Lower Elementary:

Sparking Leadership, Independence, and Community

Lower Elementary at Greene Towne Montessori School

Greene Towne Montessori is excited to offer Lower Elementary (LE) (1st – 3rd grades) in Fall of 2023, the first of its kind in Center City Philadelphia and in the school’s history! The  LE  program incorporates the familiar pedagogy from the Primary program – a mixed aged classroom, individualized instruction, and evaluation – and includes  expanded instruction designed to tap into what Maria Montessori called the “second plane of development,” the phase of development for the lower elementary age group.

The Parent Perspective on Choosing Greene Towne’s Lower Elementary Program

We chose to send our son to 1st grade at Greene Towne because of its loving and inclusive community. It is a community that genuinely cares about the students’ growth and development. We are glad to learn that two amazing teachers, Mr. Och and Ms. Feldman, will be the teachers in the lower elementary program.” – Xiaoyu and Jack, current parents

When I learned more about Greene Towne’s Lower Elementary curriculum materials, the methodology of learning compared to other schools, nothing came close. It is an incredibly unique way of learning. Specifically, how they learn grammar and the fundamentals beyond just memorization.” – Kernika, current parent

The Lower Elementary Environment and Curriculum

Similar to the Primary Environment, the LE curricular materials are organized by subject area in the highly structured environment within which children have freedom of movement and engagement. At every stage, the Montessori curriculum is interdisciplinary by design.

The LE  curriculum revolves around the 5 Great Lessons:

    • First – Coming of the Universe and the Earth

    • Second – Coming of Life

    • Third – Coming of Human Beings

    • Fourth – Communication in Signs

    • Fifth – The Story of Numbers.

Each of the 5 Great Lessons includes not only the functional aspects of that curricular area (math, language, science) but the history of the subject. For example in math, students learn the history of mathematics, answering questions like, “where did mathematics develop in the history of human intellectual development?”

Through the Great Lessons, LE students develop a deeper understanding of each curricular area while engaging in further practical applications such as learning grammar and spelling through writing and shifting from learning to read to reading to learn.

Greene Towne’s location provides unequaled access to Philadelphia’s numerous cultural institutions and will be indispensable in our SCIENCE, HISTORY, MUSIC, and ART studies. One example among many: For students who are learning about Ancient Egypt they will:

    • Conduct research by reading about the era (in books and online) and share their findings by writing about what they learned or create a play to demonstrate a particular event – LANGUAGE.

    • Organize a trip to the Penn Museum – PRACTICAL LIFE.

    • Learn about and make their own papyrus and decorate it with pictographs – ART.

    • Make model Pyramids – GEOMETRY & MATH.

    • Research and cook a typical ancient Egyptian meal from finding and reading a recipe, making a shopping list, going to store, measuring ingredients, and collaborating with classmates – LANGUAGE, MATH, PRACTICAL LIFE.

Time in Nature and Outings

LE students will have a wonderful opportunity to access a diverse array of venues and institutions around Greene Towne’s neighborhood. Outings will typically take place weekly and will relate to a theme being studied in the classroom.

As the program expands, smaller groups of students may go out to research a specific area of interest or theme. Students will participate in every aspect of the outing, from choosing the institution that will best serve the purpose of the outing (what research is needed), to scheduling and executing the plan: time of day, what do we need to bring, transportation. The objective is holistic—to learn about specific content, interact with others in a public setting, navigate the city, sometimes give directions on how to get there, and financial literacy if payment is needed, teaching life skills along the way. These activities involve grace and courtesy/practical life aspects of the curriculum.

Sample Outings

  • Gardening in the Rooftop Garden
  • Sister Cities
    Community Garden at Race Street
  • The Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden
  • Schuylkill River Walk
  • Partner with Ks for nature field trips (Morris Arboretum, Bartram’s Garden)

Technology in the Lower Elementary Environment

Technology is used as a tool to develop literacy at an age appropriate level. The internet may be used for research purposes at a computer station available as one of many resources in the LE classroom. When doing research, information is printed out so that children may read it on paper.

