Orchard House - A Montessori-based Center for Early Childhood Development

Our Curriculum

Orchard House’s innovative, bilingual curriculum is merged from the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori and those of Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. These two distinct methods of teaching allow for an inclusive classroom setting which addresses the various areas of a child’s development.

The Montessori Method

Many of the elements in the Orchard House classrooms are drawn from the renowned Montessori philosophy which encourages every child to work and learn at his or her own pace:

  1. Our classrooms are equipped with unique Montessori materials.
  2. Our teachers give individual presentations of each lesson.
  3. We teach functional skills, preparing the children for real life.

Theme-Based Learning Centers

In addition to the traditional Montessori classroom, Orchard House extends the children's learning by offering more contemporary Learning Centers. Learning Centers are based on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, developed by Harvard University's Dr. Howard Gardner.

The Learning Centers, with varying rotating themes, provide an opportunity for integrated learning and bringing together all the isolated skills practiced in the Montessori area.

The Learning Centers allow the children to socialize and engage in creative activities so they can explore, experiment, imitate, ask questions and, in turn, be questioned in order to further their thinking and problem solving skills. All independent tasks mastered in the Montessori area literally come into play here.


Parent & Tot

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Parent & Tot classes meet twice a week for a series of enjoyable activities guided by one of our early childhood educators. The program includes story time, music and movement, arts and crafts and group activities.

Our gentle approach encourages your child to feel secure at Orchard House and to develop a positive attitude for his or her first school experience. This program has the option of a separation component, where your child is able to participate in individual and group activities with gradually limited assistance, so becoming steadily ready to attend school without mommy or daddy.


Nursery

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Our Nursery program (currently in Orchard House, NDG only), offers your child the opportunity to build a secure attachment bond with a trusting adult in their environment. This, in turn, allows your child to be emotionally available to explore the world around them by touching, tasting, looking and listening. A world of discovery awaits!


(Tiny) Tumble Tots

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The Tiny Tumble Tot program at Orchard House is a gentle transition from our Parent & Tot program and into our Tumble Tot Two’s program.

In the Tumble Tots program, children are introduced to their school routine and to the Montessori “Work Cycle”, where they learn to autonomously choose an activity, complete it, return it to its rightful place and to move on to their next activity.

The Montessori Program includes shelf activities such as transferring rice with a spoon, pouring water into glasses, sorting beads and buttoning clothes frames. Through these simple yet repetitive exercises, the children learn to develop responsible work habits that will last with them a lifetime. Goals in this area include developing concentration, independence, as well as dexterity and eye-hand coordination.

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The Art component provides the children with opportunities for open-ended art exploration. Through a variety of media, the children develop skills which include eye-hand coordination and fine motor control. They learn about shape, symbol and pattern recognition (all of which are pre-literacy and pre-math skills), and gradually develop their creativity and their sense of self-expression.

Gross Motor Play is an area where the children can not only test and develop their gross motor skills, but can also freely explore their language and communication skills with their friends. Here, the children are encouraged to climb, run and crawl, and to catch and throw balls to their friends. Children learn to follow directions, imitate actions and enjoy a positive outlet for their bundles of energy!

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The Theme-Based Learning Centers allow the children to learn through social experiences. They explore and develop language and social skills through the various centers on display. Center choices include the dramatic play area, blocks & building area, music area and literature area. As they learn to follow directions, the children gradually strengthen their auditory processing skills.

French language acquisition is an essential aspect of our program, and is incorporated into our daily activities. The Tumble Tot Two’s receive an introduction to the language through songs, stories and games.

Music is incorporated into our daily program, and an additional music lesson is offered once a week by our visiting music teacher. The program includes learning songs through the use of mini instruments and movements, learning about rhythm and beat, and presenting two concerts to the parents during the school year.

Field Trips and Special Community Guests are an important part of our curriculum, and the outings usually correspond to the themes in our Learning Center. Guests are also invited to come and give talks to the class and parents are encouraged to come and share hobbies and interests with the children.


Threes

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The children work independently at activities from the five main areas of the Montessori classroom:

Practical Life

Children learn to care for themselves and their environment, so building fine motor skills, practicing interpersonal communication skills, and gaining confidence and competence in daily life skills. Pouring, lacing, washing, serving oneself snack, are just a few examples of practical life exercises.

