Monday, June 14, 2010

Montessori Monday

It's been a while since I posted some of our Montessori lessons, so here's a BIG catch up post with activities from the past few weeks. Oh and I took pics of James only if it seemed ok to do so. Truthfully, I'm trying to limit my camera use during our lessons - I think we both find it a bit distracting!


Knobbed cylinders
The cylinders are some of James' favorite Montessori materials. He is a pro at these and it always makes me smile to see how he "hunts" for the correct space by hovering the cylinder over each spot to gauge if it's the right fit. This is exactly how it should be done!

Exploring the playdough gardenJames had tons of fun with this. Unfortunately, the playdough went "bad" after just a couple of uses. I didn't alter my recipe at all, so I think it has to do with the increasing humidity.

Sorting beads
I like these beads because they're all the same color and only differ in size and shape, which requires a bit more attention when sorting. At first James just played with the beads (pretending they were soup, etc.), but when he got around to actually sorting them, he really, really focused on what he was doing. It was so neat to watch him concentrate on each bead.

Practical Life

Rolling and unrolling the mat
I taught James how to do this quite some time ago, but I noticed he was getting a bit lax in the technique, so we revisited it.

Tonging puffs
This took a bit of concentration on James' part because the holes in this ice cube tray and the tongs are smaller than he's used to. He did a great job!

Tonging (fake) strawberries
Initially I put out a this pair of wooden tongs, but they were way too stiff, even for me. I switched to a strawberry huller (how appropriate!), which was perfect because the real challenge in this activity lies in having to pick up the berries by their stems. Not as easy as it sounds, but James did really well.

Pouring water James has mastered dry pouring and truthfully he can pour liquids pretty well too, but I thought he'd enjoy this work simply because it involved water. And he did - he poured and poured and poured. When I introduced this work I used the proper Montessori pouring technique (holding the container with one hand while placing two fingers from the other hand under the spout) and for the first time James imitated me. It seemed really awkward for him though and I didn't object when he modified his grasp.

Pouring beads into two containers
This work involves pouring wooden beads from one container into two and the trick is to stop pouring when each container is just about full. To my utter surprise, he did this perfectly on the first try (even I over poured when I tested it!).

Folding washcloths
This was the first time I introduced folding to James. He LOVED it! Just look at that smile on his face! Interestingly (to me anyway), when I demonstrated how to fold I folded the washcloth upwards, but he folded them downwards. I wondered if this had anything to do with the whole left brain/right brain thing.

Egg slicing activityOh boy was this a favorite! During my presentation James watched my every move intently and when it was his turn to crack, peel and slice the egg, he did a fantastic job. I have quite a few more food preparation activities to share with all of you. I find anything involving food is generally a big hit with kids. :D

Spooning beans
James mastered spooning a long time ago, but he really enjoys these kinds of activities, so I keep putting them out. The little radish cups were a surprise find at the pet store. :)


USA puzzle map
James is fascinated with this puzzle. Believe it or not, he actually puts it together from start to finish all by himself. He knows quite a few of the states by name and can identify them by their shape, too. Paul and I were surprised when he picked up a piece (Tennessee, I think) and then went to the US map we have on the wall and searched for and found the corresponding state.

Land, water & air
This activity came right out of my training manual. Three bottles, one filled with soil, one filled with water, and the other filled with nothing but air. The balloon accompanies the air bottle and during my presentation, I blew up the balloon to demonstrate the effect of air. We touched and smelled inside of each bottle and then talked about where we could find each of these things in our world. Before my presentation I wondered if all this might go a bit over James' head, but no! He was so interested and totally understood everything I said. Days later, he kept telling Paul and I that the balloon was filled with air and that the earth was made up of land, water and air. :)

Matching cats and dogs
This was a multi-faceted activity in that it involved matching pairs as well as sizes, and it led to some discussion about all the different kinds of cats and dogs in the world. James thought it was funny that a lion was really just a big cat! :)

Caring for a plant and watching it grow
This is a practical life & science experiment all in one. A while back James and I planted some seeds. We've watered and cared for them every day and over time we've watched them grow. We've talked about how the plants grow and what they can be used for. I haven't gone into all the mechanics of the plants (i.e. stem, roots, etc.) just yet, but it's in our near future.


