An Exploration of Montessori Materials

The following post is by Jessica Stellato, Lower Elementary Lead in the Galaxy Room at MASS. This month, Jessica will profile various Montessori classroom materials, beginning with an overview of the qualities all Montessori materials share, and providing a detailed description of a specific material each week.

Montessori Materials:

  • Are Appealingly Designed: created using a wide range of beautiful materials and textures
  • Are Ingenuous: teach more than one skill and have a built-in “control of error”
  • Invite Activity: provide opportunities to look, listen, smell, touch, taste and move the body

Maria Montessori believed moving and learning were inseparable. Our children in Primary enter into the stage of “Inviting Discovery.” The 3-6 age group is the time period when the child learns through hands-on experiences that support active learning and discovery. As the child completes this stage of development, they move into the “Grow with the Child” stage. These lessons are more complex and the difficulty increases as the child advances.

For more information, please visit the American Montessori Society website.

Material of the week: Golden Beads

The Golden Beads are the heart of Montessori math. They are essential for teaching the decimal system to students. The Golden Beads give students a real, concrete experience of the decimal system, place value, and operations. They are found in our programs from Primary through Upper Elementary. Students in the Primary begin their lessons with counting, place value, and concrete operations (additon, subtraction, multiplication, and division). The students who have internalized the color dynamics of the math materials move on to more difficult abstract levels of math in the Elementary levels. Students at the Elementary level refine their math facts, dynamic operations, and apply their math concepts in real life opportunities.

The material consists of glass beads in various configurations: units are individual beads, ten units connected together with wire to create a ten bar, 10 ten bars wired together to create the hundred square, and 10 hundred squares carefully bound together to create the thousand cube. From a sensorial aspect, the weight difference shows the emergent learner how “different” 1000 feels from 1. The reaction from a child when he holds his first thousand cube is usually, “Wow!”