Upper elementary is a time when children move from concrete reasoning to abstract thinking as they seek to bring order to the various disconnected facts and ideas they encounter in the world. Dr. Montessori found that children of this age were going through a key stage of moral development. No longer focused on just good vs bad, and right vs. wrong, upper elementary children begin to look for people's motivations for their behaviour. Children are now able to use their imagination to analyze moral situations and come up with multiple possible solutions.

Research has shown that children at this age also start to prefer to work with other students of the same gender as they move towards being more independent from the adults in their lives. They start to choose work that interests both themselves and their peers, as they mostly prefer to work together with other children instead of alone. The Montessori elementary Junior School Learning Community (JSLC) at Odyssey Heights allows girls a great opportunity to find other girls with similar interests as the 25+ days of OE3 overnight trips gives girls the opportunity to really get to know their peers. Our admissions process takes girls' interests into account, and focuses on how each applicant can contribute to the JSLC. 

Many of the Montessori lessons and materials are developed to be used both independently and in small groups. Our elementary teachers are trained to observe both our students' academic progress and social development, and to be conscious of both when planning lessons.

Curriculum areas include:

  • Mathematics: whole numbers, fractions, negative numbers, pre-algebra, geometry, practical applications, mental math and number facts, 
  • Language Arts: grammar, spelling, reading, writing fiction and non-fiction, book publishing (interactive iBooks and paper books), speeches and presentations, word study, Latin and Greek roots of English words,
  • French: Speaking, listening, vocabulary, writing, culture, reading, moving towards bilingualism at each student's own pace, Click here to learn more about the French program at Odyssey Heights.

  • Culture: physical and cultural geography; world and Canadian history;
  • Sciences: zoology, botany, ecology, chemistry, physics, astronomy and geology, health sciences, equine (horse) science, scientific method and science experiments,
  • Technology and Engineering:effective and appropriate iPad use for learning, Raspberry Pi computing, robotics, graphic and website design, electronics and electricity, coding, STEM design process, history of computing and the web, women in technology and engineering, web and social media safety; (Note: all websites created by students at the elementary level are private, secure password protected, and teacher controlled sites.)

Teachers ensure that students have an in-depth mastery of important academic skills that are key for success in middle and secondary school including:

  • grammar, reading, and writing; 
  • mental math and math facts;
  • both cursive handwriting writing and keyboarding;
  • organizational, time management, research, and study skills; 
  • effective, safe, and appropriate use of technology for learning;

Teachers guide students through progressively challenging lessons using multi-sensory materials and approaches, daily observation, and ongoing assessment of students. Instead of report cards just a few times a year, Odyssey Heights School emails weekly reports to parents of our elementary students, so parents are always up to date on their daughter's learning. OHS also has student run conferences several times a year where students teach their parents and family members the topics they have learned about. We also have twice yearly visual and performing arts showcases for students to display their visual arts in a student designed gallery and perform dance and other performing arts to an audience.

The Five Great Lessons/Themes in Montessori Elementary

Conscious of the fact that elementary students are seeking to figure out their place as social individuals in the world and are beginning to wonder about the history of the world, She developed five themes - "The Five Great Lessons" to engage their imagination, and to provide context to their school work. 

These are:

1) The Beginning of the Universe and the Earth: The big bang, solar system, geology, physical geography, and chemistry; POGO day field trips include the Science Centre, the ROM, the Cheltenham Badlands Trail, and the Niagara Escarpment. On the first overnight OE3 trip to Long Point students learn about astronomy at the Long Point Observatory with it's 16 inch telescope.

2) Life Comes to Earth: bacteria, classification of animals and plants, evolution, dinosaurs, geologic time scale, continents, photosynthesis (carbon dioxide, oxygen, and water); POGO day field trips include the Science Centre, the ROM, Rouge Park and/or Dundas Valley. During OE3 trips students learn to identify plants, rocks, and animals and their tracks.

3) Humans Come to Earth: ancient civilizations, history of material culture (tools, clothing, shelter, transportation, food preparation and storage, art, defence), fundamental needs of people, understanding and respect for different religions and spiritual beliefs, and cultural geography. POGO day field trips include trips to the ROM, Woodland Cultural Centre, the AGO, and Black Creek Pioneer Village.

4) How Writing Began: history of writing, hieroglyphic and cuneiform writing, different alphabets, writing systems (characters and alphabets), ancient civilizations, printing press; OHS also includes some 20-21st century digital writing history (ie history of blogging, social media,). POGO day field trips include the ROM, MacKenzie House museum to see the printing press in action.

5) How Numbers Began: history of numbers, history of mathematics, different number systems, how 'zero' was 'invented', the invention of calendars, systems and units of measurement, economic geography; At Odyssey Heights we also include the history of computing, and the history of women in mathematics. Girls read either the full version or the junior version of "Hidden Figures" in their book clubs, and learn about Ada Lovelace - the first computer programmer.

While the First Great Lesson (theme) is taught early in the year, teachers allow students time to absorb and explore each Great Lesson before introducing the next. At Odyssey Heights, Great Lessons are rotated over the years with two lessons per year shared with the whole community. This provides a couple of themes to explore in depth each year, and gives our girls a focus when they help plan the student planned POGO days (Project or Going Out). All subjects in the curriculum are still studied every year, with the Great Lessons providing a focus for book clubs, student iBook creation and publication, and so POGO trips aren't repetitive.