Upper Elementary

Upper Elementary

Elementary age students are in a period of tremendous physical, social, and intellectual growth. The Upper Elementary program recognizes this growth and sets goals that constantly support the students in this phase of rapid development.

AGES 9–12, GRADES 4–6

In addition to its adherence to Montessori philosophy, the Upper Elementary program recognizes that upon graduating from the School, students will attend a variety of highly competitive middle school programs. As such, teachers work with students starting at the Lower Elementary level to set goals that prepare students to make this critical transition. These goals become increasingly important with each year in Lower Elementary, and by Upper Elementary act as a driving force in each student's individualized curriculum. Some of the goals of the UE program include instilling a love of learning, research, and the process of discovery; making connections across disciplines; and building confident, resourceful, independent learners.

Upper Elementary classrooms are carefully prepared environments that allow students to pursue their work both independently, and cooperatively with other students. Students in Upper Elementary utilize an assortment of Montessori materials, while also engaging in increasingly complex abstract lessons. A hallmark of the Upper Elementary program is the ability of the students to internalize abstract concepts and skills, and use them in novel ways when presented with new problems to tackle. The highly integrated curriculum encourages students to think about problems from an interdisciplinary point of view. The curriculum and teachers also support the natural growth-mindset of the students. Students are encouraged to seek out, discover, or create the resources that they need in order to achieve their goals.

The Upper Elementary Language Arts program is designed to expose students to a wide variety of historical, informational, and contemporary texts as a way to learn more about themselves and the world through development of analytical and critical thinking skills. Reading comprehension skills for literal understanding are solidified and then extended through lessons and discussions focused on building inferential skills, such as character development and theme. Similarly, foundational writing mechanics are reinforced and then the curriculum focuses on adding details and enhancing craft across narrative, expository, and persuasive genres. 

  • Upper Elementary students will learn to write a variety of texts including informational, narrative, poetry, short stories, and biographical texts. 
  • Students are encouraged to see writing as a process, which entails several steps including planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. 
  • On Friday mornings, students compose “Friday Letters” as a way to reflect on their week and further develop their writing skills. 
  • All students participate in an intensive Writing Mechanics unit at the start of the school year to teach, reinforce, and solidify fundamental skills needed to write proper sentences and paragraphs throughout the year.
Word Study
  • Word Study consists of spelling, vocabulary, and grammar
  • Students have weekly spelling lessons and assessments. 
  • Wordly Wise is our vocabulary curriculum and these workbooks offer students the opportunity to build their vocabulary through various exercises. 
  • Students also engage in weekly grammar lessons focused on one specific grammar principle with follow-up work to be completed during students’ work block times. 
Reading/Literature Circles
  • We use a Literature Circle model to read and discuss books and short stories.
  • The focus is on teaching students to become more active readers by teaching explicit “active reading” strategies and by promoting ongoing reflection and analysis.
  • By engaging in open discussions, students will be encouraged to explore connections to text, self, and the world.
  • Literature units integrate into the year’s Cultural curriculum. Students examine perspectives/points of view and sub-themes, increase comprehension skills and vocabulary, and develop summarizing skills by creating story arcs and writing summary paragraphs.

The Upper Elementary math program strives to build self-efficacy in every child as a mathematician. We balance fact fluency and procedural computations with conceptual understanding and problem solving. In addition to the acquisition of numerical fluency, we also want students to develop the ability to reason abstractly and quantitatively, construct viable arguments, model with mathematics, and persevere while problem solving. We do this through the use of the Math in Focus Singapore Math curriculum, in addition to teacher-designed projects at every grade level.

4th Grade Units5th Grade Units6th Grade Units
  • Whole Number Operations
  • Decimals, Fractions & Mixed Numbers
  • Estimation & Number Theory
  • Data & Probability
  • Geometry
  • Whole Numbers Operations
  • Fractions & Mixed Numbers 
  • Decimals & Percents
  • Ratios
  • Graphs & Probability 
  • Geometry
  • Pre-Algebra
  • Positive & Negative Numbers 
  • Fractions, Decimals, & Percents 
  • Rates & Ratios 
  • Introduction to Statistics 
  • Geometry 
  • Pre-Algebra 

Cultural studies in Upper Elementary are guided by a respect for young people’s developing awareness of history, current world events, and each student's ability to impact the future and the directions their lives will take. Students begin to think more abstractly and are guided to engage in a comparative analysis as they study history and contemporary society. The Upper Elementary Cultural curriculum is fully integrated with the Language Arts curriculum and organized in thematic units that rotate on a four year cycle.

