These are the tools of the Montessori classroom. We call them “materials.” And because these materials are designed for the children to hold, feel, move and change, they are called manipulatives.
For letters, it’s not just about learning to recognize them by sight. Our dimensional letters are called “the movable alphabet” so children can pick them up, arrange them and see how they look upside down.
Designed to invite exploration
When you look at Montessori materials, you can’t help wanting to explore them with your senses. For example, you see sound cylinders… how can you not pick them up and shake them? They consist of two matched sets of wooden cylinders containing varying substances that create different sounds when shaken.
The child sorts the sound cylinders using only her listening skill. Two cylinders have the barely audible sound of sand. Two have the slightly louder sound of rice inside them. Others contain beans or items that sound louder still. After matching the cylinders, the child can grade the cylinders—that is, put the cylinders in order of softest to loudest, or loudest to softest.
Montessori materials are always beautiful. A preference is given to natural materials, such as wood and glass. Plastic is less appealing. Many imitations of Montessori materials exist, although they are not as attractive, nor as good as, the original.
Come visit the classroom at Pinewoods Montessori and see for yourself -- get hands on with our manipulatives and imagine how your child will explore their world!