Montessori activities are divided into five primary groups:
Dr. Montessori recognized that children learn best by doing and by being active participants in their learning. In the Practical Life area, children progressively develop motor skills by using familiar objects found in the home. In using these objects, the children refine motor coordination, concentration, attention to details, and a sense of order and responsibility. Activities include care of self, care of environment and social grace and manners with an emphasis on fostering independence, confidence, peaceful behavior, and respect.
Learning occurs through using the senses. Working with the sensorial materials children learn to use their powers of observation by isolating a single quality of an object such as length or dimension. The senses are developed and refined by learning how to categorize by size, shape, color, texture, sound, and smell. Furthermore, children begin the process of analytical thought and indirectly get prepared for math work later on.
With tangible learning materials, a sensorial experience always precedes an abstract concept. Math curriculum begins with activities to teach sequence, recognition, and quantity of numbers 1-10. Two parallel lesson formats continue with concepts of (1) the process of the operations (addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division) and (2) the memorization of math facts-the tables of addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division. Eventually used together, these two disciplines form the foundation for working complex math problems “in one’s head.” Other lessons introduce and develop math problems and skills such as odd and even numbers, linear counting and number recognition through 1000, “skip” counting, the squares and cubes of numbers 1-10 and fractions. Ultimately, the concrete and unique Montessori math materials provide children a firm foundation for math concepts without any math phobias for the academic years to come.
Reading and writing are introduced through methodical phonetic instruction. In a Montessori classroom we use oral language games, group work and abundance of teacher-made materials for language development. Sound and letter recognition precede word building which is the basis for writing. Specific lessons assist children with vocabulary development, the progression into reading, and the development of writing skills and thus composition.
A specific extension of the language curriculum, the “History” activities give the child an awareness of time past, a sense of change and development from prehistory to the present, an appreciation of cultural differences, and beginning foundation of historical acts. The geography activities present fact and nomenclature of physical geography, i.e. the physical characteristics of Earth, and political geography, i.e. the countries and cultures of the world. Other subjects introduced in the “Cultural” activities explore topics including history and appreciation of art, nomenclature and classification of zoology, science experiments, history and appreciation of music, and the study of historical figures. Reading and writing skills are used extensively in these activities.