Tag Archives: Montessori in the home

Education News & Links

23 Apr

Sistema Winnipeg, an after school music education pilot program running in two Winnipeg elementary schools. It’s amazing! There is no cost to the families. They provide the instruments along with instruction by professional musicians and practice time for the children. It’s still a new program but so far the parents are reporting that their children have more positive outlook towards school and life in general and both parents and teachers see that it having a positive impact on their school work as well. Video and article here.

 

And after that lovely reminder of how important music is to children’s education, the Toronto School Board is considering cuts to the music program. Listen to Ontario Today’s interview and callers here.

 

Grandma got STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). This blog is subverts the idea of grandmas being completely out-of-touch with these complex subjects. Features inspiring, pioneering women who work in these fields. Great read for kids, especially girls!

 

Discipline in Montessori with Miss Donna 

[EDIT: I re-watched the videos again with Biker and missed the part when she did a slow drop of the baby because he hit her. Personally, I wouldn’t do that! Freestyle has hit me and Biker a couple of times (a light swat) but what we did was catch her hand gently but firmly and told her, “No. We do not hit.” Then, we asked her why she chose to hit us and tried to address whatever frustration she was feeling and give her acceptable options of expressing said frustration, such as telling us in words what is bothering her. She has only done this a couple of times and hasn’t since, so we’ll see!]

A lot of my discipline philosophy aligns with Miss Donna’s, which shouldn’t be surprising as she’s a Montessori educator (albeit much more experienced and eloquent than me!). I like Dr. Montessori’s “teach by teaching not by correcting” philosophy. 

I liked that she acknowledges that there is no right or wrong answer in parenting and that it’s mostly about the tone about 80% of the time. Makes sense!

In the videos, she talks about predetermined boundaries, agreeing on the basic issues with your partner, saying no first, commands vs questions, “choice-ing them to death.” I laughed when she talked when she told her story about her reaction when her son told her “I hate you, you’re the worst mom!” I dread the day Freestyle or Real Baby says that to me (but I know it’s coming!), but I will keep in mind what she said about that! 

Each video is about 15 minutes long but worth watching.

 

(When she said “issues,” Freestyle lit up and said, “Shoes! She said shoes!”)

 

 

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Learning Letters: The Sound Game

27 Mar
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Turtle, banana, jingle bell, pencil, fish.

 

Freestyle is becoming more interested in letters and words. I try to point out letters wherever we see them (every time she sees the box of Cheerios she always points and says, “A, B, C” now!). I’ve also been calling her attention to words in books by running my finger under them as I read and sometimes she does it too as she pretends to read by making up a story based on the picture!

In Montessori, letter sounds are introduced first. This is better preparation for reading and writing. Letter names are introduced later (and from what I’ve read/heard, most children do not have any trouble or confusion with this). Freestyle knows the alphabet song from the children’s programs that we’ve attended and from me singing it to her, but recently I’ve been trying to sing the sounds to her instead. (I remember being so impressed that my Montessori trainer could do it so quickly! Now I can too! Go me!)

So, I decided to introduce the Sound Game to her (note: this wasn’t in Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years. I found this exercise on infomontessori.com.). The Sound Games are a precursor to the Sandpaper Letters.

 

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Freestyle asked, “Me eat b-b-nana?” 🙂

 

The Sound Game

(This is just what I did after some time of pointing out the first sounds of different things in our environment from time to time. A proper introduction and detailed description  of all six Sound Game presentations, including the purpose, age of child, and control of error, available here. )

 

Materials:

Mat

Tray

Few objects around the home that begin with a single letter sound (blends such as shoe and stick are more complicated and should be introduced later)

What We Did:

1. I told Freestyle that we were going to play a game.

2. She unrolled her “work mat” and got a tray.

3. We went around the house and I asked her to look for specific objects that I already planned to use and knew where to find. We used a turtle figurine, banana, fish toy, pencil crayon, and a jingle bell.

