METAL INSETS – INTRODUCTION
The metal insets are the first direct preparation for handwriting.
The Practical Life materials establishes an indirect preparation in the establishment of
Order, concentration, coordination, and independence.
Specifically, the fine motor muscles that have been developed through the three-finger grasp exercises, such as the eye dropper and the tweezers, prepare the child for success in handwriting.
The left to right, and top to bottom sequencing of the materials on the sleeve and within each material has patterned the writing directional. Sensorial materials further establish indirect preparation for handwriting in the general development of order, concentration, coordination, and independence.
Specifically, the knobbed cylinders have reinforced the three-finger grasp required for grasping a pencil. This is further reinforced with the knobs on the geometric cabinet insets.
The lightness of touch and the relaxed movement of the wrist is introduced with the tactile boards and the tactile tablets. So, with this extensive indirect preparation for handwriting, the child is prepared for success with the metal insets which is the first introduction to the proper holding of a pencil and the placement of controlled pencil marks on the paper.
The metal insets are the first direct preparation for handwriting. They are a most important material, for they establish basic habits in handwriting that the child will retain the rest of his or her life. For this reason, they are very carefully presented. Remember, the metal insets are not an art material.
The metal insets consist of five curved-line figures and five straight-line figures. The arrangement of the insets on two stands is to separate the curved figures on one stand and the straight figures on the second stand.
The sequence of the figures may be logically arranged:
1. Circle ellipse curvilinear triangle oval quatrefoil
2. Square rectangle triangle trapezoid pentagon
Note the relationships:
1. The diagonal of the square is the same as the diameter of the circle.
2. The length of the rectangle is the length of the ellipse.
3. The triangle and the curvilinear triangle have an obvious triangular relationship.
4. The relationship of the oval and trapezoid is less direct.
5. The pentagon and the quatrefoil are multi-sided.
All shapes should be out from the first presentation because Montessori always introduces the whole. Once the initial introduction has been made, the child has the information to select any figure successfully.
However, note that on the first presentation, the frames only are utilized. It is suggested that only the frames are placed out during the first week so that the process for the use of the material’s established.
In the second week, all the insets may be added. Also note in the display of the materials that only one tray is placed on the shelf so that the child returns the tray to the shelf before beginning work, thus insuring that the child will not attempt to trace the inset in the tray. Also note, the number of pencil holders will serve as the limit to the number of children that can choose the metal insets at any one time. The number of pencil holders will dictate the number of pencils in each color pencil holder.
Finally, the storage of the completed metal inset papers is important to show respect for the child’s work, and to allow for a progression in the child’s development in the metal insets. It is, therefore, suggested that special boxes or containers for each child’s work be established so that work can be saved, mounted, and organized into booklets. Again, the child will see that the work is valued and the child will more highly value his or her work; the progression and progress of the child will be noted.