Environment, Montessori at Home
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The Five key learning areas of a Montessori classroom

During my research about Montessori, I have discovered something very fascinating: the five key learning areas. The fact that learning is divided into five subjects and that these subjects are all linked together, I thought it was genius. Then discovering all the Montessori apparatus and all what Montessori has done, I was definitely converted. In a Montessori classroom, you will normally find these five areas separated with the designated materials. At home, depending on the space you have and if you are looking to recreate a classroom, you can try to follow the learning areas or just put things together on your shelves.

We are trying to set up a classroom so we are following this as much as we can. So a Montessori classroom is divided in five areas:

  • the Sensorial area:

The Sensorial area of the classroom helps children become more aware of smaller details that are often overlooked. Each sensorial activity focuses on one important quality such as colour, weight, shape, size, texture, sound or smell. For examples, the knobbed cylinders and colour tablets.

Sensorial activities develop the senses of perception and discrimination for exploring and noticing small differences in patterns as well as fine motor function development in the hands. The sensorial area builds the child’s concentration for a wider awakening of the senses and perception for distinguishing different qualities and patterns.

It involves all the senses:

  1. Visual
  2. Tactile {touch} ,
  3. Olfactory {smell},
  4. Gustatory {taste} ,
  5. Auditory {hearing} ,
  6. Sterognostic {Tactile with movement}
  • The Practical Life area:

I think this area is the one I liked the most. The Practical Life area is essential for a strong Montessori educational foundation. In this area a child is learning control of movement (fine motor skills), concentration span, self-confidence, and a love of learning.

The activities in Practical Life are made up of familiar objects that a child would naturally see in everyday life. The activities are designed and chosen so that the children feel comfortable and will be able to master the activity.

The activities that are chosen fall into four main categories:

  • care of self,
  • control of movement,
  • care of the environment.

The overall idea of these activities is not only to help children gain self-confidence in their working abilities, but to expose the children to fundamental activities that will build their concentration span and work with activities they will encounter through adulthood.

  • The Language area:

The Language area  encourages development of early-literacy skills through the use of phonetic sounds. In the Language area children are exposed to various types of phonetic awareness activities to build a strong literary foundation.

Montessori Language activities are designed to improve a child’s vocabulary, listening skills for common sounds, and differentiating between objects and pictures. Language activities include learning the shapes and sounds of letters, practicing fine motor skills by writing, vocabulary development, matching words and pictures, reading development with word lists, practicing parts of grammar (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.), creating sentences and reading silently.

  • The Mathematics area:

The Math area encompasses the use of concrete materials for the recognition of numbers and the recognition of quantity as well. Through these activities, children learn exactly how much a symbolic number stands for (i.e. the number 5 means counting the correct number of objects to make the number 5).

Mathematics activities are divided into six categories that include:

  • counting {quantity and symbol} and the decimal system,
  • memory work,
  • concrete abstraction,
  • arithmetic tables
  • and geometry {shapes and planes}.

Children are introduced to more complex mathematical procedures and concepts as they are individually ready. Often times a child will complete a mathematical activity a few times until he feels ready to attempt a concept that is more difficult.

  • the Cultural area:

The Cultural area encompasses a variety of subjects that are supplementary to the Montessori method.

Cultural subjects include:

  • Geography,
  • Zoology,
  • Botany,
  • Science,
  • Art & Music

Studying these subjects provide children an opportunity to explore their curiosity of different and worldly ideas.

Studying Geography allows the children the opportunity to understand their own culture as well as many others. The children can relate and understand cultural diversity and ultimately come to appreciate differences between humankind.

Science in the Montessori classroom allows the children to observe and work with hands-on experiments that will cultivate a lifelong interest in nature and discovering more about our unique world.

Through the study of Botany, the children learn about plants (what they look like, how to take care of them, how they grow, etc.) so that they may appreciate nature in a more organic way.

The study of Zoology shows children animals from all around the world (where they live, their unique Eco-systems, what they eat, how they grow, etc.)

Lastly, the study of art & music allows the children a very unique opportunity to express themselves. Children have an expressive and uninhibited experience of moving, dancing and singing among their school peers. Art & Music allows children to gain a literary understanding of language and develop their cognitive, social and emotional skills in a constructive way.

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