4. Returning to the mat, we set down the tray and I asked Free to set out the objects in a row.

5. I asked Free to name all the objects and I repeated it, putting an emphasis on the first sound. “Yes, that’s a f-fish. Do you hear the first sound of the word ‘fish’? It’s ‘f’.” I was careful to say only the proper sound of the word (just the “f,” sounding like a quick puff of air) and not drag it out so that it sounded like “fuh” (incorrect).

6. After she heard all the first sounds of the objects, we started our game. I would ask her to give me the object that started with a specific sound. We went through all the objects.

7. She seemed ready to finish the game after we did it once (I could tell because she started rolling around on the ground and then wanted to ride on the work mat like a magic carpet!), so we stopped. Later, however, we did play again with different objects.

 

We’ll repeat this again and I plan on using the infomontessori site as a guide to continue with the rest of the Sound Games. It’s a great site and I added it to my list of Montessori resources.

 

Learning to Glue (Mess-free!)

24 Jan

Freestyle has recently been very interested in learning to use scissors and glue after using them at the drop-in school program that we attend. Since they were set out and ready to go, I didn’t do a sit-down formal lesson on scissor use (definitely not necessary to do this for everything a toddler needs to learn, I feel!). I just showed her quickly how to hold them: thumb in the smaller handle hole and her pointer and middle in the wider one (though she is using three fingers right now…is that normal because their fingers are so small? I wonder if I should correct it or let it be for now).

I also made sure she knew how to carry them if she needed to: close the scissors and cover the outside of the blades with your hand, keeping your arm stiff while pointing the handles of the scissors towards the ground. She still needs reminders with this one! It is unsettling to see her walking towards me with them open in her hands!

For gluing, I liked how the Casa students in one of my old schools were taught to use white glue and taught Freestyle that method. I liked how they did it because it was neat and efficient– the child doesn’t end up using gobs of glue and turning their work into a wet and wrinkly mess. I remember when I was a kid, I didn’t like using white glue because it would make the paper wrinkly. When I was in elementary we used  glue sticks more often and I liked how much neater it was, but I do think that white glue is easier (thought messier) for younger kids to use.

So, without much further ado…

 

How to Neatly Use White Glue for Preschoolers 

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I don’t have any post-its at home right now, so I just used yellow construction paper and tape for show.

 

Purpose: To learn to glue neatly and efficiently. A skill that will be used over and over for crafts and school projects! Fine motor skills and precision in movement will be used.

 

Materials:

White glue

Glue mat (an old placemat works well)

Post-it notes

Flat, rounded toothpicks (I couldn’t find any so picked up these bamboo cocktail forks to use for now. They’re large and easy for Freestyle to hold.)

Paper

Cloth (to wipe up glue mat)

 

What to do:

1. Have all materials ready on a tray . Ask your child bring it to the table.

2. Either have pre-cut paper (or other easy to glue items) ready, or have your child cut up some paper to glue (if she already knows how to use scissors).

3. Set out the glue mat and place the page that she will be gluing things onto on the mat. Stick a post-it onto the top right-hand corner of the mat (or left-hand if she is left-handed!).

4. Show her how to squeeze a small amount of glue onto the post-it. (That’s the beauty of using the post-it…your child will have to learn to only use up the small amount that can fit onto it!)

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5. Show your child how to use the toothpick to take a small amount of glue and dab it onto the corners of the piece of paper that she wants to glue onto the page.

6. Turn the paper around and press the corners onto the page!

7. Repeat!

8. Dispose of toothpick and post-it after the activity. Wipe and dry glue mat before putting it away.

 

Go further:

Here’s a great post about using glue with preschoolers on the Teach Preschool blog.

 

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! 😉

 

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!” 🙂

 

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!

 

Decisions, Decisions…

30 Aug

 

Freestyle is 2 years old now.

At this point, a lot of people start talking about “The Terrible Twos” : the point where your once sweet, easy-going baby has become a walking, talking, tantruming toddler who has very strong opinions and wants everyone to know exactly what they are– usually very loudly and when you’re in public!

