography effects where populations gather and why, how land use is influenced by climate and topography, etc. They memorise:
- Capital cities
- Major landforms
They study cultural differences, world religions and foods of different cultures. Their endeavour to understand the world in which they live knows no bounds at this stage of development. Their thirst for knowledge is never ending.
Children at this age are driven to understand the universe and their place in it, and they have an enormous capacity to assimilate all aspects of culture.
There are 5 ‘great stories’ that underpin the history curriculum in any Montessori school:
- The story of the universe
- The story of the coming of life
- The story of the coming of human beings
- The story of language
- The story of numbers
Each of these ‘stories’ is supported by impressionistic charts and illustrations to inspire the young mind.
Children in Cycle Two can be observed in animated discussion about such things as the coming of dinosaurs, the beginning of transport and the study of writing. The level of detail some students can recall is often quite amazing to the adult observing this energetic pursuit of, for example, what various dinosaurs are called.
Children learn Italian and now make logical attempts to find meaning from written and spoken material and begin to use resources such as bi-lingual dictionaries. They learn strategies for retaining language information for later use in new applications and develop an understanding of how parts of the language system works. They are not only learning another language but also learn about cultural differences associated with a language other than English. Children are encouraged to speak in Italian and apply their learning in a number of situations and activities such as instructions, reading, stories, role-playing, dialogue, performance, singing with actions, reciting and games.
By Cycle Three, most language work is undertaken in abstract form, although consolidation of understandings can be made through revisiting the Montessori materials when needed.
All genres of writing are studied. Children are introduced to a wide range of literature, creative writing is a key feature of this age group and the mechanics of spelling are refined. Children are avid readers by this stage, but still love having good literature read to them. It is a time for lively discussion of quality texts and of critical analysis of written and visual literature.
Media studies also forms part of the curriculum at this level.
In Cycle Three, mathematics becomes more abstract. The concepts learned in Cycle Two in concrete form are now applied to abstract thinking.
Whilst at Cycle Three, many mathematical computations are completed as in any other educational system, however there are several elements that are still presented in concrete form. For example, algebra is introduced as a concrete representation in Cycle Three using the binomial and trinomial cubes and, finally, the cubing material. This material makes algebra come alive, and gives deep meaning to what many find a mystery in later, more advanced, mathematics.
The Performing Arts program at Melbourne Montessori School is divided into the following areas: Cycle One Music, Cycle Two Music, Cycle Three Music, the Melbourne Montessori Choir and the Melbourne Montessori Orchestra.
At Cycle Three level, students have the opportunity to advance their studies undertaken in Cycle Two, but also join more advanced recorder ensembles using bass, treble and alto recorders.
A choral program is offered weekly for interested students. The Melbourne Montessori Choir performs at school events and also represents the school at local eisteddfods and inter-school competitions.
Many of our students are extremely talented musicians, having learned an instrument for many years outside of school. As a community we have gathered this collective talent to create the Melbourne Montessori School Band Program. There are two levels to this program – the junior program and the senior program. Each band rehearses weekly with a view to performing publicly at every opportunity.
A Musical Director oversees the entire music program, ensuring continuity, setting performance opportunities and coordinating the band program. While every student participates in weekly music lessons, there are opportunities for those who are passionate about music to really develop their talent further.
At Melbourne Montessori School the sport program is designed to motivate children to be active, healthy, fit and focused. Our objective is to give children the opportunity to have a ball, enjoy exercise and be exposed to our wide range of sports:
We don’t just teach sport to children, we use sport as a mechanism to teach children about themselves.
Our classes make use of bright, exciting, kid-friendly equipment guaranteed to make learning motor skills easy and fun though activities such as:
Children are exposed to the wonders and benefits that sports participation, competence and a healthy, active lifestyle bring. We encourage active involvement from each child through sport being made simple and learning made fun.
Melbourne Montessori School also actively encourages families to park 4 or 5 blocks away from the school for drop-off and pick-up. This provides daily exercise, which is a well-documented health benefit for all.
Children are introduced to all aspects of science through simple experiments, research and practical experiences.
There is a gardening program in Cycle Three that mirrors the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. The children at MMS grow vegetables from seed, cultivate them in their vegetable gardens and cook the produce in the kitchen facilities that are an integral part of each classroom. The sciences come alive through this program – chemistry, botany and zoology (insects attracted to the garden, leftovers given to the room 2 rabbit, etc.).
The other aspect of Melbourne Montessori science that is experienced on a daily basis by the children is our program dedicated to environmental science and sustainability. The school harvests rainwater, composts, maintains a worm farm and is actively involved in a sustainability program through Glen Eira City Council.
The motto of the school is, ‘think global, act local.’
In the Cycle 3 classroom, the passion to learn reaches new heights as your child will plan their week and keep a diary of all they do and hold regular conferences with the teacher. They recognise that they are leaders in the school and the Year 6s run the school in many ways – leading Assemblies, organising fundraising, making schedules for lunch play etc.
They push the boundaries further with research and give presentations to the class using their chosen methods including digital technologies. They explore deep concepts which they select themselves from initial teachings developing greater understanding of:
- Mathematics and Number, geometry and probability, they begin algebra
- Selected class books lead them to discuss and debate deep questions
- Science topics eg the human body, winglets on planes
- Issues of today which they problem solve eg. making useful items from recycled materials
- More Fundamental Needs of Man
- Cooking and helping hungry children through the charity EatUP
- Performing Arts leading to a mid-year show
- PE including interschool sport
- Art – many artworks are displayed at the NGV or Zart Art