One of the key components of Montessori education is the use of specialized learning materials designed to engage a child’s senses and facilitate self-discovery. One such material is the Montessori bells, which help children develop auditory discrimination skills, a vital component of language development.
In this article, we’ll explore what Montessori bells are, when to introduce them to children, the purpose of the bells, how to present them to children, and alternatives to Montessori bells. Whether you’re a parent, educator, or simply curious about Montessori education, this guide will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the use of Montessori bells in the classroom. So let’s dive in!
What Are the Montessori Bells?
The Montessori Bells material comprises of two sets: a control set and a working set, totaling to 26 bells, with 13 bells in each set.
Starting from middle C, the chromatic scale of the bells ascends a full octave, offering a comprehensive musical experience.
The control set of bells is distinguishable, with bases colored in black and white, resembling the keys of a piano. The white bells represent natural notes, while the black bells symbolize sharp and flat notes.
On the other hand, the working set of bells has all wooden (brown) bases and features identical notes as the control set.
To play the bells, a small wooden mallet called a striker is used to strike the bells, and a cloth-covered dowel is used to dampen the sound. These accessories are commonly stored in a small basket next to the bells, providing easy accessibility.
To maintain orderliness, the control set is positioned towards the back of the shelf, and the working set is placed directly in front, both sets being arranged in order.
When to Introduce the Montessori Bells
Montessori education follows the child’s development, and observing the child’s readiness is essential before introducing any new material. Typically, the Montessori Bells can be introduced to children around 3 years old when they have developed a sense of order and concentration, which are crucial for using the bells.
Before introducing the bells, children should have a basic understanding of the concept of sound, such as distinguishing loud and soft sounds. It is also essential to ensure that children are familiar with handling materials with care and returning them to their proper place on the shelf after use.
Purpose of the Montessori Bells
The Montessori Bells is a unique material that serves a vital purpose in the Montessori classroom. It provides children with a multi-sensory experience that develops auditory discrimination, which is essential for language and reading development.
- The bells are arranged in a chromatic scale, allowing children to explore and distinguish between different pitches and tones. Children can create sounds that vary in volume and pitch by using a small wooden mallet called a striker, allowing them to develop a keen sense of auditory discrimination.
- The Montessori Bells also serve several indirect aims, including the development of concentration, coordination, and independence. Children must focus on the task at hand, using their hands and eyes in coordination to create sounds pleasing to the ear. Additionally, the use of the bells fosters independence, as children are responsible for taking care of the materials, including properly storing them on the shelf after use.
- One unique aspect of the Montessori Bells is its built-in control of error. The bases of the bells are colored black and white, matching the keys of a piano. This design allows children to visually self-correct any errors they may make when placing the bells back in their proper order on the shelf.
- Finally, the Montessori Bells offer several points of interest for children. From the striking of the bells to the visual exploration of the color-coded bases, the bells provide children with a rich sensory experience that stimulates curiosity and wonder.
How to Present Montessori Bells to Children
Presenting the Montessori Bells to children is an exciting and enriching experience. These bells offer children the opportunity to learn music theory, auditory skills, and hand-eye coordination in a fun and engaging way. Here’s how to present Montessori Bells to children:
Caring for the Bells
Caring for work materials is a fundamental part of the Montessori method, and this also applies to the Montessori Bells. The bells are delicate instruments that require special attention to maintain their quality and ensure longevity. Proper care of the Montessori Bells is essential for protecting their sound and ensuring they remain in good condition for years.
Here are some tips on how to care for the Montessori Bells:
- Regular Cleaning: The Montessori Bells should be cleaned regularly to remove any dust or dirt that may accumulate on the bells. Use a soft cloth to gently wipe the bells and the striker to ensure they remain in top condition.
- Gentle Handling: When handling the Montessori Bells, it’s important to be gentle and careful to avoid causing any damage. Children should be taught to handle the bells with care, ensuring that they do not drop or mishandle them.
- Proper Storage: The Montessori Bells should be stored in their designated spots on the shelf, with the control set in the back and the working set in the front. This helps to keep them organized and protected from accidental damage.
- Dampening the Sound: The Montessori Bells should always be dampened to protect their sound after each use. Use a soft cloth-covered dowel to gently press against the bell and stop the vibration.
