Biology - Introduction - Primary - 1

John Muir: When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it is attached to the rest of the world.

            According to Dr. Montessori, the function of biology in the casa is to arouse an interest in nature and the multiplicity of its phenomena by giving an order and an orientation to help the children, so they can intelligently recognize and appreciate the basic order underlying all of these phenomena. In The Montessori Method, she outlines how we can aid the child in developing his relationship with nature:
  1. The child is initiated into observation of the phenomena of life, utilizing the keys provided in the casa to understand his relationship with other living species.
  2. The child is initiated into foresight by way of auto-education.
  3. The child is initiated into the virtue of patience and into confident expectation which is a form of faith and a philosophy of life.
  4. The child is inspired with a feeling for nature.
  5. The child follows the natural development of the human race. The evolution of the individual harmonizes with humanity.

Biology information applies to all ages from infancy, toddler, primary, to elementary, adolescence and adulthood. 

Language - Nomenclature Materials

Oh the cards... so many cards!

Hint: You don't have to have every "stage" for every subject. You might only have spoken and 3-part for some topics; you might go to the definition stage with a few subjects; and a few others you will take into elementary.

Wonderful news: The *children* can make them too! Do not feel like you need to make something on the parts of an engine if you'd rather eat worms. Provide tools (books, photos, people who do like engines; and blank card material) and let the child HAVE AT IT.

But don't limit to "parts" - it could be naming objects in a group; setting up classification groups to sort out (kingdoms of living things), or other ideas of the child's --- and at elementary don't forget to include any local education requirements (from you or from the state).

So what are the stages?

Follows is the clearest lay-out I can provide for the NOMENCLATURE - with some homeschooling tips thrown in for the fun of it :)

Yes, there are other card materials; but here I focus on the 3-part, 4-part, definitions - nomenclature. Parts of; types of; sorting/classification.

You want something "new" for each album page (not necessarily new topic - but some card set that corresponds with each album page).
This includes spoken language nomenclature and classification; reading classification; scientific classification, nomenclature --- primary AND elementary.

***IMPORTANT NOTE*** Never give the child information with a card you have not provided in some manner in real life. In the case of some things that might need to be a 3-d artificial figure of an object or it might be a video (which are ok in limited form) - but do not introduce new terminology with a picture card if at all possible.

  • Cards: Just images of the items at hand - we want as much hands-on experience first. In a classroom, these are the same size as the later control card, but there is no name written in. 
  • Booklets: You read these to the child. To be used as controls later. 
Homeschool tip: you can use the image card OR the control card from the typical 3-part sets; rather than an additional image. Using the control card helps you to remember the name if needed; but can be slightly distracting for some children. Use your best judgment (or write the name on the back of the card). However, these cards can also be used to describe other characteristics or even other names of the objects in the pictures, making them multi-purpose and not stuck with just one name - so the lack of a written word is actually better for the child.

Play games with these cards too! The child doesn't just lay them out and name them. Play games similar to I Spy or Go Fish or I Spy Sounds - get creative!

READING - PRIMARY - Also known as Reading Classification: 
  • Cards - step 1: image, title, control with both image and title - this transitions from spoken into reading ---- when the children work with these, they already knows these terms and this is a way to discover that they can read. One baby step at a time (read about familiar concepts - then later they will read about new concepts!). **This is the commonly known 3-part card set-up.**
  • Books: same as from spoken, whether homeschool or full classroom
  • Cards - step 2: image, title, definition with word in red, control card (the control card can be another card with all the information OR can be the booklet - in either homeschools or classrooms). This set could be referred to as 4-part cards, if you like. 
  • Cards - Step 3 - definitions: Create an additional set of 4-part cards, but the definition card has a blank space where the name of the item should fit; there is an additional "slip" that has the name, written in red, that is placed ON the definition card (it fits onto the blank space). Tip for homeschoolers: just replace the original definition card. 
  • Cards - Step 4 - Definition strips: Add to the previous set, a set of strips (just print the same definition cards again and cut into strips by lines). The child is helped by using incomplete phrases. (homeschool hint - if they don't get to this stage, that's fine; just move into the elementary version below)

