The elementary child has reached a new level of development. Before he was interested in things: working with his hands, learning their names. Now he is interested mainly in the how and why… the problem of cause and effect.
Children get to experience things, exploring not only through 2 dimensional items such as books, and identification cards but also by understanding the actual object from nature. Being able to watch, touch, and take care of the object of study and interest allows the child to concretely expand his knowledge, and make a connection that would be lost without the actual experience of a concrete
In contrast to the traditional classroom, where the learning is top-down, mostly from the teacher to the students, in Montessori classrooms, and more in line with what developmental psychologists know about children, elementary-aged children are intensely social and therefore, are allowed to pursue knowledge in self-formed groups, working together rather than in competition.
Students are encouraged to learn to recognize and name local trees, flowers, birds, and animals. They learn to recognize familiar plants by their leaves, bark, and seeds. By looking at animal tracks, they can determine which animals live in the area. The study of the internal and external anatomy of plants and animals likewise gives children a new level of awareness and sensitivity in their observation and study of life. They compare different anatomical systems among species, such as the eyes, teeth, hooves, and claws of various animals.
As in all areas of the elementary curriculum, Earth Sciences: physics, chemistry, etc., begin with the overview and progress to details. The child learns the functioning of the galaxies, the universe, then solar systems, the formation of Earth, seasons, natural wonders, the weather, rocks and minerals, etc.
As he learns about the discoveries in the past he participates in present discovery by means of experiments in all areas.
Older children often come to lessons given to the younger children, and younger children are welcome at lessons given to their elders. Each year the child sees more interrelatedness between these areas because lessons and experiments are going on all the time at all levels. This annual repetition leads to deeper understanding as the child incorporates his own experience of another year of life.