Bottle cap name cards
I first learned about this idea from 1+1+1=1 and it's one of James' favorites. I created the cards in Word, printed and then laminated them. James loves hunting for the matching bottle cap letter and he gets such a kick out of seeing the familiar faces on the cards.

CVC cards
I love these little cards because they provide a control of error in the artwork (e.g. the car is split into 3 parts). James used these by matching up the pictures and then sounding out each letter.

3 part cards
I've been busy printing and laminating 3 part cards on a variety of topics - space, plants & animals, living & non-living, geography. You can find my favorite printables resources here. I'll be introducing a couple of these to James this week.

Category/Sequencing cards
I found these at a flea market and they've got to be circa 1980, but they get the job done. In fact, they opened up some funny dialogue - I had to explain to James what a cassette tape was and the big boombox threw him for a loop. :) He liked the cards though and did really well categorizing them, but we'll work on the sequencing a bit more.


Arithmetic on the abacus
I found this abacus at a second hand store in Connecticut and it was the best $2 I ever spent. Such a great learning tool! James used it quite a bit last year when he was perfecting his rote counting and is now using it to practice addition and subtraction. This is all him, mind you. Paul and I never push any of this stuff on him. I'm constantly amazed at what HE finds interesting!


We finally finished our rainbow collage! We started this back in April and little by little James would work on it, adding a scrap of paper here or there. This was such a great color sorting activity. I simply drew an outline of a rainbow on a big sheet of paper, cut lots of strips of colored construction paper, had James tear the strips up (GREAT fine motor activity) and glue the torn bits onto the outline.

James painted this bit of artwork, which I used to create a pretty little pinwheel. See my tutorial here.

Linking up to Montessori Monday & Preschool Corner - be sure to click the buttons for more ideas!


Zonnah said...

Wow, you guys were busy! I love the egg activity and am going to try it with my son :)

Unknown said...

The blue water looks so inviting. Wonderful activities!! Thanks so much for sharing.

twolittleseeds said...

This is fabulous. Thanks. RE: the black beads...are they from a necklace or did you buy these as a Montessori resource?

ps love love the spelling game with the caps! xx

Counting Coconuts said...

Thanks so much for your comments!

As for the beads, I purchased the them online – I linked to the location on my post, just click on “these beads” and it’ll take you there. :)


Anonymous said...

love all of these activities! However, my favorite thing is the smile on James' face while he folds the washcloths!

Förskoleburken said...

Wow! I'm impressed, what a post! So many wonderul montessoriactivities!

Montessori Beginnings said...

Awesome activities! James is so lucky to have a Mommy who constantly comes up with such stimulating activities for him! I've been so lax lately knowing that L will be going to school in September.

Karen said...

Wow!! Mari-Ann, love this post!!! So great activities!! You guys has been very busy !!! So inspiring!! Thanks so much for share my dear friend!!!

Big Hugs,

Theresa Mezo said...

Love all of your activities, especially the eggs.. Aidan loves cracking & slicing them too!
James' rainbow & art is gorgeous! :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! My sister and I went to Montessori school for preschool and kindergarten (and then public school). When my little one (1 year) gets bigger I hope we can do activities like these during the summers.

One of my all time favorite activities at school was using an eyedropper and colored water to fill the little suction cups on a soap holder. 30 years later I still remember it.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I love all the activities, and I can see that egg slicing would probably be the favorite here as well. Thanks for the tip on M&D map puzzle - I was just looking for a good US puzzle for Anna that wouldn't frustrate her too much. This looks like something she might actually like.

Kylie said...

wow you have some great stuff here. The rainbow ended up fabulous.

tracey (aka rainbowmummy) said...

I just love you, Miss Awesome!

I completely agree with the camera thing (not judging people who do, I just mean for my situation at home). So I keep it away.

