Layered learning is one of the most beautiful aspects of a Montessori education.
When an adult walks into a primary classroom, they will see a variety of materials that seem like puzzles or matching games. The truth is, though, that our materials are so much more than games!
Many of the materials in a primary classroom are called "sensorial" materials. Decades ago, Dr. Montessori brought our attention to the idea that children have "sensitive periods" in which a child's mind is primed for expansion and the development of intellect. For the infant to six year old, one of these sensitive periods is for order.
All human beings have a tendency to order things. It makes us feel safe and secure. It serves as a groundwork for exploration and invention. When we approach the child who is in a sensitive period for order in the correct manner, we have the opportunity to set them on a path that will benefit them and infuse them with the potential to contribute positively in the global context.
Because of Dr. Montessori, we know that children between birth and six years of age also have "absorbent minds." This basically means that they can learn and absorb information quickly. Consider foreign languages. A young child of three or four has the ability to learn multiple languages effortlessly. As we get older, foreign languages are learned through applied will or structured studying. This effortlessness of the primary aged child is not restricted to foreign language, though. All aspects of learning in our environments rest upon this consideration of the absorbent mind, and music is an important part of that environment.
The "Montessori Bells" were designed by Dr. Montessori in collaboration with her cohort Anna Maria Maccheroni, who was highly skilled in music and music theory. Along with other materials, the sensory impressions that these bells make in the child's mind become the foundation for the development of intellect, consciousness and cognitive development. It has been widely observed in Montessori classrooms that children as young as four become adept in discriminating between different pitches, matching identical pitches, recognizing different musical scales, acquiring a sense of rhythm, and reading/performing music.
The bells are integral to the primary classroom, but they are not cheap. Montessori materials must be made in an exact and careful manner as their primary purpose is the development of the intellect through the senses. This particular material is still hand made by the same family that made them for Dr. Montessori in the early twentieth century.
The craftmanship and beauty of this material coupled with its important role in the development of the child has made it a priority for Midtown Montessori this year. Our plan is to purchase this material by the end of this school year via an AMI trusted manufacturer.
As children return to school in the Fall, many schools require that clothing and belongings be labeled. One way you can help us with our fundraising for the bells is by ordering personalized labels from Mabel's Labels through our fundraising page, and by sharing that page on social media. Midtown Montessori will receive 20% of anything purchased through the site, and every dollar helps.
For more history on the inception and execution of the Montessori Bells, take a look at this interesting and detailed write up at the blog Montessori in Bloom.