The activitiesin Practical Life are divided into four categories:
Care of Self: The classroom contains many tasks and objects that the child see’s at home and are among the first lessons presented. The child’s work, to name a few, includes washing, pouring, sorting, polishing, and dressing frames. These activities become very imitative, exciting and allow the child to practice skills that will give them greater independence and concentration along with a sense of satisfaction.
Care of the Environment: The children delight in washing windows, tables and chairs, sweeping floors, and dusting shelves. Each child is responsible for returning their materials to the shelf upon completion.
Grace and courtesy: Children develop the necessary skills for respect, conflict resolution, greeting, and thanking by being presented with the opportunity to observe, practice and model.
Coordination and concentration: Exercises in spooning, pouring, opening and closing bottles, folding, and matching increases the child’s attention and ability to concentrate. Mastery of the activity itself enables the child to grow in ability and self-confidence.
Sensorial materials use all five senses to assist the child in learning to differentiate between sizes, colors, weights, forms, textures, musical sounds, odors, and taste. These materials allow for individual work and repetition, and help the child organize, classify and give a language to the sensory experiences they have received since birth. The materials have a built in control of error, which develops the freedom of working independently, without the fear of making mistakes knowing that errors are part of the learning process. Many of the sensorial activities prepare the child for future math and language experiences, visual discrimination, and strengthen fine motor control in preparation for writing.
Language is an integral part of the entire Montessori curriculum. A phonetic approach to reading is incorporated with a sound–sight-touch presentation of the alphabet. Using the sandpaper letters, the teacher sounds out the letter, the child repeats the sound as the child traces the sandpaper letter with his finger, visually learning the letter and the sound it represents. When the first set of alphabet sounds are learned the child is then introduced to the moveable alphabet to practice phonetic three letter words. Spanish is offered twice weekly for Kindergarten and once a week for preschool. A variety of categories common to the child’s world are introduced in beginning Spanish such as greeting phrases, songs, numbers, colors, shapes, and foods.
Math activities offer the child materials that help them develop from the concrete to the abstract. Materials such as number rods, spindle boxes, colored and golden beads are used to teach counting and the concept of zero. Golden bead material introduces the child to units, tens, hundreds, and thousands which are used in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division activities. Math is used in all areas of the child’s life, for example, determining the number of lunch place settings, handing out bean bags, or rhythm sticks. Children in a Montessori classroom can expand their understanding of mathematics to a practically limitless degree.
The children also explore areas of Biology, Botany, Geography, and History. The Biology and Botany activities help the child discover and experience life cycle concepts while introducing animal and plant vocabulary. The child learns how to be a scientist: objective, organized, able to perform tasks in a predetermined order, and record the results. They learn to classify, label, and differentiate. In Geography, the children work puzzle maps, use globes to find different countries, as well as land forms that represent the surface of the earth. The child explores their world and gains the understanding that they share the planet with other people and different cultures.
“The child has his own intuitive aim: self-development. He wants to do and see and learn for himself, through his senses and not through the eyes of an adult.”
Kingston Montessori Academy