From the vantage point of a doctoral student in education leadership and policy, as well as a teacher at a public Montessori, I'm learning and sharing as I go. This is my space to explore the child's interior life, our discoveries as educators, and work of learning together.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Presenting the Montessori cylinder blocks in the primary classroom (Ages 3-6)
The guide begins by
taking out the extremes of each. Every sensorial activity materializes one
quality. The teach the visual discrimination of dimension. Which block should I
use for the first presentation? Start with block 2. This is a pairing activity of fixed, complimentary pairs.
We noticed all the
steps of the invitation, mentioning the name of the material, checking that
there will be a place for the material, getting the materials, taking out the
cylinders randomly to create disorder, then putting them all over the table.
Then Uma invited the child to complete the activity. Tip: Leave the tiny one
out, because they will want to do that one.
movements to show the pincer grip and the analysis of movement to set it down
without any sound, bring precision into the work.
Once all the
cylinders are out, study the dimensions of each one, the height, breadth, and
width. Make it evident that you are looking into the sockets. Make a more
specific comparison. In one movement, position the cylinder precisely into the
socket, with no sound.
The control of error
is in the material fitting. The wrong hypothesis gives feedback regarding the
material. If the child makes the mistake of putting too small a cylinder into
too large a hole, the child is forced back to return and fix it. (Occasionally,
children will try to get rid of one that does not fit, because they are sure it
Once the child has
received the presentation on one set of cylinder blocks, then they can work
with any. This tool immediately deals with depth perception, as a later
developing skill for most children. The block is right next to the child, and
the cylinders are away from the child, to encourage her to peer into the
socket. It is better to do this on a table rather than on a rug so that they
can see the materials standing. Any objects have three dimensions and may
differ in those three dimensions.
Direct Aim: Visual
discrimination of dimension, to determine which sockets have same dimension.
Sensitive period for sensory refinement.
Preparation for writing, based on the size of the knob and how you hold the
cylinder with necessary and sufficient firmness. There is feedback regarding
the force from the weight of the cylinder, preparing the hand for the writing
instrument. It continues a refinement of voluntary movements, when the cylinder
is dropped in one intentional movement.
Begin this lesson
around three years old, but look for signs of readiness.
Begin with block
one. The differ in two dimensions, but the small piece will not fall all the
way into the hole. It is easier for a three year old to begin, with a level of
precision. Observe the mechanical control of error.
As the children get
good at it, they may begin to lose interest. The guide can introduce a game
where an indicator stick is dropped into the hole and find the cylinder that
goes there. It is also a pairing activity, but we call it reverse pairing.
Rather than matching a cylinder to a socket, we match a socket to a cylinder.