Kindergarten students use a variety of carefully selected materials to help them explore concepts and achieve abstraction. Each aspect of the curriculum utilizes manipulatives that help students progress. These materials are selected so that they follow a natural progression that aligns with benchmarks for childhood development, and serve not to distract from learning, but as an aid to understanding larger concepts.
For math work, bead chains
may be used to teach the relationships between numbers, or addition charts could be used to physically show the process of adding different numbers.
Sensorial work may involve thermic tiles
that help differentiate and identify levels of heat; or a sandpaper globe
that helps differentiate both smooth from rough, and land forms from water forms.
Students progress from manipulating wooden alphabet
pieces, to tracing letters, until they are comfortable with the more abstract act of writing and understanding their own letters.
Cultural work may be undertaken with musical instruments, world maps, or specimens of physical science.
Each classroom may have a different approach to storing or displaying the materials, and teachers may focus on different materials, but all Montessori schools utilize concrete manipulative materials, designed with educational and strict safety specifications. Students utilize "real" materials rather than playing "make-believe." When it comes to practical life lessons, students can be seen pouring water from small glass pitchers to cups, or cutting snacks with real silverware (under supervision). Years of observation has indicated that, when given the option, students prefer to engage in "real" behaviors, as opposed to their "make believe" counterparts. This allows students to engage with these concepts at a younger age, and develop a sense of responsibility for themselves and their environment, which is very beneficial to their education going forward.