Classrooms and Materials

Unique Classrooms. Tactile Materials.

Classroom Design

The design and flow of the Montessori classroom create a learning environment that accommodates choice.

There are spaces suited to group activity, and areas where a student can settle in alone. Parts of the room are open and spacious, allowing a preschooler to lay out strands of beads for counting, or an elementary student to ponder a 10-foot-long Timeline of Life.

Where are the rows of desks?

You won’t find the customary rows of school desks; children work at tables or on the floor, rolling out mats on which to work and define their work space. Nor are you likely to find walls papered with brightly colored images of cartoons and syndicated characters. Rather, you might see posters from a local museum, or framed photographs or paintings created by the students themselves.

There are well-defined spaces for each part of the curriculum, such as Language Arts, Math, and Culture. Each of these areas features shelves or display tables with a variety of inviting materials from which students can choose.

Enhancing the Learning Experience.

Many classrooms have an area devoted to peace and reflection: a quiet corner or table with well-chosen items—a vase of daisies; a goldfish bowl—to lead a child to meditative thought. And always there are places to curl up with books, where a student can read or be read to.

Each classroom is uniquely suited to the needs of its students. Preschool rooms feature low sinks, chairs, and tables; a reading corner with a small couch (or comfy floor cushions); reachable shelves; and child-sized kitchen tools—elements that allow independence and help develop small motor skills. In upper-level classrooms you’re likely to see large tables for group work, computers, interactive whiteboards, and areas for science labs.

Above all, each classroom is warm, well-organized, and inviting, with couches, rugs, and flowers to help children and youth feel calm and at home.

 

Montessori Learning Materials

A hallmark of Montessori education is its hands-on approach to learning. Students work with specially designed materials, manipulating and investigating until they master the lesson inside.

Beautifully crafted and begging to be touched, Montessori’s distinctive learning materials are displayed on open, easily accessible shelves. They are arranged (left to right, as we read in Western languages) in order of their sequence in the curriculum, from the simplest to the most complex.

Examples

The Pink Tower

The pink tower has ten pink cubes of different sizes, from 1 centimeter up to 10 cm in increments of 1 cm. The work is designed to provide the child with a concept of “big” and “small.”

The child starts with the largest cube and puts the second-largest cube on top of it. This continues until all ten cubes are stacked on top of each other.

The control of error is visual. The child sees the cubes are in the wrong order. The successive dimensions of each cube are such that if the cubes are stacked flush with a corner, the smallest cube may be fit squarely on the ledge of each level.

 

Golden Bead Math

The Golden Bead math system is used to give a concrete introduction to the decimal system. Like all Montessori materials they are tactile, attractive and easy to understand.
The material consists of unit beads which are just individual beads, Ten bars which are short lengths of wire strung with ten beads, Hundred squares which are made of 10 ten bars wired together to make a square, and Thousand cubes which are made by wiring together 10 hundred squares. They are used to introduce mathematical concepts from counting to complex mathematical operations as well as help children visualize the mathematical and geometric patterns of numbers.

 

 

Movable Alphabet

The Movable Alphabet is a cornerstone material of the Montessori language arts curriculum. Simple in design, it consists of a wooden box divided into compartments for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. The small wooden letters are red (consonants) and blue (vowels). Children begin working with the movable alphabet in the primary classroom and continue through the elementary years. We have several movable alphabets in our classroom that range from large print letters to smaller cursive letters. In our lower elementary classroom, the movable alphabet is used first to build words, then phrases, sentences, and stories.
There are many benefits to using the movable alphabet. First, it provides students a tangible experience with phonetics, or the distinct units of sound in our language. The child uses the movable alphabet to phonetically write the words by analyzing each sound. In addition, repeated use of the movable alphabet prepares the students to form their letters correctly on paper and correct letter reversals.