Written expression

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Montessori description

Trouver des jolies cartes postales.

It is possible to work on written expression as soon as children learn how to write.

Keep in mind that you must always teach concrete before abstract. .

This morning, for example, I worked on a description with my 6 to 10 year-old students. I had them choose a picture of a “baby animal” and I asked them to describe the animal with the greatest number of details.

Montessori writing

A nice description.

You can see by the pictures how they got caught up in the game.

I will repeat this exercise because they really appreciated it!

When the child is young, you should not make unpleasant comments on the way he writes his words. The most important thing is that he feels like expressing himself through writing.

If you quarrel over each crossing-out and each spelling mistake, your child will lose confidence in him, and all spontaneity in doing the exercise.

montessori creative writingAccording to the class level of your child, you can have progressive demands. For the young child, make sure he puts a period at the end of the sentence and starts the next one with a capital letter. You can ask him to use a verb in each sentence. Then, when he grows older, ask him to watch out for his spelling, and the use of tenses. Of course, all of it must be done according to the child, avoiding any argument and in respect of his creativity.

Montessori written expressionAnother way to address a description is to ask students to work on several pictures of the same animal. Then, read out the descriptions and ask the students to show you what picture it is. If the description is done well, the picture is easily found.

Montessori concreteWhen we will have done several descriptions of the animal, I will ask my students to describe the place where it is pictured. I will consider this written expression as an introduction.

I will ask them to write several introductions to different pictures and I will keep them and make “introduction cards”.

Then, with these different introductions, I will ask my students to invent a little story about the animal and I will use it as the development.

Then, they will write their opinion about the story of the animal and that will become our  conclusion. That way, we will have created a sort of short essay.

This must be an easy exercise because we are dealing with children in primary classes.

Montessori grammar

Les symboles grammaticaux.

Thanks to these descriptions, we will work on Montessori grammar symbols and grammar rules in general: verbs, nouns, determinants and adjectives for the youngest and adverbs, pronouns, prepositions and conjunctions for the eldest. It is always easier to learn about grammar with self-written essays.

For descriptions, it is also interesting to work on images of landscape because there is a lot to look at and therefore a lot to write about. While describing, work on the notion of the adjective. It is important to tell the child that he must use a lot of adjectives to make his description precise. This is also a good way to teach them new vocabulary.

It is essential to develop the child’s creativity when he is very young and to find the best ways possible for him to want to write. This morning, I used the picture of a “baby animal” because I had noticed their interest in a book about that exact topic brought by one of the students last week. Keep in mind that you must work on what emotionally touches the child.

I often notice that good students in traditional schools are very “scholar” at the end of primary classes and do not express their creativity. Most of the time, they do not dare to. In Montessori classes, as well as in the English schooling system, written expression is very important from a very young age.

Montessori Develop written expression

Develop written expression

Have your children write as soon as they can. I remember one of my smaller students who at the age of 6 started to write poems all the time. She would write phonetically at the beginning which made it very hard to understand but I never discouraged her with spelling; it came naturally as she continued to write. She is now 18 and still writes wonderful poems!

There are other ways to develop creativity in written expression that I will tell you about in a following article.

Sylvie d’Esclaibes

Posted in Athena Montessori International School, Dyslexia, dyspraxia, different children, Gifted children - School phobia - Inadapted to the traditional system -, Lycée International Montessori, Montessori training, Pedagogical study, Primary, Teach your child | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gym class

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gym montessoriMontessori gym class Every Thursday morning, our maternal school students attend gym class with their teachers in our large dance hall.

Montessori gym classMontessori movementMontessori kindergartenTeachers create several itineraries and the children are thrilled to attend the class that has become an important moment in the week’s planning.

Montessori - sport maternelle
Our gym teachers Alexandre and Michael take care of our children in middle and high school two hours a week.

Sylvie d’Esclaibes

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Teach your child how to count: numbers from 10 to 19

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In my last article on numbers, I showed you how to teach your child how to count from 1 to 9, which helped him learn how to realize easy sums and subtractions.

I will now explain how to teach your child how to count until 19 with the Montessori approach.

A bar of 10

A bar of 10 – a ten

Before you start the lesson, you must make sure that your child knows the numbers from 1 to 9 and their associated quantity.

To do so, you can use the pearl-bars used in previous lessons.

