## What are the Montessori works?

Among the works our children learn with are:

What does "normalization" mean in Montessori?

We'll periodically add a write-up on another Montessori work-stay tuned for more!

- Punchwork
- Metal insets
- Moveable alphabet
- Binomial cube
- Red and blue rods
- Nomenclature cards
- Color boxes
- Tens boards
- Parts of a bird
- Montessori decimal system
- Montessori fraction skittles

What does "normalization" mean in Montessori?

We'll periodically add a write-up on another Montessori work-stay tuned for more!

## Punchwork

The materials used for this work include a punch, a mat and a little shape drawn on paper.

By and large, the children truly enjoy this work. Occasionally a child may not be as motivated to see this work through, but this is usually in the early stages. Within a few months however, it becomes a favorite for one and all!

In these photos, Aubrey is punching out, then coloring, the outline of a cross.

__This work has many benefits:__- Builds Hand Eye Coordination
- Develops the “Pincer Grip” that leads to writing – the punch has to be gripped with the pointer and thumb and supported by the middle finger.
- We punch from left to right – in preparation for reading and writing.
- Fosters patience in the child.
- Improves fine motor precision.
- Indulges artistic sensibilities – we color our punched images.

By and large, the children truly enjoy this work. Occasionally a child may not be as motivated to see this work through, but this is usually in the early stages. Within a few months however, it becomes a favorite for one and all!

In these photos, Aubrey is punching out, then coloring, the outline of a cross.

## Metal insets

Metal Insets are a classic Montessori Language Material, used for Motor Preparation for the ages of 3-6. It is a work that is appropriate for the first year student, but is well loved by all ages. Even children who are already writing benefit from Metal Insets, as tracing the shape from top to bottom and back again can be great preparation for cursive writing. At first glance, one can imagine that this material is useful for preparing to write and as a preparation for geometry.

The square frames are pink and the insets are blue. In the center of each inset is a knob by which to hold it. The insets come in several shapes square, triangle, circle, rectangle, oval, trapezoid, pentagon, curvilinear triangle, and quatrefoil.

In these photos, Ty'Lynn is working with the oval-shaped metal insets.

The square frames are pink and the insets are blue. In the center of each inset is a knob by which to hold it. The insets come in several shapes square, triangle, circle, rectangle, oval, trapezoid, pentagon, curvilinear triangle, and quatrefoil.

**Metal Insets aim at:**- Development of hand eye coordination.
- To gain mastery over control of small movements.
- Develop control of a pencil (pressure, and steadiness).
- Develop a geometric sense.
- Stimulate artistic sensibilities.
- Develop ability to a plan a design.

**Points of Interest :**- Child will learn how to grip and guide the writing instrument.
- He will experience the effects of pressure on the pencil.
- The very great variety of movements involved in this work helps the child not only with control of the writing movements but also with changing directions.
- Keeping the point of the pencil on the edge of the frame or the inset helps the child steady his strokes. The movements will go from left to right.
- The child can learn to make one continuous stroke. This is particularly helpful in cursive script, but some letters in modified print call for it.

In these photos, Ty'Lynn is working with the oval-shaped metal insets.

## Moveable alphabet

The “Moveable Alphabet” is used extensively in the classroom. At the outset, children start by forming 3 letter words. Then they form sight words, then phrases like “the cat”, “the dog” and finally complete sentences.

Montessori teaches only lowercase letters because most of our reading and writing in the real world comprises lowercase letters (just look at this sentence!). Montessori teaches sounds only, not names of letters. When we read in the real world, we read phonetically, we never say the names of the letters.

In the first 3 pictures, Daniel is forming sentences with the “Moveable Alphabet”. He then copies it to Journal Paper and makes an illustration (picture 3). The second picture shows a wooden box with the letters of the alphabet in multiples-all lowercase.

This work is a classic example of how Montessori uses material to transfer from “Concrete” to “Abstract”. The Abstract is demonstrated in the last picture, where Gavin has done journal writing without using the Movable Alphabet. This is the next step, where the child can write directly without using the material.

Every child in the primary classroom is using the “Moveable Alphabet” at some level. This is the beauty of Montessori! Everyone can benefit from it.

Montessori teaches only lowercase letters because most of our reading and writing in the real world comprises lowercase letters (just look at this sentence!). Montessori teaches sounds only, not names of letters. When we read in the real world, we read phonetically, we never say the names of the letters.

