Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sandpaper Letters

Sandpaper Letters - Single and Double

See an AMI Montessori resource for further details not included here.

Box containing the letters of the alphabet, lower case and cursive, made of sandpaper cut out and mounted on thick cards or wood; consonants on pink, vowels on blue. 
     11 small letters – 4.25x7.5 inches: a e i o u x r v n c s
     11 medium letters – 6x7.5 inches: t l g h d k y q b z j
     2 large letters – 4.25x9.25: m w
     2 extra large letters – 8x7.5 inches: p f
The letters are placed on the right side to hold the card with the left hand; or place them centered on the lower section of the card for use by both hands.

Lines are not necessary, providing only an unnecessary crutch for the child.

Sensitizing tray and a tray to carry the letters.

Display: Most letters are in the box but a few should be displayed on a reclining stand and rotated frequently.

touch boards and tablets; geometry cabinet; sound games
(add in phonogram sandpaper letters after about the 5th individual letter)

Guidelines to Follow
¨ The interest of the children (i.e. first letter of child’s name)
¨ Use three letters: one vowel and two consonants.
¨ Have a few letters on display and rotate them frequently (or child can do so). 

Direct Aim(s)
To help the child become conscious of sounds in spoken language and to associate the sounds with the symbols through visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic senses.
Introduce the letter combinations in English that change their phonetic sounds.

Indirect Aim(s)
Preparation for writing and reading.


3-3.5 (after much work with the geometry cabinet)

*Color backing should coordinate with the movable alphabet.
*Show a left-handed child how to hold the card with his right hand and trace with his left.
*Cursive is chosen over print because it has a more natural movement and is easier to form the continuous flow of each letter. It helps eliminate the reversal of letters such as b and d. Since most children know the names of the print letters, it is easier to give the sound of the cursive letters as a new experience rather than change the child’s current matrix of knowledge.
*The sandpaper letters are always presented at a table for correct writing posture.
*The sandpaper letters are the key to the whole world of written language. When Montessori was asked how the children in the first casa learned to write and read she said, “I gave them the alphabet.”
*The letters should be given in a lively and interesting manner.
*They should be presented early and fairly quickly (within three months). It is therefore critical that we keep track of the letters we have presented. Children who enter at the age of four and older many not have the same interest in tracing, so it is helpful to say to them, “Tracing will help your hands know how to write.” You can use the sandpaper letters and chalkboard together, or in games that involve fetching letters. Anything to help instill interest. The moveable alphabet may be used for sound consciousness as well, although this does not give the muscular experience that leads to understanding. 

Phonogram or Double Sandpaper Letters: 
Size: 4x9.5 inches; 6.5x9.5 inches

Sandpaper Cyphers

A set of figures 0-9 cut out of sandpaper and mounted on separate green boards (zero is placed at the back of the box); sensitizing tray. 
Size: about 3x6 - no specific dimensions
Approximately 4, after work with the number rods.

cipher, numeral

New Information
Association of names of numbers with their corresponding symbols.

Present ciphers only when the child knows the names of the number rods. This presentation is always done at a table or chowki due to its preparation for writing numbers. The presentation is similar to the sandpaper letters, noting that the letters correspond to a single sound while the cyphers correspond to a whole word signifying a specific quantity. Present 1-9 after working with the number rods, returning to 0 after work with the spindle box. Other continuing with the sandpaper letters (tracing on chalkboard and paper, etc) should incorporate the cyphers. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Organizing a Montessori Day

Let's highlight a previous Nugget: Montessori Keys: Montessori as an Approach to Life

When we are teachers in Montessori schools, we strive to educate the parents on the fullness of Montessori, so they can have a Montessori-inspired home. This is best for the child, to be in a variety of environments where his needs and tendencies are respected and addressed while also tending to the needs and tendencies of the other people in that social structure (family, school, etc.).

When we are homeschool parents (whether trained Montessori teachers or not), we find that our work cycle naturally extends beyond the 3+ hour work cycle in the morning and (for 5 year olds and older) any second work cycles of the day. It becomes a 24/7 work cycle.

In our homes, or in Montessori schools that have the blessing of having children longer, we find that our work cycles become entirely natural.

