Four Vital Program Elements of a Traditional Montessori Environment + Free eBooks
Part 1 of the ELEMENTS SERIES.
1 Dedicated Subject Areas
- Practical Life (Movement, Personal Care, Environmental Care)
- Language (Yellow)
- Math (Red)
- Geometry (Blue)
- Botany (Green)
- Zoology (Red)
- Geography (Blue)
- History (Black)
- Peace or Quiet Corner
- Active Area
- Reading Corner or Library
Every traditional Montessori Classroom will have different dedicated areas depending on the level of the classroom. A 3-6 year old classroom will have areas for practical life, sensorial, math, language, art, and cultural materials. A 6-12 year old classroom will have areas for language, math, geometry, botany, zoology, geography, and history, with history including but not limited to art, music, health, astronomy, chemistry, and physical science.
The areas are often, but not always, arranged in the order of natural progression of learning. First from the main entrance is practical life, second is sensorial, third is math, and so on down the list.
The Peace Corner, or Quiet Corner, is a safe and respected place for reflection and conflict resolution. The active area can overlap with other with others, but is open enough for physical exercises, yoga movements, and games.
I believe the areas are divided into subjects as a way of further isolating the concept being worked on, which is the goal of the Montessori materials themselves. This creates a place where the learner can focus on a single goal with as little distraction as possible.
2 Workable Outdoor Garden
- Flower and Vegetable Bed
- Mud Kitchen
- Bird Feeder
- Compost Bin
The outdoor classroom was something Maria Montessori considered vital in a child’s education.
Montessori children are generally free to choose their work as their interests and needs dictate. This includes outdoor work. The garden should be workable in that there are inviting elements like a flower bed or mud kitchen, but it should also be accessible. To be freely accessible, the garden needs to be within supervising distance with a direct access door and enclosed by a wall or fence for safety.
Some of the elements crossover to indoor areas. A pet to care for can be kept indoors or out. Plants can be cultivated in an outdoor garden or indoor pot. See more » Outdoor Learning Spaces
“There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature; to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in nature.” Maria Montessori
- Heel-to-Toe Walking
- Balancing (Glass of Water, Ball on a Spoon, Keeping a Bell Quiet)
- Circle Time
The Floor Ellipse is a simple and non-invasive tool found in most traditional Montessori Classrooms. It structures exploratory movement and defines space for young learners. The ellipses can be permanent components on the floor or temporary installations created for a unique work session.
The line of the ellipse should be about as wide as a small child’s foot (2-3″W). There should be roughly 2′ of length for every child in the room capacity (35 maximum). It is also nice to have the long sides flatten to a strait line for balance and coordination correction.
4 Accessible Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment
- Low Tables and Chairs
- Low Materials and Mat Shelving (24-30″H), Sinks, Hardware, and Hooks
- Child’s Eye-Level Wall Images and Mirrors (Below 4′H)
- Child-Sized Cleaning Equipment
- Low Operable View Windows
The ultimate premise of Montessori Education is independence, confidence, and choice. In order to maximize the potential for independence, children need to be able to move freely in their environment with as little help from adults as possible. They need furniture scaled to their dimensions and mounted at their height to do this.