Understanding Size and Weight with Rocks

Different sized rocks are a great way to teach big vs small, heavy vs light, smooth vs rough with younger kids.

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They like to pile cotton balls on the rocks too (don’t ask me why). The cotton balls are another way to compare light vs heavy.

I have an old post about this Bringing the Outside In

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paint outside (and inside) the box

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Sometimes painting on paper gets old for a preschooler, I’m afraid to say. So, we have to spice up the activity a bit! I found a couple of wooden boxes at Target for 3 dollars. My first intention was to use them as-is for activity trays, but as they just sat around empty I realized maybe I could spare one for an art project. I said, “Hey, you wanna paint a box?” My daughter was all for it.

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Once the paint dries I will let her have at it with glue and sequins and glitter and whatever else I find laying around. I might not want to use it as a decorative piece when she’s done, but she’ll sure have fun. 😉

Also, this project got me to thinking that I could probably let her paint other unconventional things and objects for fun: plastic bottles, tin cans, and the sky is the limit. In the end, all of this painting practice helps advance her dexterity and fine motor development. And it’s fun!

alphabet fun

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I found this ABC rubber stamp set for 3 dollars! Where? At Target! When you first walk into Target they have a $1 to $3 dollar section, and I was excited to find these there. Especially because they’re all lower-case. Montessori students begin by learning the lower-case alphabet because something like 95% of all words you see are in lower-case. Makes a whole lot of sense when you look at it that way. Also included are some punctuation stamps, but I’m not introducing punctuation in my daughter’s learning yet.

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So, the stamps are fun in general, and we can also practice her letter sounds at the same time. My 3-year-old knows about half of the alphabet’s letter sounds, so we’ve started on with some phonics words (I will post about her reading and writing progress another time).

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In the photo above I have illustrated two silly pictures of a cat and a bat. I had her try and stamp in the correct letter by sounding out the words. Well, she got the “c” right to start the word cat, but didn’t understand where to stamp it… she ended up stamping randomly in the middle of the card. Funny how we some times assume that our children should have a concept of something they’ve never done before. Well, we tried again until she figure it out. 🙂 Anyway, If we had a printer I could probably find some free printables out there, or make my own print-out versions.

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And here’s a great way to recycle. ^ If your child is like mine then you have an overflow of scribbles and drawings on paper. Instead of being in that awkward position of “should I throw these away… or become a hoarder?”, you can instead reuse them in a tray with scissors for a simple cutting activity. Great scissor practice!

~Thanks for reading!~

how to compel a child to learn

023First of all, it really helps to designate an area that’s devoted to only special learning activities. It could be the corner of a room (as we have, shown above), or an entire room. Second, it helps to have low shelves and a small table and chair for child (but a mat on the floor is fine). However, you can skip having an area all together and just set up an activity at the kitchen table when it’s activity time. So, moving on, the idea is to intrigue the child by setting up activities on their own tray (or basket or container), and that look attractive. For example, place the same old box of crayons that have been laying around for months on the kitchen table and see what happens. Probably nothing. Instead, try taking the crayons out of the box and placing them in a glass cup. Place the crayon filled glass cup and put it on a tray or dazzling place mat, and set a ruler along side a crisp piece of paper. Or maybe a mysterious notebook. You could strategically set up a stencil to the left. Maybe a single rubber stamp. Try not to make it too busy. Then! Watch your child walk by… Will they not turn their head and wonder, “hmm… what’s going on here? A glass cup? Why are there crayons in the glass cup?”

By the way, during preschool years, drawing is learning. The more your child scribbles around and is encouraged to  do so, the easier time they will have developing writing abilities later. I suppose during the preschool years almost anything hands-on is learning.

Anyway, the idea is to make an activity using beautiful or unexpected items. Make the activity inviting. Most of the classic Montessori materials are hands-on, beautiful materials that invite the child to use their senses to explore. That same idea can be applied to setting up almost any activity. Anything that is tactile a child will love learning with. Switch up materials to learn counting with (when she tires of counting with beans try cotton balls) When a child sees that something is special they will naturally show it more respect and care. Having an activity neatly displayed on a shelf is inviting. Having things jumbled in a bin or box is forgotten.

Throughout my blog I provide many photo examples of ways to simply set up  activities that are inviting. By just looking around your house or going to thrift stores you can find many interesting containers and trays that will make any activity more compelling.

~Thanks for reading and feel free to share thoughts~