The Montessori method is easily the best-known system of self-directed learning in formal education. Now, Montessorium is putting the 100-year-old educational tradition at the fingertips of today's children with two simple yet brilliantly executed mobile apps that teach – or, rather, let children learn – the alphabet and the basics of mathematics.

Available on iPhone and iPad, Montessorium is both minimalist and wonderfully engaging, thanks to meticulous design and thoughtful UI.

A third app in the pipeline will recreate the famous Montessori Movable Alphabet, complete with original illustrations by Dutch artist Zeptonn.

Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine, Design Observer and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.