Monday, September 12, 2011

Montessori Monday

I've seen this Montessori marble and golf tee activity all over the web, as well as in John Bowman's book "Montessori at Home" (if you don't yet have this book, it's a must!) and couldn't wait until the right time to introduce it to Ty. The child's work is to push golf tees into styrofoam, then balance marbles onto them. I feel that Ty is a bit young to understand the control of error needed for that (crooked golf tee = marble not balancing) but I knew he'd enjoy the latter part of the activity. I wrapped styrofoam (I used a piece from a broken disposable cooler) with card stock and easily pushed the golf tees through. Montessori activities tend to use either five or ten of something, so I went with five tees.

I wasn't sure how he would do with not knocking already placed marbles off when placing the last marbles, but he did great! I just love that look of pride and satisfaction when a work is completed! Sometimes he would get going to fast and the marbles would fly everywhere, but he learned quickly to direct his focus more carefully. I also placed the work in a tray, as I should have from the start.

Practicing his cutting fruit work, Ty realized that he had seen an apple on the counter and wanted it, then saw the banana and pear as well. We matched with his wooden fruit with Ty got a big kick out of it!

Tyler handling real fruit for too long with these types of activities often results in bruised and wasted fruit, so I created a permanent work for him using our homemade nomenclature cards. It had been a while since these cards  were in rotation, so this in itself was exciting for him. His work is to match the wooden fruit to the nomenclature cards.  

 After he started to purposely dump rice onto the floor (which told me it's now too easy), I removed Tyler's spooning rice activity from his Montessori table. I then replaced it with pouring beans with shot glasses which  takes some careful work as the the glasses are of course small. This works on the "C" hand grip, working slowly towards the correct writing grip (see John Bowman's book for more on this!). I was impressed with his patience in picking-up each and every bean that spilled onto the tray. I then noticed that there were too many beans for him to do without spilling (they bounced off of each other at the top) so I only filled the glass to 2/3rd of the way full after this initial try.

We've been working on the Sandpaper Letters here and there with three period lessons. He was really into these at first, but doesn't care to do this work as often anymore. I'm considering doing a letter tray instead for a while, but am also hesitant. He surprised me the other day when I was looking through the box of letters...he grabbed several letters out himself that I hadn't introduced yet and said their sounds or the letter name. Hmmmm. I have to figure out a good approach for this little guy.

Though we've had a few warm days, we're certainly going through a change in weather patterns and it isn't appropriate to play with ice cold water from the hose as much. To avoid the frustration of Ty seeing his table outside and wanting to fill it, no matter the weather, I've brought it in to use as a sensory table again. I've filled it with bird seed and provided a shovel, measuring cups, measuring spoons and a few containers to pour into. I've also hidden ten rocks for him to discover. We've moved a lot of his water play items to the tub now, and I'm pretty sure his already marathon-long baths could now last for days!

I've started to introduce the traditional Memory game to Tyler using four cards (two matches). I picked the kitty and train matches, two of his favorite things, to entice him. I lay the matches face down on the floor to demonstrate and then we took turns flipping two cards over. We've done this once so far and I think it will take a few more tries before he gets the full jist of the game, but I think he'll really enjoy it when he does!

This Hobby Lobby lap desk has really encouraged Tyler to practice his drawing. He goes through several sheets of paper a day and is really practicing drawing things. Sometimes I have no idea what it is that he's drawn, but he will work on very purposeful lines and look at me with a big smile like he's made a big accomplishment. I don't try to guess at what he's drawn in these cases, but share his excitement and say something like "look what you drew!!" or "I see what you drew with your blue marker!". If he were more verbal I'd say "would you like to tell me about what you've drawn?" instead of praising (i.e judging) or I would simply make an observation such as "You used a lot of green in this picture, and look at all of the blue circles!". I try hard not to judge his work so that he doesn't feel the need to please me with what he does or to "conform" to my opinion and create to my liking. It is up to him to feel like he did a "good" job or to decide if he's pleased with his work.

For a fun (and adorable) practical life activity, Tyler's baby has started joining him in the bath. He practices washing her head and body with a wash cloth and does this with quite a bit of care. He has also decided to give her "boat rides", pushing her back and forth in an old wipes container I added for water play.  

Ty continues to help out more in the kitchen, from helping to make his own sandwiches, learning how to use the microwave, spreading things onto crackers (he's getting better!) and here, helping Daddy flip pancakes. 

For gross motor, we've been up our typical activities such as catching, running, throwing, climbing, working on pedaling a trike, skating, using a scooter board, and jumping. Our favorite place to take Ty is still the Open Gym at our local gymnastics center. I love that, unlike in a formal class, he can decide what equipment to use and for how long rather than being directed by a teacher. He is free to explore and do as his body desires and practice what his brain and and body need to in that moment. There are important skills and social lessons learned by taking a class, but at 24 mos old, I feel more comfortable with him playing in an open way.


We've now changed Ty's Fisher Price "Grow With Me" roller skates from the walking stage to the rolling forwards stage, and he's doing great! Here he is skating outside with Daddy for the first time. They were both very excited, and my husband was a great role model deciding to wear his helmet too.

In a somewhat random, informational side note, some people seem to have the misconception that Montessori is all about sitting down and doing work. The truth is, Maria Montessori understood that intellectual and gross motor play are completely intertwined. Dr. Montessori believed in the development of the "whole child" and emphasized that both of these play a crucial role in that creation. I've also read (I wish I could remember in which book) that she created many amazing playgrounds for children, which were scoffed at in her time as being  something that children didn't really need. It's amazing how much work one woman did to improve the lives of children then and now!

For more Montessori ideas, be sure to check-out Montessori Monday at Living Montessori Now.
Also linking-up with Carisa's Tot School!


  1. I just pinned that golf tee/marble game on pinterest the other day! It looks like a lot of fun. :) Your other activities are wonderful. I'm excited to try all the things I do in my classroom with my son when he's old enough. :)

  2. So many great activities, Jen! I love how the marble-and-golf-tee activity looks when the Styrofoam is covered - very professional looking! Wonderful balance of activities ... and I appreciate your mentioning that Maria Montessori cared about the whole child! Thanks so much for linking up with Montessori Monday. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page:

  3. Thank you, ladies! We had a lot of fun!

    Thanks so much for the feature, Deb! I love your blog and finding new blogs via your Facebook page! :)