  • Start with the same style of cards/booklets: image, title, full definition WITHOUT the word (like a dictionary definition) and generally a bit more technical on the information provided, more complex vocabulary; but still keep it basic so the children is enticed to explore further and add to the definition himself. 
  • Cards - Elementary Definitions: Now we'll cut up those definitions by complete phrase (no hints now!). They will need to be reformatted to make this work. 
  • Could have the definition card set with the blank word as above; but I see this in very few classrooms. Homeschool tip: just use the primary set. 
  • Children at this age, could be given the booklet and they could make their own 3-part cards. Or (homeschool tip) have elementary children make the material for the primary children, especially if the elementary children are older already - it removes tedium and adds joy when they are creating something *real* for someone else who looks up to them.

Covers primary and elementary homeschooling; suggestion-only to minimize what is made, space and money used. Mix and match these cards at varying times. 
  • image
  • title (could fit on the image card, or lay below it)
  • definition without the word at all (not even a blank space) - match with the title card
  • booklet (invite the elementary child to explore their experiences and resources to expand on the primary booklet) - use as the control
  • definition in one form of strips (or perhaps some of your definitions are by phrase; others are by line)
This layout utilizes the booklet as a control; you may prefer to still have the control card of image/title. 

Cursive or Print - 3

  “Hand·writ·ing: 1. writing done with pen or pencil in the hand; script. 2. A style or manner of writing by hand, esp. that which characterizes a particular person; penmanship.”[1]

            Not only is cursive easier for young children to learn, but by learning it young, they will not have to unlearn print in order to learn handwriting later in childhood, when they are already burned out from school as well as moved out of the sensitive period for order and language. On the other hand, print can be learned at any time, as it is indeed “all around us.”

            In addition to these factors, today as even in Dr. Montessori’s time it is observed that
“it is impossible to forge a person’s handwriting.”[3] Handwriting is an art form in itself. Examples of this art form can be seen in older texts with fancy first letters of chapters and sections, the variations from culture to culture of creating various letters of the alphabet, particularly capitals. Handwritten letters and cards are still cherished by many, much more than easily written (and usually error-ridden) e-mails that fly around the planet in the billions or trillions each day.

“Even though we all use the same alphabet, the motions we make are so individual that
each one has his own particular style of writing,
and there are thus as many forms of writing as there are men.”[4]

[1] Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.
[3] The Discovery of the Child. Chapter 15.
[4] The Discovery of the Child. Chapter 15. emphasis mine.

Handwork in Montessori

I like Margaret Homfray. I agree with so much of what she says in the videos that are posted on Google Videos. Remembering that in these videos she is focusing on the primary age, which is a different plane of development from elementary, she does present some really excellent information on the other ages.

She says something in one of her videos (sorry! I cannot remember which one! If you know which one it is, please send me the link so I can link to it and note the location of what she says) about the adolescent plane of development that is very striking.

Children are innately creative at the third plane of development. They want to create artistic ideas. They *SHOULD NOT* be hindered by the process of learning the artistic skills needed to express themselves and the turbulence inside them.

We have unruly teenagers because of the lack of emotional and *technical* preparation beforehand.

At primary, at elementary, children should be given the skills they need to be artistic at the adolescent age.

Yes, she says, girls AND boys should learn needlework. She explains that women historically did these things for the home; but the men (tailors, monks) did these things for the priests, for the kings, for the public offices.

If we give the children enough skills and exposure at the younger ages, anything they didn't learn but want to know can be readily picked up when needed. We don't have to teach everything, but to what should we have exposure in our homes and Montessori environments?

  • Knitting
  • Crochet
  • Needlework and/or embroidery
  • Cross-stitch (yes different from needlework)
  • Basic sewing skills: buttons, mending of various materials (mending leather is different from mending a hem) - think "what are basic repairs that can be made?" - children will take this further when needed
  • Drawing 
  • Painting
  • Origami
  • Clay
  • Music expression and enjoyment
  • Writing styles
  • Using hammer and chisel
  • At least 1 other sculpting technique (whittling, etc)
  • Weaving
  • From-Scratch Cooking
Most of these are covered in the primary art area (in the Exercises of Practical Life album in AMI) or in music (language and sensorial albums); but all skills should be developed as the child studies in the other areas:
  • re-creating the puzzle maps in a variety of media
  • design work with ALL the metal insets (typical insets; fractions; elementary plates, etc)
  • draw images of their work (golden beads lead to both geometry AND art; tower and stair in combinations are beautiful to draw and it covers mathematical principles)
  • salt-flour maps of various landforms (yes, they are doing art with the clay landforms in primary)
  • whittling (teach with soap bars)

