PRACTICAL LIFE AREA
This is literally where you will see children practicing “life” this is so that they can develop free choice, independence, self-discipline, concentration, fine coordination, respect, grace and courtesy, a sense of order and be empowered.
Shelves should be filled with activities from our everyday lives, polishing, pouring, folding, sieving, rolling,washing, to name a few. You should be able to observe the children freely choosing an activity tray from its place on the shelf (which should be at a child’ height) and taken to the the table or floor to use. When they are finished with the “job” they return it to the same spot on the shelf. In this way another child knows it is available. Children will be working together or individually.
Sensorial materials are very carefully and scientifically developed and offer a wide range of experiences for a child’s growth. Materials are demonstrated to the child and are chosen by the child to experience and learn through the senses.
When you observe children working with sensorial materials,laid out on the shelves in a natural progression from simple to more complex, they will probably be working be working on mats on the floor or sometimes a table, carrying materials from the shelves and laying them out carefully, not dumping or scrambling.
Watch for the materials used appropriately by different aged children and ask about material extensions.
FOR EXAMPLE This
The math materials have unique concrete properties whereby children can physically experience math.
Math materials, laid out on the shelves in progressive order from simple, such as the number rods for teaching 1-10, to more complex such as the golden bead materials for 1-9000. The math curriculum incorporates a rich experience in math to each and every child. You will see children working on number rods and sandpaper numbers to fractions, or manipulating numbers 1-19 to bead chains for multiplication. Yes at 2 1/2 to 6 years old….amazing isn’t it!
The language materials, as with math, are laid out on shelves enabling a child to have the freedom to choose his or her work. You will see younger children working on sand paper letters and/or the large movable alphabet to older children working on the farm building sentences phonetically or using phonogrames (blended letters), and much in between. You will see pink materials which are 3 letter phonetic words, to blue 4 and more phonetic letters through the various stages to green materials for complex words and reading. You will see grammar materials for appropriate levels of ability. You will see the teacher working with groups of children or giving individual lessons, you will see her “start off” a child and then leave them to work independently. You will see the children choose their work and when done replace it to the shelf.
In the writing area you may find the insets for design and various other activities such as tracing, chalk boards, erase boards, stencils, pictures to colour, rubbings etc. Art and craft supplies such as scissors, glue, chalk, pencils and colours pencils. The colour pencils are usually divided in to pots of their colour.
You will see children choosing activities and working at tables, you will hear them talking and sharing.
This area of the classroom is a rich source of a global perspective it has the materials that are constantly available as well as materials that follow the theme that the class is working on and exploring. The theme (unit) can be anything studying a farm, or transport, rain forests etc. In this area you will see geography, science, history, art, botany, zoology etc. all working together to give a global perspective. You will see the Montessori maps (puzzles) and globes, sandpaper and blue to continents to countries. You will see land forms and cards (concrete to abstract) You will see children familiar with States as well as Continents and Countries and using these materials freely usually on the floor, alone or with a friend.
READING AREA AND PEACE CORNER
This is a guide to help parents understand what to look for when visiting a Montessori classroom.
Montessori Educators, I am trying to offer a broad view of the prepared environment for a prospective parent when visiting a Montessori classroom, and your insight is welcome and appreciated.
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