Elements of the Children's House Classroom
The Practical Life section of the classroom is the first area the child is introduced to. This area is the bridge between home and school. There are many familiar, everyday objects: clothes pins, locks and keys, spoons, tongs, pitchers, sponges. These activities help the child satisfy his/her need for meaningful activity. The Practical Life activities appear simple, but they are a very important part of the Montessori program. Through these activities, the child develops concentration, coordination, independence and order.
In the Sensorial area, the child works on developing and refining his/her senses. The child uses his/her sense of observation during these early years. Maria Montessori felt that this was the perfect time to give the child materials to develop and refine his/her senses and enable him/herself to understand the many impressions he receives through them. The Sensorial materials isolate one defining quality: color, size, shape, texture, weight, sound, temperature, or smell. Each Sensorial material isolates and emphasizes one particular quality by eliminating other differences. The child learns to organize and discriminate among variations, building skills of logical thinking and problem solving.
In the Math area of the classroom the child learns basic math conceptsby handling and manipulating the materials. Maria Montessori believedthat numbers should be introduced to the child easily, simply andclearly in a form that he/she can grasp. A child may be able to count,but does not understand quantity. The Montessori math materials providea concrete representation of numerals and quantities and theirassociation. The child progresses from the concrete to the abstract.The child is more easily able to visualize and understand concepts ofnumber, place value, fractions and processes of addition andsubtraction.
The Language area in the Montessori environment develops the child’s visual discrimination, phonetic awareness and joy of communication through language. The child learns the letters of the alphabet by using the sandpaper letters. Each letter, made from sandpaper, is on an individual card. The phonetic sound is taught. The child matches objects and pictures with the beginning sounds. When the child learns the sounds, he/she is ready to build, or encode, words with the moveable alphabet. The child gradually learns that he/she can read back the words he/she has built. This will lead to decoding or reading simple CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words.
Science curriculum includes zoology, botany, geography and physical science. The child explores science through hands on displays of natural materials, contoured globes, wooden puzzle maps and simple experiments.
Art activities are provided to help the child discover the joy of creative expression and to experience a variety of art media. These activities sharpen the sense of perception and strengthen eye/hand coordination.