We're shifting into pumpkin/Halloween mode over here this week, but I wanted to share with you some of the "Back to School' work we had on our shelves last week. You saw most of these works in the photos of our classroom tour.
Mirror Polishing. The set up for this comes right out of my training manual. James really enjoyed this work and repeated it a few times throughout the week.
Spooning Acorns. Ok, I have to be honest with myself and just admit that James no longer enjoys spooning work. Pity too because I really enjoy putting it together! He did this work once, quickly, and then gave it the cold shoulder the rest of the week.
Open & Close Basket. This is, in my opinion, one of the best works you can put out for a child - there are a lot of skills being practiced (snapping, buttoning, zippering, etc.) depending on what kinds of items you include and it's also great for one to one correspondence. I like that it's self correcting, too. There's only one small object for each container (see the pebble inside the glass jar?), so if there's a leftover object or an empty container, James knows he put too many or none at all in a container. He loved this and worked with it every day this week.
Texture Basket - I did not make these (I purchased them at a local shop), but you could EASILY make your own. Our one and only fabric store does not offer enough variety for me to replicate this. We talked about the differences and similarities between the materials.
Color Tablets (Box 2) - the matching aspect is too easy for James, so we've been using these in "Please bring me..." games with much success and fun! We'll be moving on to the 3rd box of color tablets as soon as I finish making them!
This whole area has had me over-analyzing and stressing out far more than I should be. Long story short, I've come to realize James has been learning language in a manner that does not coincide with the traditional Montessori route (or the handful of variations within it). Mind you, I'm no longer stressed about it since I realized it's not the end of the world. James learned the names of letters before learning their sounds. A big no-no in the Montessori world. He is also learning to read before being fully immersed in 'pre-reading' (aka aural preparation). Another no-no. Am I worried? Nope. It'll all work out, I'm sure of it. Nonetheless, I've put out several 'pre-reading' activities on our shelves simply because I know James will enjoy them. And that's really what it's all about, right? This is where I give Montessori a *huge* hug, say thanks, and then walk off the beaten path to what's working right for us at the moment. I love having the freedom to make changes as we see fit.
ABC Animal Cards
Sandpaper Letters & Sand Tray
Sandpaper Letters & Objects. Although James knows all of the basic letter sounds (a-z), I am reviewing through them (4 at a time) and including our sound objects for fun. I think we'll get through the rest of the alphabet next week at which point we'll continue on with phonograms.
American Sign Language (ASL) cards. James can sign the entire ASL alphabet, which was a big surprise to me considering I never taught him this! He picked it up during a viewing of this DVD which we rented from the video store. I decided to print and laminate some ASL cards for him since he was really eager about signing. I found these on abcteach.com. He was very excited about these! His new favorite thing to do is to spell aloud and sign the letters at the same time.
This is another area, like language, where we did not follow the traditional route of Montessori as far as introducing concrete before abstract (i.e James knew the names of the number symbols before learning what they meant). That happened because we simply didn't know about Montessori when James began showing an interest in letters and numbers during his first year. As I mentioned above, I'm not at all bothered or concerned about it especially since he's grasping each area with ease. That said, we're moving forward in a modified manner whereby I'll be introducing concrete materials alongside the abstract works he's already familiar with. I'll do this for just letter/sounds & numbers/quantities, but for everything else beyond these basics I'll mirror my teaching with the traditional route because I do believe it has great merit, particularly with more complicated math concepts. Again, this is what we've decided works for us.
Counting Cookies - I made these last year and they were a huge hit with James. Alone they are too easy for him, but we use them for adding/subtracting games now.
Basic Anatomy Puzzle
Discovery Tray - this will take the place of our seasonal nature display (we just don't have room enough for both). However, I'll change this often to suit whatever theme we're working on or to match the current season (e.g. shells in the summer, flowers in the spring, etc.). James absolutely LOVES this tray and writes in his 'journal' to document his findings (ala Sid the Science Kid). :)
Tree Matching/Name Recognition - this was something I made during our Letter T week last year and I made a handful more this year to make it a bit more challenging.
Sorting/Matching Cats & Dogs. This ended up being WAY too easy for James, so he created his own extensions - he sorted them by which animals were sitting/standing, he counted how many cats and how many dogs there were, and then sorted them by color shade. Ahem. I guess that showed me. :)
Building a Farm. This was an impromtu activity that I created mid-way through the week. James said to me, out of the blue, one day, "Mama, cows live on farms and give milk and we milk them like this (here he gestured his hands to simulate milking)." Then we talked about sheep and wool and that's when I decided to create this activity. He spent a long time going through and talking about each animal.
Sorting Fruits & Vegetables. The cute little baskets shown in the last two works were a very thoughtful gift from Eva of Handmade Beginnings - thank you, Eva!
Art & Music
Instrument Nomenclature Cards. I created these myself - this is just a small selection of them (I only put out a handful at a time), but there are more than 30 in the set I made.
I put together some new works - mainly pumpkin/Halloween themed - and I'll be sharing those later this week.
Linking up to Montessori Monday & The Preschool Corner.
~Thank you for your comments!~