How is the child’s exploration and orientation in his physical environment complimented by the Montessori materials and presentation? Dr. Maria Montessori’s goal of education is to develop a global vision within the children. Montessori calls the path to this perspective “Cosmic Education”, which develops in children a sense of gratitude for the universe and their lives within it. The concept of cosmic education presents a comprehensive whole picture of the world- a world in which the child sees himself as being a part.
Montessori had much to say about world peace. She always says about the importance of developing an understanding of the human problem and restricting human society. She firmly believed that the way to do this was through the child, and that the work of education was to establish a lasting peace. Throughout history, humans have relied on their ingenuity and adaptability for survival. Regardless of race, country ,or culture, people follow similar patterns.
After years of careful observation in children, Maria Montessori was able to identify 14 important tendencies that compel human beings to construct and refine the world around them, which she considered these as “Tendencies of man”, they are exploration, order, gregariousness, communication, abstraction, curiosity, calculation, repetition, concentration, self-control, perfection, creativity, independence and work. The Montessori prepared environment with its carefully chosen and beautifully arranged materials is build around these tendencies.
Because of this, Montessori teachers do not need to force their students to; children are naturally drawn to the materials because they appeal to their instinctive drives. Today’s child unconsciously displays the same traits that early human did, and without realizing it,we often stand in the way of their exploration and manipulation because it is an inconvenience to us. When we are able to remove any hinderences to a child’s natural tendencies, the child will flourish and likely surprise us with their pursuit of knowledge, their innovative thinking, and their limitless curiosity. Children are naturally attracted to the nature.
So a Montessori environment bust well prepared with natural things such as choice of plants and flowers with a small garden in the outdoor and with some pats such as rabbits, gold fish. These simple things attract the child to study about the plants and animals, to care for them and also to explore specimens found in our living world. The Montessori cultural materials were designed to allow the child to explore an abstract concept in the concrete form. Like the other areas of Montessori curriculum, the sequence of presentation begins with simple to complex and concrete to abstract.
The next activity is identifying animals (more specially grouped). This activity also presented in the same way as loosely group, but each group is specifically grouped, for e. g. Birds that can fly and Bird that can’t fly. This activity leads the child further into classification by encouraging groups and also make the child aware of similarities and differences between spices. The next activity in zoology is Jigsaw puzzle of an animal. The materials for this activity are Animal puzzle and identical picture card as control card.
The child is given a particular animal puzzle and she will be discussed about that animal. For e. g. Fish, at first the child will be asked “What is this animal? , What does it eat? , Where does it live? Then the teacher will point each part and asks the child, “Do you know what part is this? If the child doesn’t know she will teach the names of the parts. Then the teacher will show the child how to place the head in the picture card and she asks the child to place the rest. Then again putting back she reinforces the child by, “Would you like to put the fin first?
In this manner the directress will present the activity. So while working with this material the child will get a sensorial awareness of the different parts of animals and also provide information and increase the child’s vocabulary as well. The next activity in zoology is Terminology cards (Identifying parts of the animals). The materials for this activities are a set of control cards which the parts of the body of a particular animal is highlighted in red and the names of the parts are written on them. The next setof cards are picture cards same as control cards but unnamed and the name tags.
There are two cards non-highlighted pictures of a particular animal. This activity also has two presentation one for non-reading child and the other one for reading child. For the non-reading child the teacher will place the non-highlighted pictures of an animal, for e. g. Elephant the control card near the child and she will discuss about elephant. Then she will give any of the highlighted picture of an elephant say for e. g. the head and she will ask , “Do you know what part is this? If the child knows he will tell, if the child doesn’t know teacher will tell the name of the part, “Head”.
Like wise the child will be discuss each part of an elephant. Then the teacher will gives the picture cards to match with the control cards. For reading child she does the same way as non-reading child, she gives the name tags and have the child read and place it under the correct card. When the child finishes she gives the control cards and ask the child to checks her work. After working with this materials the child will knows the parts of the animals, his vocabulary increase, it develop awareness of similarities and differences in animals, develop child observational and classification skills.
The next activity will be Terminology cards; identifying plant parts. This activity presented in the same manner as Terminology cards; identifying animals’ body, but the pictures should be a plant picture and each part of plant is highlighted in red. This activity teach the names of the parts of the plants, it provide information about the plants, develop awareness of similarity and differences in the plants and also it develop the child’s observation and classification skills. The next activity is flower pressing.
Children love flowers, so this activity provides them to work with flowers. They are encouraged to find different types of flowers and leaves and they are showed how to press them and make lovely greeting card, or a design for them to hang in their room wall. This activity prepares the child for art and also it appreciates the design in nature. The next activity in botany is first introduction to the leaf cabinet. This cabinet is same as geometrical cabinet in sensorial area, having three leaf shape drawers and the removable insets which are in green.
In this activity children are encouraged to trace the shape of the leaves, there fore it create awareness of the variety of leaf shapes in the environment through visual and muscular knowledge of leaf shapes. So this activity increase the children observation skill, it help foster the child’s respect for the wide diversity of plant forms in the world and also it prepare the child for future works in botany and create interest in designs. The next activity which is an important activity which is presented to the children is the importance of the sun. Teacher talks about the children why sun is important?