In the first 3 pictures, Daniel is forming sentences with the “Moveable Alphabet”. He then copies it to Journal Paper and makes an illustration (picture 3). The second picture shows a wooden box with the letters of the alphabet in multiples-all lowercase.

This work is a classic example of how Montessori uses material to transfer from “Concrete” to “Abstract”. The Abstract is demonstrated in the last picture, where Gavin has done journal writing without using the Movable Alphabet. This is the next step, where the child can write directly without using the material.

Every child in the primary classroom is using the “Moveable Alphabet” at some level. This is the beauty of Montessori! Everyone can benefit from it.

## Binomial cube

The binomial cube demonstrates how the same Montessori work can be used with increasing complexity as children get older. Although the primary purpose of this work is to explain algebraic expressions to Elementary students in a concrete way, it also serves a purpose for preschool children.

For the children in the Primary classes, the binomial cube provides a challenge to find patterns and relationships. The cubes are arranged in two layers in the box, where each cube will fit in one and only one spot. The colors and sizes of the cubes guide the placement. Unless the cubes are correctly placed, the box will not close. In the pictures below, Gavin is placing the cubes in the proper place.

We focus on hand–eye coordination, the fine motor skills required to place the cubes precisely, the color and size matching and finally the sensorial and kinesthetic learning that comes with physically being able to work with and solve puzzles.

For the children in the Primary classes, the binomial cube provides a challenge to find patterns and relationships. The cubes are arranged in two layers in the box, where each cube will fit in one and only one spot. The colors and sizes of the cubes guide the placement. Unless the cubes are correctly placed, the box will not close. In the pictures below, Gavin is placing the cubes in the proper place.

We focus on hand–eye coordination, the fine motor skills required to place the cubes precisely, the color and size matching and finally the sensorial and kinesthetic learning that comes with physically being able to work with and solve puzzles.

## Red and Blue Rods

This is a fundamental Montessori Work that teaches students quantity and numerals from 1-10. This work requires grading skills and it also trains the child to carry heavy objects with care. Each rod is carried vertically, close to the body so that others around may not get hurt.

The rods are placed from 1 to 10 (shortest to longest) on the rug. The numbers are matched according to the segment count on each rod.

This is a classic Montessori work with a built in “Control of Error”. What does that mean? “Control of Error” means that the work is self-correcting where the difference in length of two consecutive rods is one segment only. If a child places a rod out of sequence, he will very quickly realize that the gradation has gone wrong.

There are also “Extensions” to this work. “Extensions” are done when a child has mastered the basic level and moves on to more complex manipulation of the material. The most fun Extension of the Rods is the famous “Maze”. It is such a hit with our kids!

In the second picture, Rishi walks through his maze, while Aubrey eagerly kicks off her shoes to take her turn next. And Gavin cannot take his eyes off and hopes to be invited to walk too! Only one child may walk the maze at a time.

“Inviting someone to work” is another key Montessori phrase. When children request to work with one another, the teacher guides them by saying, “ask your friend if you can be invited”, or the teacher may say, “I will invite you to work with me if you follow direction and wait patiently” or “Rishi, would you like to invite Aubrey and Gavin to take turns walking your maze?”

The rods are placed from 1 to 10 (shortest to longest) on the rug. The numbers are matched according to the segment count on each rod.

This is a classic Montessori work with a built in “Control of Error”. What does that mean? “Control of Error” means that the work is self-correcting where the difference in length of two consecutive rods is one segment only. If a child places a rod out of sequence, he will very quickly realize that the gradation has gone wrong.

There are also “Extensions” to this work. “Extensions” are done when a child has mastered the basic level and moves on to more complex manipulation of the material. The most fun Extension of the Rods is the famous “Maze”. It is such a hit with our kids!

In the second picture, Rishi walks through his maze, while Aubrey eagerly kicks off her shoes to take her turn next. And Gavin cannot take his eyes off and hopes to be invited to walk too! Only one child may walk the maze at a time.

“Inviting someone to work” is another key Montessori phrase. When children request to work with one another, the teacher guides them by saying, “ask your friend if you can be invited”, or the teacher may say, “I will invite you to work with me if you follow direction and wait patiently” or “Rishi, would you like to invite Aubrey and Gavin to take turns walking your maze?”