Following these simple tips, you can ensure that the Montessori Bells remain in good condition and continue to provide a high-quality musical experience for children.
Carrying a Bell
Carrying the Montessori Bells is an important aspect of their proper use and care. These delicate musical instruments should be handled with care to ensure that they remain in good condition and continue producing high-quality sound. Here are some tips on how to carry the Montessori Bells safely:
- Use Both Hands: The Montessori Bells should always be carried with both hands, one holding the control set and the other holding the working set. This ensures that the bells remain stable and prevent slipping or falling.
- Carry at Chest Level: When carrying the Montessori Bells, hold them at chest level, close to your body. This provides better balance and control, making it easier to transport them safely.
- Avoid Bumping or Dropping: To prevent damage to the Montessori Bells, avoid bumping them into objects or dropping them. Be mindful of your surroundings and take care when moving the bells.
- Move Slowly and Deliberately: When transporting the Montessori Bells, move slowly and deliberately to avoid sudden movements or jostling. This helps to protect the bells and ensures they remain in good condition.
Making Sounds with the Montessori Bells
You may use a single white bell for this activity.
- Show the child how to hold the striker using a pincer grasp with the dominant hand and explain what it is and how it is used. Then, pick up the damper with the other hand and explain its function.
- Use a slight wrist motion to gently strike the bell with the striker and let the note resonate. Encourage the child to listen carefully to the sound and pay attention to how long it lasts.
- When the sound stops, repeat the step.
- Strike the bell again and use the damper to stop the sound. Show the child how to control the sound of the bell using the damper and encourage them to try it themselves.
- When the activity is finished, ask the child to return the bell, striker, and damper to their designated basket and place it back on the shelf.
Use both sets of bells – brown and white – for this activity. You can set it up on a spacious and low shelf.
- Place the brown bells randomly towards the left side of the workspace, and keep the white set of bells in their order.
- Take a brown bell and strike it while humming the note. Now, find its match by striking each of the white bells until they find the one that matches. Place the brown bell in front of it.
- Check the match by striking each bell in the pair. Repeat this process for all the brown bells until they are all paired.
- To confirm that you completed the activity correctly, play the scale on both sets of bells.
- Lastly, ask your child if they would like to try this exciting activity.
Pairing the Bells activity is a great way to improve your child’s memory, concentration, and listening skills while having fun. So, what are you waiting for? Give it a try today!
Grading by Sound
Use both sets of bells – brown and white – for this activity. You can set it up on a spacious and low shelf.
Grading by Sound is an engaging activity that can help your child develop their cognitive skills and memory.
- To begin, place the brown set of bells randomly along the front of the workspace.
- Strike the white middle C bell and use your listening skills to find the matching brown middle C by striking each one.
- Once you find the brown middle C, place it in front of the white middle C.
- Next, use only sound to order the brown set of bells.
- After ordering the brown set of bells, double-check your work by playing the scale on both sets of bells.
- Encourage your child to give it a try.
Montessori Bell Alternatives
Montessori Bells are quite expensive and may not be affordable for everyone. However, there are some alternatives that you can use to replicate the same learning experience as the Montessori bells. Here are some ideas:
1. Diatonic Bells
Diatonic bells are another alternative to Montessori bells that are more affordable. They consist of a set of metal bells, each producing a different note when struck. They are designed to be played together as musical instruments and can be used to teach children about musical scales and harmonies. Diatonic bells are often used in music therapy and education to promote cognitive and sensory development.
2. Musical Instruments
You can also use other musical instruments to teach children about pitch and tone. For example, a xylophone or a piano can be used to create different sounds and help children identify different pitches.
Montessori bells are a unique and valuable tool for promoting sensory exploration, concentration, and musical appreciation in young children. By presenting them in a structured and engaging manner, educators and parents can help children develop their listening skills and deepen their understanding of the world around them.
Montessori Academy understands the importance of using Montessori sensorial materials, such as the Montessori bells, to provide a holistic education for our students. We believe in the Montessori philosophy of allowing children to learn at their own pace and providing them with the tools they need to become independent and self-directed learners.
We hope we provided you with valuable insights into the Montessori bells and how they can be used to promote learning and development in young children. If you have any further questions about Montessori education or would like to learn more about Montessori Academy, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be more than happy to assist you.