The Sandpaper Letters are one of the more well known Montessori materials for early literacy development. Above, Pat is using the material with a young girl who is learning about initial sounds at the beginning of words. The child is given a small object and figures out which letter represents the sound at the beginning of the word. The rough texture of the letters on the boards provides a multi-sensory experience as the child traces the letters with her finger; they experience each letter visually, by sound, and by touch.
A couple of beautiful moments occurred this week as some of our older, third-year Casa students took some time to read with some younger students. Reading is an essential skill for students moving to the Lower Elementary program, and moments like this fill us with confidence that they are ready to move on.
The Roman Arch material is fascinating. The children use the blocks to build a self-supporting arch. The obvious take away is the experience of the engineering behind this incredible human invention, but this material is also an introduction to human culture and history that students will delve into at the Elementary levels.
Perhaps one of the most attractive Montessori materials — both visibly and as an object of desire for the children — are the Bells. The two rows of bells make up a control set and a working set. Children begin by taking one bell out of the working set, then three, then five, and so on. The removed bells are mixed up and the child attempts to return them to the correct positions by matching their sounds with the control set. The material helps children develop auditory discrimination, learn scale, and, as they develop their skills, they can learn to play songs and even write music.
“It’s such a deep material,” said Pat, “so complex.”