We adults provide key presentations, that don't take just too much of the child's time; and we find we have time to be outside, to do art, to just sit and have a natural conversation, to plan that trip to the library, better yet for the older child to plan the errands needed. The children may choose to work with a Montessori material or apply a concept learned through Montessori experiences at any time of the day or night. I recall a 4 year old young man who awoke in the middle of the night to use the toilet, then proceeded to work on the puzzle map of Africa - the hardest of the set - he found it relaxing and found that he was indeed capable of working on it by himself. Why the middle of the night? Who knows! His mind was more relaxed; no distractions of noise and people and lights; no pressure from the adults around him (since they were allegedly sleeping, not (ahem) videotaping from around the corner).

In a home environment, the keys can be presented at any time. Maybe there is a dedicated school time - that is fine too - just remember what all happens at schools: snack, bathroom breaks, chatting with friends, watching the class fish, caring for the other animals, watering plants, gardening, working outside AND inside, food preparation, and more! The children do not have their hands on the materials every moment! So it is ok at home to have a variety of things happening - just provide the keys. The keys lay a foundation and a structure - and enjoy the freedom of time for exploration!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Snake Game post update!

The snake games have come up in conversation quite a bit lately. I updated this previous post with more detailed photographs and descriptions:
Motnessori Nuggets: Snake Games Part 1

All Montessori Nuggets on Snake Games

Monday, January 11, 2016

Peace Education in Montessori

Peace Education does not have to be a separate curriculum from the rest of the Montessori experience.

When we do separate it out, we minimize the value of the work Montessori did in observing human nature and providing for specific needs at specific planes of development, fulfilling those needs in a way that causes a child to reach his greatest possible potential, which will feed those needs and tendencies towards generosity and community.

Montessori's Own Writings: 

Other Authors: 
  • Lena Gitter: Montessori's Legacy to Children
  • Edwin Mortimer Standing: Maria Montessori - Her Life and Work
  • Montessori Nugget on Peace Education

Friday, January 1, 2016

Culture in Montessori

The Montessori approach to education and life really holds the corner on authentic culture!

We provide the children with keys to the world (primarily through the sensorial materials) in the first plane of development: 0-6 years old (infant, toddler, preschool, kindergarten) --- and keys to the universe at elementary (cosmic education), with the adolescent really finding his place in the history of the world by participating with society and working with the earth itself.

Through providing these key experiences, the child's time is freed up to explore his own personal interests, fully and thoroughly construct himself and, varying at the different ages, to explore the culture around him: first the culture of his own family, then that of the immediate community and/or school, then that of the entire world. By elementary, we are delving into the cultures of civilizations past and present.


Through Exercises of Practical Life: first from the child's own culture, then expanding out to include experiences from other cultures.

Through Sensorial experiences: first explore consistent key materials on weight, length, volume, smell, sight, color, etc. And then through the child's work with the sensorial aspects of the world: the sandpaper, continent/painted, climatic, and oceans globes; the puzzle maps for the world, each continent, and the child's own country; exploring the flags of various countries, their meanings and histories.

Through the Language experiences: cultural folders for exploring by continent, then by theme within a continent - striking about conversations about what we see in the photographs. Studying biomes and climates of each area, how that affects the local people's choices of lifestyle.

And that is just for the 3-6 year old!!!
A Montessori Nugget with a brief description of where to find cultural aspects in the AMI-style 3-6 albums.

At elementary, we study civilizations of the past, use history question charts to guide our research into past cultures, as well as present cultures.

In geography, we look at economic geography in an interesting format - looking at trade products and usages; we look at the lifestyle of people in various regions of the globe, based on climate. We learn about the rays of the sun, the tilt of the earth - and the affect on climate - and the ensuing affect on the people. Indeed, everything we do in geography (earth studies) leads to the affect on the local people in each region.

In biology, we look even further into biomes and how those affect all the living creatures, including the people.

In language, we explore a variety of literature, learning about peoples of other areas and times, with dramatic performances and other experiences to highlight the beauties of a variety of cultures.

Music should be listened to that comes from a varietoy of cultures. Art experiences are keys-based, so that a child can read about an art form and have the basic skills already in place to follow their interests and explore the art of all cultures and all times.

We look at the history of mathematics and the contributions of a variety of people to our understanding of math and geometry....

and even language history and development - how cultures have affected one another's languages.

