The Metal Inset (not “insect”) material shown above is a Montessori favourite. It teaches children pencil control by helping them hone their fine motor skills in preparation for learning to write. Children start with one shape and one colour, and when they have mastered the control to colour inside the lines they move on to two, overlapping shapes, which creates a number of different sections that need to be coloured differently. Consisting of ten presentations in all, the activity demands concentration through its attention to detail and encourages children to slow down and take their time.
Another favourite is making a cord. The child above will work to twist the cord and use an s-hook to spin it together, and then tie knots so it doesn’t fall apart. A specific sequence of steps must be followed, and like all Montessori materials it is self-correcting. If the use of the tool, twisting, and knot-tying is not done correctly the cord will very evidently not be created, without the need for an adult to tell the child she is doing it wrong. The creation of a finished product also makes the activity more meaningful.
Another example of the skills developed by both the Metal Insets and Cord Making activities is the Sewing Card seen above. This material also develops fine motor control in preparation for writing and other work, is self-correcting, and demands great concentration.
Perhaps the most well known Montessori material is the Pink Tower. This activity is fun, and it introduces children to the concept of discriminating between objects by size. The three dimensional nature of the material makes the visual discrimination between the different cubes very obvious. With later materials in this sequence of activities, the visual discrimination becomes two- and one-dimensional, making the visual differences less obvious, requiring more abstract thought.
We also fold a lot of cloths. It is a way we participate in the community life of DVMS, but it is also an implicit introduction to fractions and geometry, as children observe the halving and quartering of the cloths, as well as the creation of squares and rectangles.
Our older students work with materials that lead them to greater degrees of abstraction. The Strip Board seen above is helping this boy master his addition math facts. As the children age, they seem to naturally seek to move away from the materials and try to solve problems in their heads.
These are just a few of the many materials and activities the children worked with this week in Casa South.
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