Can I ask how you know the playdoh was bad. I have made homemade before but wastefully chuck it away every time because I was scared I wouldn't know when it was bad.

I love the bead sorting. I am all for colour sorting, but if it's a number/size/shape etc I like the colour to go away (example sorting big, small and medium pom poms the poms poms should be mixed colour or all the same but not have one colour for the different sizes, as it would just be turning it into a colour sorting activity imo). Does that make sense? lol!

The folding thing interests me too, did you sit beside James or in front of him?

I love the Egg activity too, it's so important that kids do more with food than just make chocolate crispy cakes! I'm really looking forward to seeing more of your food preparation activities!

I love the rainbow collage, I think I'm going to incorporate it with another rainbow activity I have been waiting to do.

Ok I'll shhh now ;)

Counting Coconuts said...

RM, I emailed you separately too, but just in case others wondered about your questions I thought I'd answer them here...
I knew the playdough was bad when it stuck to everything and when it felt gooey. :S I always keep it in an air tight container in the fridge and it usually lasts for about 2 months.
As for the folding activity, James was sitting perpendicular to me. You are very clever - for some reason I never thought about his visual perspective factoring into how he does an activity. Seems obvious to me now though and I'll definitely keep it in mind going forward - thanks!


tracey (aka rainbowmummy) said...

Thanks for the play doh info, Mari-Ann!

As for the "very clever", would be nice, I'm just very literal, been trained by the best, my son (who is autistic) :)

Ariella said...

how amazing! what a beautiful home and life you all live. looks so peaceful and nurturing, and FUN!

XYZZ said...

Thanks for linking up to Montessori Monday - so glad you're back. :) Looks like I'm going to have to get an egg slicer - great idea. I also love the rainbow; it's wonderful that he just worked on it little by little. I'm going to have to set up that flower playdough lesson for the boys soon as well.

kewkew said...

Sorry it's been awhile since I've stopped by your blog. What great activities you have posted here. I feel so inadequate right now when it comes to our Montessori work. I need to get off my duff. Got a chuckle over the cards from the 80's. I enjoyed reading about each activity you posted about.

2 Pequeños Traviesos said...

Beautiful activities, my friend! Hopefully, I'll be borrowing a few of your ideas in the future. I've been trying to figure out what to do with all the caps I have saved. Well, now I know! I REALLY MISSED your Montessori activities. Great post.
Big Hugs

Insightful Brain said...

Your site is so beautiful and your homeschool looks so enriching. I have placed a link on my blog to your site. I hope you do not mind. It is just such a great site. If you do, please contact me and I will remove it (
Thank you for such wonderful ideas.

Leigh said...

Once again you leave me feeling inadequate (in a good way, you Awesome Mom!) and inspired (in a great way!). I mean to start doing some of these things with Mason when Kendal starts school in the fall.

I laughed at the folding opposite, too. People make fun of me for tying my shoes "backwards" because, we assume, of the way I watched my mom teaching me. No one ever pointed it out to me until I was an adult, and it even made my mom laugh when I showed her.

Jen said...

And this is just a few weeks? OMG. :) Seriously fab post!!! Your blog is an amazing resource.

PS: I think you need to get James's IQ tested... I don't know ANY 3 year olds that know the US states. :)

Leptir (Nataša) said...

So many neat activities in your post! Thanks for sharing :-)

The Schroeder Page said...

I love your Language activity! Using bottle caps is a wonderful way to teach recycling. I use them for counters in my classroom. I also think it is great that you are using familiar pictures for the spelling cards. I use the site Spelling City to create familiar spelling and vocab list for my class. It might be a fun way to incorporate some technology:) Great Post!

Miss Susan said...

I know this is late, but I have two set of milk cap lids letters (uppercase and lowercase) I want to be able to create my own word cards like you did for "mommy." Did you use a particular font in Word? It is really time consuming to move the shapes (circles) around the text. Just wondering.

P.S. what a lot of wonderful ideas you have!!


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