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Upper Elementary | Grades 4–6

Upper Elementary Curriculum

Curriculum by Subject Area

List of 15 items.

  • Curriculum Overview

    The Upper Elementary curriculum is a dynamic continuation of the work and studies from the previous levels. This next level of education guides the students as they move away from more concrete, fact-based learning, into an age of abstraction and reason. Fueled by exceptional strong imaginations and a desire to understand how things work, the Upper Elementary Students are well prepare for a curriculum that challenges them with advanced ideas in literature, history, science, mathematics, and language.
    As the students continue through what Dr. Montessori called the Intellectual Period, they develop intellectually, socially and morally, as active participants in their classroom communities and their own learning. Hands-on learning, coupled with more abstract work, discussions, and experiential education, create a balance of learning experiences for the active minds and bodies of the Upper Elementary student. Group work is highlighted throughout the curriculum, to create a productive and positive outlet for their very social students. Ongoing independent work is also vital, and allows students to challenge themselves, hone organizational skills and build a solid foundation of academic skills.
  • English Language Arts

    In Upper Elementary we continue to give students the practical tools for encoding and decoding words, sentences, and paragraphs, yet this is never seen as an isolated exercise. With a more sophisticated level of language comes greater refinement in its use. While students continue to benefit from concrete experience with concepts in grammar and mechanics, they also explore the study of language as an ongoing creative process of research, ideas, and imagination.
    Language: At this level, we support the development of language skills, including vocabulary, grammar, and reading comprehension, through a multi-faceted approach that follows the Montessori language continuum and utilizes both Montessori and leading research-based literacy materials. Through direct teacher instruction and independent work, students learn, hone, and master new skills in language development.

    Spelling/Vocabulary: Students move from simple to more complex material in a sequential, logical manner that enables them to master important skills. They begin with the Words Their Way spelling curriculum and/or the Wordly Wise vocabulary program. As students progress, they work with a variety of language materials that meet their individual needs, including Classical Roots vocabulary card work and word study.

    Writing: In addition to individualized Montessori language work, students participate in Writers’ Workshop three times a week. During these sessions, students receive purposeful mini-lessons on style, voice, word choice, organization, writing mechanics, and distinguishing between the writing components of expository and narrative writing. Lessons are modeled after literacy expert Lucy Calkins’s Reading & Writing Program developed at Columbia University’s Teachers College. This program focuses on writing fluency and honing one's own writing voice. Students learn to edit their prose as professional writers do, using a process called the Writer’s Conference.

    Literature: UE students meet multiple times per week in small Literature Circles. In a roundtable format, they discuss a text, ask questions, and explore challenging literary concepts such as symbolism, theme, character, and plot development. During each session, students take on roles (e.g., summarizer, discussion director, word finder, connector) that empower them to participate, lead discussions, and gain multiple perspectives. Literature Circles help strengthen reading comprehension through discussion of open-ended questions, making predictions, reviewing character traits, identifying foreshadowing, and drawing inferences and conclusions. They also heighten awareness of author’s craft and how those elements can benefit a student’s own writing. Reading fluency is boosted through Reader’s Theater and other proven methods. We highly encourage reading aloud in school as well as at home.

    In grades 4–6 our curriculum covers the following:
    • Phonics
    • Word study
    • Grammar
    • Language mechanics
    • Handwriting and fine motor skills
    • Writing
    • Research skills
    • Reading and literature for understanding
    • Elements of literature
    • Major genres
    • Prose, poetry, plays
    • Folktales, legends, myths
    • Newspapers and current events
    • Sayings, phrases, idioms
    • Oral reading
    • Oral language
    Read More
  • Math

    Following the Montessori math curriculum, students move from concrete to abstract mathematical operations during their Upper Elementary years. In addition to Montessori math manipulatives, they work with complementary workbooks and curricular materials that reinforce specific math concepts and skills. Students meet with teachers in small skills-based groups throughout the week to receive direct instruction. As they progress through the curriculum, gain momentum, and make developmental strides, we help them build the critical skills and strategies of mathematical problem-solving. This further supports students as they prepare for the rigors of the Middle School mathematics program.

