Learning to trace is great fun for little ones and with the help of Montessori’s metal insets, children will pick up the skill in no time at all. The idea behind the specific shapes that form part of this apparatus is that the tracing exercise replicates the movement the child’s hand will make when writing the alphabet, which makes the exercise excellent preparation for handwriting.
A complete set of shapes will include: a square, triangle, circle, rectangle, oval, trapezoid, pentagon, curvilinear triangle, ellipse and quatrefoil. The insets are made from metal (as the name suggests), which is appropriately heavy and sturdy for children to use. For the lesson, directresses will make use of coloured pencils and a plentiful supply of white paper cut to the same size as the shapes and inset boards (14cmx14cm). Children will also need a tray to carry the material back and forth to the table where the apparatus is placed.
Children will start the exercise with one shape and two pieces of paper, as well as coloured pencils of their choice. They’ll trace around the outside of their shape and thereafter trace the inside of the shaped inset. Watch the following video by My Montessori Works to see how it works:
Once confident with the materials, children will start to get creative, shifting insets to make patterns and designs, whilst also building their hand strength and developing fine motor skills. The very great variety of movements involved in this work help children with control of the writing movements but also with changing directions.
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