We have been working with numbers lately, and Adrian (at 31 months) is seeing numbers everywhere – even in an ellipse:)
Metal Insets are designed to prepare your child for handwriting. Manipulating the insets will strengthen the three-finger grip (preparing for the correct pencil grip) and will also coordinate the necessary wrist movements.
Developing fine motor movements, that is the coordination of small muscles in the hands and fingers, will lead to strong fine motor skills, which are essential in completing many everyday tasks such as writing, cutting, threading, using a spoon/ fork, zipping, buttoning, and eventually tying shoe laces. "Without well-developed fine motor skills, a child may have difficulty learning to write or performing many of the other critical tasks." You can read more about the importance of fine motor development here.
Ellipse is like a zero! It is a match!
You can purchase the Metal Insets with 2 stands here (that is what we use). I also believe that Montessori Sandpaper Numbers (buy here) are indispensable in a Montessori curriculum, since they are so versatile.
See here the demonstration lesson on how to use Montessori Geometric Metal Insets.