In elementary, the children can be choosing works of art to re-create from other cultures and other time periods: 
  • pottery and painting styles come to mind
  • book-making
  • furniture styles
  • origami styles through the centuries
  • house styles - architecture - the Roman Arch for example
  • Calligraphy
  • Illumination
  • Sculptures
  • candles, soap, other common household goods - make them from materials as close to natural state as possible
  • textile creation; spinning thread and yarn; dying textiles, threads and yarns
  • beginning food preparation skills

Do not think *crafts* - think ART. Think beauty, aesthetics, function, style - and provide the very basic materials and simple presentation to get them started. 

Do not think *projects* - think inspiration. Give the basic material and simple presentations on how to use particular tools; then let them be inspired (it's ok to drop hints and there; and if something is a requirement for the child, imposed by the adult, then the adult should be right there with the child through the process). 

When we provide this foundation for our children, those emotional disturbances in middle school, when their brains need a rest and their hearts need an outlet, will be joyful exploratory years, in which the child comes to know himself and the world around him in a new way. And we adults come to see the wonderful creation that is this particular child. 

Nothing in a "Montessori" environment is learned in isolation. Everything connects in history, in mathematics, in practical life, in beauty. 

Are we starting to see how cosmic education works? 

Geography - Table of Contents

Geography is another area that is interspersed among the primary albums. When pulled together, these presentations make for quite a lovely geography experience! We have sensorial aspects, language, people of the world by continent, country and region, globes, maps and more!

In elementary, it also encompasses the earth sciences and economics. Technically-speaking there is no official political geography section. We hope that the children have had the primary level experiences. We also incorporate Goings Out at the elementary age; practical life lessons in this area including reading and following maps of the local city, areas to visit (a map of the museum for example), and other practical mapping skills.

Through the child's study of history, mapping, graphing, coordinates, compass roses, and other experiences are incorporated in a "living" approach. Geography incorporates many of the "math skills" that seem to be lacking from the mathematics album (where we focus more on pure mathematics).

There is really little use for a geography program at elementary that is not, by nature, put into practical use immediately - either through Goings Out, re-creating maps on paper or three-dimensionally, including human geography (culture) or other practical purposes.


Exercises of Practical Life
     The entire Exercises of Practical Life album really prepares for geography; including the cultural aspects. Art experiences, as well as cultural experiences should be incorporated starting around age 5. First the child is adapted to his own culture until 4 1/2 or 5; then we can start drawing in aspects of other cultures for the children to experience - think art forms/styles, table settings, objects around the environment that could be polished are perhaps from other cultures. Share stories.

Think cultural experiences.


Sensitizing Fingers

Sensorial Aspects of the World
Introduction to the Sensorial Aspects of the World
Sandpaper Globe
Continents Globe
World Puzzle Map
Continent Puzzle Map
United States Puzzle Map
Land and Water Forms
Oceans Globe
Climatic Zones Globe


Spoken: Vocabulary Enrichment
Language of the Sensorial Materials (games, card material)
Nomenclature Cards – Scientific (includes flags, countries/continents/oceans by name, etc)

Spoken: Language Development
Reading and Books in the Library
Conversation – More than one person
Question Game
Cultural Folders
Extension: fictional story telling
Land and Water Form Folders
Land and Water Form Outline Maps
Biome Folders
Art Folders (cultural)
My State

Map Making

Reading Classification
Presentation I – Classifying the Environment
Presentation II – Cards with Labels
     A. Social
     B. Scientific
Presentation III – Definition Stages



Introduction to Geography
        Practical Considerations for the Experiments
        Notes on the Experiments
        Command Cards
        Geography Nomenclature

Chapter I: Creation of the Earth/Idea of the Universe
        God with No Hands
                Experiments with God with No Hands
                Notes on the Story
                Follow-Ups to the Story
        Composition of the Earth
        Further Details of the Composition of the Earth
        Formation of the Mountains

