La Tela

Productive games

Playing is the natural way of learning. Montessori-style activities to learn through play.

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What is a productive game?

In my co-schooling course (only in Italian), I call productive games those games that teach skills and knowledge by playing. Playing is the main purpose, learning is the side effect! Maria Montessori wrote that play is the child's work: this is real work in all respects—children are practicing school skills (reading, counting, geography, science)—but they do it by playing and by following their own interests. Playing is the natural way of learning! This is how children learn in Montessori schools.

Control of error

All of our productive games have the control of error. The control of error is what allows the child to do and finish the activity without the need of the adult: in Montessori we promote independence in playing (working) and we try to ensure that the child has the tools to avoid having to ask the adult for help. When the child asks for help, we help them without giving them the solution, but asking questions “Why do you think that is?”.

When the child makes a mistake

We don't correct it mistakes. Mistakes are friends, when a child makes a mistake they have a great opportunity to learn on their own: if we punish them, they won't learn anything; if we stigmatize the mistake, they learn to be afraid to try; if we laugh at the mistake, they learn to laugh at other people's mistakes.

When a child makes a mistake, we welcome it and try to direct them in the right direction without giving them the answer. For example, when they match the wrong cards: "Let's read these two words together, are they the same?". Often this is not even necessary, because once the activity is done the control of error take care of mistakes: children will notice on their own.


Silence is underestimated. When a child works, even if we are close to them, we try to intervene as little as possible (even if we  see they're making a mistake, we don't jump in). We only offer our help when they ask for it.

A more passive presence in playing often promotes concentration and autonomous play.

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Productive games is a concept I came up with in my Co-schooling course (Italian) to express how I homeschool my children. I don't teach them to read, I play games where they have to use reading. I don't teach them to do math, I play games where they have to use math. Playing is the main purpose, school skills are a means, learning is a side effect. 

“Playing is a child's job”, said Maria Montessori. These productive games are my interpretation of her teaching.

Each game touches on one or more school areas (language, mathematics, geography, science, general culture…), has a printable PDF and a detailed explanation of how we use it, alternative ideas and some tips for parents on how to intervene (or not) in the game.


Here you will find an activity that will soon be available separately and free-of-charge for everyone. It's a tiny free glimpse—tiny compared to the activities you'll buy—of how we work and how much care for details we put into our content.

Download the free PDF, print it by following the instructions carefully and cut out the silhouettes of the continents. The child can then "color" the gray map by placing each continent in the right place. They will then match the name tag to the relevant continent and use the control of error to check if they matched them correctly.

It is a complementary activity to any geography work on continents, animals or habitats.

What age is this activity for?

As with books, speaking of age is restrictive for activities. Each child is unique, as are their interests, and the activity adapts according to age: if a child doesn't read they can still match the animal to the footprint by matching the writings with the same letters (they recognise the "shape" of the word, without necessarily knowing what it says).

What format is the activity?

The activity is in PDF format, high quality to be printed.

Can I pay by bank transfer?

Yes. When paying, select SEPA and you can pay by bank transfer.

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