The Montessori pearl-scale

The Montessori pearl-scale

Show your child the “10 pearl-bar” that we call “a ten” (see photo) and have him count the pearls that compose it. Explain that “10” is the same as a “ten”.

Have him build the pyramid (or scale) of pearls from 1 to 9 and start the three-step lesson used in Montessori schools.



First step:

Set the following things in front of your child on a small rug:

– A ten to which you add one pearl (a red one) and say: “this is 11” insisting on the fact that “one ten and one unit equals 11”,



– Then take one ten and associate it to the 2 pearl-bar (it is green) and say: “this is 12” insisting on the fact that “one ten and two units equals 12”.



– Then take one ten and associate it to the 3 pearl-bar and say: “this is 13” insisting on the fact that “one ten and three units equals 13”.

Second step:

Leaving the three examples in front of your child, tell him:

– Show me “twelve”, show me “eleven”, then show me “thirteen”.

If he answers correctly, mix the examples and ask the same three questions once again.

Continue this exercise a number of times.

Concrete presentation of 11 - 12 - 13

Concrete presentation of 11 – 12 – 13

You can ask him to give you thirteen, give you twelve… or tell him to use the bars and show you number 11, number 12… or take away 13, take away 11 and so on…

Continue until you are sure that he has associated the number to its quantity.

Continue until you are sure that he has associated the number to its quantity.

A confident child

A confident child

If he has difficulty handling three new notions at a time, teach him only two notions; if it is still too difficult, teach him only one notion. The most important thing is that the child progresses at his own rhythm. By putting him in difficulty or by showing him his error, you risk stopping that progression.

Never show concern or irritation if your child does not understand the first time round. This would only stress your child, would only lead to more errors, or have him lose his self-confidence.

Concrete presentation of 11 - 12 - 13

Concrete presentation of 11 – 12 – 13

Third step:

Isolate the group of numbers to show your child only one group at a time and ask the question “what is this?”. If he answers correctly, take that group away and show him another one. Ask the question “what is this?”. Do the same with the third quantity.

Conclude the lesson by putting the three quantities in front of the child. Tell him “today, we have learned 11 (show him 11), 12 (show him 12), 13 (show him 13).

The tens in abstract – The Seguin tables

The tens in abstract – The Seguin tables

You can also propose to play games: “clap your hands eleven times”, “clap your hands thirteen times”…

On another day, associate these quantities to their symbols.

First, verify that your child remembers what are “11”, “12” and “13”.

In a Montessori school, we use “the Seguin tables”. We use two boards that we set one on top of the other on a small rug on which appears number “10” nine times (see photo). With these two boards, we use numbered bars from 1 to 9. We can slide a numbered bar on the 10 and form 11, 12 and so on… until 19.

11, 12, 13 in abstract

11, 12, 13 in abstract

Show your child number “10” and start a three-step lesson.
As a first step, tell your child “this is 10”. Take the “1 pearl bar”, set it on the space dedicated to “10” and say: “10 and 1, equals to 11”, “10 and 2, equals to 12”, “10 and 3, equals to 13”.

As a second step, ask him: “show me 11”, “show me 13”, then “show me 12”. Shuffle the numbers and start again. You can also tell him to “make 12”, “make 13”, “make 11”. Repeat a number of times until you are sure that the child recognizes the right symbol.

Go on to the third step of your lesson:

11 - 12 - 13 association of concrete and abstract

11 – 12 – 13 association of concrete and abstract

Show your child a symbol and ask “what is this?”. Repeat the questions showing him other symbols.

At the end of the lesson, conclude by telling him and showing him the corresponding symbol: “today, we have learned the symbols of 11, 12 and 13”.

On another day, ask your child to associate the quantity to the corresponding symbol. Remember that you must always teach the concrete version before the abstract one. You do not need to do things for your child. He can do it on his own. He does not have to do everything with the symbols in the right order.

16 - 17 - 18 - 19 association of concrete and abstract

16 – 17 – 18 – 19 association of concrete and abstract

If you do not have access to Montessori material that is extremely expensive, you can build it at home. Build nine bars with number 10 (use cardboard or use paper and cover with plastic) and build bars with numbers from 1 to 9. Set “1” over the zero of number “10” and say “11”. Set “2” over the zero of number “10” and say “12”. Set “3” over the zero of number “10” and say “13”.