Various software programs are used for organizing and presenting research and for creative writing purposes. Zoom offers an opportunity to connect with experts to build upon local resources accessed through field trips. The internet also provides possible opportunities to connect with Montessori Elementary Schools in other regions of the US and the world! Teachers use Transparent Classroom for individualized record keeping, lesson planning, and communication with parents.

A Sample Day in the Life of a Greene Towne Lower Elementary Student

    • 8:00 am. Students come in, put their belongings away and look at the schedule to see what they should do next (read, write in their journal, or start morning work). Each student fills in their individual work planners before morning meeting starts.

    • 8:45 am Morning meeting: Review the schedule and lessons for the day, and weekly assignments due by the end of the week. The teacher reviews each student’s planner individually and helps each child get started on their first work of the day.

    • 9:30 am. Small group lessons; while other students work on independent works on the floor or at their desk.

    • 11:25 am. Clean up, classroom jobs.

    • 11:40 am Lunch/Recess
      • As part of their Practical Life curriculum, our LE students will have access to a kitchen and once a week they will plan a meal from start to finish: selecting the menu, designing the budget and shopping list, going to the market, prepping, cooking (under adult guidance), and serving/sharing the meal. They may also make thematic decorations for the dining table.

    • 12:15 pm. D. E. A. R. (Drop Everything And Read)

    • 1:15 pm Afternoon work cycle, specials including Music, PE, Spanish, and Art, depending on the day’s schedule. Co-Lead teachers observe and work with individuals.
      • LE students will have PE twice a week: one day at the gym or field, one day indoors with specialized teachers in areas such as martial arts, yoga, and athletics.
      • In addition to the art and music incorporated into the LE curriculum, Lower El students have formal group music and art classes.
      • Spanish is offered twice a week in an immersion model with focus on using the language in day-to-day interactions. Spanish-speaking parents are welcome to join the class on a scheduled basis to participate in conversational time in Spanish, for example, during lunch.

    • 3:00 pm – Clean up, classroom jobs.


Greene Towne’s LE program will be co-led by Shelby Feldman and Brandon Och.

Shelby Feldman has been with Greene Towne for over two years and received a BS in Early Childhood Education from Temple University, a MEd from Chestnut Hill College, and a Primary Teaching Certificate from the American Montessori Society. She is currently enrolled at The Barrie Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies to pursue her Lower Elementary Certification. Shelby has more than 10 years teaching experience in a variety of educational environments.

Brandon Och received a BA in Philosophy from Temple University and a Teacher Certificate from the American Montessori Society. He has 15 years of experience with Greene Towne, including over five years serving as a Lead Primary Teacher.

Tuition and Applicants

Tuition will align with Greene Towne’s Kindergarten tuition plus $1000 to offset the cost of institutional memberships and trips. Each year there will be one tuition rate for all three years of the cycle.

Applicants from area Montessori Kindergartens are welcome through an admissions process to ensure they are ready for the program and that Greene Towne is a good fit for their educational journey. Our own students will be offered spaces first. At this time, we do not anticipate enrolling students without prior Montessori experience.

After School and Vacation Care Programs

After school and vacation care options will be offered to students on days that All Day Montessori (ADM) is in session. Options will expand and grow as enrollment grows. Currently we envision After School Enrichment/Clubs: Art, Martial Arts, Yoga, Fabric Arts, LEGO, Cooking, joining ADM field trips/outdoor time, opportunities for service work with Toddler and Primary ADM, and after 5:00 pm, indoor recess until parents arrive: games, puzzles, reading, LEGO, etc.


Area independent schools to which our students typically go for 1st grade have shared the following:

  • 4th grade is an entry point at the smaller schools – TPS and St. Peters.
  • 5th and 6th grades are entry points at both smaller and some of the larger schools.
  • 7th grade is a dependable entry point at all of the larger independent schools that offer upper grades and the smaller schools also have openings at 7th. 7th grade would naturally follow the last year of Upper Elementary, which aligns with the end of Montessori’s 2nd Plane of Development, a natural turning point in human development.
Reach out to Erika Goldberg and Julie Kaeli

Co-Directors of Enrollment Management

Email Erika and Julie