5 AREAS OF A MONTESSORI CLASSROOM
The Tucson Jewish Montessori classroom is an environment alive with exploration and discovery. Children select from a variety of works designed to cultivate and sharpen their senses and cognitive abilities and to help them develop focus and concentration. There are five cornerstones of every Montessori classroom.
The Sensorial area of the classroom helps children become more aware of smaller details that are often overlooked. Each sensorial activity refines the senses of sight, smell, touch and hearing. It also lays the foundations for math through learning about color, weight, shape, size. 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 of sequencing.
Montessori Language activities also comprise manipulative and tactile materials which are designed to support a child in fully assimilating knowledge of our language systems. The materials help develop a child's vocabulary, their listening skills for common sounds, and ability to differentiate 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. At Tucson Jewish Montessori, Hebrew and English reading and writing skills are developed alongside one another, and the Hebrew language area has a full complement of materials to match the Montessori English sequence.
The Culture area of the classroom encompasses a variety of subjects that are supplementary to the Montessori method. Cultural subjects include: Geography, Zoology, Botany, Science, Art & Music. We at Tucson Jewish Montessori embrace these areas of study as a way of instilling the children with love of G-d. They pray, learn the Torah portion each week and receive new activities in the practical life, language and science area in preparation of each Holiday. Examples of areas that the children will study in Geography are land, air, and water, maps, continents, and people. 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 G-d’s 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.). 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. The children are exposed to Music through Simcha, Rabbi Becker’s guitar, each morning. It is with Rabbi and his guitar that the 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.
The Practical Life area is essential for a strong Montessori educational foundation, and is one of the unique features of a Montessori classroom. Practical Life activities fall into four main categories: care of self, control of movement, care of the environment, and grace and courtesy which is framed at Tucson Jewish Montessori as derech eretz (the critical Jewish value of treating others and one’s environment with respect and kindness). In this area a child learns control of movement (fine motor skills), how to concentrate, self-confidence, and a love of learning. Using familiar objects and activities that a child would naturally see in everyday life including glass dishes and real tools, children learn life skills such as pouring, tying, polishing, sewing and woodworking. Development of these skills helps to instill a sense of order, discipline and mastery that the child will carry into adulthood.
The Math area of the Montessori classroom 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 and the decimal system, memory work, concrete abstraction, arithmetic tables and geometry. Children are introduced to more complex mathematical procedures and concepts as they are individually ready. A child will often complete a mathematical activity several times before he feels ready to attempt a concept that is more difficult.