This way, you can teach your child the numbers from 11 to 19. Repeat that numbers from 11 to 19 are made of a ten and units from 1 to 9.

To help your child master the numbers in a more sensorial way, you can write the number of the tens in blue, and that of the units in green. This way, you will teach him the place of the digits in a number (unit, ten, hundred, thousand…)

Exercises with numbers

Exercises with numbers

You can then propose different exercises. For example, on the left hand side of a piece of paper, draw the tens and the units placed aside and on the right side of the paper, write the symbols and ask your child to draw a line between the symbol and its quantity (see photo).

He can also draw the tens, cut out the units and stick them under the symbol.

Do not worry if your child takes time to remember eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen and fifteen. It is quite normal for young children.

Once your child knows how to handle numbers from 11 to 19, you can go on to numbers 20 to 29. I will show you how in my next article.

Sylvie Rousseau-d’Esclaibes

Posted in Athena Montessori International School, Kindergarten, Pedagogical study, Primary, Teach your child | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The sensory material

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The sensory material

The sensory material

In a previous article on the essential material needed in a Montessori nursery class, I wrote about the importance of the material dedicated to “everyday life”. The following article is dedicated to sensory material.

The period of life from ages 2 ½ to 6 is a period of great physical change accompanied by the development of psychological and sensory functions. It is the period during which the child develops his senses.

We can therefore help the development of his senses, at that particular age, by gradually proposing a series of stimulating activities; just as we have done when he was learning how to speak.

Sensory material

Sensory material

The education of the senses helps detect and eventually correct flaws which often go unnoticed in “traditional” schools, at least until the period when they appear more obviously and are then almost impossible to correct; as a result, the child feels maladjusted to his environment (loss of hearing, near sightedness, and so on…)

Educate the senses like a pianist’s hand

Educate the senses like a pianist’s hand

Sensory education is difficult for an adult, just like it is hard for a pianist to educate his hand. It is therefore essential to educate the senses during their period of formation and then later, to be able to improve them.

Education of the senses also helps the child to be more observant of his environment. We are constantly observing our environment because we need to use its resources at most. All of the discoveries that have changed the world were developed thanks to our observation of the environment.



In like manner, art is based on the observation of reality. We must prepare the next generations to this aptitude. Thanks to observation, we discovered the waves, the radius and so on…

Sensory education must therefore proceed methodically at a very young age, and continue during the period of instruction. This way, the child will be able to grow correctly and understand his environment.

Otherwise, we risk the isolation of man from his environment. When completing education by intellectual culture, we only create philosophers who live apart form the real world.

Sensory education is also necessary as a basis to aesthetic education and moral education. By multiplying sensations, and by developing the capacity to appreciate the smallest differences between stimulations, we refine sensitivity; a sensory delicacy is needed to perceive it.

The beauty of nature

The beauty of nature

The aesthetical harmony of nature and art escapes those whose senses are not properly developed. The world is reduced and bitter. The world is full of sources of aesthetical joys in front of which they stand blind and prefer thrilling pleasures.

The habit of vice is often linked to extreme thrills; strong stimulus does not sharpen sensitivity but, on the contrary, attenuates the powers of perception of the senses by creating an addiction which provokes a need for continuous and more violent stimulation.

Develop the hand

Develop the hand

Senses are organs that help “grasp” the images of the outside world, necessary to develop intelligence, just like the hand is the organ that helps us “grasp” material things necessary to our body. But senses and the use of our hand can be refined and go.

Education needed to build intelligence must use the senses and continually try to improve them.

Montessori sensory material is made of a series of objects which have determined qualities such as color, form, dimension, sound, weight, temperature, and so on…

Sound boxes

Sound boxes

For example, a group of bells which reproduce musical tones, different colored brochures, a number of solids which share the same form in graduated dimensions, some with different geometrical forms, some with different weights…

The second box of colors

The second box of colors

Each of these groups shares the same quality, but to a different degree; it is therefore a graduation, where the difference from one object to the next varies regularly, and when possible, mathematically.

If you are preparing sensory material at home, it must always vary by just one quality.

For example, if you want to prepare objects to teach color, the objects must be made with the same substance (form and dimension) and differ only as far as color is concerned.

