The area of Practical Life features activities concerned with self-care, care of others and care of the environment. From practicing how to button up a short and put on a tie, to learning to pour from a pitcher without spilling and taking care of the plants and animals in the environment, the practical life area offers endless lessons that encourage confidence and self-discipline. In addition to learning particular skills, this learning area teaches children motor skills that prepare them for pre-writing/writing activities, as well as sense of order and the importance of following a sequence of steps.
The sensorial learning area promotes the use of children’s senses in order to learn about the environment. As students sort, grade and build using the sensorial materials, they learn to differentiate between objects and to appreciate their surroundings. Many of the sensorial materials prepare the child for mathematical concepts as the lessons encourage the learning of differences in length, weight and shape.
The Montessori environment is rich in language, with expressive language being the entry point for all reading and writing related activities. The Montessori classroom values what children have to say, especially since children are constantly involved in conversation with the teacher and each other. In order to facilitate their learning process, children are first encouraged to build words using the moveable alphabet before practicing with a pencil. Similarly, phonics is introduced using sandpaper letters, a multi-sensory material that utilizes different senses – touch, hearing and sight – as a means to acquire information.
Dr. Montessori demonstrated that if children have access to mathematical equipment in their early years, they can easily and joyfully assimilate many facts and skills of arithmetic. Children in a Montessori class never sit down to memorize addition and subtraction facts; they never simply memorize multiplication tables. Rather, they learn these facts by actually performing the operations with concrete materials. Concrete objects help children develop a sense of numeracy, learn to count and make connections between number symbols and quantity. Through these hands-on lessons, students are quick to understand basic concepts including skip counting, computation, place value and fractions. Sensorial materials help develop early concepts in geometry and algebra.
This area of the classroom encompasses topics within the studies of geography (both physical and cultural), the sciences, art and music. Guided by their curiosity and innocence, children learn new vocabulary, gain a greater understanding of the needs of living creatures and explore cultures of all backgrounds. Art and music are an integral part of the Montessori environment, and are commonly used to better reflect the cultures being studied.