Gables Montessori Blog


Each learning material teaches just 1 skill or concept at a time. For example, we know that young children need to learn how to button buttons and tie bows. Dr. Montessori designed “dressing frames” for children to practice on.

The frame removes all distractions and simplifies the child’s task. The child sees a simple wooden frame with 2 flaps of fabric—1 with 5 buttonholes and 1 with 5 large buttons. His task is obvious. If he makes an error, his error is obvious.

Built-in “control of error” in many of the Montessori materials allows the child to determine if he has done the exercise correctly. A teacher never has to correct his work. He can try again, ask another child for help, or go to a teacher for suggestions if the work doesn’t look quite right.

Materials contain multiple levels of challenge and can be used repeatedly at different developmental levels. A special set of 10 blocks of graduated sizes called “the pink tower” may be used just for stacking; combined with “the brown stair” for comparison; or used with construction paper to trace, cut, and make a paper design. The pink tower, and many other Montessori materials, can also be used by older children to study perspective and measurement.

Montessori materials use real objects and actions to translate abstract ideas into concrete form. For example, the decimal system is basic to understanding math. Montessori materials represent the decimal system through enticing, pearl-sized golden beads.

Loose golden beads represent ones. Little wire rods hold sets of 10 golden beads—the 10-bar. Sets of 10 rods are wired together to make flats of 100 golden beads—the hundred square. Sets of 10 flats are wired together to make cubes of 1,000 golden beads—the thousand cube.

Children have many activities exploring the workings of these quantities. They build a solid inner physical understanding of the decimal system that will stay with them throughout school and life.

Later, because materials contain multiple levels of challenge, the beads can be used to introduce geometry. The unit is a point; the 10-bar is a line; the hundred square a surface; the thousand cube, a solid.

Montessori learning materials are ingeniously designed to allow children to work independently with very little introduction or help. The students are empowered to come into the environment, choose their own work, use it appropriately, and put it away without help.

American Montessori Society

No Comments Yet

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *