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 Pink Tower, iconic to the Montessori classroom, embodies the direct and indirect purpose of most Montessori materials. Stacking the cubes calls for visual discrimination, coordination, and precision. Indirectly, a child is preparing himself or herself for understanding cubed roots in later math.
The Red Rods are a materialised abstraction in the dimension of length. Montessori is all about moving from concrete to abstract, so accordingly, the Red Rods help a child visually discriminate differences in length, from 10cm to 100cm. The visual affirmation means the child doesn’t need confirmation from a parent or teacher, but rather is in charge of his or her own learning.
A child gets the chance to match 2 tablets of the same colour to each other, building their visual discrimination skills while exploring how colours relate to one another. The colour tablets introduce colour without the association of a physical object. Take, for example, a red apple. If red is always associated with an apple, what might a child think when they see a green apple? Is it an apple if it’s not red? For this reason, in the Montessori classroom, colours are presented in a concrete fashion. The only thing that is different is the colour itself. We call this, “isolating one difficulty” at a time.
The Binomial Cube, indirectly introduces (a + b)³ to the child.
(a + b)³ might not typically be a concept one would think could be presented to the young child, but Montessori felt differently. This mathematical thought is presented in a concrete, visual way through the Binomial Cube.
The tablets are made of different natural materials. The ones pictured here are glass, slate, cork, steel, wood, and felt. These materials look and feel different, but the sense the child will be isolating here is temperature. Which ones are warmer, cooler, the warmest, the coolest? Also, which ones match?
The cylinder blocks inherently include a control of error. The child will be able to visually discriminate if a cylinder doesn’t correctly fit a chosen place, or will be left with more than one cylinder that doesn’t fit at the end of the work.
There are several extensions to the Cylinder Block material, progressing in difficulty as the child becomes more confident with the work. For example, a child might bring all four blocks to one table, arrange them in a rectangle, and proceed to take all the cylinders out, mix them up, and return them. A tough task with 40 cylinders!
Geometry Cabinet and Cards
The Geometry Cabinet contains a wealth of knowledge to be explored, and is compelling for the young child because of its intricacy and depth.
The material has many variations, and children may enjoy working with it from their first year in the Montessori classroom to their last! The Geometry Cabinet provides a child with the foundational elements of geometry, including an extended vocabulary and familiarity with many shapes he or she will find later on in mathematics.
The purpose is to select an object inside the bag, feel the object, and name the object. The child will then bring out the object and place it on the table, ascertaining whether or not they’ve correctly identified the object. It helps children develop their stereognostic senses, our ability to identify objects based on touch alone, and support their material visualisation.
Blindfolded, the sets of fabric are lined up in two columns. Each square of fabric on the left side has a matching square on the right. The child will start with the top left square, feeling the fabric intently. Then, starting with the top right square, he or she will feel each piece of fabric until locating the matching square!
After setting this matching pair aside, they will continue with each piece of fabric until all of them have been matched. To check for errors, they will take off the blindfold and compare the matches visually.
This Montessori material helps a child refine his or her auditory senses in a controlled and engaging way. The material ‘isolates one difficulty’ by making the cylinders identical to each other, except for the sound they make when shaken, ultimately practising sound discrimination.
The Knobbed Puzzles, like many Montessori materials, have layers of engagement. From a child’s first experience of manipulating the knobbed pieces, to practising literacy by reading labels, the knobbed puzzles are a well-loved material in the Montessori classroom.