Montessori Materials : Metal Insets

Next week we’ll be featuring an interview with one of our teachers. As preview we offer the answer given to this question:
What is your favourite material and why?

This was the answer:

If the question is if I could only have one material in my room, what would it be… ‘today’ I would ask for the metal insets. Almost all lessons from fine motor skills, to art, to math (measurement, patterns, geometry), to language, to practical life can all be explored through this one material…. But my favourite material? That’s difficult. It changes from year to year, group to group and even day to day. I guess my favourite material is the one that captures the student’s interest! So different materials for the many different learners! And just to clarify, the material doesn’t have to be a Montessori developed material… it could be the dirt we walk, sit, dig, grow and play in!

I could profile dirt. Here is dirt:
Here is how to use it:

But… 🙂

Instead, this is a post about Metal Insets and yet again, I am feeling so grateful to be contributing to this blog. I am learning. For example, did you know that Metal Insets help kids learn how to make their letters and learn cursive? I had no idea…. actually, I had no idea they were even Language material. I thought the kids were just… colouring?
The metal insets consist of two sets of frames. Each frame has the outline of a shape (pink) and the shape itself (blue). A bare bones description of the possible activities to be done with metal insets is here. A video is available here.

Metal insets represent such an amazing facet of Montessori for me. The children who are using them are being artistic and creative and loving every minute of it; at the same time, they are developing the hand strength and correct pencil grip needed for writing (not to mention learning colours and geometry). I am continually filled with wonder at the genius of the materials in our children’s classrooms.

What I’ve heard often is that when older students are reminded of the metal insets they are filled with love and nostalgia. If you have older children – try asking them if they remember metal insets and what they liked (or didn’t!) about them.

“In this way…children perfect themselves in writing without actually writing.”
—Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method


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