    Reading and writing numbers
    • Ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, millions, billions
    • Comparing numbers
    • Greater than, less than
    • Introduction to estimation
    • Ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, millions, billion
    • Static addition
    • Dynamic addition
    • Static multiplication
    • Dynamic multiplication
    • Geometric multiplication
    • Powers of numbers
    o Ten to the power 1-6
    o Powers of two cube
    o Explore powers
    o Exponential notation
    • Multiples
    o One set of multiples 1-6
    o More than one set of multiples
    o Least common multiple

    • Static Division
    • Divisibility
    o By two
    o By four and five
    o By 25
    o By nine
    • Dynamic division
    • Test tubes
    • Without material
    • Estimation
    • Word problems

    Problem-solving/word problems
    • One step
    • Two step
    • Multiple step

    • Greatest common factors
    • Factor trees
    • Prime factors

    • Equivalence
    • Simplifying
    • Changing improper fractions to mixed numbers and vice versa
    • Adding like denominators
    • Subtracting like denominators
    • Adding and subtracting mixed numbers with like denominators
    • Adding with different denominators
    • Subtracting with different denominators
    • Multiplying fractions
    • Multiplying mixed numbers
    • Dividing fractions
    • Dividing mixed numbers


    • Reading and writing decimals, tenths—billionths
    • Addition
    • Subtraction
    • Multiplication
    o Geometric multiplication
    • Division
    • Changing decimals to fractions and fractions to decimals

    • Fraction to decimal
    • Decimal to percent
    • Percent to fraction
    • Word problems

    • Number line
    • Negative snake addition
    • Negative snake subtraction
    • Comparing integers

    Rules for functions

    Word problems

    • Concept, language, and notation
    • Ratios as an indicated division
    • Problem-solving with ratios

    • Concept, language, and notation
    • Cross multiplication
    • Problem-solving using proportion

    Introduction to Algebra
    • Concept of equation, balancing equations
    • Isolating the unknowns
    • Order of operations
    • Word problems
    Read More
  • Science

    At the Upper Elementary level, Science is a core curricular area. We employ a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to science that is compatible with the Montessori philosophy and motivates and stimulates curiosity. Students learn to think scientifically by investigating, experimenting, gathering data, organizing results, and drawing conclusions based on their actions and observations.

    • Follow-up questions to weekly experiments motivate students to think about new ideas and help them realize connections to other areas of study. 
    • Recall questions get students to remember information.
    • Integrating questions spur them to process information. 
    • Open-ended questions challenge them to infer, create, and solve problems. 
    • Thematic questions help them realize connections between scientific ideas and processes. 
    The elementary years are a time of wonderment and awe. This underlies our approach to science education, as we seek to encourage and harness this natural inclination. Students engage in adventurous scientific pursuits inside the classroom and around the school grounds. Each individual has a site on campus designated as a “sit spot” – their own space to observe the changes both large and small that occur in nature throughout the year. This is an excellent opportunity to hone scientific habits of mind, particularly those related to observation. At the Outdoor Classroom. and all around our campus, students grow vegetables, observe wildlife, and classify organisms.
    Fall: For one cycle each fall, students are grouped together by grade level for the study of human body systems. Each year begins with developmentally appropriate lessons on puberty, reproductive anatomy, and the reproductive system. Fourth graders focus on the digestive system, fifth graders study the respiratory system, while sixth graders learn more about the reproductive system. By including these lessons in our Science curriculum we hope to normalize discussions of all aspects of our bodies. This work is supported by lessons in Life Skills related to the emotional changes experienced by children in pre- to early-adolescence. We encourage you to continue these conversations at home.
    Spring: Students study both environmental and ecological science in preparation for a three-day, two-night trip dedicated to field studies. Fourth and fifth graders attend Ferry Beach Ecology School, while sixth graders attend Chewonki Outdoor Classroom, both in Maine. 

