All posts by MontessoriElementary

Starting August 2017

Montessori Elementary Education is expanding in Aruba!

The Montessori Elementary Schoolhouse will be launched in August 2017!

The bilingual Montessori school will begin working with children from 6-9 years of age, (Grade 1-4), with two adults – 1 AMI certified English-speaking Montessori Elementary teacher and 1 Dutch-speaking tutor and practical life Aide!

The school will be located in Palm Beach and school hours will be from 8am – 2:30 pm.

Contact Carol for an appointment for more information!


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Square of Pythagoras – Mathematics


The Square of Pythagoras or the Decanomial Square is a first sensorial representation of the times tables. The colours correspond to the colours of the bead material and they represent 1×1 all the way up to 10×10. By carrying out this exercise, the children become familiar with algebraic patterns. The study of patterns in numbers is the key to algebraic thinking.


Later the children make the same Square of Pythagoras or the Decanomial Square with the beads. Even later still, this work is extended to replacing the numbers with the symbols A – J.  In this last stage, the white square (the 7×7 beadsbecomes G2.


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Movable Alphabet – Language


The Movable Alphabet is a beautiful wooden material, with all the letters of the alphabet in cursive script.  With this material, the children embark on a great journey of Word Study which begins straight away in the beginning of lower elementary.

Word study  helps to build vocabulary and aid spelling as it reinforces regularities and it highlights exceptions. Word study strengthens reading comprehension because the children learn the meanings of roots and affixes and they discover that knowing some roots and affixes already helps them to decode new words!

The children work with affixes:

P1080852suffixes, P1080854 and prefixes;


compound words;

 P1080855 and word families.

From this work, the root of words becomes very easily visible. Working with words in this way is fun and allows for a systematic build-up of vocabulary. All the while, the children are becoming accustomed to the formation of the letters in cursive script, and they are ‘collecting words’ and practicing spelling.

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Tone Bars – Music

Music, which is usually an ‘extra-curricular’ subject in other schools, is fully integrated into the Montessori classroom. A child may choose to work with the tone bars in music, or the notation boards (another post later) while other children work with math, geography, history, or any other materials.  Music is very close to my heart, as I was a music teacher for many years (violin, piano and flute), but what I am really excited about is how music becomes accessible to all children in the Montessori classroom, not just the lucky few.


As with all other areas of the curriculum, first the foundation is presented to the children upon which they can build, and the tone bars are used for this purpose – to build a foundation in the language of music. Although the set up of the tone bars replicates a piano keyboard, the difference between the tone bars and  a regular piano is that each ‘bar’ is movable!


This allows us to pull out the bars needed to make a major or minor scale, starting on any note. This also allows us to pull out the bars of only one key, giving us only the tone bars needed for that  great song we want to play or compose!

In this picture, the major scale of C is pulled out. This is the first set that the child works with – all white notes, no sharps or flats – and from here we build in complexity, as we do in all areas of the curriculum.

Have a listen to how the tone bars of the Montessori Elementary Schoolhouse sound! 

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Pin Maps – Geography


This is what learning the countries, capitals and national flags of the countries of the world looks like if you attend the Montessori Elementary Schoolhouse. For each of the five continents there is a set of 4 maps, like this set of North America.

A trademark of Montessori education is the feature of the ‘built-in control of error’ in the materials. This means that the materials allow the child to correct his/her own work, without the intervention of an adult. Making mistakes is a natural part of learning, and it is essential to learning, and this self-correction helps the child to develop confidence.

For each continent, there is one working map and three control maps. When learning the names and position of the countries of the continent, the child works with the green country name flags, the pin flags are placed into the tiny holes of their corresponding country, and when the work is completed the child can check the work with the country name control mapP1080843.


When learning the names of the capital cities, the child works with the red flags on the working map and the cities control map. With the flag control map, the child can also check whether the flags are matched with their respective countries!



The work is in the child’s hands and the correction too. This is the way the information can be internalized and a love for the subject matter developed.

This work follows on perfectly from the work with the puzzle maps from the Montessori 3-6 classroom. In fact, the knobs on the puzzle maps are placed in the exact position of the capital cities of each country! Everything has a purpose and everything is linked!

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Wooden Hierarchical Material

Not only is this one of my personal favourite materials in lower elementary, it is also a ‘Key Lesson’  which is presented to the 6 year olds in the first week of school, representing quantities of 1 – 1,000,000. It gives the children the ‘Key’  to the entire decimal system – the foundation for the rest of their work in mathematics and geometry over 6 years .  After this lesson, the foundation is laid for work in all four operations (+ – x /) with the large bead frame (next post).


Why is it one of my favourite materials?

    • It is beautiful and precise. It appeals to the children; they want to work with it. It is shiny, and goes from teeny tiny and to very, very large, in precise proportions.
    • The million cube, which is exactly 1,000,000 times bigger than the unit cube, appeals to the children; the children explore the interrelationships between the quantities and numbers.
    • It is simple but at the same time it contains a wealth of information – a 3D mathematical experience with language.
    • And we all know that 6 year olds LOVE big numbers!P1080830


This material shows three families of numbers:

  • the simple family – the family of units (1 -green), tens (10 – blue) and hundreds (100 – red).
  • the family of thousands – units of thousand (1,000 – green), tens (10,000 – blue) of thousands and hundreds of thousands (100,000 – red).
  • the family of millions – units of millions (1,000,000 – green).P1080834

Looking at it another way:

  • the hierarchy of units (1; 1,000; 1,000,000 – all green)
  • the hierarchy of tens (10; 10,000 – both blue)
  • the hierarchy of hundreds (100, 100,000 – both red)P1080838P1080836


Here is a video of the material in action:

Wooden Hierarchical Material

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Montessori Elementary Materials are in Aruba!

DSC_0978DSC_0979  DSC_0981



The Montessori Materials have arrived in Aruba! All 3 cubic metres of them! Of course the first box to be opened to be inspected is the one all the way from Nienhuis in the Netherlands – Dutch Grammar Materials!

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Montessori Materials on their way to Aruba!

The big step has been taken and now we have to sit back (not likely) checkerboard-1and await with much excitement the arrival of the beautiful Montessori elementary materials which will make their way from the corners of the USA all the way to Aruba.

division board

Shiny new materials: language, maths, geography, history, science, art, music… they are all in there! Take a look at the Materials Blog for ideas of what will be ready for presentations for interested parents in the beginning of 2014! The Keys to the Universe are on their way!

bead frameOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Microscope

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Record Keeping with MRX

The Montessori Elementary Schoolhouse in Aruba is getting its record-keeping system up and running. MRX is a record system built especially with Montessori schools in mind and enables a teacher and parents to track the progress of the children in the curriculum and, as an added bonus, this progress through the Montessori curriculum is linked with the goals set by the school. In the case of the Montessori Elementary Schoolhouse, this means that the progress through the Montessori lessons is linked with the US Common Core standards, as well as the Dutch Core Objectives! OF course it also has other features accessible to staff and parents alike, such as the academic calendar, class lists, birthday lists, to name but a few.

MRX Record Keeping

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Want to know what leaf veins look like? Let’s look at them up close!

Want to see what shape a salt crystal really is up close? We can find out!

What does a cell really look like? It is so, so small, but we can see it if we look here!

We are studying rocks and minerals. Can we see what components are visible in each of them?

Yes we can!


The Microscope is an important material and there is at least one available in a Montessori elementary classroom that the children can use for exploration. Yes! Even 6-year-old children have access to a microscope to examine the world up close. What a gift for the curious mind!

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