Tag Archives: Montessori Sensorial

Object to object matching

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…

Object_ronan(The rug is a hastily thrown together sewing project. It needs some binding. Oh, I know! – it's on the list)

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:

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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!

Being outside, getting dirty

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.
– Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

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A future zucchini from our garden

When R was a baby, I read this book and my thinking was forever changed. His ideas are not new, but they made perfect sense to me. At the time, I had a longing for home-grown vegetables and farm life, something which seemed in marked contrast to my very brown thumb. I seemed to have a problem remembering to water my houseplants.

A few months later, I did try my hand at home-grown veggies (tomatoes) and they grew and flourished, but didn’t fruit. I had much better luck with my herbs – they were also outside and they grew and grew. I have a sneaking suspicion that my wonderful neighbor – an avid gardener – was taking pity on my neglected herbs and watering them. I haven’t had that much success since we’ve moved.

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Lately, I’ve been wondering if it is time to create a more formal approach to nature for R. Dr. Montessori felt that children from ages 3-6 were hungry for scientific vocabulary. In her observations, she noted the constant desire for new words during this time period – this age group has a sensitivity to language.

And, while I wholeheartedly agree – his favorite question is “why?” As in, “why is that truck broken, why did they take down those garage doors, why are there bugs outside…” It’s enough to drive a sleep-deprived, caffeine-free mama a bit loopy.  But, I want to give him the “real” answer, whenever possible. So, we look up the names of birds we see, and discuss possible answers for the other questions.

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However, I think that for the time being, I will heed Rachel Carson’s words and concentrate on sustaining the sense of wonder – and in doing so, rekindle my excitement as well.

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A Montessori Bean Bag Toss

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The classic bean bag toss is not a new concept, but I’ve found a way to apply it to some Montessori principles. These shapes can be made from the metal insets and glued on to a larger sheet of construction paper. I made these, but an older child could create this on their own. The bean bags are old jeans that I cut up and sewed together and R stuffed them with dried lima beans. When I asked him why they were called bean bags, he looked at me with a “duh” look and said very slowly, “…because they have beans in them.” Oh, I guess you made that connection, huh?

And, while I would have preferred the metal insets, I bought these for him to work on strengthening his hand muscles and learning pencil control. (Ours are actually pink and blue like the traditional insets).

The idea behind this toss is to assist the child with a new way of memorizing the names of the shapes. So often we have to memorize certain details (puzzle words, times tables, etc.), but this is a new way to apply it those kinesthetic learners (definitely my strongest learning type…I’m also a bit of a visual learner). Also great for boys – who need to express lots of movement throughout the day.

If using the Montessori Method and presenting this to a child, be sure and introduce the metal insets first, so they are familiar with some of the shapes. Then, discuss the shapes by name and discover which ones he knows and only introduce one new one at a time. That’s part of why I included a star in the above lesson. A star is not found in the Montessori metal insets, but most children will know what it is, therefore, it frees up some brain space to talk about the trapezoid.

Now, in a Montessori classroom, you would do a three-period lesson, but for R and I at home, this isn’t much fun and he resists, so I usually don’t do it in the traditional way. I have found another way – incorporating these new ideas into fun games. This is best played with two people and when you land on a shape, call out the name. Or, call out the shape first and see if you can land on it (a bit difficult for three.) But, when your child misses, you say, “Oh, you landed on the circle. I’m going to try for the trapezoid.”

This is one of my Language album “original” lessons, but I’ve seen the bean bag toss used for vocabulary building and hand-eye coordination for lots of different activities. R’s music class used it to discuss the different types of street vendors in a city (they’re studying cities this semester) and it’s a great game to play with toddlers on a rainy day when all you want to do is rip your hair out!

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Have a wonderful and safe Easter. I hope you all have time to reflect on the holiday (if you celebrate) and enjoy being with family.

 

A sense of wonder

Bluejay

Ronan and I sat at his table this morning, ate our breakfast, and quietly observed the bluejays as they pecked at acorns in our front yard. His table sits in front of the window from our kitchen and my pregnant body isn’t too keen on scrunching up there for long periods of time. But, today, I sat with Ronan at his table (rather than at the big table) and we were richly rewarded.

It’s quite ironic that we were able to watch these birds as I just returned from a short seminar for my Montessori 3-6 training on observational science. Our instructor read a passage from Rachel Carson’s book, A Sense of Wonder and I noticed the similarities between how we are trying to teach Ronan to observe, mostly by imitating, and her exploration with her young nephew. Sometimes I feel that we wander aimlessly along, but perhaps, that is exactly the point.

In other news: I. must. save. up. for. a. telephoto. lens. Immediately.