How to Use Our Montessori Materials
The great thing about most of our geography and science materials is that they are very open-ended and can be used in various ways for a wide range of ages.
We've been asked how to use our printable Montessori materials. And why so many of our materials don't include step-by-step instructions. We don't include them because we want the materials to be open-ended for both the teacher and the students. We don't want the presentation of the lessons to be constricted by how we think it should be presented - our version may not be appropriate for your students and their abilities.
The presentation of the materials will vary greatly depending on the students, their level of interest, previous exposure to preparatory materials, and overall abilities. The materials will not be very effective if you're locked into a presentation that isn't suitable for the children you're working with. As the Montessori guide, it's your responsibility to adjust the presentation of the materials for the children in your presence. This is why observation in the Montessori environment is so important!
We want our materials to offer a starting point for the children to learn about the topics that they're interested in. The materials are meant to be a point of departure - not a point of arrival. They're meant to offer general/basic information on the topic, provoke thoughts and questions, and inspire the children to study the topic in greater depth. The information we've provided in the materials is by no means complete. First, that would be impossible - is any research ever complete? Secondly, if we provided all the information, the children wouldn't have any reason to search for further knowledge and find the answers to their questions. Think of our materials as the 'springboard' that launches the children's desire for greater knowledge.
So now you're asking - "How do you know how to present the materials to the children?"
First, you need to familiarize yourself with the various parts included in the material (examples: 3-part cards, definition cards, information cards, sorting cards, control charts, etc.). You'll have a chance to do this while you prepare (print, laminate, trim) the materials - that's the beauty of preparing the materials yourself.
Let's use the Types of Mountains material to explore the various ways the materials can be used. This will give you some ideas for the presentation of other materials/topics. You can make the presentation as simple or as complicated as you feel the children can manage.
When presenting new materials to the children, the most important thing to remember is to "follow the child" and their interests. Allow your mind to be open to their interests and give them the creative room they desire to learn about our world. Don't offer them all the answers; encourage them to discover how they can find the answers. This will lay a strong foundation for life-long learning.