A lovely image of Montessori multi-age groupings in action above. The older girl is working with the Zen Sand Garden material — a calm, relaxing, peaceful activity that also helps to further entrench fine motor control and allows the child to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of their own creations. The younger girl is working with everyone’s favourite material, the Metal Insets (not insects). The Metal Insets are a precursor to writing as the activity allows children to work on their pincer grip and fine motor pencil control. Having the older student handy for support and advice is a beautiful way for children to learn with confidence.
Older students also have the chance to work with extension materials that help prepare them for the demands and requirements of the next level. The boy above is working with a reading extension and exploration material consisting of phrases about animals in their homes. A part of the Word Study area of the Montessori curriculum, Elizabeth says she prefers this type of material over readers. “It’s what brings reading to life for them,” she said, “there’s so much repetition; they have to remember the sight words, the phonograms — there’s just so much they have to bring together to read the individual words. And it’s cooperative — they can ask each other for help.”
Stef was also fortunate this week to give some children their first presentations some materials. Above is first exploration with the Decanomial Square, which involves building a square of ten (this work is preceded by work with the Binomial and Trinomial cubes) and is indirect preparation for multiplication and squaring at the elementary levels. A few days later, the boy took it out himself to continue his work.
Another first was a presentation of the Function of Words material. Working with this material helps children to learn when and how to use parts of speech such as articles and adjectives with nouns. They learn, for example, the subtle difference between being asked to “Bring me the cow” versus “Bring me a cow.” They also learn how useful it is to say “Bring me the blue cow,” and learn how the order of the words in a sentence is so important, as “Bring me cow blue the” always elicits a good chuckle at how silly the guide is.
And in what could be from Picasso’s “Blue Period,” the two boys above are working with the Geometry Cabinet materials. They are tracing, cutting, and naming the different shapes in order to make their own booklets. This work develops a surprisingly sophisticated level of geometric nomenclature and knowledge.
Enjoy the long weekend.