Our friends over at Montessorium have put together some great summaries of the key activities from each of the curriculum areas.
We hope this sparks your interest even more about Montessori, you can also join us on our regular information evenings where Directress' go into much more detail about each of the areas.
The Sandpaper Letters are famous in the Montessori classroom. Typically one of the first materials a child is presented with in the language area, they bestow a sense of accomplishment and pride, “I’m learning letters!”. Physically, the letters are wooden squares, with the vowels on a background of blue and the consonants on a light pink field. The shapes of the letters themselves are crafted of a high-grit sandpaper, offering the child a point of interest as their fingers follow the gentle slopes of the cursive letters.
The Movable Alphabet is a child's first foray into writing, transforming thoughts into words. The Movable Alphabet is very much what it sounds like. All 26 letters are individually cut out of wood, and ready to position into words and sentences. Enticingly arranged in large wooden boxes, each cursive letter rests in its own compartment, waiting to be called upon. A child can begin by labelling things in their environment or writing words that they identify with personally, then progress to writing longer stories with the smaller alphabet.
Writing with the Movable Alphabet is the beginning of self-expression, and sets into motion a lifetime of putting our thoughts, hopes, and dreams down on paper.
Phonetic Object Box
The Phonetic Object Box is the first time children encounter a material exclusively geared for reading, and it gives students the confidence by using well-known objects in an enticing presentation. There are a few variations for the Phonetic Object Box, and the Directress will pay close attention to what the child is interested in and what next steps might aid their language development. For example, the child might write their own labels, create labels for other objects around the room, or continue to work with the prepared labels and objects on their own.
The Metal Insets are a delightful way for the child to prepare for writing. Holding a coloured pencil to carefully trace shapes helps a child develop the fine motor control needed to write small letters. Creating patterns and designs is a secondary goal, but also increases a child’s ability to manipulate a pencil! Perhaps most importantly, this work has many variations and possibilities, and can capture any child’s interest for an extended period of time.
Three Part Cards
Three part cards are an excellent tool to help a child expand his or her vocabulary, and can be found in more than one area of the Montessori classroom. The three part cards for a bird theme would include beautiful photos of different varieties of birds, like flamingos or cardinals. Those are the first cards. The second cards are small labels with new vocabulary to fit underneath the photo cards. The third part is the control card, with both the picture and the name on the same card, for the child to check for themselves if they labelled the photos correctly.
Sandpaper Phonograms are the natural extension of Sandpaper Letters, and live in the language section of the classroom. A phonogram is simply a letter or combination of letters that represent a sound. The Sandpaper Phonograms, much like the Sandpaper Letters, are cursive sandpaper figures set on a green wooden rectangle. Children have the opportunity to trace the path with their fingertips, while sensing the intricate sounds take shape in their mouths.