By Corinne Stastny
Our Primary Teachers in Training here in Portland set up a wonderful display today of Practical Life and Sensorial Materials created for a portion of their Material Making Requirement. I found this course’s set of materials particularly jubilant and inventive. Simple everyday items like mason jars, film canisters, picture frames, otherwise bland trays and boxes, took on new life in the hands of the students. The materials offer children rich opportunities to explore more than just the key purposes of the material; so many seemingly incidental geometric shapes, intriguing cultural interest, opportunities for vocabulary, and fascinating thermic and baric sensations of materials like slate and various metals and woods.
The students are given a list of about six different Sensorial and Practical Life materials to choose to make. I happily wandered through their displays this morning, taking pictures of details that caught my eye. A painted wooden picture frame lays flat on the shelf to hold a supply of fabric swatches, a small mason jar houses a needle and the lid has been transformed into a pin cushion…
The aesthetics and engineering of the materials are so very diverse, it took me a while to realize that actually there was something completely uniform about them; about ¾ of the students chose to make Button Sewing! How wonderful that those 20 or so students who selected that material all sat through the same demonstration of the material, practiced with the same material, all followed the same principles to construct their work and they then emerged from that experience able to make such a diverse array of examples of that single material.
I really value that our course does this. What a gift to have the understanding of the principles of the materials and child development, and to have your training and album support you as you express your own individual interests and skills. I get to see this throughout the course as I look at the students written work as they create their own teaching manuals (“Albums”) as well. Such a delight and a gift to the children and communities that will receive these students come spring time.
Looking forward to seeing what these folks come up with for the Language Material Making…
Corinne Stastny is the Primary Course Assistant at MNW. She feels extremely lucky to call Montessori her profession and loves sharing Montessori with her 6 year-old daughter, Stella.