    Our UE Science curriculum covers the following areas:

    Life Science
    • Environments
    • Food and nutrition
    • Human body
    • Multi-day experiential field trips
    Physical Science
    • Physics of sound
    • Magnetism and electricity
    • Levers and pulleys
    • Mixtures and solutions
    Earth Science
    • Solar energy
    • Land forms
    • Multi-day experiential field trips
    Scientific Reasoning and Technology
    • Variables
    • Measurement
    • Models and design
    Read More
  • World Languages: Spanish

    All Upper Elementary students take Spanish. The Spanish program is designed to enable students to speak and write their basic thoughts and questions in a second language. The curriculum utilizes a combination of speaking, writing, and activities that are often based on music, art or Total Physical Response. Students learn to express themselves in a second language environment that promotes confidence and creativity.
    Upper Elementary Focus:
    • Conversation
    • Verb tenses
    • Basic writing skills
    • Games and interactive activities
  • Cultural Studies

    Inly presents a school-wide, three-year rotation of content so special events such as cultural festivals, assemblies, field trips, and reading lists can be thematically planned for the whole school. Each year, a central question is posed and each level has its own sub-questions that focus the lessons and studies. Each level delves into the year's subject according to its appropriate developmental capabilities.

    Year One: Ancient Civilizations
    The school-wide question is:
    • "How and why were ancient civilizations created?"
    The Upper Elementary focus is:
    • "Why does oral tradition exist?"
    • "Why did some civilizations thrive and some fail?"
    • "How did religion shape civilization?"
    • "How did social structures shape civilization?"
    • "What makes an ancient civilization ancient?"
    • "What can we infer from the artifacts we find?"
    • "What inventions were created to improve the life styles of early cultures?"
    Year Two: American Civilization
    The school-wide central question is:
    • "How and why has American civilization changed?
    The Upper Elementary focus is:
    • "What does it mean to be an American?"
    • "How has immigration influenced and changed American civilization?"
    • "What events have changed America?"
    • "How have the ideas of peace and freedom shaped democracy?"
    • "How has war shaped and changed democracy?"
    • "Do heroes and heroines impact our lives?"
    Year Three: World Civilizations
    The school-wide central question is:
    • "How and why do world civilizations connect?"
    The Upper Elementary focus is:
    • "How are cultures around the world similar and different?"
    • "What cultural challenges might one face as a guest or host?"
    • "How do people from different cultures tell stories?"
    • "How are various countries governed?"
    • "Can world civilizations coexist in peace?"
  • Geography

    • Physical geography
    • Political geography
    • Economic geography
  • Sixth-Grade Capstone Project

    Throughout the year, sixth-grade students – with the support of an advisor and library staff – learn how to develop a specific thesis based on a subject of importance or high interest to them; perform in-depth research and interviews; write focused, comprehensive essays that support this thesis; and creatively present their learning and ideas in front of an audience. Examples of topics from years past include: creating a cooking or sewing business, organizing a dance recital, painting several works of art in different styles, and examining the future potential of different technologies, such as wireless power and forensic animation.

    The Capstone process begins in the fall, when students brainstorm individual questions about multiple topics and select an appropriate, sustainable question and thesis to pursue throughout the year. Then students meet each week for direct instruction on elements of research, communication, expository writing, creative expression, and long-term planning skills, within their UE classroom and in their weekly Library/Technology classes. With the help of an advisor, students are also responsible for developing a weekly plan that allows for both classwork and Capstone work.
  • Service Learning

    Upper Elementary students are curious about the world and their place in it. Our UE Service Learning Program was developed to respond to and thoughtfully direct this natural tendency. Each Friday afternoon, UE students engage in service to the community that subsequently deepens and broadens their understanding of a topic. After studying a topic and engaging in service, they then share their learning with the Inly community.

    Farming at Inly makes up one service learning track. Students spend one of their three years in UE immersed in the work involved in each season of the Inly Organic Gardens. This learning – what Montessori termed “Cosmic Education” – is a natural and important extension of our students’ study and experiences.

