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The Montessori Learning Materials: Part 2

Updated: Feb 18

One of the main differences between a more traditional classroom and a Montessori classroom is the Montessori materials. These colourful, attractive, and engaging materials are specially designed to help achieve a set of learning objectives.

Here at Jade Drive, your kids will find their classroom shelves full of Montessori equipment ready to be used and to be experimented with.

Here in Part 2 of this post we continue looking at more Montessori materials from our classroom shelves and explore their learning outcomes. Click here to access Part 1 of this article.

Spooning Activities

Spooning activities are exercises within the Practical Life area of a Montessori classroom. The activity is one of the first lessons introduced (from the practical life area) in a Montessori classroom. This work helps concentration, visual and fine motor development. Further, the spooning activities help children master the pincer grip and prepare them for activities outside the Practical Life learning area.

Pouring & Transferring Activities

Children can practice fine motor control by grasping a handle and pouring water or grains. These simple tasks isolate single skills that children will require in combination for more complex procedures in the future.

One principle behind the activities Maria Montessori designed was that “control of error” be evident. Children learn to self-correct their work, eliminating the need for adults to point out errors. In this spirit, most of the pitchers and dishes we offer are breakable.

Cultural Puzzles

The Montessori cultural puzzles are designed to pique a child's curiosity in the natural world and to assist them in identifying the animals and plants depicted in them. The puzzles also allow students to examine and learn about the anatomical parts and components of the represented flora and fauna.

The animal puzzles teach kids the five basic classes of vertebrates, namely the frog (amphibian), turtle (reptile), horse (mammal), fish and bird in a fun and engaging fashion while adhering to the Montessori ideals of beauty, simplicity, and realism.

The botany puzzles help students recognize and understand the various parts of a leaf, tree, flower, root, and seed.

Each puzzle piece features a wooden knob that promotes tactile and visual sensory development while also improving fine motor skills.

It indirectly prepares the infant for writing as they refine their pincer grip and fine motor abilities each time they grab and manipulate the little knobs. Moreover, The Cultural Puzzles give students a sense of purpose and capability by allowing them to choose which puzzle piece goes where whilst also improving hand-eye coordination and helping them develop problem-solving skills.

Red Rods

The Red Rods are made up of ten wooden rods that differ only in length. The shortest rod is 10cm in length, while the longest is 100cm. Each rod increases in length by 10cm increments.

Children between the ages of 2.5 and 6 are introduced to the Red Rods. This is usually done after they've completed preliminary sensory items like the Knobbed Cylinders, Pink Tower, and Brown Stairs.

The Red Rods' primary goal is to improve a child's visual and muscle perception of length. Secondary goals include improving the child's movement coordination, assisting with balance and concentration, and teaching the child the fundamentals of mathematics.

Through repetition, children will learn to distinguish between long and short, build the rods in a stair formation, and detect disharmony in wrongly built rods.

Number Rods

A set of Number Rods consists of 10 coloured rods that are divided into red and blue portions of equal size. The rods’ lengths increase linearly, with the second rod being twice as long as the first, the third rod being three times as long as the first, and so on.

Students are introduced to the concept of measurement through the Number Rods. Rather than looking at two rods and stating, “This one is longer,” the child can now quantify how much longer one is. For example, instead of noticing that 10 is longer than 1, the child can see 10 is precisely ten times longer. They learn to ask not just “is it longer?” but, “How much longer is it?”

While this might seem like a relatively intuitive skill, it actually takes a fair bit of practice to be able to judge and compare quantities. Furthermore, the Number Rods also help children learn the names of numbers and their sequence and learn to associate the spoken number with its quantity accurately.

The Number Rods are introduced to children at the age of four when they have mastered the Red Rods and have expressed an interest in the Number Rods.

The Short Bead Stair

The Montessori ‘Short Bead Stair’ material helps the child understand the concept of quantity in a very ‘concrete’ way, as they can feel it, count it, and organize it. The bead stair distinguishes clearly each number up to 9 as separate entities of differing quantities.

These versatile Montessori materials are initially used to reinforce the quantities 1 to 9. As the child advances, it may be used to explain the construction of the numbers from 11 to 19 and show their relation to the quantity of 10. Furthermore, they can be used to aid children in understanding addition and subtraction.

The Lock and Keys Activity

In this Practical Life activity, children will learn to lock and unlock different sized padlocks using keys. This is a popular activity among our youngsters and offers many learning opportunities such as aid in their growing independence, fine motor development, visual discrimination and hand-eye coordination.

The Dressing Frames

The Montessori Dressing Frames, which are a staple in the Practical Life Area, are a collection of twelve-inch square wooden frames with various clothes fasteners such as big buttons, small buttons, zippers, lacing velcro, bow tying etc. Dressing Frames are frequently displayed in boxes or on towers.

As the frames include fasteners of varying difficulty, including simple ones such as velcro or snaps, the frames can be introduced to the child at a very young age. This material encourages a lot of repetition, since there are multiple fasteners down the frame, and children often practice more than once.

Dressing Frames are used in the classroom throughout the child's time there. Simple fasteners, such as velcro, can be introduced early on, whereas bow tying and boot lacing may be attempted later.

