Eamon and eye dropper - developing pincer grasp and concentration.
Eamon and pincushion. Great concentration!
Amy writes: my three-year-old son using the sound cannisters (beans, rice, pennies, water, air, salt). You can see him shaking them near his ear, then matching the pairs and lining them up (left to right, and top to bottom)! He's pretty proficient at it now, but he still LOVES doing it!
Molly on her son Luke (2 1/2): Luke received what he calls a "boy-sized" mop for Christmas and was thrilled with it. (Instead of ordering a specialty child-sized mop we just bought a regular wooden one and cut the handle down.) He's a great mopper and is especially good at reaching small spaces that I can't reach. I love both the concentration he shows in his work and his sense of accomplishment. I hope my future daughter-in-law appreciates it! :)
Nilda's son Nathan cutting on lines - great concentration!
Stephanie's son Noah (almost three) working on pattern blocks - a great example of using not-specifically-Montessori early education materials in a Montessori fashion to get the most out of them (part of the Mommy, Teach Me! message). Notice how the blocks are on the left, so Noah is exercising left-to-right eye hand coordination, so essential for later reading skills. Also the concentration. Thanks, Stephanie!
I'm attaching a few photos I took this morning of my kiddos doing some of their "school" activities (they like to call it that because daddy is a teacher and it makes them feel important)! This is my 2.5 year old daughter sorting colored buttons. I found the colored condiment cups at WalMart (.97 each) and the buttons in my sewing stuff! Shows a great pincer grasp in action!
Amy Kostbade: This is my son (a few months shy of 4 years old) and my daughter doing pattern boards together. I love how she learns from and watches him. And she's also doing something in the picture that I worked with her on this morning...using one finger to gently push the smallest pieces into place!
I'm so proud of them, and so glad I decided to teach them "preschool" myself! Thanks for your help!
From Newt Sherwin: Daughter DJ, age 3 1/2, pinning beads on a pincushion
Note the concentration!
Thomas Sherwin, on his 3rd birthday, organizing rocks with tongs and an ice cube tray
From Jessica H: a picture of our Africa geography
envelope. We were looking at our Samaritan's Purse
gift catalog. Brielle was talking about the chickens
(:-)) and Aviana and I were discussing how some
children don't have new pajamas and warm blankets
like she does, and that prompted me to break out the
geography envelope. Brielle was mostly interested in
taking the pictures off the cards, but I think
something really struck a chord in Aviana, to see
little children just like her, only with lives so
Lisa Smith's two sons helping clean up a park. Teaching children community service from an early age will give them a great start for the rest of their lives!
Lisa Smith's son decorating the table - great way to encourage creativity!
Lisa Smith's sons - more community service, cutting vouchers for the homeless.
Lisa's son in the kitchen, measuring craisins. Remember to get your children as involved as possible in meal preparation from the earliest age - lots of learning opportunities!
Lisa's daughter with lacing beads she got for Christmas, based on MommyLife suggestions. Choose classic toys with timeless appeal that encourage learning concepts of size, shape, color - plus concentration skills. Visit Lisa at www.stretchmarkmama.com
Aviana helping to mop at 2
1/2. She has her own
size of mop and broom, but prefers to steal mine.
Aviana helping to sweep at 18 months. She has her own
size of mop and broom, but prefers to steal mine.
I've loved looking at the pictures in the books and on
the websites! I'm a proud mama, so I have to submit
some of Caroline.
Amanda -------Squeezing a sponge into a bowl can occupy a toddler for a long time. There's a little bit of junior science there - studying absorption - as well as great exercise for the hands, preparing the muscles which will be so important in writing skills.
We officially started our homeschooling this week--Wyatt is beginning Kindergarten and Natalie is preschool. I was stumped for a way to keep her entertained today while Wyatt and I finished his work. Well, I immediately thought of you and this site! So here is what kept her busy--and she loved it!
A toddler CAN peel carrots if we break down the task sequentially and demonstrate slowly. It will take her longer than it takes us, but that's okay. Give her time.
Note the concentration! Spooning left to right also develops the left-right hand and eye coordination for later reading and writing.
This is my granddaughter Trinity doing what I call a Small Beginnings exercise - which I describe in Mommy, Teach Me! - called Pins and Beads. It takes a lot of concentration and hand control. It helps to keep the pins in a magnetic holder. These items are kept together on a tray so Trinity can do them whenever she comes over - just like her mom used to do in Montessori school over 30 years ago.
Even the youngest can help cook dinner!
Find ways to involve your children. Meal preparation is a rich time full of potential learning and memories. Instead of thinking in terms of occupying your child with a DVD or TV show while you make dinner, get him involved from the get-go.
Little children enjoy helping so much. If we meet this need in the early years, they will be better workers/learners all their lives.
