Tag Archives: concentration

Threading Activity: Pasta Necklace

20 Dec

A classic kid’s craft, I say! It’s super simple and you can use whatever you have lying around your house– a great I-just-need-you-to-be-doing-something-right-now activity in a pinch! ūüėČ

 

Making a pasta necklace:

Materials: String, dry pasta, tape, scissors.

To start, string one pasta (piece of pasta?) and tie a knot.

Use the tape to make a “needle” for easier threading. I found that it works best if the taped part is longer than the pasta.

 

 

Threading’s an easy skill to practice in many fun ways! I’ve also¬†written about Threading exercises¬†here¬†and¬†here.

  • Try different types of pasta. You can dye pasta with food colouring or just buy the tri-coloured veggie pasta (yellow, orange, and green).
  • We are going to try small beads next! Maybe I’ll have Freestyle make bead necklaces for her cousins’ Christmas presents or keep that as a ready activity for when kids come over.
  • There are so many toys that let children practice the skill of threading.

 

Water Pouring Exercise

22 Nov

Water Pouring Exercise for Toddlers 

Age: Approx.¬†15 months + . As always, all children are different, so you can observe your child’s readiness. Initially, I introduced pouring to Freestyle using dry items when she was 20 months.

Purpose: This is a Practical Life exercise. The child is developing hand-eye coordination, concentration, practicing aiming for a target, and fine motor skills. If there are spills, she learns to clean up after herself. Once she is able to control her movements and pour accurately, she can pour her own water during meal and snack time, another step towards independence! She can also offer to pour a drink for others (Grace  & Courtesy).

 

Materials:

2 small pitchers, ideally they will be identical

(I used two creamers that¬†I found these two creamers at a thrift store…$0.99 each! They had shelves and shelves of old tea sets and other items that could be used for Practical Life activities)

Water

Small cloth or sponge to wipe up spills

Tray

 

What to do:

1. Have your child carry the tray with all the materials to a table. She will sit in front of the tray and you should sit to her right if you are right-handed, to her left if you are left-handed.

2. Fill the pitcher on the right with a small amount of water. Demonstrate how to carefully pour the water from the right pitcher to the left, and then back again (more details in step 3).

3. Show her how to wrap the fingers of her right hand around the handle (her pointer and middle finger will be wrapped around the handle while her thumb rests on top of it). Have her support the other side of the pitcher with the pointer and middle fingers of her left hand.

4. Allow her to carefully pour the water from one pitcher to the next, and then back again.

5. If there is a spill, that’s okay! It’s just an opportunity for your child to learn that she will need to take more care next time and also to take responsibility in cleaning up after herself.

6. Let her repeat as many times as she’d like– which will probably be a lot!

 

Control of Error: No water will be spilled.

Vocabulary: pour/pouring, pitcher, handle, spout. Freestyle loved the spout and kept saying, “Spou…water come from!” ūüôā

 

Freestyle really enjoyed this activity but during our second try she wasn’t able to control her excitement and was lifting up the pitcher in the air with one hand and cheering after she finished pouring. After I tried to gently remind her that we needed to be careful, showed her again how to hold the pitcher, and giving her a fair warning about what the natural consequence of this behaviour would be, I ended up having to stop the activity and take it away. While I’m glad she likes doing it, she will have to learn that there is an acceptable way to handle the pitcher and that wasn’t it! Of course she was very upset but…them’s the breaks, kid.

 

Go further:

  • When your child is ready, she can start pouring her own water from a small pitcher into a glass for snack time and meals! Later, she can do this for the rest of the family– imagine how proud your child will be to be able to do such an important job!

 

Easy DIY Threading Activity

16 Aug

 

 

[EDIT: Since I wrote this about a month ago, Freestyle has pretty much picked apart the white paper that I used to wrap the container! So keep that in mind if you decide to make this. In the link below, I believe she gives an idea of how to better cover the container.]

 

I’ve been meaning to make this for Freestyle for awhile now (months, actually!), but of course my lazy self kept procrastinating until I forgot about it! I think this would be a great activity for younger babies (around 1 year) to start on.

What reminded me was this post from how we montessori, a great blog I just stumbled upon.

 

It’s very simple to make:

All you need is a container with a plastic lid, something to poke holes into the lid, and about 10 stick-like objects (I had a huge box of coffee stir sticks from my own very DIY wedding leftover!).

  • You could also use larger wooden sticks/straws and a parmesan shaker (the ones with larger holes on the lid).
  • Or, you don’t even have to make a container– clean some pennies and use a piggy bank!

 

This is a Threading Activity, so Freestyle will be working on her concentration, hand-eye coordination, and pincer grip. It’s also a great activity that Freestyle can do independently, so a perfect time to bring it out is when I’m making dinner.

 

 

 

And, it’s portable! Just keep the sticks in the container and bring it with you if you know you’ll need to keep them busy.

 

Pincer Grip Activity

19 Jul

 

Wooden Peg Pincer Grip Activity 

Age: 12 months + (Again, all children develop differently, so you can introduce this to your child earlier or later, depending on their readiness.)

Purpose: The pincer grip (the ability to use the thumb and index finger to grasp an object) is an important fine motor skill development. Activities that exercise the pincer grip prepare the child to hold a pencil (muscle development and control, coordination, purposeful movement). Dr. Montessori believed that exercising these muscles would prevent the child from becoming fatigued when he started to write.