Montessori bells

Montessori bells

If you are preparing objects to observe the tones of the musical scale, you will need identical objects in appearance, like for example the bells that we use in a Montessori class. They have the same form and the same dimension and can be set on an identical base; but when hit by a little hammer, they give different sounds; that is the only perceptible difference between them.

Touch tablets

Touch tablets

From a psychological point of view, it has been shown that to better reveal the particular quality, it is necessary to isolate the senses as much as possible: a tactile impression is clearer if it involves an object that does not conduct heat, so that it does not also convey impressions of temperature; this impression will be even stronger if the subject is in a dark and silent place where visual and hearing impulsions do not interfere with tactile impressions.

Cylinders with buttons

Cylinders with buttons

The material used must always permit the child to correct himself. This self-correction allows the child to use reason while doing the exercises; his critical senses and his attention are always drawn to exactitude, with a refinement which allows him to distinguish the smallest differences; the child’s conscience is prepared to correct its errors, even when they are not material errors.

The material must always look nice. The objects proposed must always be attractive to the child. Attention must be given to color, sparkle, harmony of forms, and this not only in the choice of sensory material and in everything that surrounds the child.

Red cylinders

Red cylinders

This material must motivate the child to work on his own. The interest of the child must be maintained thanks to the quality of the objects but also their possible use.

A unique material used in Montessori classes

A unique material used in Montessori classes

Once more, this sensory material is found in Montessori classes only and shows the importance of sending your children to these schools.

Sylvie d’Esclaibes

Posted in Athena Montessori International School, Dyslexia, dyspraxia, different children, Gifted children - School phobia - Inadapted to the traditional system -, Kindergarten, Lycée International Montessori, Maria Montessori, Pedagogical study, Teach your child | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Material needed in a nursery class of a Montessori school

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A nursery class at the Athena school

A nursery class at the Athena school

This article presents the material needed to obtain the required environment in a Montessori class dedicated to children aged 2 ½ to 6 years old.

Material needed for reading

Material needed for reading

The class must be separated in a number of very distinct areas. These areas must be dedicated the presentation of the material to the child. The child will be able to use it to learn different pedagogical topics. You will therefore find:

  •  Material dedicated to practical life
  • Sensory material
  • Material used to teach math
  • Material used to teach language
  • Material used to teach history/geography/science
  • A reading corner
  • A table dedicated to nature
  • A table dedicated to art
  • An area dedicated to painting (with an easel, a protected or tiled floor, an easy access to water)
  • Ideally, an area dedicated to a domestic pet (Mind the allergies!)
  • A circle must be drawn on the floor to show how the areas can interact.
Practical life material
Practical life material
The material used to teach geography

The material used to teach geography

The material must be presented by topic on easy to reach shelves. The material must be stored from simple to hard to handle and be placed from left to right, from top to bottom so that the child understands the progression of the material and its essential sequence.

Material used for language must be placed in a quiet area so that the child can concentrate on the sound of the letters.

Sensorial material

Sensorial material

The material must always be complete, in an excellent state and extremely clean. If the material is incomplete, the child might lose control or feel disturbed, unable to build himself and develop self-confidence in a harmonious environment. Order is essential to give the child a sense of security in the class.

Once the organization of the class is completed, it must never be changed because the child would lose his marks.

Material used for math

Material used for math

In future articles, I will examine the different categories of material that a child aged 2 ½ to 6 years old must find in his class to satisfy his thirst for learning and working. The manipulation of the displayed material insures the child’s physical and intellectual development.

Sylvie d’Esclaibes

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Best Wishes

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How pouring liquids can help your child in his preparation to writing

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Montessori Shelves with exercise platters

Shelves with exercise platters

You can organize these exercises for your child between the ages of 18 months and 4 – 5 years old. The younger the child, the simplest the material must be. The child must be able to handle it easily. It must be light, stable, and it must not contain too much liquid so that your child can finish the exercise.

These exercises are to be presented on a tray that the child can handle. There is a hierarchy in the exercises. The best is to prepare several small platters, to display them on a shelf at child’s reach. Display them from easy to hard. Do not forget to use nice looking material that must be clean and attractive to the child.

Montessori material

Always use nice looking material

Do not forget that you must never put your child in difficulty. He must be able to do what you are suggesting. You must introduce only one difficulty at a time. The material must be nice, clean and make a complete set. You must try it before you ask your child to use it so that you can judge if he will be capable of using it.

