Montessori Material

(Sources: Montessori Compass and Transparent Classroom)

Pink Tower

Pink Tower is usually introduced as the second activity in the area of Sensorial work.
This lesson consists of a series of ten graduated pink cubes, which vary in size from 1cm³ to 10cm³. This indicates variations in size of three dimensions and helps develop a basis for the cubes of numbers.
The purpose of this material is also to develop a visual sense in perception and differences in dimension; improve awareness; develop attention in working with sequences and systematic operations; encourage the power of reasoning; develop the habit of correcting work until it is the best it can be; development of motor control; development of muscular memory; set the groundwork for the understanding of the science of numbers and to develop quite complex comparative and superlative vocabulary (such as 'bigger', 'smaller', 'heavier', or 'lighter' to compare and describe the shape and size) as well as geometric vocabulary.
Initially the tower is built with the cubes placed centrally on another. Later the tower is built with two flat sides and the smallest cube travels down the steps fitting each step exactly to reinforce the relationship between it and the change in size of the series of cubes.
The Brown Stair and Pink Tower can be combined and the interrelationships of size explored.

Brown Stairs

The Brown (or Broad) Stair activity is usually the third lesson within the Sensorial area. This lesson consists of ten wooden rectangular prisms, which are 20cm long and have both varying widths and heights from 1 square centimeter to 10 square centimeters. This represents a variation in two dimensions. This lesson specifically helps develop an understanding of rectangular prism and comparative and superlative adjective vocabulary, allowing the child to notice the squares of numbers from 1 - 10. The purpose of this material is also to: develop a visual sense in perception and differences in dimension; improve awareness; develop attention in working with sequences and systematic operations; encourage the power of reasoning; develop the habit of correcting work until it is the best it can be; development of motor control; develop muscular memory; set the groundwork for the understanding of the science of numbers; and develop the language of size (width, height, length), comparative and superlative adjective comparisons relating to size (as well as many geometric terms).

World Puzzle Map

Using the World Puzzle Map, the child matches the continent pieces from the Puzzle Map to their outline shapes on the corresponding Outline Control Map. Once this first step is complete, the child then moves on to constructing the map without using a control, then will make a personal map using the puzzle pieces to trace. The final part to working with this material is for the child to read the continent and ocean names and place them on the corresponding puzzle.

Langage / Letter sounds

Sandpaper Letters

Sandpaper letters and objects

Beginning sounds sorting pictures

Alphabet roll

The Sandpaper Letters are a series of alphabet letters in either cursive or manuscript form, which have a rough feel to them so as to stimulate the child's sense of touch and to assist in the development of sound recognition and writing. Usually, vowel sounds are presented on red and consonants on a blue background. The child is shown how to trace the letter using two fingers, the index and middle finger of the child's dominant hand. Once the letter has been traced, the sound of the letter is said. Tracing the letter and associating it with the letter sound both prepares the hand and the mind for future writing. The muscle memory goes beyond just a memory of how to form the letter, it also helps the child internalize and remember the sound of each letter symbol. In this activity the child is introduced to the lower-case and capital sandpaper letters and their corresponding sounds.

In this activity the child builds their auditory sense by connecting the sandpaper letters and their corresponding sounds to actual objects. Initially, the child begins with a single letter and an assortment of objects that begin with that letter sound. For example, the sandpaper letter "b" might have the corresponding objects of a ball, book, bike, and boat. The child first makes the sound of the sandpaper letter, and then names the corresponding objects, understanding that they all start with the 'buh' sound. As the child progresses with this work they sort mixed objects beginning with multiple sounds to their corresponding letters. With this activity the child develops their ability to hear the initial sound in a word and match it to the appropriate symbol.

In this activity the child continues to build their auditory sense and letter sound knowledge by matching pictures to the letter corresponding to their initial sound. The child works with groups of letters arranged on a mat. They then pronounce the name of the object in the pictures and place the picture beneath it's corresponding letter. The child continues until all of the pictures are placed. They can then check their own work by turning the pictures over and seeing if they match the main letter (correct matches will have the same color or symbol on the back).

In this activity the child matches individual letters to an 'alphabet roll' on a mat and pronounces the sound of the letter as they do so. The child might match lower-case letters to capital letters or vice-versa.

Beginning Handwriting

Metal inserts

The Metal Insets (often pronounced by young children as the "metal insects!") are made of metal frames with metal inserts all of which are specific geometric figures. The child is invited to do a variety of activities with this material. The main aim of the material is to develop fine-motor control, particularly in preparation for pencil control and, ultimately, to prepare the child for writing. This is a fun activity because it involves tracing, drawing different types of lines or creating designs and patterns that can be colored - all this as the child progresses with the use of the material, which satisfies both the creative side of the child while assisting in developing beautiful handwriting. In the initial activity, the child works to create a single outline of a shape. The outlines created are filled in, first with lines drawn far apart, then lines drawn close together, then a single continuous line and eventually they will fill a single outline completely.

