A Montessori environment is concrete. It's experiential. It's full of beautiful things for the children to touch and explore, and so is our church. The children get to kiss icons, light candles, smell fragrant incense, and participate fully in our church using all the faculties of their bodies.
In the Montessori 3-6 year old classroom, the children frequent activities known as Practical Life activities, which are indeed exactly what they sound like.
They are based in the practical actions made in life such as pouring water, squeezing sponges, scrubbing tables, tying shoes, dusting, etc. Anyone who has ever observed a Montessori classroom has surely seen children doing these things, and perhaps, if no one had ever explained it to them, were befuddled by the seeming futility of the activities. I'm sure many parents peek through windows of Montessori classrooms and walk away thinking, "they want $15,000 a year to let my three year old run around pouring beans?" Because of this impression many have, I would be remiss not to mention that the actual point of these Practical Life activities isn't to aimlessly occupy them.
These materials exist to bring the young child's awareness to his hands, to their ability to move, and his ability to master their movements. They allow him to focus intently on his work and thereby develop concentration. He has to decide whether to cut the flower stems and place them in the vase before or after filling the vase with water - a choice.
He has to consider his entire body and a complete sequence of events while trying to complete one seemingly simple task. I could go on and on about Practical Life, as what I've mentioned barely begins to cover the vast importance of the most central area of the 3-6 classroom, but I'm not an expert on the Montessori Method and this is supposed to be about Orthodoxy in the Montessori Classroom, not pitchers and shoes.