Using a parmesan cheese container again, I showed Tyler how to put pipe cleaners into the holes. This was more difficult as pipe cleaners are longer, and of course they bend. He had to figure out where the best place would be to place his hand in order to lift the pipe cleaner up enough and also have enough control over it to get it through the holes. He experimented with different types of grips, learned what to do when the pipe cleaner bent or got stuck on other pipe cleaners that went in somewhat sideways, realized that he would need to sometimes take pipe cleaners out in order to put another in and had to work to figure out how to keep the light-weight container from falling over.
It was fun to watch him learn and experiment, all without interrupting his focus with correction, assistance or praise or other forms of interaction, as is the Montessori way. The idea is allowing the child to have full focus without distractions and to work independently once they've been shown how to do the work. If I noticed that he was using materials incorrectly or needed guidance, I would wait until the next time I presented the activity to simply show him how to do the work again rather than correcting.
Tyler returned to this activity several times this morning and it will surely take a place on his shelf. Though he enjoyed the Q-tip activity for a couple days, it quickly became too easy, as was apparent by him constantly throwing the activity on the floor rather than doing it. In Montessori, it's said that if a child throws and mis-uses an activity they've been thoroughly instructed on how to do, the work is either too easy or difficult for the child. This work should take a bit to fully master, as there are several more components to explore, and if not, I will quickly work to take the activity to the next step!
"To stimulate life, - leaving it then free to develop, to unfold, - herein lies the first take to the educator. In such a delicate task, a great art must suggest the moment, and limit the intervention, in order that we shall arouse no perturbation, cause no deviation, but rather that we shall help the soul which is coming into the fulness of life, and and which shall live from its own forces. This art must accompany the scientific method."
--Dr. Maria Montessori