25 Montessori Materials / Activities
Montessori Materials are educational tools that were developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. The materials or manipulatives are designed to be used in a self-directed way by children, allowing them to learn through tactile exploration and discovery. The materials are designed to be simple and beautiful, with a focus on sensory experiences. They are often made of natural materials such as wood, metal, or fabric, and are specifically designed to meet the needs of different stages of a child’s development.
The materials are intended to encourage children to learn through self-motivated exploration and discovery, once presented or given a lesson from the Teacher. They play an integral role in the Montessori method of education and constitute a significant component of the Montessori curriculum. Montessori materials embody a departure from traditional education and are one of many differences between Montessori and traditional education, which you can read about in our FAQ page. As such, students may find it difficult to adapt to this style of learning with the materials as they grow older.
In this page, to celebrate CMS’ twenty-fifth year, we explore and share information about our twenty-five favourite Montessori materials across all subject areas. We hope the images and videos will showing how children interact with these materials, and how Montessori materials enable a unique learning experience.
Sensorial / Practical Life Montessori Materials
- Red Rods – help students to understand length, while other dimensions such as height, width and colour remain static. There are 10 wooden rods that measure in lengths from 10cms to 100cms.
- The Pink Tower – the Pink tower is one of the most well-known Montessori Materials. The large pink structure is aesthetically striking and helps the student to understand concepts of three-dimensional size from small to large, preparing them for mathematical concepts.
- Cylinder Blocks – teaches children to visually differentiate according to different perspectives of size; they have a smooth, satin, finish on the rounded edges which help train fingers to hold a pencil.
- Sound Boxes – helps student to develop auditory discrimination over a series of sounds
- Practical life materials – there are several practical life materials included in four sub strands (self care, care of the environment, movement, and grace and courtesy), including the Button and Zipper Frame (seen below) which help children develop independence in daily life activities. Materials are integrated into skills such as dressing, personal hygiene, preparing food, i.e. pouring, cutting, presenting a meal, as well as cleaning up after use, returning items to where they belong and organising.
Items displayed include: The Red Rods, The Pink Tower, Cylinder Blocks, Washing-up, Button and Zipper Frame
Practical Life Materials
Children naturally strive towards independence and a big part of Montessori education is helping them to become as independent as possible
Practical Life Materials
The Button and Zipper frame helps children to become more independent
Mathematics Montessori Materials
Many materials integrate between subjects. For example, some of the above sensorial materials lend themselves to mathematics. Other mathematical manipulatives include:
- Golden Beads – the beads acquaint the student with the decimal system offering concrete depiction of the hierarchical order of numbers.
- The Bead Chains – These are a preparation for multiplication. Numbers from 1-9 have a chain, supporting multiples.
- Checkerboard – This is used for both long and short multiplication aligning with the decimal system hierarchies.
- Rack & Tubes – Developed from Dr. Montessori’s background as a physician, it is sometimes known as ‘Test Tube Division’ and helps to teach long-division.
- Binomial Cube – This is a concrete representation of the algebraic equation (a+b)3 and the factors of the equation are represented in cubes and prisms. On first experiencing this material, many parents often say ‘if only they could have learned algebra like this!’
The materials are used to teach one concept directly. Students focus deeply on the concept which they are learning. Indirectly, the brain is also stimulated sensorially, and therefore Montessori materials engage more than one part of the brain, which helps students to understand more easily and retain information.
Rack & Tubes
Dr. Montessori developed this material from her background as a doctor
The Binomial Cube
Learning Maths the Montessori way
Many parents express a sense of loss, saying they wished they had learned mathematics this way
English and Language Montessori Materials
Montessori Materials are also used readily to support language and the Humanities. Below we see five more Montessori materials that are simply designed but powerful in their outcomes.
- Sandpaper Letters – Helping to identify direction of writing in a very exact manner.
- The Metal Insets – This material helps to strengthen pincer-grip and movement of wrist to refine writing and it also supports the lightness of touch and evenness of pressure in drawing.
