Montessori Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary

The elementary Montessori materials center around sets of large impressionistic charts. These are the core material for the elementary age (where we had lots of trays for the primary child).

It is that time of year that people have been facing the reality of creating these Montessori impressionistic charts by hand or purchasing sets. And the options grow each year.

In reviewing many links lately to various Montessori Elementary Impressionistic charts, an overwhelming concern has arisen.

So many of the advertised impressionistic charts are divided by "lower elementary" and "upper elementary". I just looked at a site a few minutes ago (the one that is prompting this Montessori Nugget!) - that specifically states that the geography album chapters 1, 2, and 3 are lower elementary and chapters 4, 5, and 6 are upper elementary. I verified that their chapter headings correspond with the AMI albums (although this is an AMS site).

This is SO FAR from the truth! ALL SIX chapters are intended for BOTH ages! Not in entirety (each album page might cover 1-6 years of study alone, let alone an entire chapter).

Montessori albums are NOT curriculum guides. They are organized in the way they are for the ADULT to find what they need in order to present to the children according to their interests. You don't just move through the album from page 1 to the end in exact order, with no regard for the child in front of you....

The geography chapters in the AMI album:

Chapter I: Creation of the Earth/Idea of the Universe -
almost all of this chapter happens in lower; all should be repeated in upper, with extensions and final lessons

  • God with No Hands 
  • Experiments with God with No Hands 
  • Notes on the Story 
  • Follow-Ups to the Story 
  • Composition of the Earth 
  • Further Details of the Composition of the Earth 
  • Formation of the Mountains 

Chapter II: Nature of the Elements -
mostly lower elementary, but extensions/review into upper elementary

  • Three States of Matter 
  • Further States of Matter 
  • Different Ways of Combining 
  • Separation, Saturation, Super-saturation 
  • Attraction and Gravity 

Chapter III: The Sun and the Earth -
all of it at both ages in various depths of study

  • Rotation of the Earth and Its Consequences 
  • Time Zone Chart 
  • Earth as a Sphere and Its Result 
  • Tilt of the Axis 
  • Seasons and the Two Tropics 
  • The Zones 
  • Zones’ Work Chart 
  • Protractor Chart 
  • Seasons Work Chart 
  • Protection of the Atmosphere and the Rains 

Chapter IV: The Work of Air - 
all of it at both ages in various depths of study

  • Experiments Prelude to the Winds 
  • The Winds 
  • Land and Sea Breezes 
  • Changes in the Winds Caused by the Seasons 
  • Rains 
  • Work Chart of the Winds 
  • Ocean Currents Caused by Winds 
  • Wind as a Sculptor 

Chapter V: The Work of Water - 
all of it at both ages in various depths of study

  • The River 
  • The Rains 
  • Ocean Waves 
  • Ice 
  • Water Cycle 
  • Spread of Vegetation 
  • People in Different Zones 

Chapter VI: Human Geography

  • Interdependence of Human Beings in Society  (SPECIFICALLY noted as lower elementary)
  • Economic Geography  (early stages are lower elementary; later stages upper)
  • Study of Natural Resources (this album page onward, typically upper elementary, but lower elementary for those interested - although the TOPICS can be introduced at the lower elementary level for each of the topics in the chapter)
  • What is Produced and Where 
  • Study of Consumption 
  • Comparison of Production and Consumption
  • Imports and Exports 
  • Volume of World Trade
  • World Commerce

We could say that EACH CHAPTER covers the scope of SIX YEARS OF STUDY. Other studies are interspersed, chapters overlap within the one album, and the child has other personal studies of interest. Some topics just won't be touched in year 1, due to time constraints, but they COULD be done in year 1 if the child has interest. There is flexibility here - not a rigid set of "when" - we are not dictating which entire chapters are for a particular age. We have suggested ages, not dictated ages.

So let's NOT ignore the primary Montessori principle of "follow the child" when we are planning which lessons to give. Not a free-for-all following, but an honest exploration of interests and expansion of experiences to discover new interests.