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The classroom is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The child, through individual choice, makes use of what the environment offers to develop himself, interacting with the teacher when support and/or guidance is needed.
Here are 10 works you can expect to see in a Montessori classroom:
- Golden Beads
The Golden Bead Material introduces the child to the decimal system with concrete representations of place value. Children are able to see the transition that takes place when a number gets to 10 and an exchange is necessary. Quantity and place value are explored through equations in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
- The Pink Tower
The Pink Tower consists of 10 pink cubes that are all the same color and texture. The only difference is their size. The preschool-aged child constructs a tower with the largest cube on the bottom and the smallest on top. This material isolates the concepts of size and is used to introduce vocabulary such as “largest” and “smallest.”
- The Brown Stairs
The Brown Stairs introduce the child to differences in size in two dimensions. This is a set of ten prisms with a constant length but whose width and height vary from 1 to 10 centimeters. The child must place the blocks in proper gradation and introduce the terms thick and thin.
- The Red and Blue Rods
The Red Rods help the child to recognize differences in size in one dimension–length. The child must place the rods in the proper sequence from shortest to longest. This work gives the child a sensorial basis for beginning math.
- Cylinder Blocks
Cylinder Blocks introduce the child to size order while strengthening the pincer grasp (appropriate grasp of a writing tool). Cylinder Blocks consist of four oblong blocks of natural colored wood. Each block contains 10 cylinder shape insets that can be handled by a knob attached to the top. The cylinders vary in graduated differences in depth and diameter. The child takes all the cylinders out, mixes them up and replaces them in the corresponding socket. Each cylinder only fits correctly in one hole.
- Sandpaper Letters
Sandpaper Letters introduce the child to sound-symbol association and proper letter formation. The child traces the outlines of letters made of sandpaper, experiencing each letter through touch while repeating the sound that the letter makes. Consonants in pink and vowels in blue draw the child’s attention to this important distinction.
- The Moveable Alphabet
After learning the Sandpaper Letters, the child is ready to use the Moveable Alphabet. For this work, the teacher prepares a bag of miniature objects representing three letter words with the short vowel sounds, such as bed, lid, fan, cup. The child selects the object then says its name very slowly to hear each sound. Then, the child selects the letters to represent the sounds they heard and places the word besides the item on the mat. As the child’s skills progress, the complexity of the words do as well.
- The Binomial Cube
The Binomial Cube is an advanced puzzle that allows the exploration of patterns and relationships with 3-dimensional shapes. Through manipulating it, your child will develop an appreciation of mathematical concepts that they will revisit as an Elementary student when exploring algebra.
- Puzzle Maps
Puzzle maps help children learn geography in a hands-on, engaging way. Many students struggle to visualize the world’s shape and layout, especially when they only see a flat paper map. Puzzle maps allow students to understand the world’s shape and learn the placements of continents and countries in relation to one another.
- Practical Life Exercises
No learning takes place without concentration and attention. The child prepares to learn by performing exercises that help him or her to gradually lengthen the time in which he or she can focus their attention on the specific activity. Examples are endless: washing dishes, chopping vegetables, pouring a drink, polishing silverware, raking leaves, washing windows, and flower arranging.