Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The Montessori materials are integral and central to developing cognitive structure - from the concrete learner to the abstract learner. Children’s cognitive abilities are improved when they form questions and seek answers by themselves or with others. Understanding and initiating this process of questioning, discovery, reflection, evaluation and problem-solving encourages children to become life-long learners.

Just this week, I had the pleasure of observing a small group of Wilmington Montessori elementary children interacting with the "Who Am I?" material. "Who am I?" stories seem to be one of the most popular activities in Montessori elementary classrooms. One child reads the description/definition of the animal or plant and the classmates try to find the corresponding picture or label. The primary developmental and cognitive aims of this Montessori material are to guide the child toward the personal examination of who he/she is. Where is their place in the universe? What is their purpose? How can they make a difference?

Please take a moment and enjoy the following “Who Am I?” activity and video.

Who Am I?

Early Years

She was always a little ahead of my time. At age 13, against the wishes of her father but with the support of her mother, she began to attend a boys' technical school. After seven years of engineering she began enrolled in a pre-med program and, in 1896, became a physician. During her work at the University of Rome psychiatric clinic she developed an interest in the treatment of special needs children and, for several years, she worked, wrote, and spoke on their behalf.

In 1907, she was given the opportunity to study "normal" children, taking charge of 50 poor children of the dirty, desolate streets of the San Lorenzo slum on the outskirts of Rome. The news of the unprecedented success of her work in this Casa dei Bambini "House of Children" soon spread around the world, people coming from far and wide to see the children for themselves. She was as astonished as anyone at the realized potential of these children:

From Europe to the United States

Invited to the U.S. by Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and others, she spoke at Carnegie Hall in 1915. She was invited to set up a classroom at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, where spectators watched 21 children, all new to this method, behind a glass wall for four months. The only two gold medals awarded for education went to this class, and the education of young children was altered forever.

India and the Nobel Peace Prize

During World War II she was forced into exile from Italy because of her antifascist views and lived and worked in India. It was here that she developed her work Education for Peace, and developed many of the ideas taught in her training courses today. She was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.


(Montessori Timeline Adapted from http://www.michaelolaf.net/maria.html)