How to make your classroom more Montessori: didactic materials and what rules they should follow

Updated: May 8

The Montessori method is known for working with didactic materials. There are loads of them, most of them created by Maria Montessori herself. It is a ready made system to teach maths, to teach your native language, nature, even beginner history ... There are no Montessori materials for foreign language teaching. There, I said it. Yes, there are materials for learning the English language ... but for kids who already speak it! The Montessori reading material is not meant to be used by children learning a foreign language. It simply does not teach a language. It teaches reading.

So what are you supposed to do when you start working at a Montessori school? Well, my friends, you've got two options. Option 1: make me rich by buying my materials 😅 Option 2: make your own didactic materials. If you chose option 2, as I did 7 years ago, you'll have another two options: create your own materials from scratch OR adapt what is available on the market. This post is about option 2.2.

A huge part of my everyday work at a Montessori classroom for older students is adapting materials available on the ELT market. There are so many great course books and materials available in shops and on the Internet. They don't, however, follow the Montessori rules for didactic materials. Basically speaking, I need materials which will make me superfluous in my own classroom 😅 I don't want my students to need me. I want to make them as autonomous and independent as they can be. Is it possible? Yes! Is it quick and easy? No! 7 years later, I'm still in the process, but I'm gonna get there! 💪🏻

So what do I mean by adapting materials to follow the Montessori rules? Montessori didactic materials, the ones created by Maria Montessori, follow a specific set of rules:

Control of error

It's vital for my students to be able to work independently, at their own pace, without me. This is why nearly ever material that I make for them has the right answers provided in the material itself.

Isolation of difficulty

I try to create materials which practise just one ability at a time. So for example, like with the task cards, I provide my students with all the vocabulary they need to create a sentence, when I want them to practise sentence structure.