In Touch With Learning

Learning what 2013 really means!

2013 has arrived!  Fittingly, we began the New Year with a review lesson on the passage of years, using two thousand chains, a ten bar and three unit beads from the golden beads to concretely show exactly how much time has passed since the advent of recorded history. This was a very visual and tactile way to impart the notion of the passage of time. We reviewed the meanings of the words “decade,” “century,” and “millennium,” and the children took turns finding out their birth years on the chain. Having the golden beads to represent each year was truly instrumental in forming a clear impression in the children’s fertile minds of the sheer vastness of history and time itself – a truly abstract concept that children are only beginning to grasp.

Measuring the length of a blue whale.

Children truly thrive when given something to touch and manipulate. In exploring animals of Antarctica, a pair of students took it upon themselves to painstakingly measure the length of a blue whale (100 feet!), and recorded their measurements on a roll of paper. We stayed outside one day after recess to involve the entire class in the grand unfurling of the blue whale measurement. The piece of paper was so long that it took everyone in class to hold it, and it extended almost the entire length of our playground! This simple interaction with a piece of paper made something extremely vast easily tangible, imaginable and unforgettable!

Using the chequerboard to master multiplication.

The manipulation of concrete materials is especially crucial in the area of mathematics. In Casa, children learn about large quantities or numbers, having physically worked with materials such as the

Using the golden beads to fully understand dynamic operations.

golden beads, stamp game and chains. At the Elementary level, we continue to bring out transitional material such as the golden beads in order to present and solidify knowledge of quantities and to clearly illustrate processes such as dynamic exchanging in subtraction. Children are introduced to advanced concepts and operations through the manipulation of such materials. Key pieces of elementary math material such as the chequerboard and the racks and tubes offer visual and tactile experiences and illustrations of the complex processes that are taking place in the multiplication and division of larger numbers, and facilitate abstraction later on.

Analyzing the parts of speech using grammar cards.

Even something as abstract as the parts of speech are given concrete clarity through manipulation. Students manipulate and use the colour-coded symbols of the grammar boxes and grammar cards to identify and classify words according to their functions. Students form phrases and sentences using cards of varying colours, and symbolize each words with a specific symbol, gaining a definite and clear understanding of how each part of speech is used in language.

The manipulation of concrete materials is an essential component of any successful Montessori classroom. We learn through our senses; they are the conduit to our intellect. What a child experiences through his or her own eyes, ears, fingers and other senses are the impressions that enable the child to understand and learn. When the time comes for the abstraction of knowledge to take place, it does so naturally, indelibly, and masterfully, having a rock-solid foundation of concrete experience.


GRADE 3 STUDENTS PREPARE FOR FEBRUARY ASSEMBLY – The third-year students have already begun preparations for the hosting of their very first assembly. February’s assembly will feature a short dramatic presentation on a particular virtue, which the students voted for and selected themselves. They are busy writing scripts, making some simple props and planning the presentation for the rest of the school. We are looking forward to having the third-year students come forward and apply their presentation skills!

JANUARY/FEBRUARY LEARNING THEMES – Please CLICK HERE for lesson themes for January and February.

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