Friday, August 3, 2007

Montessori, Language, and Metal Insets

This is a standard set of Metal Insets from Nienhuis, one of the oldest (and most expensive) suppliers of Montessori equipment.

From left to right on the top: square, rectangle, trapezoid, triangle, and pentagon.

From left to right on the bottom: circle, oval, quatrefoil, ellipse, and curvilinear triangle.

Children learn to grasp the small knobs on each shape with three fingers (pointer, index, and thumb), trace the interior of the frame and around the exterior of the cutout shape.

This is preparation for writing and not an art project.

All Montessori material is supposed to fit well, feel good to the touch, be perfectly shaped, and be fairly silent. Material that does not fit this criteria should not be used.

Unless you are buying from Nienhuis and especially if you are buying Montessori materials from discounters, I suggest taking paint scrapings from the red and blue colors and testing them for lead. You can just take a bit off the back. Lead testing kits are for sale online and at a bunch of drugstores. I thought about this when I read a forum posting by a mother who was saying that some of the shapes she bought from a discounter did not fit. Badly fitting material is a sure sign that the production was cheap. Test for lead to make sure!

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