We have been doing some Montessori activities since K was a less than a year old – including exploring treasure baskets, expanding vocabulary through cards that I made, doing shape puzzles, etc. But just before her 2nd birthday, I decided to step things up a bit since she has quite the vocabulary and seemed to enjoy the activities I was giving her. I also wanted to test out a method for recording what we are doing that I can use when she has more actual work to do. Here is what we have been doing.
Practical Life Activities
Practical life activities strengthen fine motor skills necessary for things like writing and are very satisfying for young children. I try to change these out weekly, but they are usually variations of the same. I will add more variety as her skills and interest increase.
Practical Life in the Kitchen
I don’t set these out, but try to find ways for her to help me in the kitchen. She loves to mix when we bake.
The first step in the writing and reading sequence (Montessori teaches it in that order) is to help the child connect that words are made up of sounds. We do this by playing “I spy” games, using all of the sounds in the (American) English language. To make it easy and fun, and to make sure I use all of the sounds, I have collected small objects that start with the different sounds to use for the game before we branch out to objects in the environment and other words she knows. (I got the set from Montessori Services as well as some Safari Ltd TOOB sets.) Before I start identifying the sounds with her, I want to make sure that she knows the names of all of the little objects I have for playing the game. So we have been going one or two sounds at a time, doing three part lessons on the objects.
We also talk about the objects, so it becomes more of a vocabulary enriching activity. (E.g. the “chest” led to a discussion of pirate chests and treasure.) And we continue to build vocabulary using cards I have made, by reading, and talking about the things all around us.
I absolutely love the sensorial materials, and I ended up ordering a bunch at once (so I could get free shipping), so it is a challenge for me not to present them all at once! She goes through short spurts of working with these every once in a while, and then won’t touch them for a while, but each time she builds the pink tower or does the cylinder block I can see that she is improving and she seems to enjoy doing them.
I love to organize things, and have been thinking ahead to how I will record what I have done with K and make sure I am prepared for upcoming Montessori presentations, so of course I looked at what other Montessori at home moms are doing. Even though they are way ahead of us (both her children are currently in elementary), I love the blog What DID we do all day? and I was inspired by her post on work journals and planning to make my own work journal for K. I used the downloadable template from dream before you, but instead of having each page as a week with a line per day, I made each page a month with a line per week.
Sorry for the horrible image quality! Along the left, each row is labeled by week and on the top are the categories I want to make sure I offer her regularly. She is only 2, so there is no pressure if we don’t get to one for a while, but it does let me know that maybe she needs different activities in that area, or maybe I haven’t been offering any. Our current categories are:
- Practical life: transferring, care of environment, care of self, food and drink, grace and courtesy
- Language: vocabulary, sounds
And I have an extra column that I use for overflow from a cell if needed – one week she was very interested in the sound objects, and I didn’t have enough room to record all of the ones we went through. I also have a separate page to make notes on ideas of activities to introduce and what she seems interested in at the time. So far I like the system. I really enjoy seeing what she has done over the past month, and it gives me flexibility to change the areas in each column when we need to. In a year or two, the column areas will be very different and hopefully include things like writing and reading.
That’s where we are. I want to note that she also spends a lot of time doing imaginative play – which is not encuraged in a Montessori setting – but it’s what she wants to do, and I think it is developmentally appropriate and there are many benefits to it. I will work on a post to show you the space where we do our “work” and hope to post more frequently on what we are doing so the posts are not so long!