Areas of the Classroom
A Montessori classroom is comprised of six main areas.
Practical Life refers to basic life skills - dressing oneself, eating, caring for ones environment - among others. The activities in this section of the classroom develop those skills and foster a sense of independence in the student. Beyond that, they develop gross and fine motor control, as well as necessary learning skills like focusing and following multi-step directions. This area is the foundation of a Montessori classroom.
The Sensorial area is about developing the five senses of the child. Dr. Montessori believed that because all learning takes place through the senses, refining those senses is critical for higher-level neural development. The materials she designed for this area of the classroom develop skills like critical thinking, concentration, and sequencing. These skills form the foundation for more complex education - reading, writing, and math.
In the Montessori method, writing precedes reading, and fine motor control precedes writing. To that end, Dr. Montessori used the Moveable Alphabet (which she termed "writing without writing") in conjunction with teaching children to hold writing implements. Combined, these approaches develop writing skills, which lead to the development of reading skills.
Mathematics, like all areas of Montessori education, is a process of building upon foundations. Mathematical concepts are presented with the help of concrete materials. Children work with visual and tactile activities, developing an understanding of quantities and values before moving on to the more abstract idea of numbers.
Montessori education goes beyond individual skills and aims to teach students to function in a diverse world. To that end, students are introduced to the various cultures of the world through stories, songs, food, and activities like plays and presentations. They are also introduced to the study of the world around them - astronomy, botany, zoology, history, and geography are all part of the Cultural area.
Art in a Montessori classroom is about expression and mechanical development. The sensory stimuli present in the creation of art - handling clay, coloring with crayons/markers/colored pencils, cutting with scissors - develop fine motor skills. As these skills support more complex creations, students develop a personal mode of expression through art.