“The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself” Maria Montessori
The Montessori Circle Puzzle is an instantly recognisable piece of equipment, common in many infant environments, but why are there so many variations of the same puzzle?
The answer reflects the genius of Dr Montessori. The subtle differences in these puzzles make increasing demands on the user and demonstrate the expansion of the child’s mind. can spark important learning curves in the child.
When it comes to age ranges I will make some suggestions, however (and for me, this is an important however) there is no specific ‘correct’ age to introduce any piece of work; that is the great gift that Montessori gives your child; the complete freedom to develop at their own pace.
Puzzle One: The Circle Puzzle
This puzzle is introduced first on account of it’s simplicity. Regardless of the angle or rotation the circle piece will still fit within its frame. Introduce this when a child has a good or developing pincer grip, ideally after the child has mastered the peg and cup.
Puzzle Two: The Corner Puzzle
When the child has a firm understanding of the work process and pattern involved in the Circle Puzzle and has achieved independence introduce a shape puzzle with corners. This piece will require more manipulation to fit within the frame. While the firs may be completed independently by the hand, the second requires collaboration between the hand and the mind.
Puzzle Three: Shape Set Puzzle
With the previous two confidently completed the child is ready to move on to a puzzle with multiple shapes. The child must now extend their mental workings to differentiate between a variety of shapes and explore through logic their placements between the frames. This requires motor skill, problem solving, memory and experimentation and marks the a shift in the child’s
Puzzle Four: Varying sizes
The final puzzle in the set is the trio of one shape. The child now adds mathematical reasoning to their skill set as they compare and sequence the circles.
Let us finish as we started with the words of Montessori now in context; “The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself.”
A note on presentation
For the first puzzle it is is sufficient to present the work on it’s own without any additional equipment. As the materials become familiar it is a good idea to present the puzzles on a tray with the pieces held in a basket to one side. Where possible present all work moving from left to write to prepare the child for reading and writing later on.
After these basic puzzles the child is ready for more complex inset puzzles. Opt where possible for puzzles that are realistic and have uniform sized pieces.