Chapter II: Nature of the Elements
        Three States of Matter
        Further States of Matter
        Different Ways of Combining
        Separation, Saturation, Super-saturation
        Attraction and Gravity

Chapter III: The Sun and the Earth
        Rotation of the Earth and Its Consequences
        Time Zone Chart
        Earth as a Sphere and Its Result
        Tilt of the Axis
        Seasons and the Two Tropics
        The Zones
        Zones’ Work Chart
        Protractor Chart
        Seasons Work Chart
        Protection of the Atmosphere and the Rains

Chapter IV: The Work of Air
        Experiments Prelude to the Winds
        The Winds
        Land and Sea Breezes
        Changes in the Winds Caused by the Seasons
        Work Chart of the Winds
        Ocean Currents Caused by Winds
        Wind as a Sculptor
Chapter V: The Work of Water
        The River
        The Rains
        Ocean Waves
        Water Cycle
        Spread of Vegetation
        People in Different Zones

Chapter VI: Human Geography
        Interdependence of Human Beings in Society
        Economic Geography
                Study of Natural Resources
                Study of Consumption
                Comparison of Production and Consumption
                Imports and Exports
                Volume of World Trade
                World Commerce

Chapter VII:  Functional Geography
 (not an official section of the elementary album; utilized for those who need to verify learning for educational standards as well as those without any primary level experience - just a list of topics to be covered in other areas)

Cursive or Print - 2

  “Hand·writ·ing: 1. writing done with pen or pencil in the hand; script. 2. A style or manner of writing by hand, esp. that which characterizes a particular person; penmanship.”[1]

            In today’s world, many people have chosen to forgo handwriting (cursive) altogether because we are so surrounded by print, print is standardized (everyone can read it), etc. But this is a mistake. We are surrounded by print because of the beginnings of the loss of handwriting; standardization of print only detracts from individuality. Group cohesion within a society is excellent, however each person must be an established individual in order to contribute the greatest amount to group dynamics. The number of font choices available in computer writing programs testifies to the need for expressing individuality. The issue of handwriting is only a sign of the times, rather than the deep-seated issue itself, however the issue can become a heated discussion among educators and parents.

            Dr. Montessori has encouraged the use of cursive from some of her earliest work with special needs children, finding that curved lines are easier for the child, not because of the child’s experience with a curved horizon as Seguin and Itard put forth, but because curved connected lines are truly easier and more natural for the child: 

“the straight line (of print) is unique in that it follows the shortest distance between two points. Every variation from this means that a line is not straight. The countless variations are therefore easier to make than the single stroke which is the standard of perfection.”[2] 

Dr. Montessori describes children tracing curved, connecting lines and loops in the sand with a stick, and the artwork and scribbles of the youngest children of then and today still testifies to the fact of curved connected lines being easier for the child to recreate.

She also describes how children with weak hands will tire after drawing a row of straight lines and the straight lines look more and more like the letter c by the end of the line. 

[1] Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.
[2] The Discovery of the Child. Chapter 14.

All Those Alphabets

We have several alphabets in the Montessori environments:

Sandpaper Letters:
set 1) pink/blue background with the lower case individual letters
set 2) green background with lower case letter combination (phonograms or digraphs)
capitals are optional - generally used for children who truly *need* them - which tends to be children with developmental learning needs.

large movable alphabet

"Large" Movable Alphabet: Primary
cut out of wood, stored in a large wood box
Slightly smaller versions are available organized alphabetically - more budget-friendly but less ideal, as we want the children to focus on the sounds rather than the order of the letters at the youngest ages. In a homeschool setting, the alphabetized set is more ideal due to size and portability. 

medium movable alphabet
many manufacturers are now calling this "small movable alphabet"

Small Movable Alphabet - Story Movable Alphabet:

(many manufacturers are no longer using the adjective "small" - instead using a variety of other titles for this one)