Grace and Courtesy

Handling conflicts

The lessons in Grace and Courtesy are central to Montessori education. They are the essential lessons and exercises by which we create a peaceful and cooperative classroom. Students learn kind and polite ways to handle everyday situations. Students also learn how to communicate and behave in a manner that is considered kind, gentle and polite in society. As students learn these skills they feel a sense of internalized order and self-discipline. They learn to respect themselves and others. Ultimately, as students grow in these skills they become confident and active members of the community. Teachers and other students work on handling conflict through the process of conflict resolution. This is done through role modeling, practice and discussion. Through this process students practice using effective language to share their own feelings and ideas with others. Students also practice using active listening techniques as they listen to the feelings and ideas of others. The long term goal is that, through this consistent practice, students will feel empowered to resolve conflicts within their communities with respect and success.

Montessori Birthday

The Montessori birthday ceremony takes place whenever a child in the class has a birthday. For many very young children this is their first exposure to the idea that the earth moves around the sun. This "lesson" is repeated many times over the course of the year, and the young child simply "absorbs" an understanding of these concepts as she watches the child who is having a birthday carry the globe around the sun (represented by a candle). Some classes discuss events in the child's life, that help create an impression of growth connected to the passing of time, as well the passing of the seasons. This experience is followed by a range of lessons that introduce the child to the use of different timers and clocks, calendars and concepts related to the passing of time.

Control and Coordination of Movement - Silence Game

What is it?


* This is a game we play with the children to encourage the ability to be silent when needed. The guide can facilitate this game through gathering a group of children, having them sit quietly and whispering each child's name until they are all gathered around her. 
* Another way to play this game when all the children are very familiar with it, is for the guide to write silence on the chalkboard. As children notice the sign, they begin to let other children know, until the whole class is quite. At this point the guide may choose to do many things: call the children's names quietly (as previously), sit quietly for a moment before inviting the children to return to their work, recite a poem, etc...

Why do we do it?

* Coordination and refinement of movements of the whole body
* Development of the will
* Social cohesion

How to help at home?


* Spend some quite time with your child at home. If you meditate, invite your child to join you for some of that time.

Sensorial - Olfactory - Smelling bottles

What is it?


* 3-6 pairs of jars. The sets of jars are distinguishable from each other and have matching pairs of familiar substances with distinctive smells. We begin with familiar scents (ex. lavender, garlic, mint, Vick’s vapor rub). Then introduce less familiar scents (ex. vanilla, soap, wood polish, coffee, lemon). As scents are rotated, the contrast may be narrowed. (ex. all floral scents, all culinary scents). We avoid putrid smells or having all sweet smells and keep the scents mild. 

* The child takes one bottle from one set and, by smelling each bottle, pairs it with its mate in the other set.



Why do we do it?


* Refinement of the olfactory sense
* The awareness of scent in the environment


How to help at home?


* Let your child smell different things around your house, especially food. Children love to smell food!
* Take your child outside and explore your environment through smell (and talk about the different ways things smell): smell the rain, smell leaves, flowers, herbs, notice the smell of garbage as you walk past rubbish bins, etc...
* See if you can identify smells as you're walking around the city. Is it a food, a flower, etc...



Practical Life - Care of the Environment - Sweeping

What is it?


  • This activity allows the child to learn to sweep without the stress of actually needing to clean a space (like after lunch or snack, or a big spill).
  • The child scatters sweeping material (either dried flower petals or confetti) in a small area of the classroom.
  • He can either put down a small sticky dot or use a sweeping guide to create a focus for his sweeping.
  • He then uses the broom to get all the sweeping material to his focus spot and a dustpan and brush to get it to the trash.
  • From here, the guide may come up with several other practical life activities having to do with cleaning the floor, as is needed in his or her classroom. For example: mopping, carpet sweeping, rug/carpet beating, sweeping paved areas outside, scrubbing the floor, etc…

Why do we do it?


  • Coordination of movement of the whole body
  • Development of equilibrium
  • Development of order through exact use of each item and through following a logical sequence of activity
  • Motive for concentration and exactness
  • Development of the will (self control)
  • Care of the environment

Mathematics / Exploration & memorization of essential combinations / Addition Snake Game

What is it?


  • A set of three boxes containing bars of ten, colored bead bars, and one black and white bead stair (bead bars from 1-9, with 1-5 being black, 6-9 have 5 black beads and then white beads to make up the numeral)
  • The child gets the boxes out and uses the colored beads to make a "snake"
  • He/She counts the beads and exchanges them for golden bars of ten, using the black and white bead stair for remainders.
  • Eventually the entire snake is golden with possibly one black and white bar at the "tail"
  • We show the child how to count the ten bars to see how long their snake was

Why do we do it?

