Home > Montessori, Technology > Ngram Viewer and Manipulatives

Ngram Viewer and Manipulatives

Hundreds Board

Hundreds Board

Google’s Ngram Viewer may be the coolest thing on the web. You can find it at http://www.ngrams.googlelabs.com/  It’s an app that graphs the frequency of a word or phrase during the past 500 years from their database of over 15 millions books. While it is a powerful tool for lexiconographers, social historians and other academics, it is a lot of fun for anyone to play with.  You can even compare the frequency of two or more words, for example, you can see that in 1965 the use of the word “coffee” surpassed the word “tea” for the first time since 1675.  Use of “abacus” shot up in the 1850s and coincided with Commodore Parry’s visit to the Asia.  “Calculator” surpassed “abacus” in 1950—no surprise. There are endless words and phrases to try.  Even names work—you can trace the rise of names like Khayal, Lazarus and Josefina.

The Ngram Viewer can also be used to look at trends in education.  The word “manipulatives” is used to describe classroom materials that children get to touch, move and manipulate to aid in learning.  In the 1980’s, use of the word exploded. This was when traditional schools discovered what Montessori schools always knew:children need to handle materials to learn and understand.  Unfortunately, traditional schools still do not come anywhere close to having the kind of thoughtful and engaging things that we have at Evergreen.  Montessori works because the materials are the education and the teacher is the guide—not the other way around.

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