There is so much more I am not including! Children really do come out of a Montessori education with a strong sense of culture; a strong sense of being part of something bigger than themselves, where they play an important role; and a strong sense of *culture.*

Other Montessori Nuggets mentioning Culture - a non-inclusive list: 
Elementary Geography Table of Contents - with notes of where to find Geography in Primary albums
Broadcasting Seeds
Art Presentations at all ages
Fifth Great Lesson - Story of Numbers
Benefits of the Prepared Environment
Great Lessons and Keys Lessons - Some Thoughts (Cosmic Education)
What Do We Provide Our Children?
Spiritual Preparation of the Adult - Who Owns the Learning?
Peace Education in Montessori
A portion of the Primary Biology Introduction
Cursive or Print Part 3
Handwork in Montessori

Monday, December 21, 2015

Special Needs and Montessori - Can it be done?

Montessori for Special Needs

Can it be done?

Um. Yes. Montessori started with special needs and found the experiences were applicable to the universal child. Even with "typically developing" children, there are always slight modifications to be made to suit personal interest, time of day, personality quirks and more. So we Montessorians just look to the individual child's needs in how to present the key experiences for their plane of development.

Previous Montessori Nuggets - not an all-inclusive list:

A foundation to understanding that Montessori is useful for all children - the universal child, regardless of personal interests, personalities or learning needs:

Montessori Books about Special Needs: 

Additional Resources for Special Needs as related to Montessori:

NOTE: The word "disadvantaged" has changed in meaning over the years. Previously, it was used to describe socio-economic factors with perhaps some inclusion of special needs. Currently, the word disadvantaged is more often applied to children with special needs, but can still be used in other ways. There is a book by Reginald C Orem about Montessori and the Disadvantaged - it is more focused on the socio-economic factors, more-so than special needs factors.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Walking on the Line - Control of Movement

Walking on the line in the Montessori Environment - not an readily understood area of the Montessori experience.

There is a good deal of information and photographs online for the walking on the line activity that are mis-leading at best and downright inaccurate at worst.

Some points that are the most readily confused:

  • The line can be an ellipse or a wandering line with gentle curves - we do not want corners or sharp curves. When long enough, it provides some "straight" lengths without the need for corners. 
  • The line is a silent individual activity, but many children can do it at the same time. In a classroom, a group of children would be given the presentation. 
  • The width of the line should be about half the width of the child's foot, in the ideal situation. Otherwise, three-quarter of an inch should be the narrowest. 
  • The line should be a different texture from the floor itself, so the children can feel the difference (tying in the practice of wearing socks or being barefoot when doing this activity) - being barefoot helps in self-awareness and self-presence as well. ;) 
  • It should be noticable in color when looking at it, but not distracting when looking at objects close to it. A different shade of the same color as the flooring is highly recommended. 

An observation of the benefits of walking on the line: Walking on the Line Thoughts

Montessori's own writings on this topic - I am not including what others have written: 

  • Discovery of the Child: depending on your edition, look around pages 89-126, in various places; some editions include walking on the line in the illustrations as well. 
  • Absorbent Mind: depending on your edition, look around 195-224
  • Montessori Method (good for historical reading, was updated and renamed Discovery of the Child): 140-141, 339, 342-343
  • Montessori's Own Handbook (good for historical reading, this book was never updated): 26-28, 63, 64; illustrations 60, 62. In the Schocken edition: 63. 
  • Advanced Montessori Method, Volume 2 - Montessori Elementary Material: 251-352, illustration 352
  • The Secret of Childhood: depending on your edition, 75-98
  • Education for a New World: 34, 59
  • The Montessori Index also suggests I cross-reference Gymnastics and the Silence Game - so any portions of Montessori's books that mention those two are likely to include Walking on the Line as well - or at least relate. 

Some links for more information on Walking on the Line: 

There are more accurate resources available I am sure, but these were the ones I found the most quickly.

More recent scientific findings on the benefits of walking on the line? 

Do a web search for "proprioception and walking on the line". Note all the exercises which utilize walking on a line as therapy for a variety of concerns. Then compare those exercises to the stages of the walking on the line activity in a Montessori resource that includes *all* the stages. 

Amazing stuff! 

Just another area that modern research is corroborating everything Montessori observed over 100 years ago.