Montessori in the Classroom: Demonstrating Montessori

In the film Demonstrating Montessori (1980), Montessori teachers demonstrate exercises designed to teach children practical life, language, mathematics and geography, and to develop sensorial awareness. These exercises include pouring water, matching words with pictures, transitioning from tangible mathematical materials (gold beads) to abstract materials (cards with written numbers), identifying land, air, and water, and placing cylinders on a grid according to size.

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While sitting next to the child, the teacher first demonstrates the activity. The teacher then invites the child to join in. Finally, the child repeats the activity on their own.

The first activities a child is introduced to are rooted in sensory experiences. As the child progresses, the activities grow more complex and abstract.


The teacher sits directly next to the student while demonstrating activity.

Photograph of a child using sandpaper letter while looking at teacher. Other students work in the background.

A teacher helps a child trace a letter with her finger.
A teacher shows a child how to use sandpaper letters.

Children use sandpaper letters to learn sounds and the shape of letters in the alphabet. Sandpaper letters are typically used by children ages 3-4. However, children work at their own pace in a Montessori classroom, so the age of the students using sandpaper letters can vary, depending on the child’s needs.

A photograph of a sandpaper letter
A sandpaper letter included in Mildred W. Harford’s teacher training notebook

Notebooks created by teachers during their training include illustrations and descriptions of classroom activities.

A page from a teacher training notebook explaining how to use sandpaper letters.
A page from Edith Cary’s teacher training notebook explaining how to use sandpaper letters.