I will start by saying that I am NOT an expert in the Montessori teaching methods, and I do not intend to use them exclusively. Our educational philosophy is open to all kinds of methods and teaching materials… I just happen to love this one!
The idea behind the “shapes” is that very young children should learn their hand-eye coordination and muscle control with something other than letters. Since we tend to have a very difficult time “unlearning” bad handwriting, it makes sense to me for kids to practice hand control on something that won’t need to be unlearned.
Please visit this website to learn more. 🙂
I used mat board (from the framing department) to make the shapes and one self-adhesive foam sheet to make the “frame”. All boards and papers are 6 1/2 inches square, so the frame is 6 1/2 inches on the inside to hold them in place.
To make the frame, I cut a piece of mat board and the self-adhesive foam to 8 inches by 8 inches. Then, I cut a 6 1/2 inch square from the center of the foam and removed the backing. After carefully placing the foam on the mat board, I used an x-acto to trim the outer edges where they needed it.
To make the shapes, I cut out three 6 1/2 inch squares and centered a shape on each one. Using an X-acto, I cut out each shape.
To use, the child chooses a piece of paper and a contrasting colored pencil. Then she puts the paper in the frame and she chooses a shape, placing it on top of the paper. She traces the shape.
She then removes the shape stencil and chooses another colored pencil. Carefully and slowly, she fills in the shape she traced with the pencil, using smooth lines from one side to the other.
Pumpkin LOVES “doing shapes” and she is improving so quickly!
Once the thrill has worn off, I’ll teach her how to layer the shapes (a triangle on a circle) and color the resulting smaller shapes different colors. I already know that she will enjoy that, too, so I’m not worried at all about her losing interest before has developed the muscle control needed to properly form letters. I will also be adding more shapes at some point to keep things interesting!
Note: Montessori method teaches that it is vitally important that you never allow the child to hold the pencil incorrectly. That is just another bad habit to break, so gently reposition the pencil whenever necessary. 🙂