“We should enrich his environment with means of expression and indirectly prepare his hand to carry out its functions in the best possible manner.” ~ Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori believed that art was a natural creation universal to the human species — each culture developed its own art as a means of expression. Because art serves as a way of expressing oneself, Montessori developed a method for teaching it that would not get in the way of the child’s expressive tendencies. She taught the means for expression step by step, but encouraged children to combine them by themselves in order to express themselves. Montessori also noted that while her exercises in art permitted the hand to become more flexible, they also enhanced the way the child’s eyes perceived the beauties of nature, feeding the child’s soul.
In the Montessori classroom, art materials teach each skill separately so that the child can combine them on her own: line drawing with markers, filling in outlines with colored chalk, painting, gluing paper, etc. All of these skills will be mastered independently and then combined at the child’s discretion in some grand piece of artwork.
It is important to prepare a Montessori classroom or space in the home which encourages the use and exploration of art materials — free for the child to choose at any time. This has always been a struggle for me, as I REALLY hate mess! However, the beauty of the Montessori child is that if she makes a mess, she already knows how to clean it up. Deep breaths help, too.
I’ve put together all of the art activities I have shared so far so you can find them all in one place. First I have shared some traditional Montessori art trays — the kind you would find in a classroom, focused on one skill at a time [suitable for children 18 months and up]. I also shared some process art ideas, which you probably would not find in a Montessori classroom — but which are great sensorial explorations of different ways to paint [suitable for children 7 months and up]. Finally, I have a few “crafts,” which you would NEVER find in a Montessori classroom — the difference here is that these crafts create a finished product using Montessori principles [suitable for children 2 years and up]. If you’re a Montessori purist, stick to the first section.
Montessori Art Trays