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The world in the palm of her hand tim seldin


The World in the Palm of Her Hand
By Tim Seldin
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For parents who want some actual scripting on working with their children at home, we recommend this book. I used it on many occasions with my four granddaughters and they enjoyed the activities immensely. You do not need to be in a classroom to have these kinds of conversations about the world in which they live. The book actually contains the introductory lessons for young learners in the areas of Geography and History but our intent is show you that it is possible to have great conversations with your Montessori child in a Montessori way (incidentally, that is the name of another amazing book!).

The carefully constructed lessons your child’s guide delivers is done in what they call the Three-Part Lesson format.

The carefully constructed lessons your child’s guide delivers is done in what they call the Three-Part Lesson format. I’m going to share from the book so you can see how you can do this as well. And again, we don’t expect you to become a Montessori guide nor have the specific materials in your home; our purpose is to help you understand some ways you can engage your children and just follow the format, so that the message is delivered in a verbal way that children are used to hearing from their guide.

For the youngest children, who are just learning to master their ability to identify colors.

color tiles montessori at homeTo illustrate how you could do this at home, you could use a variety of ways to demonstrate colors if you don’t have a set of color tiles: index cards (or color swatches for paint that you can get from hardware stores) already made up with first the primary colors of red, yellow and blue. When your children have mastered the primary colors, you can move on to secondary colors: green, purple and orange. You can always use real objects you have in the house, such as fruits and veggies of different colors. Keep it simple and keep it to just a few colors.

Have all your materials set up before you ‘invite’ the child to the work. You might say, “Would you like to do some work with colors right now?” Starting your sentence with “would you” makes it clearer that this isn’t some kind of test with consequences.

First Period
Name the color, “This is red.” Show the child the object.
“This is blue.” Show the child the object.
“This is yellow.” Show the child the object.
Remember to sound really enthusiastic.

Second period
This will help the child link the language and her own experience.
Say, “Would you show me the red (object)?”
“Would you show me the yellow?”
“Would you show me the blue?”
The second period actually does involve some deep learning, so you may need to go back to saying it the first way a few times. Try to sound positive as you restate the names of the colors while showing them each respectively.

Third period
Now you get to ask the child, while pointing to one of the objects, “Which one is red?” and so forth. If the child is unable to make the connection you may need to start at the beginning.

This is just a simple example, but might be useful in understanding that each child learns these skills at their own pace. Should you have an older child, you can use this delivery for more building vocabulary. Call objects by their correct names. For instance, if you are working on naming animals, call a cat a cat and not a kitty; a dog is a dog, and not a doggie. If the child is even older and you have, for instance, a German Shepherd, refer to the breed.

In the Montessori class, lessons are initiated in three ways:

  1. The teacher senses children’s readiness and invites them to join her/him for a lesson.
  2. Children become interested spontaneously and ask for a lesson.
  3. The teacher notices when children choose materials for which they have not yet been given a lesson and comes over to present the lesson.

Presenting the Fundamental Lesson: The fundamental lesson is the basic presentation given by Montessori teachers to introduce children to a new material or activity. If it is to have the enticing quality previously described, teachers must prepare themselves carefully.

  1. Teachers must be sure that they are completely familiar with the material and its correct use in order to prevent confusing children with their own uncertainty.
  2. The lesson must be simple and concise enough that the children will be certain to understand.
  3.  The fundamental lesson usually includes only a few words of explanation followed by a demonstration of the typical cycle of work with this material.
  4. To avoid unnecessary distraction, spoken language is limited when presenting the lesson to younger children; nonverbal communication seems to lead to less confusion.
  5. Be sure that all the pieces are present for the lesson/material you are presenting. Nothing is more disruptive to the child’s interest and concentration than discovering that something is missing.
  6. Prepare your work area in advance, allowing for enough space.
  7. Remember the aims of the lesson.
  8. Make your presentation quietly dramatic, emphasizing the key points referred to in the lessons under the heading Points of Emphasis.
  9. When your lesson is finished, either put the materials away with the children’s help, or withdraw to let them work on their own, making sure that they return all the materials when they are done.