In addition to the strong academic curriculum at Pine Grove, our program values enrichment and
arts activities that we call “Specials”. These Specials are implemented on an ongoing, rotating basis
throughout the school year.
Music in the Montessori Classroom
Researchers have found that the arts, especially music, have a positive impact on reading, math,
writing, self-esteem and brain development. We begin our music curriculum with listening/silence
games that build auditory discrimination and concentration skills. Our year-long focus on singing
songs includes the “Top 100 Greatest Hits We Sing at Pine Grove”. We also incorporate a more
formal, rotating, three-part music curriculum. Highlights of our music program include:
An Introduction to the Orchestra and Musical Instruments: We will introduce the children to the four different families of musical instruments (brass, woodwinds, strings, percussion) which make up an orchestra, as well as let them listen to, explore and learn to identify the sounds that these instruments make.
Classical Composers/Music Composition and Theory: This unit exposes children to different composers’ lives and works, such as Mozart, Bach and Beethoven, as well as their particular musical genre. We use storytelling to educate the children and choose “master” works in order to spark the child’s interests and imagination. The children are also taught to distinguish between high and low pitch and may even have a chance to compose their own music.
Rhythm and Movement: The most appealing musical element to young children is rhythm and the natural response to rhythm is movement. Therefore, the body is the child’s first instrument through which the rhythms of music are reflected and interpreted. At Pine Grove we encourage children to tap to the music’s beat by using rhythm sticks and to creatively move their bodies as they interpret various types of music.
Spanish in the Montessori Classroom
The main focus of our Spanish lessons is to introduce the children to the Spanish language and culture in a friendly and inviting way. During Spanish lessons, Spanish teacher Senora Klara encourages the children to listen intently to absorb the proper intonation of the Spanish language and to mimic the vocabulary they have just heard in an echo format. They learn and practice new vocabulary through songs, games, mini conversations and puppets. Specific Spanish topics include:
People in a Family
Parts of the Body
Spanish lessons are incorporated into a Creative Circle bimonthly in our part-time preschool programs and once per week for our full-time programs. A Spanish shelf is an ongoing part of the Kindergarten classroom where children can engage in hands-on activities such as puzzles, games or bookmaking, in order to extend and reinforce previously presented concepts.
Sign Language in the Montessori Classroom
At Pine Grove School, we include American Sign Language, or ASL, as part of our curriculum. ASL is a visual language that uses hand movements and facial expressions and is the third most commonly used language in the United States today. It also aligns perfectly with the Montessori philosophy, in that it is multi-sensory (muscles, movement, looking, listening) and ties in closely with our anti-bias and peace themes.
The benefits of learning sign language are many and include the following:
Signing helps children to maintain focus in their school activities.
It helps children learn new vocabulary words and understand letters and letter sounds.
ASL helps to increase children’s self-esteem and pride.
Sign Language provides an alternative way to communicate needs, feelings and ideas, resulting in a more quiet classroom.
We begin by teaching the children classroom management signs, both informally as well as during a creative circle time, to use on a daily basis and add additional vocabulary as these signs are mastered. We utilize educational DVD’s, games, songs and literature and use signing often throughout our daily routine.
Art in the Montessori Classroom
At Pine Grove we provide children with a wide array
of art materials that are available in the classroom
starting on the first day of school. In keeping with
the Montessori philosophy, art materials are
introduced to the children over a period of time to
encourage success and to model taking care of the
materials in a respectful manner. We start simply
with crayons and colored pencils and gradually move
to media such as markers, finger paints, watercolors and tempera paints. Materials are available for gluing, paper punching, cutting, printing and stamping.
Our art program emphasizes the concept of “process over product”, where “process” refers to the child’s actual work of learning and “product” refers to a material result. This concept communicates to the child that it is she who is important, rather than what she is able to produce. The true rewards of a child’s efforts include his sense of discovery, his own delight at accomplishment and the integration of muscle, mind and emotion, which is the creative process.
Art Theory/Art Appreciation
In addition to the hands-on component of Art Studio, where children experiment with different media, Pine Grove incorporates Art Theory into the curriculum. Encouraging children to “think about art” connects them to the world of art beyond their own actions and allows them to discover meaning in the art created by others and in nature. We expose the children, through rotating art units, to famous artists as well as to different art forms such as architecture, photography, collage, abstract art and sculpture. Art becomes a way of perceiving and thinking about the world which creates a new level of understanding.
Children’s Games in the Montessori Classroom
Well-designed, active group games are more than just fun. They can help young children develop essential life skills that impact their development. Playing games allows children to build listening skills as well as social and cooperative skills and to gain enough self-control to focus. One afternoon per week, we get active at Pine Grove and teach and play classic children’s games such as Duck, Duck, Goose, Musical Chairs, Doggy, Doggy Where’s Your Bone? and Simon Says as well as newer games.