I've got Montessori on the brain…especially preparation for learning the written word. Maybe it has something to do with finishing up my language portfolio for my AMS certification? Perhaps it is due to Ronan's extreme interest in language right now…
The above picture is an example of one of the first activities a child can do from the language area of the "classroom." Dr. Montessori observed that children, ages 3-6, have an easier time with concrete ideas, so much of her suggestions for materials begin with the concrete and move to the abstract. Object to object matching promotes scanning ability with regards to later being able to tell the differences in letters, etc.
For example, the above rug was laid out by Ronan (without a lesson, I must admit). Immediately, I can tell that he needs more work with left to right orientation. He lined up the animals on the right side of the rug and worked to the left. With English, we read left to right and this activity helps the child to naturally orient themselves to that way of thinking.
I can also tell that he matched a set by color (the brown ones…I think are lions?). I asked him if they were the same and he said yes. I asked him if they were the same size and he giggled and said no. And, then proceeded to go back to his rug. This is what I saw:
Essentially, the language materials are training the eye (and the hand) to prepare for reading, writing and observation. I made a PDF of my written for lesson those who are interested. Remember that most of these lessons are written for use in a classroom. At home, we aren't quite as strict since it doesn't really work for very well for us. As long as he is respectful of the materials, he has some free reign as to how he uses them. The key is to observe his actions and re-present the material that he is not understanding (e.g. left to right orientation).
Have a wonderful and safe holiday!