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Montessori Metal Insets – How to Encourage Writing Development


Maria Montessori’s approach to language development is fascinating, intriguing, and, well, effective. If you are looking for insight into Montessori writing development, you have landed in the right place. 

I am going to introduce you to a tool that effectively teaches writing and letter formation. Writing instruction doesn’t have to be boring!

How to present Montessori writing development

“Genius is eternal patience.” ~ Michelangelo

What are the Montessori Metal Insets?

Montessori metal insets are one of my all-time favorite Montessori materials. They are by far the most effective I have come across in teaching my son hand coordination to prepare him for writing.

The insets come in the shapes of a square, triangle, circle, rectangle, oval, trapezoid, pentagon, curvilinear triangle, and quatrefoil.

They present the child with a wide variety of hand movements to enhance work on control and steadiness while writing left to right. The child will also eventually learn to make a continuous stroke.

What size is Metal Inset Paper?

Metal inset paper is white and has a square shape that matches the size of the metal inset frame. Typically the paper is 5 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches in size. Of course, you can create variations in size. 

Montessori’s Metal Insets Teach Kids to Write

The best part is that the insets work on a wide variety of skills. This work primarily focuses on the development of Montessori writing skills, of course.

In addition to that, art and math skills are also inherent to the metal inserts as children make designs and patterns with the shapes. By the way, the insets are the same size as the shapes found in the geometric cabinet.

Keep in mind, though, that the work with metal insets should not be rushed by the adult or the child.


How to Teach Kids to Write with Metal Inset Works

There are reasonably specific presentations with Montessori metal insets. Here is the approach I took with my son, along with some variations.

Related Read: 4 Super Fun Reading Activities for Preschoolers

Introduce the Metal Insets

Present each inset to the child, picking up the inset with a three-finger grip, tracing the insets with the dominant index finger, then returning the inset to its template.

If the child wants to continue that day, great. If not, put the work aside for another presentation.

Trace the Metal Insets with a Pencil

The next time I brought the insets out, I introduced the piece of paper and colored pencils. We worked slowly together, tracing most of the shapes.

The work is meant to be done slowly, so when you introduce the work to your child, be sure to emphasize that slowness and steadiness. Tracing gives the child an opportunity to learn how to grip and guide a pencil and feel the pressure on the pencil while writing.

How to Teach Kids to Write – Metal Inset Extensions

  • Children can make designs on their own.
  • Present simple designs and ask the child to identify the shapes used to make the design.
  • Prepare a few simple designs and ask the child to reproduce the design.

My favorite part of this work is the use of metal insets and colored pencils to create beautiful designs. This part of the work comes after a child has worked with the insets for a bit.

Metal Insets Deliver Results

The wait and work are worth it. When my son was 3.5 years old, he was deep into the sensitive period for reading and writing. Observing him was beautiful. Watching him unfold into his magical self has always been inspiring and motivating.

I remember thinking when he was about 2.5 years old: “I must be doing something wrong,” because he wasn’t interested in my presentations or the materials. He needed to be ready. Patience is truly a virtue, my friends; please keep that in mind on your Montessori journey.

Where are your children or students in their Montessori writing development? What do you think of these metal insets?

Thank you for reading today. I hope that you found this post helpful to you in your Montessori journey.

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