Metal insets are 10 geometric shapes consisting of a frame and an inset. They are placed on a sloping board and used with squares of paper, an inset tray and colored pencils. The aim is to prepare the child for writing. Other objectives include: develop control and precision of movement, give the opportunity to hold a pencil correctly, give experience with anti-clockwise movements (top to bottom and also left to right) which will later be used for writing, indirect preparation for art, development of pattern, color and shading.
After being shown how to hold the pencil, he traced around the inside of the inset again and again. The frame is the control of error, the pencil stays inside that shape. The other hand is helping by keeping the frame still. Two hands are working together and this helps to increase that hand/mind connection.
This child was so happy to continue making inset after inset and only stopped because it was the end of the morning. Dr. Montessori recognized that when children are working on a skill and deep in concentration they will be content and fulfilled. This child was so calm and peaceful after completing these insets. The next morning he came in and got this work out again.
There are many exercises we do with this material and the children will be engaging in this as the year progresses.