Freestyle is no stranger to the tantrum. A couple of months ago, I ended up having to carry her from our neighbourhood park (about 2 blocks away), kicking and screaming, in the heat, while 6 months pregnant.

Parenthood is just so special. 😉

 

When I was reading Paula Polk Lillard’s Montessori from the Start, I paid especial attention to the chapter entitled “The Developing Will.” I am used to shutting down potential sulk-fests from older kids in the classroom and have become (mostly) imperious to tearful pleads from students, but what the heck do I do with my own baby?!

One thing that I remembered from Lillard’s book was that young babies (under 1 year), are so interested in exploring their senses and can be distracted, if they want an object that they shouldn’t have, you can quickly take it away and replace it and they would still be happy.

However, between twelve and eighteen months, children’s brains begin developing and they can now hold onto thoughts and remember the objects. They are developing their will, which is a good thing, apparently. 🙂 It’s more difficult now to distract them by substituting said object with another because they now remember it.

 

So, what do you do? The two strategies that are suggested are: Redirection and Choice.

 

Redirection

At this age, children’s language development is flourishing and using descriptive language will help redirect their thoughts to a new one. You can refocus your child’s attention to something else in the room using description. In the book, they used the class pet as an example because live animals are very interesting to children. Alas, we do not have any pets, so I’ve usually tried calling Freestyle’s attention to something she doesn’t normally look at in the room (e.g. a print that hangs in the corner of the room).

 

Choice

The second strategy is giving them choices. Specifically, two choices which have outcomes that are acceptable to the adult (you!). So, at dinner time you wouldn’t ask your child, “Do you want to eat dinner now?” because she could say “no” and that wouldn’t be an acceptable outcome. You could, however, say, “It is time for dinner. Do you want to wash your hands at the kitchen sink or the bathroom sink?”

For example, we’ve started to let Freestyle make choices on what she wants to wear in the mornings. Usually in the mornings, she likes to run around upstairs and will giggle and run away sometimes if you tell her to get dressed, so I do find it easier to get her to focus on the task at hand (getting dressed and ready for the day), by presenting her with two outfits to choose from. I’ve set them out the night before, based on the weather and what we’ll be doing that day, so both outfits are acceptable choices.

She loves being able to have this little bit of control. She is involved and is proud that she made a decision that directly (and immediately) affects her.

So far, I’m trying to keep to these two strategies, and on the whole, it does work. However, there are always going to be those times when you just have to ride out a tantrum and console yourself with a nice cold Greek yogurt popsicle (my current favourite snack!) in the kitchen while your little angel is screaming her head off and rolling around on the floor in the next room.

 

Any other advice for the so-called “Terrible Twos?”

 

And, as a bonus, here is something to watch if your child is biting. Enjoy!

 

The Sweeping Square

23 Aug

 

 

Like many toddlers, Freestyle likes to help do “grown up” things. In the kitchen, she can help with basic food prep and has begun helping me set the table by bringing the utensils and smaller plates/bowls to the table. Recently, Freestyle has started bringing her own plates and cups back to the counter by the sink after she’s finished eating all on her own! When she first did it, I admit I was a bit scared that she’d drop it (I was in the other room and found the plate and glass by the sink) but she’s doing well!

She also likes to wipe spills and sweep the kitchen floors and walls (though we’re working on that!). I am thinking of setting up a dish washing station for her soon…just have to figure the details out first.

For sweeping, originally I got her this little broom:

 

 

 

However, she likes using the broom we use too. It’s not too tall, so it sort of works for her. Since she enjoys using it, I want to encourage this helpful behaviour!

She can sweep with this broom if I am helping her, but recently I’ve been trying to get her to sweep on her own. To make it easier, I used some brightly-coloured tape and make a rectangle outline on the floor (I was going to make a square, but the area I chose ended with rectangles).

I’m showing her now how to sweep into the rectangle. Then I help her hold the dustbin while she sweeps the dirt into it.

It’s a slow start so far, but that’s what practice is for, right? 🙂