Today's post is a little different from my normal fine motor idea or DIY toy tutorial. It is a book review for some lovely Montessori resources that we found at our library recently. They were in with the baby board books at our library but they are much more than your average board book so I wanted to share them with you. I did include some affiliate links to make it easy to find them, just FYI.
As readers of this blog could probably tell you, we are not strictly a Montessori family. I have read a lot about Montessori principles since becoming a mother and do my best to offer my children activities that are fueled by their own interests. This was the main principle that stuck with me when reading about Montessori education.
There are many important principles though, so if you want to know more I'd recommend checking out this article from Spielgaben about Montessori Principles at Home for a nice overview.
The books that we ran across are all by Bobby George and June George. They are titled as follows (the links will take you to the product page for each one):
To give you some background for this review, I have a 4.5 year old who attends half day preschool (not Montessori) as well as a 2.5 year old who is at home full time with me. The both already knew their numbers, letters and shapes before we read these books. They both generally enjoy books though, and we read together every day.
Overall both kids liked these books. I think the textures of the Letters, Numbers and Shapes books were very engaging and my 4.5 year old has been really interested in maps and the world, so the Map book was her clear favorite. My 2.5 year old's favorite was either the Numbers book or the Shapes book.
Montessori Letter Work
I'll start by talking about the alphabet book in the series. The Montessori Method of introducing the alphabet is different than the alphabetical order method. To learn more, definitely check out Living Montessori Now's explanation of what order to introduce letters to your preschooler.
This book presents each letter with its phonetic sound at the top, a picture of something that starts with that letter and a large lowercase letter on each page. There is an arrow on each letter showing the location you'd start when writing it and the direction to move. In the picture it may look as if the letters are cut out of a double board book layer, but it is just a dimensional printing shadow, not an actual cut out. Instead each letter is textured like a light sand paper.
I think it would make a handy, portable alternative to the sandpaper letter sets that are so commonly used in Montessori education.
I know I said that the kids liked the other books more but they really, really liked this one too. My son loves to try to keep up with big sister and so this gave him a lot of confidence to look at a page and know that B is for Bus. Big sister says things like this all the time and often little brother will make one up “D is for MOMMY!” so this was right up his alley.
They clamored in my lap to get a chance to run their fingers over the textured letters. That aspect is really key.
Montessori Number Work
Next I will share the Numbers book. This is similar to the Letters book in that the numbers are not cut out from the page but textured like light sand paper. Each number also has the arrow to show where to start and what direction to move your finger.
One thing you will notice about this Numbers book that is different from your standard counting book is that the digit and the corresponding number of items are not on the same page. You must first count the items on one page, then turn the page to find the correct answer.
This method of presenting numbers is something familiar to those in Montessori education but maybe not to those who have never been exposed to it. I think it goes along with the idea of learning in context…learn counting by counting, not by seeing the number on the page and realizing that is what you are supposed to say.
Once again the kids were clamoring to trace the numbers. I loved seeing little brother learning from big sister here. He can count aloud past ten already but I think this method of presenting numbers helped him understand one-to-one correspondence better.
Montessori Shape Work
The Shapes book in the series is a little different from the previous two books that I discussed. Each section of shapes starts by presenting three shapes in a shape family on the right page, with cut out shapes rather than just a slight texture in the other books. You can really get a feel for the shapes.
It is similar to the Numbers book in that first you learn the shapes, then you turn the page and on the following pages are examples of how those shapes come to life in the real world.
The words you use for these shapes may be slightly different or advanced if you are not already involved in Montessori learning. For example, you may not have taught your child about the differences between an isosceles triangle and a right angle triangle but those terms are included in the book.
It is the kind of thing that my kids could absorb at their own pace but they were terms I had never considered teaching them before.
Montessori Map Work
The last book in the series is the Map book. This is another one of those things where each child could take as much from it as they could, there was no pressure to learn it all, but it was all information we had never talked about before.
Each page in this book shows a continent, a few animals from that continent and a map so that the children can see where that continent is, in the context of the rest of the world. There is also one big map at the back. The outline of the continent is textured lightly.
I was looking at the reviews on Amazon for this book and one common comment was that the colors of the continents in this book are not the same as they are in other Montessori materials. Obviously this was not an issue in our home and to *me* it does not seem like it matters but I wanted to mention it in case that matters to you. I would check future editions in case the authors decide to change it. Obviously I have nothing to do with it, just passing along the information!
Like I said above though, this was my 4.5 year old's favorite of these books and she now loves to ask where various animals come from and other questions that relate to geography.
Overall I would say that these books are really nice. They are not flimsy and will last a long time. They were very engaging to my children and introduced them to new information that they really enjoyed.
If you already work Montessori principles into your routine, these books would be a lovely addition to your book collection, or something to keep in your car or shoulder bag for doctor's appointments.
If you are new to Montessori education and do not feel too tied to what is considered the standard way of learning letters, numbers, shapes and geography then these will really be unique and interesting to your children!
The links below will take you to the product page on Amazon if you would like to learn more or are interested in purchasing any of the books.
Have you read any of these books with your children? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!