In details

Working with gold material and logic blocks in the early grades


Karen Daltoé
Sueli Strelow

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was born in Italy. He became interested in the study of the sciences, but decided on medicine at the University of Rome. He directed his career to psychiatry and soon became interested in disabled children. “Maria Montessori's great contribution to modern pedagogy was the child's awareness”, realizing that they responded quickly and enthusiastically to the stimuli to perform tasks, exercising motor skills and experiencing autonomy.
Because his medical background had strong positivist influences, he believed in the sensitive external experience that gives man the progress of intelligence so that he can stop selfishness and live for others as well.

For her, education should be implemented in gradual stages, respecting the child's development phase, through a constant observation and deduction process, made by the teacher about the student. In his view, the child brings with it innate inner strengths, available for learning even without the help of others, started from a basic principle: CHILD IS ABLE TO LEARN NATURALLY. Seeking to develop these energies, he believes that the learner acquires knowledge and becomes free for the expression of his being through the freedom of his potential, said: "Leave the child free, and she will reveal herself." According to Montessori, in the classroom the teacher is a kind of advisor that helps direct the individual in his spontaneous development, so that he does not deviate from the path, ensuring the free expression of his being, his requirement with the teacher was: RESPECT FOR CHILD.

The school created by Montessori excels in education that takes into account the total being, also the child as a whole: mind-body interdependence. Man is not a finished being, ready. It is someone “in transit”, on the way, subject to all the mutations of culture. For her, to educate is to sow, to transmit LIVING. The educator educates through ATTITUDES, which serve as support / referential for children. This shows their concern for the child's welfare and social as well as the practical aspect of education. Also according to her, the child learns by moving (learning-movement) in a previously prepared environment.
Your school has been fully adapted to meet the needs of the child, favoring the independence of the student.

Discover the world by touch

In Montessorian schools the internal space was (and is) carefully prepared to allow students free movement, facilitating the development of independence and personal initiative. Like the environment, sensory and motor activity plays an essential role. That is, to give vent to the natural tendency of the kids to touch and manipulate everything in their power.

Maria Montessori argued that the path of the intellect passes through the hands, because it is through movement and touch that the little ones explore and decode the world around them. “A child loves to touch objects so that he can recognize them later,” he once said. Many of the exercises developed by the educator - now widely used in early childhood education - aim to draw students' attention to the properties of objects (size, shape, color, texture, weight, smell, noise).

The Montessori method starts from the concrete towards the abstract. It is based on the observation that boys and girls learn best from direct experience of searching and discovery. To make this process as rich as possible, the Italian educator developed the teaching materials that constitute one of the most well-known aspects of her work. They are simple but very attractive objects designed to provoke reasoning. There are materials designed to help all kinds of learning, from decimal to language structure.

Examples of these materials: solid wooden blocks for cylinder fittings, wooden blocks grouped into three systems, geometric fittings, color material, bars with red / blue colored segments, sandpaper digits, logic blocks, gold material, cuisenaire, abacus, domino, etc.

Golden material

"I have also prepared, for the major students of the elementary school, a material designed to represent numbers in geometric form. This is the excellent material called bead material. The units are represented by small yellow beads; the ten (or number 10) is formed by a bar of ten beads strung on a very hard wire. This bar is repeated 10 times in ten other bars linked together, forming a square, "the square of ten", totaling a hundred. Finally, ten overlapping squares and linked together forming a cube, "the cube of 10", ie 1000.

Four-year-olds happened to be attracted to these bright and easily manageable objects. To our surprise, they began to combine them, imitating the older children. There was such an enthusiasm for working with numbers, particularly the decimal system, that it could be argued that arithmetic exercises had become exciting.

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The children were making numbers up to 1000. The further development was wonderful, to the point that there were five-year-olds who performed the four operations with numbers of thousands of units.

The Golden Material is one of many materials designed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori for working with math.

Although specially designed for working with arithmetic, the idealization of this material followed the same Montessorian principles for the creation of any of its materials, sensory education:

  • develop in the child independence, self-confidence, concentration, coordination and order;
  • generate and develop concrete experiences structured to gradually lead to ever larger abstractions;
  • make the child, by himself, realize the possible mistakes he makes when performing a certain action with the material;
  • work with the child's senses.

Initially, the Golden Material was known as the "Golden Bead Material" and its form was as follows: