Originally I was going to do a series on how I developed a “curriculum” of math and reading/writing from the Montessori method. The thing is, it’s complicated. Every lesson in Montessori builds on one before it, often preparing the student for multiple disciplines. I’m also starting a year “behind” in the Montessori 3-6 years cycle with one of my children while with the other I’m a year “ahead.” The more I wrote the more I needed to explain and caveat, so I’ve scrapped that series for now. Instead, I’m going to give you a brief summary of how I am incorporating Montessori with The Gentle and Classical Preschool (TGCP) on a unit by unit basis.
But first, a few notes. TGCP comes in two levels. Level 1 is for 2-4 years. Level 2 is for 4-6 years. Prima is somewhere in between the two. Little Man is definitely only ready for Level 1, and just barely.
I’m doing mainly Level 1, but pulling a few things from Level 2 for Prima.
I am adding a few things from Gentle & Classical Nature (GCN), mainly the nature poem and the GCN term 1 or term 2 reading. I choose which term reading to do based on what is available to me and in my budget. There’s a good example in this week’s unit, which I’ll explain in a minute.
I am omitting the letter of the unit – this is where the Montessori sequence for reading/writing comes in.
I am adding the Montessori math sequence to the Level 1 math requirements. It hasn’t been in conflict yet. Prima is not ready for the Level 2 math requirements, one reason I’m combining the Levels.
On to the nitty-gritty.
- Number Rods
- Spindle Box
- Cards & Counters
- Montessori Tens and Teens Boards
I’m estimating this will take us at least until December, maybe longer. I based the sequence off of Maria Montessori’s book, The Discovery of the Child (which is an updated version of The Montessori Method.) In this book she discusses how she developed her method for the ages of 3-6 years old, and in laying out how she taught mathematics, she says that the first three items on the list were all that she “deems necessary….[for] laying the foundation of counting and arithmetic operations.”
For this unit, that means that I am introducing the number rods (again.) I introduced them last week but did not like the way the lesson was laid out – apparently neither did Prima. She got confused. I believe I was following the first lesson described in in either David Gettman’s Basic Montessori, or in Elizabeth Hainstock’s Teaching Montessori in the home Home: the Pre-school Years. This week I modified it a bit and it is going beautifully. You can find similar lessons for free at Montessori Primary Guide online.
I purchased this set of smaller number rods from Amazon, as the size doesn’t seem to matter nearly as much as the visual discrimination and the ability to hold and see the difference in quantity (rather than the precise sizes used by Maria Montessori and Montessori schools.) The size she used did have a purpose, but it isn’t critical to learning to count, if you catch my drift. Anyway, you can also use printable number rods, which can be found at Montessori Mom. Prima liked these just as much as the wooden ones, but I find the wooden ones easier for little hands to use.
The cards and counters will be some printed number cards (I have these) and various types of counters like acorns, buttons, pennies, etc. Maria Montessori cut the numbers out of a calendar and used those at first!
Maria Montessori describes making the Tens and Teens boards herself out of strips of cardboard, and I intend to do the same. You can printable versions from Research Mom.
I initially created this sequence, again based on Maria Montessori’s book.
- Geometric insets
- Sandpaper letters
- Moveable alphabet
- Phonetic Object Box
However, it quickly became apparent that since Prima had not worked with the tactile boards or the geometric cabinet, she was not quite ready for the first lesson, the geometric insets. Little Man is definitely not ready. I’m backing us up and adding in a little more of phonetic work as well. This is our new sequence.
- Scissors (snipping and cutting various lines) in tandem with
- Geometric cabinet and
- Sound game
After mastering those, moving on to:
- Geometric insets
- Matching games (just pictures that are the same, or matching pictures with physical objects)
Preparation for reading begins with sandpaper letters and introduction of their sounds, no their names. She should spontaneously learn to read as she moves through this next sequence.
- Sandpaper letters
- (Maybe) Sand tray
- Moveable alphabet
- Phonetic object box
This is a lot of work for her, so I don’t know if she will fly through it by Christmas, or if we will be waiting for spring to begin other work such as
- Phonetic reading cards
- Phonetic Booklets
- Rhyming Words
And then on to phonograms and so forth.
Materials for these sequences:
- Scissors directions here, or in The Montessori Toddler
- Geometric Cabinet – I am going to DIY because the actual is very, very expensive. I am using 5mm EVA Foam, wooden beads, and these cards from Montessori Mom for templates and the needed cards for lessons. They are free.
- Sound game – following directions from Muriel Dwyer’s booklet or Keys of the World (KOTW) albums. Similar directions here.
- Geometric insets – purchased this plastic set from Amazon. They come in a cardboard box, which I keep in a plastic bin under my desk along with other things we are using.
- Matching games – many different pictures can be used. For example, old calendar pages with the preview pictures cut off of the back, pictures cut from magazines, pictures similar to toys or tools around the house, many free or inexpensive printables on the internet.
- Sandpaper letters – I ordered these. I thought about buying the cards instead, but the original materials have consistent coloring of the consonants being one color and the vowels another. You would need upper and lower case of either one (cards or letters) eventually.
- Sand tray – a tray, some sand or cornmeal or even rice
- Moveable alphabet – Montessori made hers from either cardboard or leather at first (stiff leather). In the interest of time, I will just purchase this set. The Hainstock book has a template in the back for making your own, or you can buy printable ones and laminate them. I decided to not do printables because I want the kids to be able to feel the outline of the letters, just like they did with the geometric cabinet and geometric insets.
- Phonetic object box – this will just be items from around the house. I will follow instructions from the Dwyer booklet or KOTW albums. Similar instructions are here. (scroll down to the “Object Boxes” section.)
If you have any questions about this sequence/materials/etc., send me a DM on Instagram or email me. If I don’t have the answer, I’ll point you to someone who does.