I learned about the Montessori method of teaching children when I was in college working on my BS in Elementary Education. I actually toured a great Montessori School in Pennsylvania a couple years ago. It amazed me! The children were quiet and with no help from the teacher, they were working. I didn’t end up taking Montessori courses but I did do a great deal of research on the topic, simply because it fascinated me. Now that I have children of my own, I would like to begin using some of the Montessori methods. When we get settled and she is old enough, Isla can go to a Montessori school. I would love to home-school but it’s just not in the cards for us. Right now things are super hectic for us and I know I can’t implement Montessori teaching completely, but a couple activities won’t hurt, right?
So, I got to work. I started from the beginning and thought about the basic principles of Montessori: independence and learning through exploring one’s environment. Then I researched (read: pinned) a ton of awesome Montessori activities for toddlers. I put together a list of things I wanted to make/buy for Isla and then did the shopping. As for the environment, I’m still hunting a table set and long book shelving for her. The environmental part has been the most difficult for me, since we have limited space right now and only her bedroom and mine are really child proofed/available for her to explore. Most Montessori says that you should not baby proof, but instead make everything “available” for exploration, obviously within boundaries. This would be fine, if we were in our own home, with our own things, but while my husband is deployed we are staying with family and it’s just not feasible. So for now, I am keeping these activities in her closet organizer for her to pull out while I’m working during the day.
The first and easiest activity I put together for Isla this week is her texture basket. I got a mixture of textures from around the house and the craft store for her to try out. She has faux fur, burlap, a feather, leather, snakeskin, and a couple other things in her basket. The first time I introduced the basket we touched each item and I used words to describe it to her. I rubbed the fur against her cheek and said “soft”. I rubbed her feet on the burlap and said “rough”.Basically I just was giving her words to signify each texture. The objective is to get her using her senses to explore items in her environment. We have some outdoor activities planned that will further this lesson.
I also made her some sensory bottles. Three make noises- they have beans, quinoa, and jingle bells in them and three are visually stimulating- they have colored water and oil, colored water and glitter, and soap and water. She loves to shake them and see what happens.
The next project I worked on this week involves sorting and can really be done with any material. Isla still likes to explore items with her mouth, so most small items like buttons and beads were out. I found these awesome foam pieces that were all kinds of shapes, letters, and numbers. We could sort the shapes by shape, color, or size. The letters and numbers could be sorted by color or size and as she gets older she could sort them by letter/number. They all serve dual purpose too, as I can use them to help her identify letters and numbers. So far, she isn’t sorting. She just likes to check them out and stick them on her cousin, Jackson.
Another big Montessori activity we decided to try is transferring and pouring. Right now, we’re using dry beans and measuring cups. She really loves this activity and continues to work on using the measuring cup to get beans (sometimes she just gives up and use her hands). We’ll move to water when it’s warmer outside and we can play in the water table. I’m also getting sand this weekend for her sand table to explore another medium in pouring.
She has beading, which helps with fine motor skills. I found awesome, LARGE wooden beads at the craft store and used them on shoe strings for her. She loves it! I also bought some pasta that I’m going to color for her to string.
We have been working on everyday life skills as well. This week, Isla helped me fold and put away cloth diapers. I plan to let her help with cooking, baking, cleaning, and laundry. We have to dust this weekend so that will be a job I share with her.
I have a lot more planned for her and we’ll see what works and doesn’t along the way, but so far she seems to really enjoy them. She likes to sit and work independently on things, which is why u believe Montessori will suit her.
What educational activities and experiences are you providing for your children?by