Montessori Mathematics – A Hands-On Learning Experience

Montessori curriculum is supported through a series of concrete materials designed to help students conceptualize abstract ideas, particularly in math.  Dr. Montessori believed that “the hands are instruments of the brain” and by using our hands in the learning process, we are better able to internalize information. Further, using a kinesthetic process aids in overall engagement and concentration.

“He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.”

–          Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind

Tyler works independently with the Stamp Game

The Stamp Game is a Montessori material designed for learning and reinforcing knowledge of the four key math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and it is an integral part of the mathematics progression.

It is important to mention that math materials are progressive, and it can be difficult to speak of one Montessori material without referring to all those that have come before.  Each material prepares for the next and builds on the concepts that have been mastered.

The Stamp Game is first presented in Casa, after the child has learned place value (units, tens, hundreds, and thousands) with the Golden Beads.  Prerequisites to using the stamp game are understanding the concepts of large and small numbers, simple exchanges of 10 units equaling one 10, and the child must know how to count using concrete materials (not necessarily with number symbols).

The Stamp Game employs the hand and engages the mind to absorb concepts much more fully than working only with pencil, paper and worksheet, as is the norm.  The child can use this material to understand all operations, making it something they can return to again and again. It prepares the child for pencil and paper work in a more holistic manner.

The material consists of small wooden squares in common place value colours (green for units, blue for tens, red of hundreds and green for unit of thousands) that are used throughout the mathematics progression. The place value they represent, 1 (units), 10 (tens), 100 (hundreds) and 1000 (thousands) are written on them (1, 10, 100, 1000).

Using this distinctive material, the child begins moving in the direction of abstraction where they will be able to complete an equation without use of the manipulatives, although this remains a far way off.

Kendalwood Montessori & Elementary School is Durham Region’s first fully accredited Montessori school. At Kendalwood, we believe that our job is to inspire children to become the best students they can be. With a curriculum that focuses on developing the intellect as well as nurturing self-esteem, academics are taught, curiosity is cultivated and respect is fostered. Our approach creates an environment where students flourish and develop a lifelong love of learning.

Developing Writing Skills – A Distinct Montessori Process

The Montessori child works through many stages in the pursuit of learning to write. Writing skills are separate and distinct from reading or language development in Montessori education. A specific set of materials are involved in learning to write, primarily Metal Insets, Sandpaper Letters, and the Storybook Alphabet. A child will start to learn the sounds of the letters using Sandpaper Letters. This material is made up of sand glued to cardboard in the shape of the sounds of the alphabet. The material is both sensorial and tactile, encouraging the child to learn through touch. Sandpaper Letters are lightly traced with two fingers to promote muscle memory of the written letter for later movement of pencil on paper. Letter sounds are used instead of letter names to prepare for reading.

Tyler working with the StoryBook Alphabet

Once a few sounds are taught, the Storybook Alphabet is presented. Sounds that the child has been working on are presented again in a sequence that makes sense – for instance “c – a – t”.  While learning which sounds work together, preparations are being made for grammar and vocabulary work. Though separation of consonant and vowel is made within the materials by colour, little attention is drawn to the differences at this stage. The preliminary work is being categorized by the child’s mind naturally. You will have noticed that although the child has worked with two materials in the preparation for writing with the Sandpaper Letters and the Storybook Alphabet, he has not yet put pencil to paper to form these sounds.  This part of the process begins with Metal Insets; metallic geometric shapes that are traced in one colour, while curved lines of varying width are traced inside, in a second colour, from left to right. This material builds control, fine motor movements, and muscle memory learning to write from left to right.

Norah working with the Metal Inset

It is only once all three of these different materials are working in tandem and the child is comfortable with several sounds, can control the pencil when completing a metal inset, and can build sounds into words, that the child is then given a pencil and paper to begin writing.  At this point, forming the letters on paper seems natural and practiced, even though it may be the very first time the child has ever written. Developing writing skills is an intricate process for students and takes time. Montessori materials help children make the necessary connections and build the skills required to achieve proficiency with confidence at their own pace.

Kendalwood Montessori & Elementary School is Durham Region’s first fully accredited Montessori school. At Kendalwood, we believe that our job is to inspire children to become the best students they can be. With a curriculum that focuses on developing the intellect as well as nurturing self-esteem, academics are taught, curiosity is cultivated and respect is fostered. Our approach creates an environment where students flourish and develop a lifelong love of learning.

Choosing Montessori: Why Parents Opt Out of the Public System

As Montessori educators, we often speak with parents assessing or reconsidering the educational path for their child. We share in the priority of your child’s growth and development and understand the many questions parents have about alternatives to the public school system.

If we could share one concept to help illustrate the unique Montessori philosophy to inquiring parents, it would be that Montessori is child-centred. This means that the student is the heart of the learning process and rather than receiving instruction, a Montessori learner will have the freedom to use discovery and exploration to gain insight and understanding. A child-centred approach ensures each child’s needs are treated individually and supported, and students are able to reach their potential more readily.

At Kendalwood, our curriculum focuses on developing critical thinking skills while fostering independence, confidence and self-esteem. Learning how to learn is an essential skill set gained through active questioning, exploration and self-expression. Independence is the hallmark of Montessori education and we help our students to “do it themselves” at every stage of their development.

This time of year we find ourselves meeting with parents looking for options following a discouraging September start, frequently as a result of class size, rigid curriculum that is not meeting their child’s needs or a lack of classroom support. If you feel that Montessori may be a better fit for your child, the following comparison of some of the key differences between Montessori and public school may be helpful as you work through the alternatives.

New families are welcome to tour and observe our classrooms during the instructional day to get a better sense of how Montessori education works and learn more about our school. Drop in or book a tour to see us in action! We are located in Whitby, Ontario in the heart of Durham Region.

 Kendalwood Montessori Public School Class Composition Classrooms enjoy 3 year mixed age groups. Students are placed based on level of readiness. Students are placed based on date of birth. Teacher to Student Ratio 1:15 max for Casa and up. Each classroom has a qualified & experienced Montessori teacher and a dedicated assistant. Full day kindergarten classrooms are not subject to a hard cap on class size. Curriculum Individually developed for each student based on their individual progression. Mandated set curriculum does not provide for variation. Learning Materials Students learn through a wide variety of resources and experiences both in and outside of the classroom. Peer mentoring and 1×1 learning is frequent and common. Rooted in lecture style and textbook lessons. Student Assessment On-going throughout the year. Teachers constantly observe and assess students and share with parents. Open and on-going dialogue. Set to Government mandated requirements. Primarily test based. French Language Introduced at the toddler age and provided on a daily basis. Introduced at grade 4 – once/twice a week Extracurricular Lunch and afterschool programs are included in cost of tuition,  offered to families at NO additional cost Extracurricular may be inconsistent (based on individual school administration), programs are often canceled year to year

Kendalwood Montessori & Elementary School is Durham Region’s first fully accredited Montessori school. At Kendalwood, we believe that our job is to inspire children to become the best students they can be. With a curriculum that focuses on developing the intellect as well as nurturing self-esteem, academics are taught, curiosity is cultivated and respect is fostered. Our approach creates an environment where students flourish and develop a lifelong love of learning.