These material adaptations are specifically designed for the early childhood environment as it provides children as young as 18 months with exposure and presentations to materials previously only found in Montessori preschool classrooms. Previous materials were potentially dangerous for the young child due to possibly chokable and harmful sizes, weights, or lengths. In addition, as with all commonly used Montessori sensorial materials, these items are self-correcting in nature, the items only fit in a predetermined manner. This type of material allows the child independence, and is a form of errorless teaching in that the child may not complete the item incorrectly, and therefore does not need any additional teacher input to complete the activity successfully.
DESCRIPTION AND USAGE
The common Montessori material known as “The Pink Tower” is found in almost every Montessori classroom. It is a pre-geometry task with a total of 10 blocks of varying sizes, the smallest of which is 1 cubic centimeter. These smaller blocks are extremely hazardous and chokable for children who may be oral or placing items in their mouths, something common for children under 3 years of age. As a result, we created an adaptation of this material where the (Largest) 10th, 8th, 6th, 4th, and 2nd sized blocks are used. These materials are then placed within a wooden inlay puzzle. Also created were various designs the children may create with them. This adaptation still provides the children with the spatial awareness and pre-geometry concepts of space and size while providing a safe exposure with this item. With this item, the children remove the pink tower from its puzzle form, placing it on the corresponding card, creating a design. The children are able to choose which design they would like to create. Teachers discuss using respectful actions with this tower, placing and replacing it gently. As with all Montessori materials the item is moved from left to right, reinforcing this progression necessary for pre-reading.
Similar to the Pink Tower, the Red Rods have a total of 10 rods available for the children within the traditional presentation. As a result of the large size, including the length and weight of these rods, we have created another adaptation using the shortest and lightest 5 Red Rods. As seen below, we have created a puzzle inlay in which the children take the items from an inlayed puzzle form to a free form component. This movement requires them to determine which piece fits in what area in order for the others to fit as well. As with all Montessori materials the item is moved from left to right, reinforcing this progression necessary for pre-reading. The children also learn about respect for these materials as part of the presentation, moving the rods with 2 hands, safely and steadily between the forms.
This Brown Stair adaptation also takes the smallest 5 sizes and weights of this common sensorial Montessori material. Using the smallest 5 sizes and weights of this material make them an appropriate activity for children under 3 years of age.
The children remove the smallest piece of the Brown Stair from either the interlocking puzzle or the free form puzzle, gently placing it within the opposite puzzle form. From there they remove the next smallest sized piece and continue until the largest piece is replaced. As with all Montessori materials the item is moved from left to right, reinforcing this progression necessary for pre-reading. After this is completed, they return the Brown Stair to its original form, as seen in the images below.
These knobbed cylinders are commonly found in many Montessori classrooms, however the smallest graduated sizes are chokable. Therefore these materials must be adapted for children under 3 years of age or for children who are still mouthing non-food items. These cylinders were modified to a 2-piece material, rather than the traditional 10 piece activity. This adaptation allows even the youngest of child to transfer it from a shelf to the table safely, while also reinforcing the concept of using 2 hands to transfer an item. Once this has been mastered, an additional 4-piece material has also been created as an extension activity. This extension continues to challenge the child once the 2-piece has been mastered. The children, using a 3-finger pincer grasp remove the cylinder from it’s existing location within the carrier to the table and back again.
Quality of Workmanship
These materials are beautifully hand-crafted, made by an expert woodsmith using only the finest materials. He uses the highest quality of maple, providing a visually appealing and sturdy material suitable for all ages and abilities. In addition, these forms fit traditional Montessori materials, making them usable within an existing or new Montessori classroom. There are a number of companies that sell the traditional Montessori materials including Nienhuis (http://www.nienhuis.com), and Montessori Outlet (http://montessorioutlet.com) to name a few.