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Curriculum in Upper Elementary (ages 9-12)

The Willow North East & Willow South Communities


The work cycle includes small group lessons in math and language and larger lessons in history, science, and peace to continue the study of The Great Lessons.


Upper Elementary students also enjoy opportunities to delve deeper into their developing skills and interests through the following curricular programs:


An Upper Elementary guide works with a UE child, encouraging them to keep trying

 “An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking: it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to times in which they live.”

– Dr. Maria Montessori, Education and Peace

Culminating Projects

Students in Upper Elementary focus deeply on specific curriculum areas each year of their journey, building knowledge and synthesizing it into larger understanding over the course of the year.


Each spring they plan, develop, and present a culminating project in that field which demonstrates their understanding to their peers and their community. These projects are seen as a well-earned rite of passage and are met with joy and a compelling desire to demonstrate one’s authority in the field.


Fourth-year students study the history of early humans, following the evolutionary path of human traits such as walking upright or developing speech through the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic periods, and on to the Iron Age. For their culminating project, they research one of these ages in depth, analyzing what technological or social developments occurred and how these changed human civilization.


Fifth-year students delve deeply into geology, meteorology, and the scientific method. They learn the processes of scientific thought, and how to ask and answer questions with the scientific method. Their spring science fair highlights a wide array of intriguing projects and the reasoning behind them. It is easy – and entirely worth it – to spend the entire afternoon in spirited discussion with our burgeoning scientists.


The independence and skills fostered throughout Upper Elementary culminates in the sixth-year Empowerment Project. Students choose an area about which they are passionate and research its history and cultural context, experience real-world learning in their area, design and implement a community service project, and finally present their journey through both a formal research paper and slide presentation.


Global Explorium: Supplies for Change

This is the nonprofit store run by Upper Elementary students supporting the United Nations 17 Sustainability Goals. Each year Willow students will choose a sustainable development goal and an area of the world to support. The students do all of the work of running the store, from purchasing and pricing items to creating catalogs.


Students are also able to earn Business Manager licenses as they develop oversight and governance skills. 


Community Hour

A thriving community is the basis for much of the work we do in Upper Elementary, from discussing the latest ideas in cultural studies to connecting with others as independent and purposeful people.


We support our students’ developmental social drive during weekly Community Hour activities. Each Friday afternoon, time is set aside for students to participate in a community-forming activity, such as drama, work in Upendo, caring for our flora and fauna, art, and games.


As a welcome side benefit to community building, insights from observing students in their social element allow guides to support and celebrate the interesting and diverse young people who make up the Willow community.


Interested in joining the St. Vrain Community Montessori School community?

Check out our enrollment information for K-8.


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