  • Primary and Elementary
  • Stored in a small wooden box or a tackle-box
  • Can include punctuation marks
  • PRIMARY - Movable Alphabet: use a variation on this for longer movable alphabet work (in red consonants and blue vowels) and to introduce capitals. 
  • PRIMARY - Word Study and Phonogram Study: 2 alphabets: one in red, one in blue; some people prefer to use black for a root word and red for the other portions. 
  • Printed onto card-stock or similar - one side is lower case, the other side is capital
  • All letters within an alphabet set are the same color
  • 2 sets (one complete alphabet in one color; one complete alphabet in the second color) needed for primary; 3 sets in elementary (each a different color, such as black, red, blue - a 4th color is handy but not 100% necessary)
Can be print OR cursive

Cursive: to extend use of the wooden alphabet to tell longer stories and introduce punctuation.
Print: for reading activities in both primary and elementary (word study, phonograms and the like)

At home, you can take the cursive version, rearrange the colors and keep using cursive just fine. Print out a complete set of red, a complete set of blue: use the proper vowels and consonants to extend movable alphabet use. When ready to do Phonogram study and Word study, switch the vowels back so each alphabet box matches. At elementary, print one more set in black. 

Handwriting charts - displayed in picture frames: Primary; useful in Elementary; usually written on Montessori banded-lined paper
  • all cursive lower case
  • all cursive capital
  • cursive and print lower case
  • cursive and print capital
  • All cursive lower case and capital
  • (optional: print capital and lowercase; not a necessary material)

Elementary Impressionistic Charts: 

samples of Egyptian, Babylonian and others are given as part of presentations and for children's follow-up work. Leading to copywork and further exploration. 

Additional Elementary: 
As the children delve into history, they will discover other forms of the letters including, but not limited to the following: 
Click for great illuminated letters
  • Illuminated Alphabet
  • Hebrew Alphabet
  • Other cultures and other historical periods
  • Handwriting in the young United States
  • Calligraphy
  • So much more

Albums and Presentations

Each album needs to be organized for the sake of the adult keeping track of what is going on. This organization is not how to present to the children but aids the adult in personal organization.

          The same curriculum is given at 9-12 as is given at 6-9. In terms of geography, history, music, art, in particular, but also all the subjects areas, all of the general areas of the work need to be introduced in the 6-9 group in some manner; however, every presentation will not be covered, and many of the details are not reached until 9-12, when the children are interested in those details. 6-9 is an introduction to and a preparation for the work at 9-12. 

         In a classroom setting, each group of children may be focused on different areas at a time; the adult will be presenting from different areas throughout each day. Sometimes, there is a logical sequence and build-up, with pre-requisites for some of the work; however the children do not simply proceed through one entire chapter before moving on to the next. “What do the children need to know before presenting something?” is the only consideration before allowing a child to pursue a personal interest. 

For example, here are the chapters of geography: 
1)   The Story of God with No Hands and the Creation of the Universe
2)   Nature of the Elements
3)   The Sun and the Earth
4)   The Work of Air
5)   The Work of Water
6)   Interdependencies and Economic Geography
    The adult will present the Story of God with No Hands every year. Then different groups of children will go off to personal studies of interest, either in geography or perhaps they have another project they are working on. For the rest of the year, the adult might be presenting some things from chapter 2 to a particular child or group of children - maybe finish an album page, maybe not. Then move on to another chapter (not even necessarily in chapter order!). 

There is work for 6 year olds and 12 years in every single chapter. 

Mathematics is a bit more linear, however many album pages are still set-up to be multi-age. An album page on fractions includes many exercises that extend from 6 to 8 1/2, then it is expected that the child's work will continue into 9-12 integrated with the other subjects (ie that they will actually use fractions in their history, geography, language, etc) and review the material from time to time as suggested by the public school curriculum (local educational requirements). 

In language, we expect to review all lower elementary concepts in upper elementary, in a different way if they have mastered all the material: perhaps informal conversations, expecting proper grammar and word syntax in their writing, reading grammar books as follow-ups. There are few specific activities for this follow-up, because some children just won't need it; and those that do, will present a wide variety of types of reviews needed. There is no one-size-fits-all here :) 

Follow the child! 

Get the children doing independent research and studies, Goings Out and applying what they are learning to real life. 

Then you have an elementary Montessori experience! 

Geography - Elementary and Primary

Get away from the idea that geography is a subject in the curriculum; 

rather, geography is the manner in which the child is oriented to the earth and the way in which he lives. 

The earth and the laws which govern it were in place at creation and those very same laws govern the earth today. 

