I agree with Andrei and Tad that the curriculum should not be restricted to only "real-world" applications or illustrations of mathematics. This is particularly true at the elementary level where, in my opinion, a child's "fantasy" world is about as "real" to the child as those typically identified as such. Personally, I find many real-life applications boring.
I would much prefer an elementary curriculum such as the one distributed by the McREL Educational Lab which liberally employs fantasy situations within a pedagogy of problem-solving situations [in the sense that Caleb Gattegno used that pedagogy].
Here are some sample lesson titles: "Spies and Bridges," "Marriage by Chance," "The Island of Tam-Tam," "A Very Strange Neighborhood," "Election in the Number World," "A Valentine Mystery," "The Hidden Treasure," "Summer Camp," "Number 1000's Dream," and "Seven Secret Numbers," to name a few. The situations are all make-believe, but the mathematics is real enough--some would even say quite sophisticated for elementary school.
Ron Ward/Western Washington U/Bellingham, WA 98225 firstname.lastname@example.org