Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Montessori AMI Primary Guide: Discover Practical, Sensorial, Language and Mathematic Exercises

(click here:) Montessori AMI Primary Guide: Discover Practical, Sensorial, Language and Mathematic Exercises

This site is aMAZing for teaching your kids at home. I've been taking myself on my own field trips lately to learn things. I take Lukas, but the learning is for me. We got a tour of a Montessori School. I even asked to take pics to show my husband. I got some awesome ideas for things to make, things one could hope to expect from a little person that I hadn't thought of, and ideas for philosophies that I am a fan of, mainly these:

I'll start with HOME ORGANIZATION:
Things their size: Tables and chairs. We put these by the big dinner table. They were by the window on this afternoon for our "cafe" lunch together so we could watch the rainstorm. 

Using breakable things: Like teacups with saucers. To ease nerves, don't use the ones inherited from grandma so-and-so. I picked up a huge set of mismatched teacups with coordinating saucers at a garage sale for $3. So far, just one casualty from a music-directing spoon at the lunch table. Yes, those shelves are boxes. From Costco. 

Things at their level: My three year old can access the plates, cups and bowls now since they are in the bottom cabinets. Old Coca-Cola crates make it easy to get to things more in the back without knocking over everything in the front on the way. Ta da!  It's easier for him to set the table now that he can get to the dishes himself. 

Creating Independence: Through a family job, like setting the table, or dumping out the silverware rack from the dishwasher and playing the "sorting game" to put them all away. If he's not tall enough to reach the drawer, a simple wide sturdy step stool (like the ones in the automotive section of large chain stores) can solve that problem.
Do-it-yourself: In the school, I noticed that the kids all had little pitchers to pour their own water. It was  enlightening after seeing many spills in attempts to lift and maneuver the adult sized pitcher on the table. This is a vase from the dollar store... let's call it a carafe.

And you see those flowers? That's a Montessori idea too that I felt was worth taking. The kids pull off a stem from a larger group somewhere (excuse to buy myself flowers from Costco once a month!) and hold the stem next to the vase,  and use scissors at a trimming station to adjust the stem to the appropriate height for their vase. After filling it with water, they bring their beautiful decoration to the table with pride. My son loves it. 

Accessible and nicely presented: Crayons are long triangles, or flat rectangle blocks, or homemade crayons we made from the skinny crayons we never use (and are now shaped like our normal muffin tins.) Here in dollar store wooden baskets (easily found around Easter time).

Easily accessible and nicely presented: Goop is a new addition to our household supply of fine motor skill toys.
Thinking "games" out and ready for "exploration": This is a muffin tin with bread ties in it used to play "sorting" (classifying). Now my kid looks at the bread ties at the store and notices the ones left behind in the mud at the duck pond (oh, joy when he picks one up with duck poop on it, wanting to take it home to the sorter game! Haha!) The tray fits into a box on its side. From Costco. 
Accessible Game: (fine motor skills) Stickers. It's a lot of work for little fingers to peel off stickers and stick them to something else--- like letter forms, or one in each of balloons in a picture, or counting, etc. The trays are often stacked in beautifully duct-taped Huggies boxes (to make them look classier?!), turned on their sides. Nighttime diaper boxes are amazing. Enough said.

Game: Cut paper, glue scraps to another paper, Glue pompoms to paper, trace something with glue, then sprinkle with salt,flour, candy sprinkles, playground sand, etc.

Homemade toys: Little felt people from a pipe cleaner, a wooden ball for a face and felt clothes. Spinning Tops from wheels and axles for sale at Michael's MJ Designs. A dab of hot glue keeps the parts together and bam,... homemade top. Put two on a slanted plate like this and it's like having homemade BAYBLADES. haha!

At their level: Even Pictures on the fridge can be at their level to enjoy. These are family members and close friends our child knows and adores.

Playdoh tools in a basket. 

Their size: A little reading corner was easily created using two little chairs, an upside-down bucket, some board books, and a vase with flowers (these are fake).  I later covered the bucket with an old red pillowcase, and have plans to cover the chairs eventually. His own seating in the living room, complete with a picture hung at child level, and later a child size floor lamp will accompany the decor.
  • Making the child's world his size. Little furniture. Pictures hung at their level. If I could build my own house, I would find it awesome to have a child sized potty and sink.
  • Lots of beautifully presented tasks that have hidden purposes (like fine motor skills, order, hard work, etc) -- like polishing silver, or polishing wood. Or washing their own dishes.
  • Steps to get up to kitchen sink when one can't set up a lower independent wash station with two buckets.
  • Quiet pictures that promote peace, and a bit more spartan instead of a rainbow thrown up on the walls with tons of "things" presented on the walls. (Opposite of my elem. classroom)
  • Major presentation of a new 'concept' where I "show you something" by walking myself all the way through the activity, describing my every move in detail, then give you a turn. I can't believe how much he catches on this way. It lessens the trend (my trend) to want to correct as he goes, and doesn't let me cripple his wanting to try by giving too much praise or too much criticism.
  • Being around very many different ages benefits a child immensely. I felt grateful for visiting older ladies from church, and people with older kids. And for working with a church youth group where he gets to mix with older girls often, and learn from them (and vice versa).
  • Switching out Tupperware containers for open wooden baskets from the dollar store. Looks more uniform, and peaceful, and inviting. Who knew?
  • Making learning toys/cool things from wood myself. My Geo-Boards (previous post) cost a total of $4.04. For two. And maybe with more scrap wood there will be three!
  • Introducing cursive before print. Teaching pre-writing at such a young age by tracing sandpaper card letters. Stressing only sounds instead of letter names, and using only lowercase letters first. They're most common in books. Duh.  I'm so glad there are people to teach me things like this. Just little changes that can make big differences, right?
  • Speaking in a kind voice constantly. I know, I know... but it was a reminder. And when there is an argument to redirect, redirect, redirect.  I tried it in a heated moment with him and another friend and was happily surprised at how it worked... and at how hard it was to not just put my kid in time out. 
  • If he can do it himself, he should do it.  I bought a rod extender for his closet. He can hang up his own clothes. He can pull them off hangers when choosing his clothes in the morning, and replace hangers to the rod immediately. He CAN dress himself a lot of the way, but it's still a challenge for him, but I have to let the time be spent to let him, and really let him. No prompting in-between.  Almost easier if I lay out the clothes right side up (like underpants) and then encourage him happily and LEAVE so he has 'space' to do it himself, and the expectation to come find me when he's done.
Anyways, the site has step by step directions for how to introduce even the most basic concepts. I LOVE it!!

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