It’s pumpkin season! Pumpkins are squishy, gooey, stringy, etc. A great way to discuss all of the senses with younger kids. Happy Fall and Happy Halloween!
Here’s an activity that resonates with the phrase “less is more”. Basically, I set three picture cards in one side of the tray, and three words that correspond with the pictures on the other side. In the middle are three cups in which to place each match. Anyway, I was tempted at first to try and have my daughter match all of the dozens of cards at once, but she would have quickly become overwhelmed and disinterested. Having only 3 cards that need matching allows her to quickly do the activity and get practice all by herself! I told her that each day I will rotate which cards need to be matched. A fun and easy daily activity.
This activity utilizes printables from the Montessori Print Shop. I purchased the Montessori At Home eBook from there, and it was quite a deal.
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.
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!
Puzzles are great. They are an activity that encourages problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, concentration, fine motor skills, and the list surely goes on. I found a pack of four mini puzzles from the dollar store. Yes, they are cheap and made of cardboard and will not last very long, but I have had the hardest time finding simple mini puzzles with only a few pieces anywhere else. Usually my 3-and-a-half-year-old needs a lot of assistance to complete puzzles, but these mini ones only have 3-8 puzzle pieces each. She can do them by herself as one of her shelf activities.
I highly recommend puzzles for preschoolers.
I have barely scratched the surface in trying to teach my three-year-old all of the different Montessori methods, and yet I’m already seeing progress. The video below is very informative about the Montessori language program, and is part of what inspired me to go ahead and try and teach her how to read (something I previously hadn’t realized as a possibility at her age). I have been surprised at how interested she has been with learning letters, letter sounds, and words. All day long she goes around sounding out simple words, and a lot of times makes up her own goofy spellings (and thinks it’s hilarious). In the video, it is mentioned that younger children, around 3-years-of-age, are actually in their prime to introduce the concept of reading. This is because at this age children have “absorbent minds”, and desire to repeat things over and over (a key to learning).
Anyway, you’ll notice that in the video the children are taught cursive handwriting. I don’t intend to begin by teaching my children cursive, but I definitely think it should still be introduced in schools. The particular Montessori classroom in the video looks wonderful. I wish I could send me daughters there!
In the photo above, my daughter is painting from a booklet that has the ready-to-go paints on each page. She has a basic watercolor set, but these paint booklets are sort of a novelty for kids. I first introduced watercolors to my daughter when she was a lot younger, maybe two-years-old, and it took a lot of explanation. Now that she’s almost three-and-a-half she has no trouble at all using the watercolors by herself.
less messy painting
Here she is using the do-a-dot art paint pen set. These were a gift to her so I’m not sure where they were purchased. Probably most craft stores carry them, or try Amazon. These are great because sometimes I don’t have the time nor the energy to get out finger paints (which she needs help cleaning up afterwards), but she still can get her paint kicks out.
She also has fun with this activity because of the little bottles and the caps that need to be screwed on and off. It sort of duals as a fine motor development exercise with all of the unscrewing of the caps. And she has fun sorting the bottles together. Anything that requires coordination and concentration is preparing her for later being able to excel in the classroom. It all counts!
~Thanks for reading~
I found this dry erase writing board (cardboard, more like it) at our local Dollar Store. It is great to introduce writing in between lines and such (AKA penmanship). At this stage, it isn’t a huge deal that I teach my three-year-old how to write with perfect penmanship, though. Just sort of fun… or, interesting… to introduce. 😉
As you can see, I have a couple of her sandpaper letters out for her to try and write after tracing them with her finger. The sandpaper letters really do help in having her understand how to write letters — I recommend them to everyone with a preschooler (even as just a supplement for kids that already are in a preschool)! I found mine at Montessori Outlet. I have my eyes on the knobbed and knob-less cylinders from Montessori Outlet (they look really awesome)… but they are still a bit out of my budget!
So, as you can see above, my daughter doesn’t really care to write in between lines, but that’s okay! I am just impressed that she’s writing at all. If I don’t make any rules about it then she has a lot more fun anyway. When she’s a bit older I can be more goal-oriented with her lessons, maybe, but by then she’ll hopefully be in a Montessori school where she will have other guidance.
~Thanks for reading~
What metal insets looks like ^
Found this frame matte laying around, which got me thinking ^
Cut out each shape and glue down pony beads to make little peg handles . Also, for now I am completely fine with not having the exact kind of shapes that the original Montessori metal insets have. Learning to trace inside and outside of stencils is the goal ^
Metal insets are wonderful because they are weighted down. The child doesn’t need to hold the stencil down while tracing. With this DIY version I had to teach my daughter to hold down the stencil while tracing. She didn’t mind and this process adds an added challenge ^
And here she is turning her well traced circle into a person ^
It all counts… especially when they’re enjoying themselves!
~Thanks for reading~
First 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~
First of all, I have to say that arts and crafts are so very important for children to learn appreciation for. I have always really encouraged my daughter’s drawing and art projects more than anything. Finishing an art project (whether it’s a painting, or a scribble, or a play doh sculpture) gives an instant gratification; a concrete accomplishment. I think older kids and teenagers should be encouraged just the same. Adults too, but I will get down from my soap box. 🙂
I found some foam shapes at the Dollar Store. Our Dollar Store has a pretty awesome section of random preschool and kinder garden materials. At first I wasn’t sure what to do with them (should they be for a counting activity, or what?) but I decided I only paid a dollar for them so might as well let her have some fun! My three year old loves gluing. Maybe all kids love glue. Your child will have tons of fun, and below the surface she is refining motor skills, hand eye coordination, and concentration abilities. Anyway, you definitely don’t need foam shapes to have your preschool kid have fun with glue. I used to just cut strips of construction paper and she could glue those down all day long. But, now what shall I do with dozens of sheets of glued down shapes?
rubber stamp fun
My daughter received this mini stamp and colored pencil kit as a gift over the holidays. I am sure you can find pretty inexpensive stamps at craft stores, Amazon, etc. Anyway, it is one of her favorite things to do. She loves it. I often use very inexpensive index cards (found at office supply stores, Target, etc.) in place of large sheets of paper for many of her shelf activities, otherwise she leaves huge portions of the paper unused.
Stencils are great. You can find them at office supply stores, craft stores, discount stores… maybe even drug stores. They come in all varieties (geometric shapes, letters, animals, hearts, etc.). For this activity I place sheets of paper, small pencils, and a pencil sharpener on a tray. The mini pencils and sharpener are sort of a sub activity of this activity (practical life), and make it even more inviting. Tracing and stenciling aid in fine motor skills and developing the muscles in the hand necessary for being able to later write letters and such.
~Many more posts on arts and crafts are sure to come in the future! Thanks for reading~