Dr. Montessori believed that all learning begins in the senses, and as a result, she developed materials that were colorful and enticing, meant to be touched and manipulated. Most were designed so that children could work with and master them on their own.
Two typical areas in our classrooms are the Sensorial and Practical Life areas. The Sensorial area contains beautiful materials that – in order to be understood and appreciated – must be explored using the five senses. You can find Sound Boxes here. There are matched pairs of wooden cylinders filled with different substances and therefore make different sounds when shaken. Children match these cylinders by shaking them until they find a pair that make the same sound. This is the beginning of discriminating sounds, which we all need to do in order to spell correctly.
In the Practical Life area are activities that help children master a variety of important skills. It is in this area, for example, that they would learn how to use a screwdriver, button a sweater or pour a cup of juice. This area of the classroom is immediately appealing to all children, as the materials look like items from home, except that here, the children CAN touch them! They think they are simply having fun using adult like materials, such a pitchers and tongs, having no idea that this fine motor work is preparing them to manipulate pencils and markers well one day. In our students following their own interests they are highly motivated to complete work and are gratified in the experience of challenging themselves with a task and staying with it until it is finished.
An array of inviting Art materials are also available to our children, as are materials for Math, Language, Science and Geography.