If you're wondering what the curious educational tools featured on today’s Google homepage represent, they are a tip of the birthday hat to education pioneer Maria Montessori, who would have turned 142 today.

Perhaps no other name is so firmly attached to an educational system as is Dr. Montessori’s. Her philosophy of education highlights the creative potential of a child while emphasizing independent thinking. Created for preschool and primary age children, the system strives to bring out the natural mental development of the students. Key to the approach are the sensorial materials designed to develop a child's five senses. The materials include cylinder blocks, the pink tower, the brown or broad stair, the redrods, the colored cylinders and more. In addition, a plethora of other materials are used for the learning and discovery activities.

Born in Chiaravalle, Italy, on Aug. 31, 1870, as Maria Tecla Artemesia Montessori, she grew up to become a physician and an educator. She is credited with being the first woman in Italy to earn a degree in medicine.

The educator opened her first preschool in 1907, which was a great success, and soon began traveling abroad to preach the word of her innovative methods.

On May 6, 1952, Montessori died of cerebral hemorrhage in the Netherlands at the age of 81. Her legacy lives on with no hint of fading: In the United States alone there are more than 8,000 Montessori schools … and Google Doodles to pay homage to the Grande Dame of Preschool’s birthday.

google doodle to Montessori

Happy birthday, Dr. Montessori!

Happy birthday, Maria Montessori
Happy birthday, Maria Montessori. The great matriarch of progressive education would have been 142 today and is honored with a Google doodle.