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Wheaton Montessori News

Kindling the Flame

Categories: Coffee and CommuniTEA / For Parents / Montessori At Home / Preschool

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” – Socrates


Maria Montessori’s observation and work shows us that children – infants and newborns – are not “empty.”  They come into this world carrying within them the tools they will need to discover the world.  These are tools that the intrinsically know how to use and are in use from the moment of birth.   What are these tools?  The senses.   Through these tools, we explore our world.  We make discovers, we connect experiences, we form memories.  We learn.


As teachers and parents, our job is to fan the flames that are already ignited within the child.   How can we do this?  By encouraging the use of the senses, providing opportunities for our children to explore, and providing language that helps our children name the feelings within them.


In the Montessori classroom, an enormous amount of the materials are dedicated to the sensorial experience.  Color tablets, the Pink Tower, the Sound Cylinders, and more help children explore differences and similarities.  Connections are made – within and across materials.  With the guidance and encouragement of the classroom teacher, vocabulary grows and curiosity deepens.


Irina as a young Primary student at Wheaton Montessori School, engaged with the knobbed cylinders.  This activity introduces height, diameter, and graduated sizing.


Matching color tablets in the classroom. This lesson can be made more challenging by asking students to match items within the classroom to a particular color tablet.


Children explore and experiment with the bells, matching sounds and trying to place the bells along the musical scale though auditory exploration.


John, primary student, working on the sandpaper letters. As he traces each shape, feeling the roughness of the sandpaper and the motion of his arm, he prepares his mind and body for reading and writing work.


Henry, a Primary student, matching shapes from the botany cabinet. Manipulating the leaf shape until they match the card, he focuses on details, angles, and hones his fine motor skills.