  • To give the first practice in memorization of the essential combinations in addition

  • To help the child experience the fact that no two quantities less than ten can make more than eighteen

  • To reenforce all of the possible combinations that make ten

How to help at home?


  • Continue counting and adding with your child, and using adding language in the home.

Language / Reading / Phonetic Object Box

What is it?


  • A box with several objects whose names are spelled phonetically, and a bag of printed labels for every object in the box.

  • The child chooses a label and sounds out the word. Then he places it with the object that it describes and moves on to the next label. 

Why do we do it?


  • To help the child realize that he can analyze and synthesize the graphic symbols of a written word to discover its meaning.

  • An introduction to reading as silent communication.

Mathematics / Decimal system / Golden Beads

Introduction to quantity


What is it?

  • With the tray on the table, place one of each category in front of the child so that the unit is on the right and the thousand is on the left.
  • The child does a [Three Period Lesson] with the guide, associating thousand, hundred, ten, and unit with the golden beads corresponding to those words.

Why do we do it?

  • To introduce the names for quantities in each category (“unit”; “ten”; “hundred”; “thousand”)

  • To show the relationship between one category and the next

  • To offer the child the sensorial experience of the relative sizes of the categories (bulk)

  • To extend the sensorial experience of the different categories and the difference in bulk, for instance, between 6 units and 6 hundreds

How to help at home?


  • Use the language for the categories + count (tens, hundreds, thousands...)
  • Compare the sizes of things to each other as you walk around

Games with symbols


What is it?

  • The child plays a [Bring Me Game] with the adult, bringing different symbols of a certain category.

Why do we do it?

  • To reinforce language of the categories
  • To introduce the symbols for multiple 1000's, 100's, 10's, 1's

How to help at home?


  • You could make the number cards and play the game at home.

Sensoriel / Mélange d'impressions / Figues géométriques graduées

De quoi s'agit-il?

  • Trois boîtes, différant seulement en couleurs (rouge, bleue et jaune), chacune contenant un ensemble de figures géométriques comme suit :
    - Un ensemble de 10 carrés avec les côtés croissants de longueur 1cm à 10cm 
    - Un ensemble de 10 cercles de diamètres augmentant de 1cm à 10cm
    - Un ensemble de 10 triangles équilatéraux dont les côtés augmentent de 1cm à 10cm.
  • Cette activité est une exploration de formes. L'enfant peut concevoir ce qu'il veut avec les formes qui se trouvent dans les boîtes.

Pourquoi le faisons-nous?

  • Explorer les relations entre et les formes géométriques. 

Comment aider à la maison?


  • Vous pouvez faire ces formes à la maison avec du papier..

Practical Life / Care of Self / Dressing Frame

What is it?


* Wooden frames covered in cloth with fasteners such as: snaps, buttons, buckles, zipper, hooks and eyes, bows, shoe laces, safety pins, boot laces, etc..


Why do we do it?


* Hand-eye coordination
* Fine motor coordination
* Manual dexterity
* Development of order
* Motives for repetition and concentration
* Functional independence
* Care of the self/person

How to help at home?


* Let your child attempt to fasten his or her own clothing and shoes. Only help if they show frustration or ask for help (this can be a long process). Show them how to fasten or tie on your own clothing and let them copy on their own.

Mathematics / Fractions / Introduction to quantity

What is it?


* 10 frames with circular insets 10cm in diameter. One inset is a complete circle with a knob. The other insets are divided into 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 equal sections, each section with a knob.
* The adult helps the child make the connection that the whole circle is like the unit bead.
* They talk about dividing a whole thing into parts to share (like a pie or a pizza).
* The child is introduced to the word 'fractions' and what it means.
* The child is shown how all of the fractions in one inset are the exact same size and how the whole circle fits in their space when they are removed.

Why do we do it?

* To give the child a beginning understanding of the nature of fractions.
* To discover the relationships between factions and whole numbers.
* To give the child experience using the 4 operations with fractions.

How to help at home?


* Talk to your child about how fractions are equal parts of a whole ( a pie is a good place to start).
* Play around with fractions and making geometric designs with them.

Language / Reading / Reading classification / Three parts cards

What is it?


* The child revisits the classified cards he knows, but this time the names for the pictures are printed. The child reads the labels and matches them to the appropriate picture. He uses control cards (pictures and words are all on one card) to check his work. He can do this work with any Classified Cards for which he knows all the language.

Why do we do it?


* Reading exercises to introduce the child to the written form of the vocabulary he already knows.

* Preparation for further study.