The general purpose of this area is to build upon the child’s innate sense of order, to promote motor coordination, concentration and independence. The activities in this area such as pouring, buttoning, and cleaning increase their independence and encourage self-confidence. At the same time, they are indirectly developing their fine motors skills with lessons such as tweezing which will help when they begin to write. They learn to care for themselves and their environment initiating a sense of responsibility, respect and love of learning.
The purpose of the activities in this area is to educate the child’s senses so that they can better understand the world around him. Using the materials in this area the child will develop various senses including visual discrimination and visual span which is important for moving on to pre-reading exercises. They use their senses to learn about specific concepts such as size and texture. Here they will discover the difference between rough and smooth which will later be used when they begin studying the sounds of the alphabet with the Sandpaper letters.
The world is grand but everything in our universe is interconnected. If we don’t take care of our world, it will not take care of us. We are all equal; we may have different customs and beliefs but inside we are all the same. The Cultural area of the classroom introduces a child to these very important ideas. It is divided into seven subjects:
Most are incorporated into our circle activities. Beginning with the whole, using a globe that has blue to represent water and grey, rough material to represent the land, Maria Montessori’s cultural materials introduce the child to the world and then to its parts. It introduces the child to concepts such as taking care of our environment and others. The Cultural area of the classroom gives the child facts to grow on.
The math materials progress from concrete to abstract. Unlike the traditional way of teaching math in which memorization was the key to doing math correctly, here math is first learned via the senses. This makes math so much more interesting and far easier to comprehend. They first learn and practice counting up to 10 and recognizing the numbers and quantities. They use number rods, sandpaper numbers, number cards, spindle box, cards and counters and more. Once they have become proficient, they are introduced to the decimal system and they end up learning to count eventually to 9,000. Using concrete materials like the golden beads, short bead stair, operation boards and more, the children learn addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Since they understand it and math is entertaining to work with, they will be confident with their math skills in the future.
The materials used in this area also progress from concrete to abstract. Writing begins with tracing the formations of letters in sand moving to chalkboards, using our metal insets and using a series of differently lined papers. Reading starts with the sandpapers letters where the children learn the sound of each letter by tracing the rough outline. Eventually they build words with our moveable alphabet, once they have repeated this exercise, they are now reading basic phonetic words and match objects then pictures with words and progressively move towards books. Once they have completed the phonetic materials, they advance to non-phonetic words and more advanced language skills such as grammar.