The CASA program is for children from 2 years 6 months to 6 years. They are grouped into three classrooms depending on their age, Junior Montessori, Senior Montessori and Senior Academic.
The CASA children learn by doing. The classroom, where everything is just their size, is full of beautiful things.
The concrete materials let children explore the world through their senses, through touch and motion, and by observing and engaging with others. Teachers guide students through the curriculum as children are ready for each new challenge, introducing lessons and then letting children practice what they have learned. As children grow, the classroom materials grow with them in the sense that older children use the materials to explore the curriculum in new and deeper ways.
The 3-6-year-old goes through an intense period of change, including the transition to cooperative play and more complex social interactions, a language explosion leading to beginning skills in writing and reading, the emergence of number sense and the foundations of math, and great changes in physical development.
The Montessori teacher responds to these changes in social and emotional, cognitive, and physical development with appropriate lessons to support each child’s growth and emerging capabilities.
Primary children come to school five days a week and may choose to stay for just mornings or a full day. Kindergarteners enjoy a full day of school.
What a child chooses to do in a Montessori classroom depends upon their current interests and needs. The activities available are designed to be interactive to help the children to teach themselves.
The materials and activities generally fall into several groups.
Practical Life activities are central to the Montessori classroom and prepare the child for all other areas.
The emphasis is on practicing skills – the process is more important than the product. Practical Life exercises give children the opportunity to refine their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, hand strength, balance, concentration and ability to do things for themselves.
Through the repetition of Practical Life activities, children develop practical skills that will serve them all their lives. Some of the Primary Practical Life exercises include Pouring, Lacing, Scooping, Flower Arranging, Food Preparation and Serving, and Table Washing.
Language pervades the Montessori classroom and crosses all curriculum areas. The young child is introduced to the names of things, sounds and letters, while the older child may be beginning to read. Language materials are often tactile, taking advantage of the 3 and 4-year-old sensitivity to learning through touch.
Writing often comes early to the Montessori child through the use of concrete materials, like the pre-cut letters of the Moveable Alphabet, that allow her to express her knowledge without needing precise control of a pencil. Language Materials include Sandpaper Letters, Language Objects for initial sounds practice, word and picture Matching Cards, a Farm activity to develop vocabulary and Early Reader books.
Sensorial materials are designed to help children learn about qualities like colour, size, shape, length, texture, and sound. 3-6-year-olds are increasingly able to make finer and finer discriminations of the many stimuli all around them.
Sensorial activities assist children in refining this skill and becoming good observers of the world. Sensorial materials in the Primary classroom include Knobbed Cylinders for practice with dimension, Color Tablets, Rough and Smooth Boards, Geometric Solids, the Pink Tower, and the Binomial Cube.
Concrete materials are used to introduce mathematical concepts in the Montessori classroom. Children build their abstract mathematical reasoning skills on these early concrete experiences. They learn how a numeral represents an amount.
They manipulate objects to see concrete operations like addition and subtraction. These exercises cater to children’s developing sense of order, sequence, one-to-one correspondence and directionality.
Primary Math activities include Sandpaper Numerals, the Spindle Box for counting, Numerals and Counters, the Hundred Board, Bead Chains, and Golden Beads to introduce the decimal system.
Geography is an important part of the Montessori curriculum. The curriculum begins with the two hemispheres of Earth and becomes more and more detailed as children learn about continents, and then countries.
The very young child will use the wooden puzzle maps as puzzles, but the older child can use the pieces as a guide as he makes his own maps, labelled with his own handwriting when he is ready.
Science and Nature
Children are introduced to many topics and learn to make predictions in their Science and Nature activities. The land and water work, introducing the concepts of Lake and Island, is closely connected to the Geography curriculum. Children learn about volcanoes, the layers of the Earth and the solar system.
They go on nature walks and then research the leaves, seeds or flowers they have found. They learn to classify things, predict the results of experiments and test their predictions.
The Science and Nature curriculum is designed not only to help children discover facts but to honour the sense of wonder they have about the world. Activities include Sink or Float, Living or Non-Living, Magnetic or Non-Magnetic, Land and Water Forms, the Structure of the Earth and Botany.
Grace and Courtesy
In the Montessori classroom, children and adults take care to be gracious toward and courteous of one another. This area of the curriculum encourages respect for oneself, for other members of the community, for the living things in the classroom, and for the environment.
Carrying things carefully, returning them to their place so others may use them, moving gracefully and carefully, using polite and respectful language, showing consideration to others, good table manners, properly introducing oneself, and interrupting politely are all part of the lessons in Grace and Courtesy.
The children are introduced to the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, parts of the body etc.
They learn how to introduce themselves and give basic information about themselves.
They also enjoy the language through stories and songs.