    For the other two years, students participate in environmental and human service projects in the larger South Shore community. In addition to projects on Inly’s campus, we are once again teaming with local organizations including the North and South River Watershed Association, the Scituate Senior Center, Weir River Farm and Stellwagen Bank (NOAA) to create rich experiential learning opportunities for our students.
  • Practical Life

    Life Skills 
    An integral part of the UE curriculum, our Life Skills program helps our students develop skills that allow them to build healthy and lasting relationships. At all levels, our curriculum includes topics such as friendship, decision-making, stereotypes, puberty and health, with each grade level involved in relevant and developmentally appropriate discussions.

    In addition, Life Skills in fourth grade focuses on study skills, organization, time management, digital citizenship and the important tools needed to navigate Upper Elementary. In fifth grade, we continue these discussions and explore more global topics, such as the development of empathy and the roles and responsibilities in our community and the broader world.

    Sixth-grade students grapple with more complex issues that are increasingly relevant to them such as social media, privacy, media manipulation, and developing healthy self-esteem. Much of Life Skills is facilitated through group discussion to create a rapport where we, in tandem with our parent allies, can become trusted resources for social challenges. We encourage impromptu discussions both at school and at home around decision-making, identity and the social-emotional considerations of living in a 21st-century environment.

    Community Service
    We believe that service beyond the classroom promotes respect and awareness beyond our global community. All elementary students participate in school-wide projects.

    Practical Life Curriculum
    Practical Life exercises include care for self, others and the environment. To further their sense of independence, students practice life skills like time management and organizational skills by coming to lessons prepared and keeping track of both class and homework assignments.

    Physical Skills
    • Coordination of fine motor and gross movements
    • Balance and exactness of movement
    • Sensory awareness
    Respect and Care of Environment
    • Indoor environment
         -Caring for plants and animals
         -Caring for the classroom and coat areas
         -Food preparation
    • Outdoor environment

    Grace, courtesy and etiquette
    • Extending kindness and empathy to others
    • Sharing and taking turns
    • Care of self
    • Health and safety
    • Nutrition and food preparation
    • Time management skills
    • Organizational skills
    • Problem solving
    • Time management
  • Visual Arts

    The Inly Visual Arts program seeks to foster creativity, problem solving, and self-expression as it relates to each child's level of development from toddler to middle school. Art lessons use a variety of auditory, kinesthetic, and visual components. Students are encouraged to experience the art process as each concept is presented utilizing a variety of 2-D and 3-D materials to help them truly absorb and understand the lesson's objectives. Lessons include drawing, painting, sculpture, collage making, and print making.
    Students will recognize and understand concepts of line/shape/form:
    • how a connection of point becomes a line
    • how a 2-D shape becomes a 3-D shape-as in sculpture
    • how a closed line of points becomes a line-showing movement, edges and expressing feelings.
    Students will recognize and understand concepts of color:
    • color terms and definitions: hue, value, shade, chroma, primary, secondary and intermediate colors
    • monochromatic/complementary colors
    • color wheel: the colors and sequences
    Students will recognize and understand concepts of texture:
    • surface variations-implied or actual markings
    • sense varying texture by touch and sight
    • describe textures with words
    • create a variety of textures
    Students will recognize and understand basic patterns of organization:
    • repetition/pattern
    • sequence
    • universal basic structures: radial, spiral, dendritic/branching, orbital, gradient, mosaic, modular chain, grid, waves closure, symmetry and rhythm
    Students will recognize whole-to-part relationships:
    • process of reduction of whole to parts
    • process of construction of parts to a whole
    • grouping by similarities and differences
    • spatial awareness-positive and negative space
    Students will recognize and understand the processes of change:
    • sequential process
    • abstraction
    • relationships between objects and symbols before and after change occurs
    • transformation
    • cycles of nature and time
  • Movement Arts