Human beings also have laws to be followed and be governed by. Civil law should be organically tied to natural law. So we have economics in our geography album at elementary; we have studies of people in our primary albums.

Giveaway Post for May 1

Comment #10 is the winner :)
(my responses don't count as comments ;) ).


Be sure to follow Montessori Nuggets for upcoming giveaways in the later summer time :)


Keys of the Universe giveaway once again!

1 month free giveaway (2 months if you are in the 16-month course) - $40 value!
Elementary Montessori Albums - straight from AMI training, with minor adaptations for clarity
Online support for homeschoolers and teachers - online discussion community AND private e-mail support

Ways to enter - leave a comment here for each one to count as an entry:
  • join the Keys of the Universe newsletter (or comment that you do)
  • Follow Keys of the Universe on Facebook (or comment that you do)
  • share this giveaway or info about Keys of the Universe at other sites (provide the link to each place you do this)
  • Link to Montessori Nuggets on your site or blog (provide the url in comments here)
  • Comment meaningfully on another post on Montessori Nuggets
  • Subscribe via e-mail feed (or comment that you do)
  • Join this site (or comment that you do)
  • Ask me a question about the elementary level that I can address in another Montessori Nugget
  • Provide an idea for a new post on Montessori Nuggets

How is the winner chosen? We're Montessori, so it's quite hands-on! Every time a comment comes in, my son writes the number of that comment on a slip of paper and we put it in a shoe-box. On the right day, he puts a lid on the box, shakes it up really, really well; I hold it above his head and he reaches in and pulls out a number. Whichever comment is drawn out - is the winner!

Good luck! 

The winner will be announced May 1 at this post!
(I do not always have access to your e-mail address via Blogger, so be sure to check back!)

Already in the course and paid in full? You can receive a refund in that amount OR give your free month to a friend!

Not signed up yet? Join us here: Keys of the Universe Course Access Site

Good luck!

Language and Speech Development

AMI Trainers insist:

When the language album is providing a set of keys to the child, these same keys unlock information for the adult to guide the child in further learning; and special assistance as needed.

Because they are keys, every presentation is necessary in some form or another. It could be a quick presentation, the child demonstrates he's got it and is beyond it, so you move on quickly - but don't skip anything assuming the child already knows it - let him prove himself!

Every presentation, yes - every material? Do you need a complete set of card materials for every interest a child has? NO! Have a small number of card sets (less than 5) that go "all the way through" the entire sequence of card material. Then have additional sets at varying stages to provide information and experience-review at the child's age and interest. You might only create a booklet of something (child creates the cards if interested); or you might create only 4-part or 5-part cards for something (and the child creates their own booklet).

Perhaps a little boy is interested in the parts of a car engine at age 5 and he's already reading; he does not need the spoken language card set for this topic. AND he can make his own 3-part cards if desired. Remember the 3-part cards (and higher levels) are used as REVIEW of already-learned information, providing reading practice and practice with definition usage. They are not used to TEACH.

However, if he is having some speech or language difficulties and you are starting the language album over, you might modify the reading classification cards to have a spoken language game with him.

Following the primary language album to a T, allows for the easy identification of special needs. Most needed adaptations will be intuitive; some not so much, but you'll have documented information to take to a professional assessment and any needed therapists.

And there is a plethora of internet information now for modification ideas in needed areas. Start with the keys; identify any additional needs, and provide for them at that time.

Speech Development Issues

Montessori materials can pinpoint (and remediate) issues at very young ages, and in very precise ways.
A series of Montessori Nuggets will focus on some of these benefits to using pure Montessori materials.


When the spoken language games in the primary Language album are played in their entirety and beginning at ages 2 1/2 - 3 1/2, they can provide SO many clues to a child's speech development. The spoken language components are so foundational to all other language works.

Indeed, primary trainers emphasize that if there is a delay or issue with reading, writing, vocabulary or any other language area within a classroom or a home, the best thing to do is to start the language album from the beginning all over again because something was missed. Then you can hone in on areas (without drudgery!) that need improvement. Note: you might not even ever figure out what was actually missing, because perhaps the children pick it up seamlessly the second time through.

