1. Practical life exercises
Practical life exercises provide a sane and wholesome range of activities which allow the children to develop control and coordination of movement, awareness of their environment, orderly thought patterns, independent work habits, responsibility, and many other human characteristics which can only be attained by spontaneous, purposeful work.
Practical life activities can be found in the Montessori Kindergarten as well as at home, making them a link from home to school environment. Children at this stage of development are very interested in e.g. pouring, cutting, carrying, shoe polishing, folding, ironing, washing etc.
The exercises of practical life are classified into care of the environment, care of the person, grace and courtesy and movement. Through activities with dressing frames like buttoning-,lacing-,zipping- or bow tying frames, the child develops coordination, ability to concentrate, sense of order and independence.
2. The sensorial materials
The Montessori sensorial materials allows the child to classify sensorial impressions in an organized, orderly and scientific manner. The child can tell variations of sounds, touch, temperature, shape, tastes etc.
The sensorial materials are mathematically graded, they isolate one quality only and are limited in both scope and quantity. More over they have a built in control of error. The sensorial materials allow for individual work and for repetition. Thanks to the control of error inherent in the materials, the children acquire the habit of working independently, unafraid of making mistakes, becoming comfortable with the fact that errors are essential to the process of learning. Among the sensorial materials there are :
4 cylinder blocks. They provide the first stage of experiences in visual discrimination of size. to
short and thick
short and thick
Pink Tower This series of cubes develops visual discrimination of size in three dimensions. Exploration with this material prepares the child for mathematical concepts in the decimal system, geometry and volume.
Brown stair. This series of prisms demonstrates to the child the change in width, while the length of 20 cm remains constant.
At around three years of age, when the
children come to our Kindergarten, their spoken language is developed. They have boundless
capacity to expand and enrich their language. The Montessori
language materials have some essential points in common with the sensorial materials. They are also very simple materials
The sandpaper letters. The sandpaper letters guide the hand for writing as the child traces the letter shapes in the style and direction that they are written.
The movable Alphabet. After learning the letter sounds with the sandpaper letters, the movable alphabet is used by the children to write words.
In our Montessori Kindergarten children learn the phonetic sounds of letters, and writing before reading, because it is easier for the child to do so. Simple rhymes, songs, group games, story telling, grammar games and conversations with the teachers and schoolfriends help develop a childs language skills.
Before the children begin to work with the
mathematic materials, they are well prepared. The exercises of practical life have given
them the opportunity to develop logical and sequential thought
patterns. The Mathematic materials give the children a sensorial experience of the
abstraction that is mathematics,
allowing them to store concepts so that when the time comes to deal
exclusively in abstract terms, the understanding is already there. Among the mathematic
materials there are :
The sandpaper numerals. By tracing the numerals in the style and direction in which they are written,
the child is preparing for writing numbers
preparing for writing numbers.
The golden bead material. The golden bead material introduces the child to the decimal system with concrete representations of the hierarchy of numbers. We start with the golden bead materials for introducing the decimal quantities of 1,10,100, and 1000.
Montessori Mathematic materials offer a clear example of indirect preparation. It is the basis for a further step in the development of the childs mathematical understanding.
5. Cultural Extensions
With cultural extensions Maria Montessori means, that when children come into the world their first function is, to adapt to their environment, so that they may become a member of the human group and culture to which they belong. They absorb all the elements surrounding them, obeying vital inner directives common to all children. Cosmical Education is classified under :
grace and courtesy / movement and silence / music and creative movement / cooking and nutrition / geography and history / botany and zoology etc.
In the first years of life children have absorbed a limitless wealth of impressions, taking in all the elements of the world around them. A few simple keys will suffice to animate their inherent love of the natural world around them, transforming this love into the need to know and understand it with their very being.