Our Montessori Learning Tools

Dr. Montessori always emphasized that the hand is the chief teacher of the child. In order to learn how to concentrate, the best solution is to fix the attention of the child on a task performed by his hands. All equipment in a Montessori classroom allows a child to use his or her hands in the learning process. The tactile and kinesthetic system of learning permanently reinforces the skill to be learned – ‘muscular memory’ is a strong tool in the learning process.

At CMCC, we avoid plastic as much as possible, choosing instead natural materials for Montessori tools. Children work with a good supply of beautiful, wooden materials, glass objects, natural products such as shells and rock, and real materials to carry out their work.

Our Montessori classroom is designed to draw the children to activities that use the specially created Montessori learning materials. Over many years these materials – including strung beads, sandpaper letters, hierarchical cubes, metal fractions and insets, and more – have provided clarity of specific Montessori concepts for each child who has used them.

Sensorial Montessori tools. Sensorial learning materials give our students an opportunity to explore with their senses via concrete objects. For example, the Pink Tower hones visual senses. It consists of ten wooden cubes sized in three dimensions so the child cannot only see the decreasing segments but touch them for greater understanding. The tower is the foundation for mathematical concepts such as volume, geometry and decimals. Focusing on tactile senses, touch boards allow the child to trace with her finger over different textures shaped with designs, letters and numbers. This learning tool achieves muscular control through lightness of touch, which prepares them for writing.

Practical Life Montessori tools. In the early stages of Montessori, practical life tools play an essential role for preschool children in order to learn basic and purposeful tasks in life. Dr. Montessori stated that exercises to improve coordinated movements such as dressing and undressing prepare the child for practical life. In the course of a lesson, a child uses dressing frames. This practical life tool facilitates hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and the basic functions of dressing through an applied approach. Dressing frames include zipping, buttoning, buckling and lacing. Learning tools such as polishing wood, metal or glass establish the groundwork for sequencing in a logical order.

Language Montessori tools. In our classroom, children begin their awareness of sounds in words with games that point out beginning sounds and ending sounds. In the same time frame, sandpaper letters and their associated sounds are given to each child, so that a tactile experience is matched with an associated sound. Later, our students move on to metal insets – 10 geometric shapes painted blue that fit into square pink metal frames. Metal inset materials prepare children for handwriting by strengthening the three-finger grip and coordinating it the proper wrist movements. Eventually, the progression leads to grammar box symbols. These symbols introduce the parts of speech to our students, who then use these tools to analyze sentence parts. Colour-coded grammar symbol materials represent different parts of speech. This tool visually helps students learn the structure of language.

Mathematic Montessori tools. Mathematics is instructed with the assistance of manipulative materials. Students are introduced to golden beadwork – a preface to the decimal system. Beads represent the hierarchy of numbers with the process of quantity and place value. The stamp game follows with a focus on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division implemented with a more abstract method. Students employ emblematic colored stamps for quantity and symbols. Other mathematic learning tools include the colored bead stairs and the wooden hierarchical tool, which also functions as a learning method for the decimal system progressing to higher abstract mathematical thinking. The pink tower, referred to above also as a sensorial tool, also represents the cubes of numbers from one to ten, and is used as a stacking activity when our students are very young. The binomial and trinomial cubes are used first as colour and prism puzzles, but later these same cubes are analyzed to find how the faces show the composition of the cubes of numbers.

CAMP Montessori provides the right balance of support and Montessori learning tools in a great environment. Our daughter loved going to CAMP – and we loved the support she received as she built on the fundamentals of  counting, reading and writing. With regular French and singing sessions, she is comfortable trying new things and thinking about how things are connected.”

—From Melissa Breker