Well, here it is - IN ACTION!! The inset was designed by Dr. Maria Montessori to help children with the small motor skills needed to start writing. The board holds a metal plate with a shape cut out of it. The metal plate fits either on the left or right side. Pieces of paper, cut to fit the size of the metal plate, sit underneath. The child can then use their pencil to trace along the inside edges of the metal cut-out. At The Children's School, once the shape has been traced, they can then put the completed "page" into a booklet entitled "My Inset Book."
Repeated opportunities to work with the insets will result in practice making the shapes, not only by tracing the inside of the cut-out, but also by using just the blue shape (see above) and tracing the outside. This increased skill in tracing a shape translates into increased control of the pencil (or any writing implement), which in turn increases the child's success with writing letters and numbers.
We will also have children, like our friend above, who will choose to color in their shapes. He has colored in his triangle on the left, and a circle on the right. Eventually, some children will use their traced shape to create a picture - a rectangle may become a door; a quatrefoil, a flower. I found my daughter's inset book the other day. She's 9 now. Wonderful memories!