The Purpose of Practical Life Exercises:
• Develop independence
• Broad foundation for more advanced training (e.g., co-ordination and balance in pouring exercises leads to hand-eye co-ordination used in writing)
• "Normalizes" of the child in the classroom
• Develops grace, courtesy and respect for others
• Develops respect for the environment of the classroom
• Child gains control of his body
The main areas of Practical Life activities are:
(1) the care of the person— such as dressing, brushing teeth, cooking, etc.,
(2) care of the environment—such as sweeping, washing clothes, gardening,
(3) grace and courtesy—such as walking, and carrying objects, gracefully, using good manners, offering food, saying "please" and "thank you."
The Purpose of Sensorial Exercises:
• Develops a sense of order and classification
• Trains and refines the senses
• Builds a precise vocabulary
• Develops a sense of esthetics
• Builds a strong foundation for advanced lessons to follow in mathematics, reading, and writing.
The sensorial lessons are based upon the following five senses:
1) Visual: Lessons designed to help the child discriminate between different sizes, colors, dimensions, and forms.
2) Tactile: This sense includes the following:
· Touch, the child learns to discriminate between different densities and textures.
· Muscular Tactile, includes learning through touch and movement.
· Stereognostic, discriminates between shapes, sizes and objects without using the 2 visual sense.
· Baric, the child learns to discriminate between different weights.
· Thermic, discriminates different between temperatures.
3) Auditory: Lessons assist the child in developing their listening skills and discriminates different noises and tones.
4) Olfactory: Lessons discriminate between different smells.
5) Gustatory: Lessons discriminate between different tastes
• A solid foundation is established through the sensorial exercises. These exercises present abstract mathematical concepts in concrete form. The child learns perception of differences and similarities, gradations, gradations in a series of tens, and discriminations in size, length, width, and form.
• Mathematical concepts are assimilated and internalized through using the concrete manipulative material. The red and blue numerical rods are used to relate the quantities with their names (1-2-3, etc.).
• Sandpaper numbers are used to fix in the child's mind the feel and look of a written number.
• The manipulatives are then associated with the abstract symbol with materials such as the spindle game (the quantity of two spindles is associated with the written number "2").
• The short bead stair is used to associate the quantity of beads with the written number.
• Colored beads are used to teach the 4 operations of mathematics: addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division.
• Once the child has learned to associate the graphic symbols with the quantities and he is comfortable with writing, he may write his sums on paper. This is called "telling the story."
• The golden bead material is used to introduce the decimal system from 1 to 9,000. The bank game uses the golden bead material to master such concepts as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and advanced concepts like carrying and place value.
• Special boards, such as the subtraction strip board, multiplication bead board, division bead board, addition strip board, and bingo boards help the child practice the 4 operations of mathematics.
• Advanced lessons, such as the fraction boards and the Mortenson algebra material, teach the basic concepts of fractions and algebra (meaning of X, X2, the four operations of mathematics with unknown quantities).
How Language is Taught
• A solid foundation is established through the sensorial and practical life exercises.
• The teacher provides receptive experiences (songs, fingerplays, stories, etc.). These enrich the child's vocabulary and teach him to listen and develop his auditory sense.
• The teacher provides opportunities for the child to express himself. He develops self-confidence and the ability to organize his thoughts in front of a group.
• The Montessori classroom provides materials for perceptual experiences. Many matching lessons help the child discriminate visually between objects that are the same and those that are different.
• The teacher provides auditory-perceptual experiences so that the child's ear may be sensitive to the sounds that different letters make.
• The materials in the Montessori classroom teach the proper vocabulary.
• The child's hand-eye co-ordination is developed through such exercises as pushpin, sewing, directional lines, and metal insets. These exercises help the child to control and steady his writing hand.
• Sandpaper letters aid in developing the muscular memory in the hand of how a letter is formed.
• The movable alphabet is used to form the words in the correct left to right sequence. Now the child is able to break down a word into its separate parts.
History in a Montessori classroom is introduced through the use of large time-lines that give children a visual impression of pre-historic life, the world of early people on earth and the emergence of some of the first civilizations: Sumerians and Babylonians. The children explore many different myths of creation that contribute to our present understanding of the origins of Earth. Key lessons are used to present the history of emerging language and numeracy in civilizations. Fundamental needs of people through the ages, and how these were satisfied, are examined in detail. Causes and means of migration are explored and identified as being hostile or friendly. The history of shelter, travel, clothing, defence, the arts, are traced through time. The lifestyles of the first people in Canada are explored and compared. Early European settlers are identified, and their trade routes charted.
Geography materials illustrate the birth of planet Earth, its place in the universe, and how it contributed to the history of humankind. The curriculum begins with the creation of the Universe, the solar system and the evolution of Earth. The children study land and water forms, composition of the Earth and the scientific laws that govern it, the solar system and the continents. They learn about Earth's rivers, lakes, mountains, deserts and wealth of natural resources. They investigate land, air and water phenomena: volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and tidal waves. They record weather conditions and study their impact on people and their environment. They identify and classify rocks. They read maps and make their own, using scale and legend. They use graphs and charts to record
information. They learn the names and locations of the countries and capitals of all continents. They learn the names, locations, capitals and flags of the provinces and
territories of Canada.
Science experiments help the child to understand the laws of the Universe. Lower elementary students study:
· the rotation of the Earth
· light and day and the seasons
· the water cycle
· mineral and energy sources
· plant and animal needs and life cycles
· the interdependence of species
The outdoor environment is used to:
· plant flowers and vegetables
· examine trees, wild flowers, animal tracks
· identify and classify types of soil and rocks
· experiment with various growing conditions
· test pollution levels in snow
· measure rainfall