Materials:

Wooden clothes pegs

Container (large enough to hold about 10 pegs with a lip that is narrow enough for the peg to be clipped upon)

Tray

 

What to do:

1. Place the wooden clothes pegs into the container and put it on a tray. Have child bring the tray to the table (or workspace on the floor) when ready.

2. Pour out the pegs onto the right side of the tray (or the left, if child is left-handed).

3. Show your child how to use her thumb and index finger to squeeze open the clothes peg and then clip it onto the container lip.

4. When she has clipped all the pegs onto the container, she can unclip and put them into the container one at a time.

 

Vocabulary introduced/used: clothes peg, clip. 

 

Go further:

  • Use tongs and tweezers to transfer small objects from one bowl to another. Objects could include: pom poms, cotton balls, sugar cubes, beads, etc.

Introducing Water Transfer Activities

5 Jul

Materials: 2 containers, 1 turkey baster, 1 towel.

 

Water Transferring Activity for Toddlers 

Age: 18 months + (As always, all children are different- for this activity they do need to have the dexterity to squeeze the turkey baster. Sponge option for younger children below.)

Purpose: This is a fun activity for toddlers since it involves water! Working with water is a great sensory experience and is good exercise for their hand muscles and fine motor skills. It is a Practical Life exercise because it teaches children how to control the movement of water.

Materials:

Towel

2 containers

Turkey baster

Water

 

What to do:

1. Lay out the towel and fill one container with a few inches of water. Place the two containers and turkey baster on the towel.

2. Show your child how to hold the baster by the bulb and draw up water by squeezing it and releasing the pressure on the bulb.

3. Move the full baster over the second container and squeeze the water out.

4. Repeat!

Freestyle decided to turn this into a pouring exercise too!

Vocabulary introduced/used: squeeze, baster, bulb.

 

Go further:

  • For younger children (even as young as 6 months!), you can simply show them how to use a sponge to absorb water and squeeze it back out again.
  • When they’re ready, you can show them how to use the sponge to soak up the water from one container and squeeze it into another.
  • Once your child has mastered this activity, they can begin learning to control their movements using an eye dropper and smaller containers. Place the materials on a tray and include a small sponge for clean up.

Introducing Pouring Exercises

10 Mar

Pouring Activity for Toddlers 

 

Age: 18 months + (another activity that can be modified to become more challenging as they grow!)

Purpose: Pouring exercises are a staple Practical Life exercise in Toddler and Casa classrooms because they are fantastic for developing hand-eye coordination, concentration, practicing aiming for a target, fine motor skill development. You know, the usual! Learning to pour is a practical skill that she will use daily during meal time when she is ready.

 

Materials:

Tray

2 containers

Dry items to pour (examples: dried beans, buttons, rice, small pasta, beads, etc.)

What to do:

1. Have the activity set up so that the dry items are in one container on the tray.

2. Show your child how to carefully pick up the full container with both hands and slowly pour the items into the second, empty container on the tray. Vocabulary to introduce/emphasize: pour, slow(ly).

3. Put the first container down and repeat using the now full container.

Oh, here's when the Control of Error comes in...

Getting better!

 

Go further:

  • If you have one, you can use a small pitcher and a cup.
  • Add a third container for more fun!
  • Once your child is more confident (and adept!) at pouring dry items, she can try pouring water from a small pitcher into a container (or cup).
  • Use containers of different shapes and sizes.
  • Your child can even practice pouring into a funnel.

Make a Simple Puzzle Box

2 Feb

Here’s one of the first Montessori-inspired activities that I made for Freestyle. I got the idea from the great book, Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home from Birth to Age Three by Paula Polk Lillard & Lynn Lillard Jessen.

 

DIY Puzzle Box

Age: 15 months + (variations for younger children below)

Purpose: At this age, the child has more or less learned to connect her brain and her hand movement. Now that she can coordinate her hand movements and is ready (and wanting) more challenging work. This activity is great because it allows for

  • Concentration (repeatedly putting the discs through the slit)
  • Eye-hand coordination (accurately placing the disc into the slit)
  • Practice of the pincer grip (holding the disc between her thumb and forefinger)
  • The understanding of object permanence (the discs disappear once dropped into the box and then found again when the lid is lifted up)
  • The satisfaction after a challenge is met!
Materials:
  • box (I used a shoebox)
  • 4-6 discs (I saved up a few frozen juice lids, but you can use anything you have, such as poker chips, bottle lids, etc.)
  • utility knife

What to do:

To make: Using the utility knife, make a slit in the lid that is just big enough to fit the discs. Voila!

1. Take out all the discs and put them to the right of the box. Show your child how to pick up one disc and fit and drop it through the slit.

 

2. Allow her to try this on her own. Help guide her if needed, but if she is getting frustrated, that’s okay. Just redirect her to another activity and put this away for another time.

 

Go further:

  • For younger children (8 months +), they can try putting a small wooden egg into a cup or a small wooden cube into a box that just fits it. The child should be proficient with the egg and cup before trying the cube and box because it is much more challenging.
  • If you have wooden blocks at home (triangular prisms, cubes, sphere) you can trace those onto the different sides of a box (make sure that it is just large enough to fit the shape). Many people have a toy like this at home too. They work the same way, but are usually made of plastic. Montessori materials are natural materials (wood, wicker baskets, glass, real flowers instead of fake) as much as possible to cultivate an appreciation for the world. These natural materials also add to the sensory experience (weight of glass VS lightness of plastic, smell of wood, etc.).
  • Wooden puzzles with knob handles on the pieces are a great activity and are readily available. Fitting the piece properly gives the child the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. When they are younger, the knobs will make using the puzzle easier.