Materialised Abstractions (Montessori)

From Montepedia

"Materialised Abstractions" is a term used in the Montessori educational method to describe the learning materials designed to help children understand abstract concepts through physical, tangible objects. These materials help to externalize and make comprehensible internal, abstract ideas through a hands-on approach[1].

Montessori Quotes on Materialised Abstractions

"Free the child's potential, and you will transform him into the world."

— Maria Montessori, "The Absorbent Mind"

Research and Critiques on Materialised Abstractions


Utilising materialised abstractions can make learning more engaging and effective, especially for young children who learn best through hands-on experiences[2]. It supports Montessori's philosophy of "learning by doing", encouraging children to explore and interact with their environment[3].


Critics may argue that while materialised abstractions can be beneficial for concrete learning, they may not be as effective for teaching more complex, abstract concepts[4]. There could also be concerns about the adaptability of materialised abstractions to different learning styles, as some children may respond better to verbal or visual learning approaches[5].

Comparison to Other Methods

Traditional educational methods often rely heavily on verbal and visual instruction. In contrast, the Montessori approach emphasises the use of materialised abstractions to provide tactile, hands-on experiences for learning[6].

Glossary of Montessori Terms

The Glossary of Montessori Terms is a collection of specific terms and vocabulary that are related to the Montessori method of education, primarily focusing on the theory and practice for children aged 3 to 6. The jargon used by Montessori educators offers a unique insight into child development as discussed by Maria Montessori. The 'Montepedia Glossary of Montessori Terms' originated from a glossary that was compiled by the late Annette Haines from the Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis, at the request of Molly O'Shaughnessy from the Montessori Centre of Minnesota. The reason behind the creation of this glossary was to supplement O'Shaughnessy's lecture at the Joint Annual Refresher Course that took place in Tampa, Florida, in February 2001.[7] The glossary has since been expanded and updated with additional 'Montessori Terms'.

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  1. Kahn, D. (2011). Montessori and Eurythmy. The NAMTA Journal, 36(1), 67-80.
  2. Thapa, A., Cohen, J., Guffey, S., & Higgins-D’Alessandro, A. (2013). A review of school climate research. Review of Educational Research, 83(3), 357-385.
  3. Lillard, A. S. (2017). Montessori: The science behind the genius. Oxford University Press.
  4. Cossentino, J. (2005). Ritualizing expertise: A non-Montessorian view of the Montessori method. American Journal of Education, 111(2), 211-244.
  5. Feez, S. (2011). Montessori's mediation of meaning: a social semiotic perspective. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43(7), 759-775.
  6. Lillard, A. S. (2017). Montessori: The science behind the genius. Oxford University Press.
  7. Haines, A. (2001). Glossary of Montessori Terms. Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis.