Montessori materials, grouped in Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, and Cultural categories, are designed to have a “control of error” inherent in the activity, allowing a child to correct herself and make her own discoveries.
Practical Life materials include activities that allow children to learn to care for themselves and their environment. These activities also help children develop their large and small muscle coordination, concentration, independence, logic and aesthetic sense. “Doing” is the most important aspect of these exercises, rather than the end result.
Sensorial materials refine the senses, helping children clarify and categorize the sensory impressions they’ve received from the environment; they are tangible examples of what they have experienced. For example, a child experiences the concept of length by manipulating wooden rods that are identical in all respects – color, shape, feel – except length, where they can tactilely sense the difference between rods of different lengths.
Language materials enrich vocabulary and develop language as well as skills for writing and reading. Developing language opens a world of independence and self-expression for children, whose ability to communicate with others and to give voice to their inner worlds creates new avenues of learning and sharing within their families and the school community.
Math materials provide concrete examples of number symbols and quantity. As children progress, lessons increase in difficulty (odds and evens, teens, fractions, etc.) and become more abstract. Children are introduced to decimals and learn the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Cultural materials include geography, history, art, music, science, cooking, gardening, and daily lessons in grace and courtesy, all of which expand children’s horizons and help them to learn about a larger world effortlessly, through a prism of self-paced exploration.