## Nomenclature cards

Nomenclature Cards, also known as 3 Part Cards, help children learn language, vocabulary and spelling. One card contains a picture and the name of an object, the second card has only the picture and the third card has just the name.

The child has to match all 3 parts. These come in sets and usually belong to a category like Fruit, Clothes, Lifecycles, Birds, Parts of a Chicken, etc. Repeatedly using the cards helps the child learn the names and, over time, the spelling as well.

In the first picture, Aubrey is working with the “Farm Animals” Nomenclature and in the second picture Samarth displays the “Stationery” Nomenclature.

The child has to match all 3 parts. These come in sets and usually belong to a category like Fruit, Clothes, Lifecycles, Birds, Parts of a Chicken, etc. Repeatedly using the cards helps the child learn the names and, over time, the spelling as well.

In the first picture, Aubrey is working with the “Farm Animals” Nomenclature and in the second picture Samarth displays the “Stationery” Nomenclature.

## Color Boxes

Color Box 1 is the basis for learning Primary Colors and the student will match pairs of Color Tablets.

Color Box 2 contains the Primary and Secondary colors and the student will learn those color names and match pairs of Color Tablets.

Once a student has mastered Color Boxes 1 & 2, then Color Box 3 is introduced. This Box contains 7 shades each of 9 different colors. The child learns to grade each color from darkest to lightest arranging it around the “sun”.

In the two pictures below, Rishi & Daniel have graded the shades from darkest to lightest. This is a work loved by many!

In the two pictures below, Rishi & Daniel have graded the shades from darkest to lightest. This is a work loved by many!

## Tens Board

Today we talk about the “Tens Boards” also known as “Seuguins Boards” in Montessori.

In the picture above, Henry Simpson is performing “Skip counting by Tens”. The child will form numerals and place the correct quantity of beads alongside. Henry is placing ten bead bars alongside each number to show how many tens are in each number. The ten bead bar consists of 10 gold beads. Thus he will say “there are 2 tens in 20” and “there are 8 tens in 80”. Finally he has placed the “Hundred square” beside the numeral 100. The hundred square contains 100 gold beads. The Tens Boards are a wonderful way for children to understand numerals along with quantities. This material is later used to understand individual numerals up to 99 as well.

Also worth noting is the fact that in the Montessori classroom we always work on rugs when on the floor. All the material should be placed neatly on the rug. When any boxes are used, the lid is always placed neatly under the box while in use. Employing rugs teaches the children that one must stay with his/her own work and not get into another’s. This is Henry’s workspace.

In the picture above, Henry Simpson is performing “Skip counting by Tens”. The child will form numerals and place the correct quantity of beads alongside. Henry is placing ten bead bars alongside each number to show how many tens are in each number. The ten bead bar consists of 10 gold beads. Thus he will say “there are 2 tens in 20” and “there are 8 tens in 80”. Finally he has placed the “Hundred square” beside the numeral 100. The hundred square contains 100 gold beads. The Tens Boards are a wonderful way for children to understand numerals along with quantities. This material is later used to understand individual numerals up to 99 as well.

Also worth noting is the fact that in the Montessori classroom we always work on rugs when on the floor. All the material should be placed neatly on the rug. When any boxes are used, the lid is always placed neatly under the box while in use. Employing rugs teaches the children that one must stay with his/her own work and not get into another’s. This is Henry’s workspace.

## What does "normalization" mean in Montessori?

In Montessori, the term “normalization” has special meaning. Normal does not refer to what is considered to be typical or average or even usual.

Normalization does not refer to a process of being forced to conform. Normal is not a certain level of academic perfection that has to be achieved by each and every child at a specific point in time.

Instead, Maria Montessori adopted the terms normal and normalization to outline a distinctive process she observed in child development. She observed that children flourish when they are allowed organized freedom in a structured environment suited to their requirements and capabilities. After a period of intense concentration, working with materials that fully engage their interest, children emerge refreshed and contented. Through continued concentrated work, children grow an inner discipline, peace and self control.

The characteristics of normalization have been listed as:

Montessori believed that these are the truly normal characteristics of childhood, which emerge when the child’s developmental needs are met.

It is the aim of every Montessori teacher to see her students move towards “Normalization” one step at a time. As Maria Montessori said, “

Normalization does not refer to a process of being forced to conform. Normal is not a certain level of academic perfection that has to be achieved by each and every child at a specific point in time.