- The Farm – This material introduces nouns, articles, adjectives and verbs for later grammar instruction.
- Sentence Analysis Charts – This material introduces parts of a sentence, including subject, predicate and direct object. The circles and arrows are objects that guide sentence analysis.
- Grammar Boxes – These activities aid the student in analysing grammar and development of interpretive reading.
How to make grammar fun!
Normally considered tedious, grammar is taught with a difference using Montessori materials
Hover Box Element
Each symbol represents a different grammatical element
Geography/History/Science Montessori Materials
Below we can see a number of materials that were designed to teach these subjects.
- Land and Water forms – These forms are specifically designed to teach children about geography, topography, and earth science through working with the senses.
- Puzzle Maps – Puzzle Maps are used in teaching geography, world cultures, and history. They show the shape and size of different countries and continents, as well as their location in relation to other countries and regions. The Puzzle Maps also help children develop their visual discrimination skills, hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness as well as names of countries, borders, capitals, etc.
- Montessori Timelines – These are used to learn about the order and sequence of historical events, as well as to develop understanding of changes through time. The timelines help students to visualize the relationships between different events and historical periods, and to understand how human beings fit into the larger picture of history.
- Montessori Stories – These are a series of five epic tales that encourage children to reflect and understand about the interconnectedness of all living things and the universe, and support an integrated curriculum.
- The Atom Puzzle – This allows students to see the structure of the atom in a hands-on way, and to understand how the electrons, protons, and neutrons are arranged within various atoms.
The Great Stories
Five Great Montessori Stories were created by Dr. Montessori to form the basis of the Montessori curriculum and the starting point of all classroom learning
The Atom Puzzle
Bringing hands-on sense to scientific concepts
Montessori cultural materials, such as the geography and history materials, can also be used to teach children about the arts of different cultures. For example, children can learn about the music, dance, food and visual art and then create their own art works relating to these cultures. Children can explore different ways of moving their bodies and express themselves through dance and movement, augmenting their creativity, fine motor skills, and appreciation for the arts. By providing a hands-on, experiential learning environment, Montessori classrooms can help children develop a lifelong love of the Arts.
- 3 Part Cards – Montessori 3-part cards can be used to teach children about a wide range of topics, from animals and plants to geography and culture and the Arts. By using the 3-part cards, children can learn about the world around them in a hands-on and engaging way, using a label, an image, and text related to the subject.
- Study of Artists – As children progress in their study of the Arts, they have the option to focus on the work of specific artists in more depth. They may learn about the lives and work of individual artists, and may be encouraged to analyse and interpret their work. At CMS students are given opportunities to create artwork inspired by the work of the artists they are studying. Below we see the students experiencing work inspired by Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Obliteration Room’ from our 3A students.
- Arts Gala – To experience a live Arts event, including the creation of art pieces, organising the event, ticketing and invitations, our Cycle 3 students host an Arts Gala each year inviting their parents and members of the community to attend.
- Role Plays – In Montessori, role plays have a specific purpose for young children in learning the rules of a classroom (grace and courtesy). Children are given opportunities to engage in imaginative play and to act out different roles and scenarios. This type of play helps children to develop important social and emotional skills, such as empathy, cooperation, and communication. (Convict role play seen below).
- Media Arts – Experimentation with modern media is also encouraged at CMS and students have an opportunity to create their own films, photographs, and digital media projects. They may be given opportunities to work with different types of equipment and software, and may be encouraged to explore different styles and approaches to media art. Below we can see a video displaying Claymation from two of our Cycle 3 students.
The Arts - Convict Role Play
Teaching the Arts in Montessori emphasises hands-on experiential learning
Most Montessori materials are purchased from exclusive distributors, however, often Teachers will create their own Montessori materials, following distinct Montessori principles, to suit the subject or specific aspects of the subject. To find out more, please register for our next Open Day – details on our Home Page.