If you haven’t already seen them at your local shop, there is this uber cool line of Star Wars Easter eggs out there. We picked some up last year and have used them in various ways such as sensory play and muffin tin snacks. This time I took 8 Vader containers and made them into a set of Montessori-inspired weight cylinders.
One thing I hate about the Montessori method is how easy it can be for a person to focus on the beautiful yet expensive materials. Many times when reading Montessori blogs and once when reading a Montessori e-book (none of which I will name because I refuse to bad-mouth someone for having a differing opinion than myself), I read about how the Montessori method hinges on the proper equipment. These classroom tools can be pricey individually and when you add them all up the costs become impossible for most homeschoolers. Some people will claim that the Montessori method is only for the “cream of the crop,” not suitable for every family nor every child.
Which brings me to the thing I love most about the Montessori method: it *IS* for everyone. Seriously, I have never met a child who wouldn’t benefit from at least some Montessori inspired activities. Even those who don’t have a strictly Montessori education (we sure don’t, we are an eclectic homeschool) could still benefit from some Montessori work.
And thankfully, it does *NOT* have to cost an arm and a leg to offer your children these activities. I’ve talked to many moms online who have bought materials second-hand or joined a lending library to rent materials at low-cost. Besides that there are whole websites dedicated to DIY Montessori materials! Some projects would take a bit of craftiness but others would be easy for anyone to make.
One tool that we use in our homeschool classroom almost daily is our movable alphabet. It is used in both the traditional Montessori way as well in various fun activities we come up with on the fly.
Our nature table has gotten out of hand. Or at least it feels that way to me.
Here is a glimpse at how it looked just shy of 6 months ago, when it was new:
And here is how it looks now:
One of the hurdles I wasn’t fully expecting the first week of LittleMan’s school was how SunnyGirl would react. Sure I knew there’d be some struggle and divide of my attention but I had assumed it wouldn’t be much more difficult than it is to do the dishes or shower without interruption. I was horribly unprepared.
She had her toys and her books and I had hoped that would be enough to entertain her just a few short hours of the day. Instead I found myself grasping at straws because she was not content to play with stuffed animals while big brother was working. An activity she would happily do for hours on end suddenly bored her once the pencils and lesson boxes came out. She had decided that she too must have “big kid work.”
A lap desk of her own, some coloring pencils, and a coloring book helped only slightly. So I did what I always do when faced with a parenting dilemma. I brainstormed, came up with ideas, thought long and hard. Then I Googled it. I Googled the crap out of it. And here’s what I came up with both on my own and via internet support:
- When a child seeks to exercise their mind, it is a parent’s duty to support them, regardless of inconvenient timing.
- I might as well get used to having two “students” now because sooner rather than later, she’ll be doing formal preschool lessons, kindergarten, etc.. and LittleMan won’t be graduating before then, lol.
- Some learning activities now might boost her confidence, improve her focus, make her more calm and centered. Well, as calm and centered as an 18 month old can be.
- Her brother was not much older than her when I first started preschool lessons with him at age 2.
- There are a ridiculous amount of resources, articles, and ideas for “Tot school” out there. Seriously, look it up, it is overwhelming. I never realized before but now I know, and if I remember correctly, knowing is half the battle!
One thing I did was look back at pictures I’ve taken these past 6 months to get a fresh perspective on how SunnyGirl likes to spend her time and recall which activities she most enjoyed. Of course I’m planning on trying plenty of new things but what was a hit for another blogger’s child may not be a hit for mine and vise versa so I want to make sure I’ve got some old stand-bys on hand just in case. I also have noticed some of these old activities can be modified to be fresh and fun. (more…)
I’ve mentioned before, although we do not have a full-fledged Montessori homeschool for our children, our home is Montessori inspired. Many of the activities we did for flower theme week reflected that inspiration.
Weaving is such a great fine motor and focus building exercise, which is why I try to encourage LittleMan and Tink to do it whenever possible. Unfortunately, space is of concern for us at the moment so a giant loom is just not practical in our tiny apartment.
We were using a cookie cooling rack from Dollar Tree to practice weaving pipe cleaners but the children were ready for an upgrade.
I saw these popsicle stick looms at Buggy and Buddy, and I immediately wanted them for LittleMan and Tink. (more…)
The other day I was setting up for an activity outside when I discovered a special little visitor hiding under our paddling pool. I quickly grabbed a critter-keeper from our shed and secured him so the children could get a good look. Their fascination with our new friend, “Mr Croak” inspired me to throw together a quick activity to learn about frogs. While they were preoccupied with snack time I quickly printed and cut out some frog anatomy nomenclature cards for free from Montessori Print Shop and pulled all of our frog books from the shelf.
First the children worked with the cards as they normally would, but stopping occasionally to compare the photos with Mr Croak. We talked about the uses of webbed feet and strong hind legs. Diet and habitat were also discussed.
I wasn’t planning on starting to “officially homeschool” until this autumn. In fact, I had already taken out the time to lay out our entire year’s curriculum goals, plan weekly themes, and start to gather lessons to go along with those weekly themes. The schedule I came up with allowed for much flexibility but was still a comprehensive guideline for LittleMan’s first year of “on the books” education. My goal was (and still is) to have the entire year’s worth of school work planned, printed, laminated, and otherwise prepped as best as possible before the first day of school.
I was doing small daily lessons with him to teach him (and review with him) the very basics. Things I’d be doing even if I was preparing to send him to a public or private school.
I did not plan to start doing more formal lessons nor did I plan to start doing theme weeks until this autumn. But, truth be told, without structure LittleMan’s attitude takes a turn for the worse. A couple hours of school work 4 days a week has made him so much better behaved, so much more focused and calm in his day to day life. (more…)
Last week I posted about some of the Montessori inspired activities that we do with our children, one of which was grating soap.
Yesterday I spoke about the influence of Montessori in our home but I left out one of the most treasured gems we have:
our recently added nature table.
Now, I’ve seen some pretty amazing nature tables online. Ours is…not that extravagant. Nor that beautiful.
Its ours and we love it!