Interestingly, even if a child can zip the Zipper Frame, he/she still may need assistance zipping up their bag or coat. This is because these skills are separate in a child's mind until the child makes the connection that the zipper on his bag uses the same movements as the frame in the classroom.

The Montessori Balance scales

The Wooden Balance Scale can be utilized in various settings depending on the activities being performed. It can be used in math problems as well as sensory exploration.

The balance scale's primary purpose is to show the child that different objects have different weights while others have the same weight. What makes this balance scale so appealing is that the kids can witness how the scale travels up and down based on the weights he or she places on the dish, whether they are cylinders or any other object that fits.

The Wooden Balance Scale introduces students to the concept of weights and gives them a sensorial awareness of size and heaviness. The children are often surprised when they realize that every object in the world has a specific weight that can be measured.

The Large Number Cards

The Large Number Cards, found on our mathematics shelves, introduce students to the decimal system. The material consists of four sets of cards that represent the many types of numbers in the decimal system.

The smallest set, 1 through 9, is called 'units,' and they are printed in green on small wooden cards. Following that, the 'tens', numbers 10 to 90 are printed in blue, the 'hundreds', numbers 100 to 900 are printed in red, and the 'thousands', numbers 1,000 to 9,000, are printed in green.

The primary goal of the Large Number Cards is to help kids identify numbers between 1 to 9,000.

Large Number Cards are introduced to students as early as four years old. Before this lesson, children will have worked on Montessori materials that introduce and strengthen the recognition of numbers from one to nine. They will also be familiar with the concept of zero.

Sorting Activities : Using Tweezers

Sorting is an early mathematics skill that your child may also use in multiple areas throughout their lives. The pom-pom sorting activity is intended to enhance the child’s understanding of the characteristics of the various things around them, such as colours, shapes, textures, and sounds.

By sorting, children understand that things are alike and different as well and that they can belong and be organized into certain groups.

Accordingly, this activity offers the child an opportunity to develop manipulative skills, self-control, eye-hand coordination, problem-solving and thinking skills. Moreover, using a tweezer in this exercise is a fun way to hone fine motor skills and work on a child’s pincer grip.

Pegging Activity

This simple pegging activity found in our practical life area has been created to help develop children’s pincer grip, fine motor skills, hand strength, coordination and dexterity while developing their independence and preparing the child for daily chores at home.

Dustpan and Brush activity

This activity which can be found on our Practical Life shelves, teaches the child to clean up after themselves. Learning to sweep up in the classroom helps the child to learn responsibility and self-reliance.

To perform this activity, the child first lays out the mat (with a taped box) on the table. Then they pour the rice (found in the red container) all over the mat. Next, the child uses the brush to sweep all the rice into the taped square. Once the grains are in the rectangle, they are easier to sweep into the dustpan.

The tape provides a built-in control of error for the child. The final step is to slide the swept rice into the bowl, repeating all the steps until all of the rice grains are in the container.

Reading and Writing

Adults who have mastered reading and writing may take them for granted, yet they are tremendous tasks when viewed through the eyes of a child.

Literacy is a complex, integrative process that involves connecting symbols to sounds, words to ideas, and thoughts to words. It involves learning to decode symbols into ideas and to encode ideas into symbols fluently. Furthermore, it requires the acquisition of physical skills, such as fine motor skills, which are required for writing with a pen or pencil.

The Montessori method employs a combination of techniques that foster a positive, natural learning environment to teach reading and writing. The Montessori curriculum is designed to teach children the different aspects of reading and writing one by one in a way that is both understandable and enjoyable. Below are a few materials utilized in a Montessori classroom to ensure that children enjoy reading and writing.

Writing Activities

Once children develop the appropriate hand strength, they begin to work with pens and pencils. Children are first introduced to our beautiful collection of coloured pencils and metal insets from our language area.

Rather than trudging through handwriting worksheets, children in our classroom start using the colour pencils and metal insets to trace shapes, draw parallel lines and make patterns. Students enjoy honing their writing skills through colouring and creating artwork. By doing these activities, children learn to use and control pencils while expressing themselves in a fun and creative way. Eventually, when a child combines all these skills, they joyfully discover that they are able to write letters on paper.

Sandpaper Letters

The Sandpaper letters seem to be one of Maria Montessori’s most innovative materials. Not only does tracing the Sandpaper letters foster beautiful penmanship, but it also teaches children how the sounds they hear are written.

Maria Montessori insisted that writing comes first, then reading. Later on, children begin to read phonetic words without much effort by blending the sounds together. This method, which involves all three senses (visual, aural, and tactile), stands in stark contrast to the traditional way of memorizing letters by looking at them.

An environment rich in spoken language and listening games is essential for preparing the ear so that children can differentiate the various sounds that makeup words.

Once the students have the finger control for tracing and can isolate the beginning sounds of words, they will be ready to work with Sandpaper letters.

Sensorial and Practical Life exercises (such as pouring, polishing, and transferring) help develop hand-eye coordination and prepare the index and middle fingers to trace the Sandpaper Letters.


Do keep an eye out for part 3 of this article!

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