She tells the children it gives us heat, otherwise it will be cold, it would be difficult for us human , animals and plants to survive. She explains some other important facts about sun. Teacher shows the children how sun is important using chart, the food chain how the sun helps the plants to grow, when the plants grow only animal can eat plant and they can grow, if the animals grow only we can get food from animals, so all are dependent in the single element that is sun. The teacher must be creative and innovative to present this activity. So the children will understand how the sun is important for all living creatures.
This activity prepares the child for future work in photosynthesis. The next activity which is presented to the children is growing plants. The children are shown how to grow a plant. They were asked to water the plant daily and also not to expose the pot to the sun too much which cause the plant to dry or die and also they were asked to observe the development daily. This activity teach the children to plant seeds and how to care for plants, it develop a sense of responsibility and ownership in the child and also children will have the concrete experience as to what a plant needs to grow.
The last activity presented to the children is plants life stories. The pictures of life cycle of a plant are made as frieze. The picture shows the seed, sun, water and finally a plant. This will be present in the same manner as life stories of animals. By showing each picture the teacher will describe each stage, how water and sun important for the seed to grow and finally how the plant grown fully. This activity help the children to understand the life cycle of plants, to identify the sequence of growth, and also this leads the child to take care of the plants.
The next subject which is presented to the children is Geography. Maria Montessori adds this subject in cultural subjects to launch the child’s exploration of the world’s physical environment. Montessori approach always introducing new ideas with concrete objects or pictures for the child to see, touch and manipulate. The first activity which is presented in Geography is Sandpaper globe. The globe which has the continents covered with sandpaper and the sea is painted in blue. The teacher brings the sandpaper globe to the table and shows the child how to feel it with her both hands and she ask the child to feel the same.
Then she gives the name of land and water using three period lessons by feeling with her two fingers. So while working with the sandpaper globe initially the child learn things the shape of the world is sphere and that is made up of land and water. The next activity which is presented to the child is the coloured globe. In the coloured globe the continents painted in different colours- Europe is red, Asia is yellow, Africa is green, Australasia is brown, north America is orange, South America is pink and the Antartica is white. Teacher brings the colored globe and sandpaper lobe to the table and shows the child, the coloured globe is same as sandpaper globe. Then using the coloured globe she tells the child that the land on the colored globe is divided by colors and each colour represents masses of land and they are call as continents. While working with the colored globe, the child will become aware of the relative sizes, shapes and positions of the land masses and oceans. The next activity which is presented to the child is Jigsaw map of the world. The Montessori Jigsaw map of the world made up with 2 hemispheres, each with the continents removable as whole puzzle pieces.
The colours are the same as the colored globe. It is easier for a young child to see how the world is represented on a flat map. There is a control map for the child to place the pieces on that. Directress will shows the child how to place the pieces on the control map and she invites the child to do the same. The child learns the names of the continents with the Jigsaw map of the world with the three period lessons. The next activity is continent cards. The child will further reinforce to learn the names of the continents with this activity. After learning the names of the continent the child learn about animals which live in each continent.
This activity given to the child to relate animals to the continents on which they live. After learning about each continent the child will learn how they are divided into different countries which are areas of land with a name, flag and national anthem. Then the child learns various countries with the pictures from various continents. The child also has a great natural interest in others who are different from him self. The teacher will shows the child any picture of a country flag, the important places, their foods, their festivals and etc. he learns much more about the lives of others through this presentation.
The next activity which is presented to the children is introduction of the three elements. The child will be discussed about the three elements and she tells the child theses three elements are very important and without any one of them, earth will not exist” so the child will be aware how important these three elements how to save them from pollution. So children have freedom to choose to their own inner needs. Repetition is necessary for them to master and perfect his skills and build his competency and knowledge. Through free choice and repletion children acquire their knowledge step by step depending on their own needs.
So the teacher needs to understand that children will reveal him self through work. She can help them to remove their obstacles and guide them to next step according to their own needs and desires. If the teacher helps him in this manner, it cultivate the child’s character, it help children to live in peace and harmony with all people and establish an innate awareness that they are citizens of the world and stewards of their own communities. Dr. Montessori said, “To serve the children is to feel one is serving the spirit of man, a spirit which has to free itself (Absorbent Mind, Chapter 27, p. g. 283) Bibliography
Maria Montessori, To educate the human potential, A KALAKSHETRA PRESS, 84, kalakshetra road, madrass- 600 041. PAULA POLK LILLARD, MONTESSRI TODAY, Schocken Books inc, New York. LESLEY BRITTON, MONTESSORI PLAY & LEARN, Vermilion, re print by Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW*1* V *2* SA. *Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, Henry Hold and company, LLC, 115, West 18th* street, Ney York, New York, 10011, 1995. DMT 108, Modern Montessori International LTD, 107 Bow Road, Bow London E3 2AN. Maria Montessori, the Discovery of the Child, The Random House Publishing group, New York, 1967.