3 Things You May Expect To Find In A Montessori Classroom

Posted on: 29 November 2016

If you're considering a Montessori preschool for your child, you might be wondering what kind of education your children will get in that classroom. One of the principle elements of the Montessori philosophy is that children learn through their senses – through the things they see, hear, touch, and otherwise manipulate. That means that knowing what kinds of materials your child will see and use in their preschool classroom can help you understand what kind of learning they'll be doing in that classroom. Take a look at three materials that are commonly found in Montessori preschool classrooms.

The Binomial Cube

A binomial cube is a set of blocks that represent an algebraic equation: (a + b)³ = (a + b)(a + b)(a + b) = a³+3a²b+3ab²+b³. The set consists of eight blocks – one red cube, one blue cube, three red and black blocks, and three red and blue blocks.

Of course, your preschooler won't be asked to understand the mathematical equation that the blocks represent. Instead, they'll be exploring the blocks like they would any other puzzle, learning to recognize the patterns and relationships between the blocks. They won't really be doing math, but they will be developing the abilities that will help them succeed in math later on (and in the Montessori educational model, students will be introduced to the binomial cube again at later ages to explain cubed numbers and eventually algebra, so introducing it first in preschool sets them up for success with it when they're actually studying math later.) By developing their pre-math skills early, in a way that's fun and age-appropriate, they'll not only improve their math abilities, but they'll also learn that math is something fun that they can do. They won't see math as something difficult and foreign, but as a logical extension of their early play.

The Pink Tower

The pink tower is another set of blocks. This block has ten cubes that range from 1x1x1 centimeters to 10x10x10x centimeters. Children can use the blocks to build a tower with the largest block as a foundation that leads up to the smallest block on the top. Like the binomial cube, the pink tower has mathematical applications, and it can also teach other concepts as well.

For example, the pink tower is a concrete way to represent the concept of the numbers one through ten. It also gives children a foundation for understanding the concepts of smaller and larger, dimensions, the decimal system, and the cube root. Building the tower also helps children learn about the concept of error control. If they build it incorrectly, the tower will topple, so they'll need to work to place the blocks in the correct order and stack them neatly in order to get the tower right.

The Sand Tray

One more thing that you'll find in most Montessori preschool classrooms is a sand tray. You may be familiar with sand trays and tables as way to provide young children with a sensory experience, drawing shapes or pictures in the sand. Sometimes the trays contain colored sand (or salt, or sugar) to give a more interesting visual experience as well. In a Montessori classroom, the trays are used to help children develop writing and language skills.

Just as children can draw shapes and pictures in the sand, they can also draw letters and numbers. Your child can use their fingers to draw letters in the sand, which will help them learn the movements that they will need to make to draw them with a pencil later on. Your child's preschool may also use letters and numbers cut out of sandpaper to help kids learn about them. These are sometimes used in conjunction with the sand tray – your child can trace the letter with their finger before drawing it in the sand.

The materials used in Montessori classrooms are carefully chosen to allow children to play with purpose – they learn while having fun using the materials in their environment. Understanding this important element of the Montessori learning model can help you decide if it's the right model for your child. 

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Going Back To School

After spending years away from school, I realized that I needed to get a degree if I wanted to advance at all at work. However, I was really nervous about heading back into the classroom with people that were around 30 years younger than I was. Although I was really nervous about it, I picked out my hippest outfit, gathered together some school supplies, and registered for classes. This blog is all about continuing your education, going back to school, and doing what you want to with your life for the first time. After all, you can be anything you want to be with the right education.

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