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Sensorial/Perceptual

Here, children develop an ability to order, to classify and to seriate. They learn to perceive differences in size, weight, shape, temperature, sound, and color. Through the sensorial activities, children prepare themselves not only for the upcoming math activities but for the language ones too: many of the sensorial activities deal with muscle development for later hand-writing, sound differentiation for language development and left to right organization for reading preparation.

Mathematics

Children are first exposed to physical impressions of size, quantity, numbers and counting. They make use of carefully developed hands-on materials in order to internalize the concepts learned, and are only later introduced to the more abstract concepts of sequence and operations.

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Language Arts

Phonics-based materials lead the children through a natural progression of writing and reading skills which build upon one another. Yet again, the children work through language manipulatives, such as sandpaper letters and alphabet cut-outs and, through such physical manipulation, are more readily able to internalize the lessons learned.

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Culture

Various classroom materials and projects assist the children in gaining an understanding of geography, the needs of man, and the beauty of the variety of cultures and customs within our world. Puzzle maps of the world, land and water forms, and many artifacts from around the globe enrich this facet of the curriculum.

In addition to the Montessori environment, we have designed effective Learning Centers to help the children relate to the world around them. In these Centers, the children can try out many ideas and rearrange happenings to fit their level of understanding. Small groups of children work and play together cooperatively whilst getting an immediate response to their ideas, communication and work. They explore, discover and play more freely.

Play is essential to any early childhood program. In play, children develop problem solving skills, language skills and social skills. Themes in the Learning Center include Big and Little, It's a Luau and Community Helpers.

French makes up 50% of the Thoughtful Threes program, and is taught during the Learning Centers. Here, children begin to develop simple phrases and to acquire new vocabulary through drama, play and small group activities.

Music is incorporated into our daily program, and an additional music lesson is offered once a week by our visiting music teacher. The program includes learning songs through the use of mini instruments and movements, learning about rhythm and beat, and presenting two concerts to the parents during the school year.

Field Trips and Special Community Guests are an important part of our curriculum, and the outings usually correspond to the themes in our Learning Center. Guests are also invited to come and give talks at our Center, and parents are encouraged to come and share hobbies and interests with the children.


Pre-K Fours

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The Flourishing Fours class is a French Immersion program where children are encouraged to communicate solely in French. The primary goal for this Pre-K year is to equip the children with the language skills necessary for them to have successful experiences in any French or bilingual Kindergarten classroom.

In the Montessori environment, the children engage in a variety of stimulating activities focusing on the skills necessary to be successful in Kindergarten.

  1. In math-based activities, they begin to develop number sense, make numerical comparisons, interpret graphs, and learn the concept of time and measurement.
  2. In language-based activities, they develop an understanding of phonemic awareness, the Writing Process, and comprehension strategies.
  3. Through various projects, they explore the Scientific Method and learn about topics such as Life Cycles, Recycling, and Objects in Motion.
  4. They also develop an understanding and an appreciation of the world around them by learning about the similarities and differences between communities, and by experiencing various cultures through photos, music and food.
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In the Learning Centers, the Flourishing Fours apply their language skills in areas such as the Drama Area, Building Area, Art Area, Gross Motor Area and Literature Area. Through various group activities, the children not only develop friendships, but also learn how to negotiate through conflicts and resolve problems in mature and positive ways. In this area, they tackle topics such as Safety in the Neighborhood, Hygiene and Healthy Habits, Promises, and Making Decisions.

Music is incorporated into our daily program, and an additional music lesson is offered once a week by our visiting music teacher. The program includes learning songs through the use of mini instruments and movements, learning about rhythm and beat, and presenting two concerts to the parents during the school year.

Field Trips and Special Community Guests are an important part of our curriculum, and the outings usually correspond to the themes in our Learning Center. Guests are also invited to come and give talks, and parents are encouraged to come and share hobbies and interests with the children.


Gourmet Kitchen

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Our sample menu!
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The Orchard House Gourmet Kitchen is led by Ms. Lidia Spagnuolo and Ms. Sue Maheu. Miss Lidia brings with her over fifteen years of experience in the kitchen (including within school contexts) and is the author of the successful food blog Oh Lidia! Miss Sue’s culinary experiences include her partnership and charge of Kid Lunch, the much-loved parent and child-approved catering service that had catered both Orchard House and other Montreal schools in previous years.

Representative of the slow food movement, our new kitchen moves away from preserved foods and strives for a more traditional cuisine leaning on local farmers, sustainable fishing sources, hormone-free meat, seasonal foods and an overall nutritious diet. Our new menu, always nut-free, is predominantly organic, whole wheat, highly restricted in added sugar and salt, and validated by a dietician. Naturally, individual dietary allergies are taken into account.