Instead, Maria Montessori adopted the terms normal and normalization to outline a distinctive process she observed in child development. She observed that children flourish when they are allowed organized freedom in a structured environment suited to their requirements and capabilities. After a period of intense concentration, working with materials that fully engage their interest, children emerge refreshed and contented. Through continued concentrated work, children grow an inner discipline, peace and self control.

The characteristics of normalization have been listed as:

- love of order
- love of work
- spontaneous concentration
- attachment to reality
- love of silence and of working alone
- power to act from real choice
- obedience
- independence and initiative
- spontaneous self-discipline
- joy

Montessori believed that these are the truly normal characteristics of childhood, which emerge when the child’s developmental needs are met.

It is the aim of every Montessori teacher to see her students move towards “Normalization” one step at a time. As Maria Montessori said, “

**The****children**are now**working**as if I did**not**exist” – that is a dream for the Montessori teacher!## Parts of a bird

In the picture attached, Ananya has used the puzzle to show different Parts of a Bird. At first she uses the Nomenclature Cards (3 part cards) that have each part highlighted. She then takes the labels and matches them to the puzzle parts. Finally she colors a template of a bird and writes down the parts on the template.

Montessori has various puzzles as a part of the Zoology Cabinet ( see second attached picture). There are Parts of a Fish, Horse, Frog, Turtle etc.

This is a great way for the children to learn hands on and they all have enjoyed this work tremendously!

Montessori has various puzzles as a part of the Zoology Cabinet ( see second attached picture). There are Parts of a Fish, Horse, Frog, Turtle etc.

This is a great way for the children to learn hands on and they all have enjoyed this work tremendously!

## Montessori decimal system

The 45 Card Layout or "The Bird's Eye view" consists of 45 numerals to depict the Decimal System. The child will Lay out numeral cards in columns - for Units, Tens, Hundreds and Thousands from right to left in accordance with the Decimal System. Each Place Value is color coded.

1) As an extension, the child will lay out the corresponding Bead Material with the Numeral Cards to understand quantification. Please see above picture. These consist of Unit beads, Ten bead bars, Squares of 100s and Cubes of 1000. This is a concrete way to understand what 100 or 1000 looks like in terms of quantity.

2) A second extension of this work is when the child forms individual numbers using a combination of the numeral cards and beads. In the picture below, Vihaan is forming numbers with 3 places (3 digits) and placing beads alongside.

Most of the Montessori Material has Extensions. There is a basic method followed as a first step. When the child is ready, he will move on to an Extension, that is the next level.

In the Primary 2 class, I usually challenge the child with one level higher than is easy for him/her. This encourages them to think beyond their comfort level. At the same time, a Montessori teacher would not push the child to a point that is too difficult for him. This is the beauty of the material. It caters to all levels of learning.

__Extensions:__1) As an extension, the child will lay out the corresponding Bead Material with the Numeral Cards to understand quantification. Please see above picture. These consist of Unit beads, Ten bead bars, Squares of 100s and Cubes of 1000. This is a concrete way to understand what 100 or 1000 looks like in terms of quantity.

2) A second extension of this work is when the child forms individual numbers using a combination of the numeral cards and beads. In the picture below, Vihaan is forming numbers with 3 places (3 digits) and placing beads alongside.

__What is an extension?__Most of the Montessori Material has Extensions. There is a basic method followed as a first step. When the child is ready, he will move on to an Extension, that is the next level.

In the Primary 2 class, I usually challenge the child with one level higher than is easy for him/her. This encourages them to think beyond their comfort level. At the same time, a Montessori teacher would not push the child to a point that is too difficult for him. This is the beauty of the material. It caters to all levels of learning.

## Montessori fraction skittles

In the picture to the right, Oliver has laid out the Skittles with corresponding labels. He has also laid out two other sets of Fraction Circles to extend his understanding of the concept of Fractions. He has also completed coloring his paper on Fractions and written down the correct fraction next to each figure.
The teacher would then ask the child how many halves make a whole, or how many thirds make a whole and so on. In our class we also learnt a fun song about fractions to help us remember them well. |
The Fraction Skittles are a wonderful way to teach basic Fractions to the preschooler. The set includes 4 skittles that are colored on the inside. They depict One Whole, Halves, Thirds and Fourths. The child will take apart each skittle and examine how many parts will make a "Whole". Corresponding labels can be matched to each skittle to learn how to represent fractions numerically. |