Learning at MSD
Students entering 1st – 6th grade
Since 1981, Montessori School of Duluth has provided exceptional preschool, kindergarten, and elementary education to children in Minnesota’s Twin Ports. In 2019, we opened a new toddler program. Through the years, our goal has remained the same. We guide each child to become a happy, self-motivated learner with a positive self-image and global perspective. At Montessori School of Duluth, children learn valuable educational, social, and life skills. At the same time, children’s innate need for order, learning through their senses, and working at their own pace are fostered. Unlike traditional models of education where children are expected to adapt and change to fit the system, Montessori education changes to fit the child. In this way, we aid children in their discovery of our world, and guide them toward being passionate, lifelong learners.
Schedule of the Day
7:30 AM – 8:45 AM Morning Recess
8:45 AM – 12:00 PM Morning Work Cycle
12:00 AM – 1:00 PM Lunch and Recess
(hot lunch program available)
1:00 PM – 1:30 PM Read Aloud
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM Afternoon Work Cycle
2:30 PM – 3:00 PM Classroom Care
3:00 PM – 3:30 PM Afternoon Recess
Our Elementary Program focuses on educating and nurturing the whole child: physically, intellectually, and spiritually. We foster a solid self-esteem and interpersonal skills within each child. Working as a team is especially important as the children grow. We offer team building activities, grace and courtesy lessons, and opportunities for students to learn and play together. Students are never compared to each other; instead they are treated as the individual they are. Our feedback to the students and their lessons reflect this feature.
The classroom environment is carefully designed for both utility and beauty. All work areas offer child-sized furniture and comfortable options for the social butterfly or the busy bee. Shelves are organized by subject and materials are displayed in tempting trays, so students can independently find work they’re interested in. The classroom has natural light and cozy lamps with as many plants as we have pots for!
It’s our great pleasure to offer live examples of the six basic animal classifications. We have two guinea pigs as mammals, one veiled chameleon reptile, two poison dart frogs as amphibians, several varieties of freshwater fish, invertebrates including Madagascar hissing roaches, blue cherry shrimp, darkling beetles, and aquatic snails, and a vibrant display of visiting birds at our bird feeder by the window. Why so many bugs? Insects are an important part of our ecosystem and we hope to offer students positive experiences with insects to mitigate insectophobia as they grow older.
Life is all weather, and so is learning. We are outside every day, rain, shine, or snow. In the fall we enjoy classes on a sun-warmed rock, in the winter we do chemistry experiments in the freezing weather, and in the spring we love tending our garden and climbing our cedar tree while spying on squirrels.
Our elementary guide takes pride in being present with each student, accepting them, working with them where they are and offering them perspective on where they might decide to go. Besides planning and implementing classroom projects and exciting works, she’s available to students’ questions, no matter how silly, adventurous, or embarrassing. She loves sharing her knowledge, lived experience, and passion for storytelling.
Mixed Age Classroom
At MSD children of the same developmental stage (grades 1-6) share one classroom. Montessori education understands that learning is social as well as intellectual. The Montessori multi-age classroom models the real world, and affords opportunities for children to interact with each other in a constructive way, mastering social and leadership skills to thrive in a diverse world. Mixed-age classrooms allow the older children to become mentors to the younger ones, and thereby be inspired to reach their own potential.
The classroom teacher guides the children by presenting carefully designed materials and then allowing them to work at their own pace. The following areas of work are presented in the Elementary:
Math is taught with concrete material so students can see and feel the math as they learn. As students progress, they transition into abstract math including algebra. This is possible because of the solid foundation in arithmetic and geometry. Students learn real world applications for the skills they learn, for example measuring the room to make a model, adding up servings to help prepare their peers’ snacks, and taking part in a classroom market.
Language Arts is mastered by training the hand to keep up with the mind. Students practice their fine motor skills with sand writing, cursive practice, and eventually calligraphy. Reading a story and making it come to life with discussion and acting is another activity in our classroom. Storytelling is a huge part of our curriculum. Students get to practice writing about their own lives or creating their own works of fiction. Grammar is taught with physical blocks that help students get a firm handle on the grammatical rules both intellectually and physically.
Social studies is taught through hands-on activities and storytelling. Students get the chance to recreate the oldest known text (cuneiform) in clay as our ancestors once did, they build ancient architecture, and rediscover the smells of the spice trade on the Silk Road. Social Studies and historical stories are learned best when experienced with the senses.
Science is a part of our everyday lives and our students are young scientists from day one. We learn botanical nomenclature by getting our hands in the soil, the food web is discovered by caring for our classroom pets and through active games that get the feet moving and the heart racing. The class is filled with anatomical models, molecular building blocks, and hand-held solar systems, so no concept is too big or too small to touch.
Art is offered every day. Students are encouraged to demonstrate their knowledge in all subjects by incorporating art. Why learn global climate zones without also exploring color theory? Working on developing a deeper understanding of shadows? Let’s include a shadow puppet or two. The popularity of graphic novels is sweeping the nation, and it’s sweeping through our language arts lessons too!
Our Second Language is American Sign Language (ASL), which is offered through a partnership with UMD.