Each year is devoted to an intensive study of the following topics:

 Guiding Statement & SEL ConnectionLanguage Arts UnitsCultural Units
Year 1: Archaeology & Early Humans (History of Language) I am a Human.

  • Informational research & essay writing
  • Mysteries
  • Author Study: Jack Gantos
  • Historical fiction
  • Creative writing
  • Science fiction/fantasy
  • Archaeology
  • Early Humans
  • History of Writing
Year 2: Early Civilizations & World Geography (History of Numbers)I am a Builder.

  • Narrative Writing
  • Mythology/folktales
  • Informational reading/writing
  • Persuasive reading/writing
  • Contemporary fiction
  • Memoirs
  • World Geography (Country Research)
  • Ancient Civilizations (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Mayans)
  • History of Numbers
Year 3: Explorers, Renaissance, & World Geography

I am an Explorer & Renaissance Thinker.

Courage & Character

  • Realistic fiction reading/writing
  • Literary Magazines (short story, poetry)
  • nformational writing
  • Historical fiction reading/writing
  • Biographies reading/writing
  • Renaissances Through History (European, Harlem, Women’s)
  • World Geography
  • Inventors & Exploration
Year 4: US Government Past to Present & US Geography (Election) 

I am a Citizen.

Point of View

  • Journalism (Informational reading/writing)
  • Biographies
  • Persuasive writing
  • Historical fiction reading
  • Creative writing
  • Poetry
  • Current events (Election, US, World)
  • US Geography
  • Government
  • US History (Revolutionary War - Present)
  • Civil Rights 

The goals of the Elementary Performing Arts Curriculum are to:

  • Provide exposure to a wide array of cultures through music and storytelling
  • Foster an understanding of how fundamental elements of music (beat, rhythm, pitch, melody, harmony, etc.) can combine to create rich musical textures through aural analysis, improvisation and musical fluency
  • Promote the healthy study and practice of vocal and instrumental techniques
  • Provide avenues for self-discovery and implementation of skills through various compositional projects and practice of constructive critique

Upon graduation, Kingsley students will possess a confidence in their ability to:

  • Compose their own music for a variety of instruments
  • Perform in multi-part musical ensembles (both vocal and instrumental)
  • Approach drama with hands-on experience in aspects of technical theater, script writing, directing, and acting
  • Possess a retentive knowledge of both classical and contemporary musical history and theory
  • Exercise fluency in reading and performing music on the treble and bass clef staves

The primary goal of the Elementary Visual Arts program is to empower confident, art-literate, creative thinkers who question, challenge, and look for inspiration in their everyday lives.

A Kingsley art student is independent and curious, able to discuss the social and historical context of artwork they see, respectfully critique with peers, and explore a variety of media safely and with a wide knowledge base of technical skill used to observe, describe, and express.

The Upper Elementary Science curriculum combines the Montessori interdisciplinary approach with student-led, inquiry-based investigations. Units of study in the three core areas of Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Physical Science are designed to give students a foundation in content knowledge and skills across these domains. Each year the science curriculum is aligned with the current Upper Elementary unifying theme to give our studies a broader context in the humanities.

  • Programmatic Goals: Upper Elementary student scientists expand their understanding of how scientific knowledge develops by practicing a wide variety of skills in their investigations, including journaling, research, and constructing conceptual models. They develop their critical thinking skills in data analysis and evaluating arguments. The students collaborate in small groups while designing and completing projects. In addition to building knowledge of the three topic areas, students are able to recognize important concepts that cut across the domains.
  • Students collaborate in small, multi-age groups through the inquiry cycle, designing and conducting experiments, analyzing data, and presenting their results. Through interaction with their team members, students develop their analytical skills by expressing their thoughts, engaging in debate, and using quantitative methods to evaluate evidence.
  • The program emphasizes the development of other essential scientific skills such as scientific observation and journaling, using reference materials, and constructing conceptual and physical models.
  • Classroom studies are extended to their real-world applications through field trips, viewing documentaries of scientific fieldwork, and guest speakers.

Upper Elementary students have dedicated weekly library time, and library access throughout the school day. Through the Library program, students learn to:

  • Navigate physical and digital resources for pleasure reading, research, and note-taking via the Kingsley catalog and database software
  • Make connections across literary domains and deepen their understanding of classroom topics
  • Build community around literature
  • Strengthen research skills and library fluency for application beyond the walls of Kingsley

Kingsley’s Physical Education program is designed to enhance our students’ physical, mental, and emotional health. Elementary students travel to Boston University by bus for their PE program. In the spring, all Elementary students participate in a PE Field Day on the Boston Common.