Our Gourmet Kitchen further enhances the children’s educational experience at Orchard House:

  1. The monthly menus reflect the thematic units studied in the classrooms.
  2. The children are exposed to a variety of tastes, smells and textures from around the world.
  3. The children are informed of the nutritional values of the various power foods introduced.
  4. Our newly-launched edible gardens encourage the children to be part of the process of planting, harvesting and using the blossoms in the kitchen.
  5. Our chefs act as resource and animators for our popular afternoon activities Orchard House Bites and Petits Chefs.
  6. As with the rest of the school environment, the use of plastic is consciously limited.

By finally welcoming the Gourmet Kitchen into Orchard House, we are now fully responsible of further nourishing the children’s bodies and minds through wholesome, nutritious meals and snacks.


Afternoon Activities

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These activities are offered daily, from 12.30 pm to 3.00 pm (NDG) or to 3.30 pm (Pointe Claire).

Our afternoon activities have been specifically developed to meet the needs of today’s preschool child and focus on developing soul, body and mind. The activities encompass a range of interest led by our team of educators and highly qualified specialists. Sample Afternoon Activities are described below:

SOUL

The Giving Tree

This early-years service-learning program encourages your child to change the world, little steps at a time. Through a variety of age-appropriate activities such as collaborative crafts, charitable collections and interactive communications, the children reach out to their peers in schools around the world. Through this process, the children not only learn empathy and compassion, but they also develop a powerful awareness of their ability to contribute and help others in meaningful ways.

Little Friends of the Earth

Environmental stewardship has become an important component in today’s education programs. In line with our mission to promote environmentally-conscious and responsible children, and hand-in-hand with our membership to the Green School Alliance, Orchard House offers the “Little Friends of the Earth” program to help young children learn about the importance of their behavior and its impact on the environment. Through classroom discussions and hands-on activities, the children develop an awareness of the importance to reduce food waste, care for plants and birds, think about transportation and pollution, and turn trash into little treasures!

The Mindful Child

Today’s youngsters are growing up in a fast-paced world peppered with distractions and overt stimulations. In response to these external stressors, this program is designed to enhance mindful awareness in young children, helping them to develop an inner compass, to increase concentration, nourish gratitude and deal with difficult emotions. A wonderful way to regulate both body and mind.

Global Adventure

This program aims to raise awareness by celebrating the diverse cultures all around us. The children embark on a journey travelling “around the world”, learning about various countries, and the food, the music, the landmarks and the festivals associated with them. Hop aboard for an exciting global adventure!

Orchard to Table

In a world of fast food and chemical preservatives, it is critical for us to highlight the importance of natural food to our children. Our new “Orchard to Table” program introduces your child to a variety of garden produce, discussing how these are harvested and prepared for shared meals, and embracing the nutritional values that they bring to our growing bodies. With the support of our neighbourhood organization ‘Action Communiterre’, we look forward to sharing our produce from our organic Orchard House garden.

BODY

Dancing Tots

LynnAnne Turcotte has been teaching for 30 years and is the Founder & Director of Les Ateliers Turcotte and LATmontreal.dance. Her successful studio has been in NDG, on Monkland Avenue, for 15 years. She is delighted to head the dance program at Orchard House. Through a variety of creative movement activities, children learn gross-motor developmental skills (hopping, skipping, balance, etc) through tap, ballet, improvisation and jazz dance. She brings in tap shoes and scarves every week to share with her Orchard House students.

Radiant Yoga

With over eight years’ experience as a children’s yoga instructor, and certified by the Radiant Child Yoga, OM Schooled Certification and Yoga Kids amongst others, Miss Lee-Ann Matthews heads the Threes and Fours yoga program at Orchard House. Miss Lee-Ann is committed to her own journey of self reflection and, through this authentic understanding of yoga, she brings clarity, energy, music and fun to the Orchard House yoga studio!  Through a variety of games, poses, breathing and stillness, children learn the vast benefits of the ancient practice of yoga as it applies to them today.

 

Bootcamp

Children engage in athletic games which take place both indoors and outdoors. They are encouraged, in the process, to demonstrate sportsmanship and an interest in helping their own team! Through guided activities, children develop large muscles (running), lower body strengthening (kicking, hopping, skipping, jumping), and eye-hand coordination (catching and throwing).

