Early Childhood

Last Updated: 6/24/2021 6:51 PM

Children ages three to six years are engaged in practical life and sensorial exercises as well as mathematics, language, science, history, geography and the arts. Active learning leads to coordination, concentration, order, self-confidence, respect and independence.


The following is a sampling of Cottonwood School’s core, Montessori-based curriculum in the areas of practical life, sensory training, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science for our early childhood students.

Practical Life: Focuses on developing skills that allow the child to effectively control and deal with the social and physical environment in which he lives. There is a growing pride in being able to "do it for myself." Practical Life activities are designed to fall into the areas of Care of Self, Care for the Environment, Control of Movement and Grace and Courtesy.

  • Dressing oneself
  • Learning home address and phone number
  • Pouring liquids without spilling and carrying objects without dropping
  • Using tools such as scissors, tweezers, tongs, eye-droppers, locks, and needle and thread to support hand strength in preparation for handwriting
  • Dusting, polishing, washing, sweeping, and vacuuming
  • Caring for plants and animals
  • Table setting, serving yourself, and table manners
  • Simple cooking and food preparation

Mastering these skills lead to practical tasks such as:

  • Time Management
  • Mastering test taking strategies
  • Caring for animals
  • Sewing
  • Cooking
  • Working with tools
  • Making consumer purchase decisions, comparison shopping, budgeting
  • Earning money
  • Gardening
  • Independence

Sensory Training: These are exercises in perception, observation, fine discrimination, and classification  play a major role in helping our children to develop their sense of logic, reasoning and concentration.

  • Length, width, and height
  • Volume
  • Color tones
  • Solid geometric shapes by sight and touch
  • Solving of complex abstract puzzles in three dimensions
  • Intensity and nature of sounds and musical tones
  • Texture, weight, and temperature by touch
  • Scents

Mastering these skills lead to practical tasks such as:

  • Precise observation of the natural world
  • Culinary discrimination
  • Artistic appreciation
  • Architectural appreciation
  • Musical appreciation
  • Mathematical thinking

Reading and Language Arts


  • Using Sandpaper Letters, a tactile alphabet allowing students to recognize the shape and phonetic sounds of the alphabet
  • Hearing classic stories and poetry being reading aloud by teachers and students who are already reading
  • Being totally immersed to develop a highly sophisticated vocabulary and command of the language


  • Using Movable Alphabets, easily manipulated letters used to spell words, compose sentences and stories, and work on punctuation and capitalization
  • Tracing letters into sand
  • Starting to write on boards


  • Composing stories based on a series of pictures and sharing verbally or using the Movable Alphabet
  • Preparing written answers to simple questions
  • Learning how to write letters


  • Learning how to sound out and spell simple phonetic words
  • Starting to recognize and spell words with phonograms (such as ei, ai, ough)
  • Beginning to recognize and spell words that are not spelled as they sound


  • Learning parts of speech by using Montessori geometric symbols to represent each element of grammar (for example, verbs are represented by a large red circle)
  • Starting to analyze sentences (such as simple and compound sentences)


Basic Math

  • Learning numbers and number symbols for one through ten using Montessori learning materials such as the red and blue rods, sandpaper numerals, association of number rods and numerals, spindle boxes, and cards and counters
  • Exploring the decimal system (units, tens, hundreds, and thousands) using Montessori learning materials such as beads, bars, and cubes
  • Developing the concept of addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication through work with the Montessori Golden Bead Material


  • Introduction to solid geometric forms, their names, and their relationship to plane geometric shapes
  • Manipulating basic shapes of plane and solid geometry (such as triangles, polygons, rectangles, and irregular forms) using Montessori wooden geometric insets
  • Ordering geometric shapes by size or degree

Social Studies


  • Using the Montessori Primary Globes to understand land, water, and the shapes of continents
  • Putting together the Montessori Puzzle Maps to learn the names of continents, countries, and U.S. states.
  • Exploring how the Earth was formed through a combination of creation stories and contemporary scientific research


  • Learning about the countries of the world through flags, boundaries, food, climate, traditional dress, houses, major cities, children's toys and games, stamps, coins, traditional foods, art, music, and history.
  • Studying the regions, culture, and natural resources of the United States, including geography, climate, flora and fauna, major rivers and lakes, capitals, important cities, mountains, people, regional foods, traditions, etc.


  • Studying the basic needs of humans: food, shelter, clothing, defense, transportation, culture, law, religion or spiritual enlightenment, love, and adornment.
  • Exploring the concept of telling time and historical time through many activities of deeper complexity
  • Learning about the trends of human achievement, such as the development of transportation, architecture, great inventions, and great leaders


  • Identifying the differences between living and non-living things
  • Studying animals and plants: their basic characteristics and differences between them
  • Using Montessori Nomenclature Cards for botany (identifying, naming, and labeling the parts of plants, trees, leaves, roots, and flowers) and zoology (identifying, naming, and labeling the external parts of human beings, insects, fish, birds, and other animals)


Contact us to learn more about our Early Childhood Montessori curriculum at Cottonwood School.

Visit our Programs page for descriptions of our curriculum in the arts, music, physical education, and foreign language.


Cottonwood School  |  3896 Corrales Road  |  Corrales (near Albuquerque and Rio Rancho), NM 87048
Phone:505-897-8375  |  Fax:505-890-1533