Always present things from left to right

When presenting the exercise, do not talk too much. Your child must concentrate on the presentation and not the words that you are pronouncing which might distract him.

The presentation must always be from left to right and the material put back in its initial place so that the exercise can be redone immediately.

All these exercises must be an occasion to introduce new vocabulary and they must be varied often so that the child never gets bored.

Teach all the vocabulary

These exercises help develop the child’s concentration, his motor ability, his autonomy, his persistence, his coordination and order. They prepare your child to pour liquids correctly

In an indirect way, they are a preparation to writing.

Pour beans

Pour beans

The material must be made of:

– a platter, 2 equal size pitchers, and large size beans like beans or chick-peas.

Then, you can increase the difficulty by varying the beans. Use smaller beans like rice, lentils, semolina, or sand.

Pour smaller beans

You can also introduce new material like a funnel or a sieve.

The presentation must be done in the following way:

  • 1. Take the platter with two hands and slowly take it to the table.
  • 2. Set it on the table slowly and sit down.
  • 3. Show the pitcher containing the beans and show the spout from which the beans are going to fall out (this pitcher must be on the left side).
  • 4. Place the empty pitcher at the center of the table.
  • 5. With the thumb, the forefinger and the middle finger, (“the pliers”) take the pitcher containing the beans.

    Vary the containers

  • 6. Hold it until the spout is immediately over the empty pitcher without touching it (using the forefinger of the left hand to hold it).
  • 7. Lift the pitcher until the beans fall slowly into the center of the empty pitcher.
  • 8. When the last bean has fallen, set the pitcher slowly back on the platter.
  • 9. Pick up the beans that might have fallen on the platter, on the table or on the ground (this is the error control).
  • 10. Turn the platter so that the full pitcher is on the left.
  • 11. Repeat the exercise by pouring from pitcher to another.
  • 12. Put the two pitchers back on the platter in their place and verify that no bean is missing.
  • 13. Ask your child if he wants to do the exercise.
Pouring water

Once your child masters these exercises, you can introduce exercises that involve the pouring of water. Prepare a small sponge in a dish so that the child can clean the water that might have fallen on the tray, or the drops that might fall out of the pitcher’s spout.


Pouring water with a funnel

With these types of exercises (pouring water), you will prepare your child to hand writing, thanks to the muscular control and the coordination between the eye and the hand. You will also introduce him to the notions of weight and volume.

You will also be able to introduce variants:

1. Pour liquid from one pitcher to several graduated glasses where you have set a piece of scotch tape at the same height.

Pouring water into three little glasses.

You will make sure that you put the exact quantity of liquid into the pitcher to fill the three glasses properly. You can also color the water. With this exercise, you will prepare your child to the notion of division (divide a whole into several equal parts). You can also use a funnel.

  1. Use a bottle with a small opening
  2. Use colored waters with natural dyes and show your child what colors you obtain when mixing them (green is made with blue and yellow for example)
  3. Use a small dropper.

Pouring beans with a spoon

You can also prepare exercises involving pouring with a spoon.

The material will be made up of a platter, two small jars, a spoon, and some beans to start off with.

The presentation must be done in the following way:

  • 1. Take the platter with two jars, one filled with beans and the spoon.
  • 2. Place the platter at the center of the table.
  • 3. Take the spoon in your right hand and pour the beans into the other jar.
  • 4. When the first jar is empty, do the exercise the other way round.
  • 5. Ask the child if he wants to do the exercise.

Pouring small beans with a spoon

Let the child do the exercise on his own. He will notice his error if some beans fall on the table or on the ground or if there are left over beans in one of the jars.

Once more, the goals are: order, coordination, concentration, autonomy, and independence.

The child will learn concretely how to correctly hold a spoon. He will experience the sequence from left to right which is the sense used when writing. He will control his gesture, which is also a good apprehension of writing.

Adding difficulties

You will also be able to prepare variants to these exercises: use different types of spoons and beans, use marked cups, use a funnel. You can also have him sort out things.

Sort out and pour

 Children love these exercises. You know that because they play these games in their bath or during the summer on the beach when they repeatedly empty their buckets on the sand.


To prepare them for writing, these exercises are much more fun than drawing endless sticks or curls on paper… They are also great help to children who have problems with hand dexterity.

Next time, we will prepare exercises for the cure of the environment.

Sylvie Rousseau-d’Esclaibes.

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