The goals of the Elementary Physical Education Curriculum are to:

  • Promote physical activity as an important part of living a healthy lifestyle.
  • Provide a variety of activities that develop skills in coordination, fitness, movement, and social interaction.
  • Foster a learning environment that is positive, fun, challenging, and where students feel comfortable taking healthy risks.

The primary goal of the Health program is to empower students to think about critical choices that they make and will make in the future. Kingsley believes that living a healthy lifestyle is vitally important to the overall education and success of each student. Each Elementary class will have Health lessons for one trimester. Health class will involve discussion and activity centered around a common theme. Topics covered in Health class include, but are not limited to, self-esteem, conflict resolution, stress management, nutrition, and expressing emotions.

Practical Life skills are transformed during this stage of development. Students are not only learning at their own pace but also have opportunities to serve as role models and leaders both inside and outside of their Kingsley learning community. The Upper Elementary Practical Life Program offers students opportunities to learn from real-world experiences while building upon work done within the classroom.

Practical Life Programs are capstone classes and experiences for each grade. They encompass skills learned throughout the child’s year and full-time at Kingsley. Practical Life Programs help students realize both their local and global impact on the world and what they can do to make a positive difference. Each of the three programs contains its own specific academic and social-emotional rigors.

Farm SchoolFourth Graders take part in the Farm School program as their Practical Life Program. In preparation for their visit to Red Gate Farm in the spring, students explore the world of agriculture, horticulture, and agronomy. Fourth Graders discuss the methods and challenges of modern farming and compare and contrast them to historical processes (building connections with their current Cultural unit). Students have also researched the daily life of a farmer, as well as farming methods and specific crops originating from the setting of their creation myths. Students also have opportunities to apply their science, reading, writing, and visual art skills to various collaborative activities and explorations.  


Ocean SchoolFifth graders participate in the Ocean School program, where they engage in hands-on design challenges and learn about the local history and importance of sailing and whaling in New England. Students research various 19th-century maritime roles, build a model of a whaling village, and participate in a historic Mystic Seaport role-playing simulation. The program culminates in a three-day trip to Mystic Seaport’s Ship to Shore program, where students gain a deeper understanding of the economic and scientific impact that the sailing industry had on New England and the world.


Montessori Model United NationsThe Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) program allows Sixth Grade students to use all the skills they have acquired during their time at Kingsley to learn more about the world and what can be done to improve it. They conduct extensive research and gain in-depth knowledge of specific countries in order to represent those national interests at a global forum. The culmination of the MMUN program gives Sixth Graders the opportunity to partake in a three-day conference that merges their study of United Nations rules and procedures together with the knowledge of their UN committee’s pressing topics. Students participate in mock sessions that replicate UN committee meetings, but more importantly, they learn how to build consensus to reach an equitable agreement. Students gain perspective around global governments and an understanding of current issues that are impacting human and civil rights, world politics, the environment and climate, and how they collectively can make a difference through thoughtful debate and global initiatives. Students are afforded the invaluable opportunity to speak publicly, by sharing their position paper speeches, all while meeting students from around the world in a unifying and uplifting experience that proves the value of peaceful and meaningful discourse and dialogue to reach a common goal.

From students’ first year in Upper Elementary, they have increasing responsibilities to take care of the classroom environment and one another. As students begin their early adolescent development, Kingsley provides a greater sense of independence, which also comes with additional (developmentally appropriate) responsibilities and challenges. As academic work moves from the concrete to the abstract, a greater sense of advocacy for individual learning styles and preferences becomes necessary. Not only are students encouraged to discuss their interests and level of understanding, but they are guided to identify the tools and scaffolds that may be necessary to help them learn best.

Upper Elementary Capstone Experiences are multi-faceted and build on skills obtained in lower grades. Students of all ages have opportunities to be leaders in many ways, in both small and large group settings. The multi-aged classroom allows students to lead Morning Meetings, group work projects, and other activities while developing and practicing skills to be both an effective leader and group member on a daily basis. Upper Elementary students also have many opportunities throughout the year to lead school-wide initiatives. Through these ventures, students not only practice being a leader but also model such skills to peers and younger students alike.

  • Senior Project - Each Sixth Grader produces a Senior Project which is a five-month research project that encourages students to pursue a personal interest and practice their research, writing, and presentation skills in a final culminating experience.

  • Mentors for Sixth Grade Students - Each graduating Sixth Grade student has a Mentor. The purpose of this program is to better share the many talents and experiences of Kingsley staff members as well as to provide our students with additional experiences to get to know themselves and to provide additional support in preparation for the middle and high school experiences on their horizon. Mentors work together with parents and classroom teachers to make sure that the “team” around the student is working together to facilitate the student’s development in areas such as organization, problem-solving, learning skills, and understanding themselves better.

Upper Elementary Teachers