    The ultimate goal of the Inly Movement Arts program is to assist all children along the path to lifetime physical fitness, which aligns with our holistic mission. The benefits of this journey are many: health, longevity, positive body image, improved overall self-esteem and increased energy and concentration in all areas. All students from toddler to middle school participate regularly in movement arts classes and activities.
    Our Movement Arts program embraces the philosophy of the school as a whole. The program, at each level, is responsive to the needs and interests of the children, and the ultimate goal is the joyful discovery of movement and its benefits, both physical and psychological.
    Inly Movement Arts seeks to benefit all children, not just those with particular interest or talent in this area. Volumes have been written about the connection between body image and overall self-esteem, as well as the dangers of introducing children to competitive sports at an early age. Care is taken to keep the emphasis on fitness and fun, as opposed to individual superiority of skills.
    Upper Elementary Focus:
    • Advanced locomotor and axial movement skills
    • Yoga fundamentals
    • Creative self-expression through dance, movement and composition
    • Group dynamics in team activities
    • Basic movement analysis
  • Music

    The Music curriculum combines individual and group work with work designed to appeal to a variety of learning styles. This directly relates to our philosophy of enhancing the Montessori philosophy with other innovative methods. The Music curriculum also offers significant opportunities to build community through our numerous performances, field trips and assemblies.
    Upper Elementary Focus:
    • Memorization of longer form songs and multi-part harmony
    • Creating own compositions for voice, instruments and groups
    • More advanced drama exercises and art and music integration
  • Athletics

    All Inly sports curriculum units include stretching, running, basic movements and games. Students participate in skill building games focusing on developing team building, learning individual strengths and areas for development, self-discipline, coordination, balance, endurance, sportsmanship, overall fitness and skill building for specific sports.
    Students are introduced to a variety of games and exercise, throwing and catching, relay races, obstacle courses and drills. They also learn the fundamentals of soccer, basketball, and flag football building to the ability to scrimmage and play games.
  • Library and Technology

    The Upper Elementary Technology and Library program provides an opportunity for 4th, 5th and 6th grade students to extend their classroom studies while acquiring new skills, exploring their interests, and practicing research methods in a teacher-supported learning environment. All of their work is in the service of preparing students to be socially responsible lifelong learners.

    The class is co-taught by both the Librarian and Technology Integrationist. During class sessions, all students will select their monthly genre book and share their reading selections with their classmates. Students will also read and discuss current events – selected by the instructor to be age appropriate and accessible. The technology curriculum will focus on the responsibilities of digital citizenship, digital literacy, networking fundamentals, synthesizing and sharing information, and the ways they can utilize methods of communication to share their work. All Upper Elementary students spend 30 minutes a week either with the Librarian or Technology Director working on classroom initiated projects.
    Library lessons teach students how to:
    • Effectively use a book to answer specific inquiries
    • Choose and use a variety of other reference materials
    • Create a bibliography/source page
    • Judge source materials
    • Answer questions verbally, or in writing, about a selected read
    • Narrow or broaden an inquiry
    • Evaluate and restate information in his/her own words from reference sources
    • Take notes for research projects and papers

    The UE Technology curriculum covers the following:
    • In support of curriculum, students will learn and/or use software tools such as word processing, drawing, presentation, database, spreadsheet, digital image manipulation, and mixed media
    • Keyboarding practice

Curriculum Map: Upper Elementary

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Inly School

46 Watch Hill Drive | Scituate, MA 02066
Tel: 781-545-5544 | Fax: 781-545-6522
Welcome to Inly, a private, independent Montessori school with innovative programs that inspire toddlers, preschool and K-8 students to become independent, lifelong learners. Our inviting community draws students from 20 towns on the South Shore of Boston,
including Scituate, Cohasset, Hingham, Norwell, Hanover, Marshfield, Pembroke, Plymouth and Hull.
Inly School admits students of any race, color, religious affiliation, national and ethnic origin, and without regard to disability, to all rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at our school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religious affiliation, national and ethnic origin, or disability in the administration of our educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other school administered programs.