“The senses, being explorers of our world, open the way to knowledge,” ~Maria Montessori. This is an area in which a child has unlimited opportunities to refine and define his/her senses. Each beautifully designed and colorful material, individually focuses on one of the five senses. The materials help the child, though his senses, to develop a concept of color, shape, size, pitch and texture and overall heightens his sensory experience.
Every child is drawn to this area in the classroom since they see materials which are used in their homes, (i.e.: child-sized brooms and mops, pitchers for pouring, and napkins for folding). In our Practical Life area, we foster care for the environment and grace and courtesy. Children will gain independence, coordination and concentration. In our Practical Life area, children learn to take care of themselves and the world around them. Maria Montessori asserted, “The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy.”
This area is designed to meet the young child’s need to express himself and communicate his feelings. Therein, through the use of various materials such as, matching games, “I spy,” classification cards, sandpaper letters, phonetic word puzzles and more, the child begins to absorb and develop language. The language area fosters the development of vocabulary, word recognition, phonetic spelling, reading and writing, further allowing him to communicate his thoughts. Montessori emphasized, “Language development. I say, development, not teaching, for the mother does not teach her child language. It develops naturally, like a spontaneous creation.”
The manipulatives allow each child to understand how: one (1) feels in respect to four (4), (spindle box), how long two (2) looks in respect to eight (8), (red and blue number rods) and how small a unit (1) is in respect to a hundred square (100), (golden bead materials-decimal system). The child begins to develop the concept of numeral to symbol, as well as order. Each child gains a visual/tactile experience of the number system in a concrete way which will precede his/her abstract understanding. Montessori affirmed, “The system in which a child is constantly moving objects with his hands and actively exercising his senses, also takes into account a child’s special aptitude for mathematics. When they leave the material, the children very easily reach the point in where they wish to write out the operation. They thus carry out an abstract mental operation and acquire a kind of natural and spontaneous inclination for mental calculations.”
The Cultural Areas
These areas encompass geography, history, science, music and the arts. As children explore each of these areas, they develop respect for the universe, our world, environment, people and their culture. In addition, children develop an understanding of diversity and freedom of expression through music and the arts. “If the idea of the universe be presented to the child in the right way, it will do more for him than just arouse his interest, for it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying...” ~Maria Montessori