Some of the things the adult can learn from these games:
  • does the child have trouble with sounds in certain parts of words
  • are some sounds just not heard by the child at all
  • a hearing issue
  • a speech issue
  • a rhythm issue (yes, this impacts speech - think syllables, rhymes, songs)
  • does the child not speak at all (no, you don't force this, but by age 4, they should be speaking even to school teachers whom they've known for several months)

AMI Trainers insist:

In summary, there are two Montessori Nuggets here:

1) The foundation and entirety of the language album. Do it all and have fun with it.
2) Use it to pinpoint issues that either need more work with the materials or may require a specialist.

Spoken Language - Introduction

Introduction to Spoken Language

            The child enters the casa with a functional vocabulary of between 300-500 words, if all has gone well in his first years of life. Ideally, when a child leaves the casa, he will have a vocabulary of 10,000-15,000 words. Being in the sensitive period for language, we try to provide full experiences as well as many activities and opportunities for the child to not only increase his vocabulary, but to strengthen his understanding and clarity of expression.

            Some of the child’s first experiences in the casa will be in the area of language, with the orientation game, having a conversation, reading and telling stories, and the like. We provide cards without words that are specifically for learning the spoken names of familiar and increasingly unfamiliar objects. We play a question game leading the child to the idea that everything he does or uses has a source and a chain of events leading up to his personal experience with it.

            After the child has more experience in the casa in the areas of practical life and sensorial, we begin to provide the language for these activities, studying the parts of familiar objects, as well as exploring poetry, biological classifications and life cycles, further work with the sensorial apparatus for land and water forms, art and culture. We play lots of oral language games which will later be repeated in word study, using written and printed labels to extend the child’s previous knowledge into new realms.

            These activities lay the foundation for further language work. If other areas of language are not progressing as the directress hopes, the directress should return to the beginning of the language range to re-establish a stronger foundation – perhaps something was missed. Children will enter at various levels and the adult should respect each child for his individuality while still working to establish a strong language foundation with him. 

Brain Development - Observation versus Technology

Watch this video by Dr. Steve Hughes, Professor of Neuro-psychology at The University of Minnesota.

The first 6:30 minutes are an elementary Geometry lesson.

The rest gets into the neuro-psychology, and his family's history with Montessori.

Included are lots of images and explanations for how Dr. Montessori observed what technology is now PROVING about how children learn - including those with dyslexia and other "disorders".

Writing grasp starts at 32:00.


Montessori materials can pinpoint (and remediate) issues at very young ages, and in very precise ways.
A series of Montessori Nuggets will focus on some of these benefits to using pure Montessori materials.


The chosen color scheme in the sensorial materials (and in math) minimize issues with a child with color-blindness. The child can still learn the concepts at hand, without being hindered by that color-blindness, as the materials will still look different from one another.

The teacher has the color tablets to discover and work with the color-blindness. But the child is not hindered anywhere else in most instances of color-blindness because of the design of the Montessori materials.

Color-blindness is not something with a treatment, however an awareness of it from the earliest possible age can provide the child with an understanding of why things don't look the same as they do with others; minimizes frustration all-around for parents, teachers, family, friends; and allows the child to get on with his life.

This child will need help coordinating clothing and may need some materials (mostly at home) adjusted so that he can function easily within the family. I have a friend who LOVES to golf; but he can't see a red flag on the green lawn, so he has to ask someone. Once it is pinpointed, he can make out the difference in texture, but rarely can he find it on his own. This sort of interdependence, with openness and honesty is something that can be developed from the youngest age, so there is no feeling of inferiority or other emotional issues that can result from a child "not knowing his colors".

Visit the Wikipedia page on color-blindness here.

normal vision in top row
dichromatic below (same apples)

Elementary Continuum

          The same curriculum is given at 9-12 as is given at 6-9. 

In terms of geography, for example, all of the general areas of the work need to be introduced in the 6-9 group in some manner; however, every presentation will not be covered, and many of the details are not reached until 9-12, when the children are interested in those details. 

6-9 is an introduction to and a preparation for the work at 9-12.  

What does this mean for us adults? 
It means that it is not for US to decide what is upper elementary or lower elementary - it is up to the internal workings of the child to reveal to us what is appropriate for them at that time or not. 