Taekwondo Tikes

In conjunction with the Raymond Mourad Taekwondo Academy (www.mouradtkd.com), we welcome Miss Nathalie Iliesco to Orchard House. Miss Nathalie comes to us with over twenty years’ of experience in Taekwondo. She is ranked 28th in the world, and was a national team member at the recent World Championships in Russia. With over six years’ experience in teaching this martial art to both children and adults, Miss Nathalie is ready to pass on her passion to our little tikes! By working on the children's physical fitness, mental discipline, concentration, respect and self-confidence, the program aims to build a solid foundation in martial arts skills. A great introduction to any future martial arts program.

Sportball™

“Sportball-certified coaches offer non-competitive sports instruction for children aged 18 months to 5 years old. Children are introduced to 8 popular sports: soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball, volleyball, tennis, golf & football using creative instruction and positive encouragement. The program focuses on the development of gross motor skills, balance, strength, co-ordination, stamina and timing. Equipment used is age-appropriate and is sized just right for our preschoolers.”

Gym in a Box

Kidnasium™ queen Kim Snabl brings “Gym in a Box” to Orchard House! This gym program, complete with Kidnasium gym equipment and music, targets the children’s strength, flexibility, balance and rhythm. Each class includes a dance, cardio and stretch routine, helping to develop both motor skills and muscle tone.

MIND

Kindergarten Toolbox

The purpose of this program is to introduce children to exercises and routines that will be useful to them as they transition into Kindergarten.  Through progressive content work, the children engage in enriched classroom activities, exploring numerals and quantities, practicing arithmetic computations and using their math skills in various role-play scenarios. With a variety of language-based manipulatives, the children also explore letter sounds and combine sounds to form words and create stories. In this treasured Toolbox, the children will also find tools that will help them to develop important school-readiness skills, including organization, perseverance, self-reliance and intrinsic motivation.

En route vers l’école

Ce programme équivalent au “Kindergarten Toolbox”, mais offert en français, se concentre sur le développement de la discipline et d’autres pratiques gagnantes pour la rentrée à la maternelle. L’enfant travaillera l’éveil à la lecture et à l’écriture, la logique mathématique, ainsi que sa capacité d’attention, de concentration et d’auto-contrôle. Une excellente préparation pour l’école primaire.

Science Explorers

Through hands-on experiments and observations, children learn to implement the scientific process, asking a scientific question, constructing a hypothesis, doing an experiment, drawing conclusions and communicating their results. Fun themes include magnets, sinking and floating, the weather, and color mixing.

ARTS

Preschool Picassos

Through the use of storybooks and other visual aids, your child is introduced to various artists and their techniques. In this Preschool Picasso class, the children engage in drawing, painting and creating sculptures with the aim of further developing their sense of creativity and self-expression. Bring out your frames… your child will come home with some beautiful masterpieces!

Musicalité

This trilingual musical program (French, English, Spanish) specifically designed for children up to 7 years of age, focuses on teaching music kinesthetically, allowing your child to develop a synchronicity with rhythms and beats. Montessori, Steiner and braingym® principles are integrated into the program in order to enhance each child’s musical learning experience. A spontaneous and interactive approach to developing musical awareness.

Orchard House Bites

A stepping stone to our signature “Petits Chefs” programme, “Orchard House Bites” offers children the opportunity to learn the artful skills of cooking before applying them to more creative recipes. In the comfort of the new, tailor-made Orchard House Petits Chefs kitchen, the children are introduced to kitchen safety, health and nutrition. They learn about the six food groups through sensorial activities (such as smelling, touching and tasting). In addition, the children have the opportunity to explore kitchen skills such as spreading, peeling, tearing and tossing. A wonderful culinary opportunity to create and be creative!

Petits Chefs

In their very own Petits Chefs kitchen, the children participate in making special dishes related to our monthly themes (e.g. fall vegetables, summer fruits, winter treats…). They also work on developing fine motor skills through measuring, pouring, stirring, mixing, and kneading various foods. All young chefs get to eat / drink their work of art at the end of each class (allergies are always cautiously taken into account). Bon Appetit!


Building Community
Partnerships

School-community partnerships are special connections that can help (directly or indirectly) to promote the children’s development. At Orchard House, we have embarked on special relationships with Action Communiterre, Les Ateliers Turcottes, Raymond Mourad Taekwondo Academy among others, working collectively for the overall wellbeing of each child.