Downstairs Curriculum

About Downstairs A.R.T.S.

In our big building, we keep the youngest children (22 months – 3.75 years) downstairs, in bright intimate classrooms, close to the bathroom.  We recommend that the very youngest students begin by coming two half days per week.  A very active youngster of 2 1/2 who loves coming to school can come four mornings if you feel he/she is ready.

Every day your child comes to the Academy will be a familiar cycle of classes and teachers, as he/she progresses through art, creative movement, music and physical fitness activities.  Teachers who are trained specialists direct each classroom.

If your child is 3 1/2 by September 1st you may choose to add Montessori/Science day as a third day, for your two-day student, or perhaps as a fifth day for your four-day scholar.  When you add the Montessori/Science day, your 3 1/2 – 3.75 year old experiences a change in the regular cycle.  On Montessori/Science day the entire upstairs space has a rich variety of hands-on activities and materials for the children to choose.  Your 3 1/2 – 3.75 year old is joined by older children from Upstairs at the Academy and begins the transition from Downstairs to Upstairs, from a daily cycle to a weekly one.

Downstairs ART

There is either an art or practical life experience available each day.  Our projects are very open-ended.  When the children come to the art table, the teacher demonstrates a concept or technique.

Children are given ample opportunity to manipulate and to explore the potential of the materials.  The emphasis is on enjoying the process and expanding a child’s understanding rather than on the finished product.

Color, shape, body image, and pattern recognition are the concepts that we emphasize.  The children use a variety of materials including paint, brushes, sponges, chalk, play-dough, crayons and glue.  Each activity is designed to encourage the development of fine motor skills and/or eye-hand coordination. Back to Top…


Children explore space every day in creative movement.  Just as NASA activates all its resources to reach out and extend the boundaries of our knowledge of the universe, our students activate all their abilities to discover the parameters of their individual worlds.

The purpose of creative movement is to help your child feel, think, and act creatively through the development of locomotor skills, and the exploration of occupied and unoccupied space.  As teachers, our goal is to enhance each student’s personal ability to make creative choices and decisions for a lifetime approach to problem solving.

We sing to learn about
• sequencing skills – what comes next
• finger coordination
• time duration

We dance to learn about
• hopping, running, skipping, jumping, galloping
• over, under, around, next-to and through
• alone (solo)
• with a friend (duet)
• with all our classmates (ensemble)

We make designs with our bodies to learn about
• occupied and unoccupied space
• energy
• our bodies
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The Montessori environment offers children a place to learn by making independent choices.

The work the children do is in three traditional Montessori areas:
1)   practical life activities, which include learning to dress themselves, washing their hands, learning to do simple household chores such sweeping, scrubbing and simple cooking experiences;
2)  sensorial experiences, which use exercises to help children develop
the senses of smell, touch, vision, hearing and taste;
3)  the academic areas of math, science and language.

The children choose their own activities and are encouraged to follow them through, developing independence and self-confidence in the process.

In the Downstairs A.R.T.S. classroom, practical life and sensorial experiences alternate with the art activities.  These simple exercises may include carrying a tray without spilling its contents, dry pouring, pouring liquids, using sorting tongs, tweezers, etc.  These activities may be presented alone or may become part of a cooking activity.  Whatever the format, they serve as the building blocks for the more complex activities available to the older children on the Montessori/Science Day.

Our shelf work and discovery table provide on-going opportunities to practice some skills independently.

Only the oldest children from the Downstairs program (3 1/2 and older) are eligible for the Montessori/Science Day.  However, the foundation for this day begins in the Art/Music/Montessori classroom with even the very youngest children.  The environment is set up to encourage the children to make their own choices, to follow through on their selected activities, and to bring some sort of closure to each task. Back to Top…

Downstairs MUSIC

Music is part of every class in the Downstairs A.R.T.S. day
(creative movement, physical fitness, and as part of the closing circle in the Art/Montessori room).  It is during the closing circle in the Art/Montessori classroom that the children are specifically involved in the following areas of music – songs, rhythm, movement, and listening.  These musical activities are most often related to the “theme” being covered at that time.  Within the circle time, the children learn familiar songs, new words to familiar melodies as well as various finger plays.  Through their music experience, they have opportunities to develop their listening skills, to explore music through their voices and body movements, as well as to express their feelings through music. Back to Top…


Children of Downstairs A.R.T.S. age are just beginning to develop crucial skills that can carry them through a lifetime of confident self-image and physical activities.  We gently encourage these skills to emerge through age-appropriate physical skills, gym activities and games.

The Physical Fitness class is a half hour class.  We begin each class in a circle for warm-ups that includes stretching with counts or songs, etc., and some simple yoga postures for children.  Every week children work the circuit.  The circuit is a variety of physical activities that are set up around the entire room using a variety of equipment which consists of mats, wedges, steps, balance boards, ropes, parallel bars, stepping stones, scooters, etc.  The children are given complete direction and sequence on the circuit and will each work independently with our guidance.  These activities develop upper and lower body strength, coordination and sequencing.

The children do mat work that includes movements such as, somersaults, animal walks, hopping, rolling, donkey kicks, handstands (with assistance), etc.

Each week one day is “Game Day.”  The children are taught a simple game.  Games we play are Duck Duck Goose, What Time is it Mr. Fox, Messy Back Yard, Kick Ball, Musical Hoops, Steal the Bacon, Races, Color Games and many more.  These activities often require backwards, lateral and circular as well as forward movements so that children develop a sure kinesthetic sense of moving comfortably through space.  These activities also help foster socialization and cooperation – it’s fun to do these things in a group! Back to Top…