It means that when we have outside-of-the-child requirements (ourselves, local educational standards), we seek to find a way to provide what is necessary in the present situation, but not as a burden - focus instead on  the child learning about fulfilling responsibilities, in an environment that respects their developmental needs. 

Sensorial Materials - Colors

Pink, brown, red, red and blue, what are all these colors????

For most materials the color does not matter persay, however there is are outcomes with certain color schemes that have allowed the child's mind to "get" the connections.

Geometry plane insets: the blue corresponds with the geometric solids in both primary and elementary (presuming you have blue solids...). Yellow opposes blue quite nicely as a background.

The map colors again don't really "matter" but why re-think the wheel? Each of the colors contrasts nicely with the ones next to it. Color-blindness combinations could be considered before re-thinking this color scheme..

Pink and brown are soft colors that coordinate well together - could you use another color for the pink tower and brown stair? Yes, but these soft colors are ideal for the age level (brand new, very young children need comfort); they coordinate well on a color circle (think art, aesthetics, beauty).

Red and blue are clearly opposing. (Red and purple - purple contains red; same with yellow/green; red/yellow or blue/yellow could work, however you're getting into brightness versus a darker shade - best to have the same shade in this work - the yellow/blue works for the geometric cabinet, darker shape, lighter background; it wouldn't work as well for the number rods, sound cylinders, and the like where we want an even surface, not negative/positive space).
Can you find the spot where a cube is missing? 

Why not make everything in the sensorial area all-natural and have the child focus just on the concept at hand? Isn't that a Montessori concept - isolation of a property?

Except those classrooms with ONLY all-natural sensorial materials have materials that collect dust. They are not as attractive (we want to attract the child) because they do not oppose each other; when placing the tower pieces next to the stair pieces, there is no opposition of color in the different dimensions, no beauty. We are missing the development of aesthetics. And we need a certain amount of contrast within particular materials (anything that is currently 2-colored or more).

The natural knobbed cylinders are nice - and besides being a preparation for writing, they do have the child focusing solely on the dimension - but the children aren't putting those pieces with each other - they might later match them with the (colored) knobless cylinders; then the colors of the knobless indicate the set to which they belong and contrast nicely with the natural knobbed cylinders (sort of like matching the natural-based bells with the black and white bells - natural is for any of them, while a color is for a specific set).

When pairing natural grain to natural grain, the focus becomes on the pattern of the grain - rather than on the dimensions themselves. The lines in the grain actually detract the eye from the dimensions we are actually wanting to focus on....

In the end, what has been historically colored has strong aesthetic, color-blindness and practical purposes for being colored in the combinations utilized.

Buy the natural ones if they are cheaper (usually they are); then paint them! This way, you'll have extra of the right color/shade on hand for repairs when they chip (because they do chip - and that's great, because it's a sign they are being *used* - and opportunity to teach about care of the environment through gentility).

Theory - Table of Contents

Theory Album Tables of Contents: 
doing a puzzle without a frame
(tessellations, that is the point;
Montessori details without the "big picture"
 - not so much)


  • Education as an Aid to Life
  • History of the Method
  • Human Needs and Tendencies
  • Four Planes of Development
  • The Absorbent Mind
  • Sensitive Periods
  • The Prepared Environment
  • Development of Movement
  • Development of Language
  • Observation
  • Normalization and Deviations
  • Preparation of the Adult
  • Independence
  • Freedom and Discipline
  • Three Levels of Obedience
  • Social Development
  • Errors and Corrections

  • Construction of the Human Being and the Human Tendencies
  • An Overview of the Four Planes of Development
  • The First Plane of Development:  The Child from Birth to Three Years of Age (The First Subplane)
  •  The First Plane of Development:  The Child from Three to Six Years of Age (The Second Subplane)
  •  The Second Plane of Development:  The Child from Six to Twelve Years
  • The Third Plane of Development:  The Young Person from Twelve to Eighteen Years
  • Cosmic Education
  • Imagination
  • The “Great Lessons” and the Key Lessons
  • “Going Out”
  • Practicalities of “Going Out”
  • The Upper Elementary Class (Nine to Twelve Years), adapted from a lecture by Miss Margaret Stephenson
  • Freedom and Responsibility
  • Recordkeeping
  • Parent Education
  • Running an Elementary Class
  • Planning the First Three Days