Concrete to Abstract
The use of concrete materials to learn about abstract concepts and operations is fundamental to the Montessori teaching method. In our pre-school classroom, the materials play a significant role in each child’s learning. The materials include a bright array of solid geometric forms, knobbed cylinders, coloured beads, metal insets and various specialised rods and blocks. They are designed for use by the children rather than as aids for teacher presentations. The materials are arranged on low, open shelves providing easy access for the child.
The materials have been specially designed to attract the child’s interest while at the same time teaching important learning concepts. Each material isolates one concept that the child is to discover. For example, the pink tower, which is made up of ten pink cubes identical in colour and texture but in varying sizes, isolates the concept of size. In mathematics, materials represent concepts such as sequence, place value and fractions and can be used for performing mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Moreover, the materials are self-correcting. When a piece does not fit or is left over the child easily perceives the error. There is no need for correction by the teacher.
Therefore, the child is able to solve problems by him/herself building independence, analytical thinking, and the satisfaction that comes from an accomplishment.
Activities of Everyday Living
When children enter our classroom the Practical Life area provides the link between home and school. In this important area, the child is able to perform the same activities he or she has seen at home such as polishing, pouring, clothes fastenings, folding or fastening nuts and bolts of various sizes to name but a few. During these activities, the child develops concentration, independence, cognitive order, task organisation, self-discipline as well as gross and fine motor skills which are a vital pre-cursor to writing.
Exploration of the Senses
In the sensorial area of the Montessori classroom, children develop and internalise concepts of qualities, similarities and differences through classification and seriation with regard to length, width, temperatures, mass, colour, shape and sound.
The sensorial materials also enhance the development of other skills such as language, mathematics and music. For example, by tracing sandpaper letters with his or her finger a child feels the shape of the letter whilst at the same time learning its sound.
Colours are named and graded according to lightness using the colour boxes as well as providing an opportunity for colour matching games.
An appreciation of music is a natural result of using the Montessori bells to learn a sound and its order from soft to loud.
Concrete to Abstract
The Montessori mathematics materials that we have in our classroom, allow pre-school children to begin their mathematical journey from the concrete to the abstract through manipulation, experimentation and invention.
The Montessori approach to mathematics is logical, clear and very effective. The pre-school child internalises maths skills for numbers, symbols, sequence, place value and arithmetic, first using concrete materials and then through memorisation of basic maths facts.
Number rods, spindles, cards, beads and cubes are some of the tools used to symbolise mathematical concepts, and the children experience the thrill of discovery when using these materials to perform mathematical operations for themselves.
From Spoken to Written
The Montessori pre-school classroom emphasises and encourages spoken language as the foundation for linguistic expression.
The child hears, learns and uses specific vocabulary in all activities, thus developing clear articulate expression.
The child is introduced to the phonetic alphabet, to begin reading simple words and progresses to sentence building, spelling and composition.
Reading and writing skills are often acquired seemingly spontaneously, promoting excited declarations of ‘I can read!’ and ‘I can write!’.
Other skills such as pencil control, handwriting and the fundamentals of grammar are also emphasised in the classroom.
Montessori cultural activities introduce the child to basics in geography, history and world cultures. Our unique multicultural school community provides an environment in which these topics come alive. Music, art, cookery and movement form part of our integrated cultural curriculum.
Describes the activity of babies and children as they play with and explore the properties of ‘objects’. These ‘objects’ are things from the real world. We live in a world where plastic toys dominate the shelves of toy shops, but plastic is dull and disappointing for children. While each rattle may look different each one smells, tastes and feels the same – it is unstimulating to the senses. Using heuristic play with toddlers stimulates all the senses, creating a rich learning experience. The heuristic play revolves around the use of the Treasure Basket. The Treasure Basket is a ridged low sided round basket filled with ‘objects’ from the ‘real world’ these ‘objects’ are made from any material but plastic and comes from a variety of sources in nature and that might be found around the home. It is through handling and exploring these objects that a baby develops contact with the outside world, and begins to make their own choices and decisions. The treasure basket is not a static plaything, over time objects can be added, taken out and replaced. For example; shells from a trip to the beach or pine cones from a visit to the park.
Every treasure basket will be a unique collection of objects. Below is a list of objects that might be found in treasure baskets here at Highgate Montessori:
- Paper / cardboard objects: Egg boxes, notebook, sturdy cardboard tubes.
- Wooden objects: Door wedge, small turned bowl, dolly pegs, egg cup, wooden egg, spoons, curtain rings, coaster, bracelet, block, napkin rings, empty salt and pepper cellars.
- Leather, textile, rubber, or fur objects: Small knitted toy, bean bag, piece of flannel, velvet powder puff, bags of herbs, a bag of lavender, leather keyring, coloured ribbons, leather purse.
- Rubber objects: Ball, bath plug with chain, soap holder, doorstop, coaster.
- Metal objects: Honey drizzler, an egg cup, curtain ring, egg poacher, measuring spoons, tea strainer, whisk, powder compact, bells, lemon squeezer, small bowl.
- Natural objects: A lemon or orange, coconut shell, grass rope, sheepskin, pumice stone, loofah, shells, pine/fir cones, driftwood, avocado stone, large pebbles.
- Brushes: Scrubbing brush, pastry brush, baby’s hairbrush, nail brush, makeup brush, paintbrush, shaving brush, wooden toothbrush.
- Other objects: Small vanilla essence or food colouring bottle, hair rollers, small mirror.
We provide a stimulating environment in which creativity originality and expressiveness are valued. We strongly believe that creativity should come from within. Our children have the opportunity to experiment with a variety of art mediums such as clay charcoal pastels printing and collage. Other times, children will be presented mediums such as weaving, construction and woodwork.