Putting leftovers away after a meal. No, their efforts won't be as perfect as ours, but that's not what it's all about :)
The first step to learning to use a knife: slicing bananas with a table knife.
Even a young child can peel carrots if you breakdown the activity into steps and show her how to do it with great care and precision,
Always be thinking of ways to make their involvement possible.
Your preschooler wants to sweep the floor. Instead of saying he needs to wait until he's older, think instead in terms of making it possible for him. Since young children lack abstract thinking skills, the biggest problem for them - not knowing how to gather the dirt into a specific spot they can't "see" - can be solved by drawing a chalk circle on the floor so they have something to aim for.
A small dustpan and whisk broom make this part of sweeping easier for smaller people.
Soon, they absorb the abstract concept of a target to sweep for - and you can let the chalk circle go.
Putting away dishes is a natural chore for children. Just teach them to be careful!
By keeping dishes in lower shelves, you enable your child to put away dishes and set the table from an earlier age.
Why do we give little children work opportunities? Because the preschool years are the "sensitive period" for learning this important part of being a human being. This is also where they build their self-esteem - far better than listening to a purple dinosaur tell them they're special. How wonderful to feel like an important part of the family!
Washing the car with dad.
This little guy is using his pincer grasp to begin to learn to wield a writing instrument. It all starts with Cheerios :)
Pincer grasp in action.
Note the concentration. When you buy things for your children, think in terms of learning potential. It's not the bells and whistles that will make them smart. It's the simple task that challenges them and evokes their concentration.
In Mommy, Teach Me! I explain not only how to create Montessori exercises, but also how to maximize the potential of other early education materials. Puzzles with knobs are wonderful when you teach your children how to use them properly.
Another activity designed to elicit concentration, while strengthening eye-hand coordination.
The Montessori Pink Tower is a classic most people can't afford for their own homes, but you can duplicate it for under $20 with a set of nesting/stacking blocks like these. Click on Other Resources at www.MommyTeachMe.net to find a nice one from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Another type of pegboard. By observing your child and trying the activities yourself, you'll know when he can advance to the next challenge.
Lacing cards. Note the concentration.
My son Jesse, who has Down syndrome spent a long time painting this birdhouse. Were they the colors I would have chosen? Probably not, but the most important thing when your child does an art project is that it is his - not yours. Let your ideas of perfection go so your child can enjoy the process.
Here is a perfect example of applying Montessori principles to a non-Montessori exercise. The pieces have not been dumped randomly, but carefully placed to the child's left. That way, as he chooses the pieces and places them in the puzzle (note the pincer grasp), his eye-hand movements are left-to-right, which provides early preparation for reading and writing.
The basting exercise described on page 82 of Mommy, Teach Me!
Walking with a bell - concentrating and moving slowly to prevent it from ringing - encourages gross motor control, self-control and concentration. This is my youngest son Justin, one of three boys with Down syndrome we adopted after our last birth child.
Just in case you have any doubts about whether children can be trusted with fragile things, consider this: These are Kansas Milkmaid's children, who help their mom wash eggs and place them in cartons for delivery. Usually, our kids rise to our level of expectation.
Spooning beans, a Montessori-inspired exercise. In a Montessori classroom, this is called Practical Life. I call them Small Beginnings exercises.
The tweezing exercise. Isn't it beautful? When creating Small Beginnings exercises for your children, use beautiful things whenever you can. I look at garage sales and second hand stores for things that look like they will lend themselves to these very personal exercises we can create ourselves.
This is an exercise I created with sugar tongs and marbles. These are all explained in Mommy, Teach Me!
This is the Pouring Exercise.
The tongs exercise with an ice cube tray and those little thingies they sell in the summer for keeping drinks cold.
The pins and beads exercise. This mom began teaching her daughters from a book I wrote ten years ago - Small Beginnings.
The concentration her mom modeled is reflected when her daughter does the exercise on her own.
There's a creativity involved in putting together the exercises. Each one is a personal reflection of the mom who made it for her children.
This is a combination of tweezing and sorting.
This is my set of geography pictures- which I describe on page 156 of Mommy, Teach Me! The contents of the Asia envelope are spread out - the pictures framed in green which corresponds to the color coding of the continents.
You can find my books at www.MommyTeachMe.net.
This is the companion volume to Mommy, Teach Me! It begins with a reader-friendly synopsis of how oral language develops and uses that for the foundation of a natural Montessori-based approach to teaching reading in an easy and foolproof way - without spending a bunch of money.
A reading nook invites a child to curl up quietly and spend time with books.
Take the time to teach your child how to turn pages very carefully.
Board books make it possible for even the youngest baby to begin a lifelong relationship with literature.
Reading with your child builds relationship.
Board books can be kept in a basket to make them accessible to the youngest child. Teach her to respect them - they are not toys to throw around, but books to treasure.
There is nothing like parents reading to produce a good reader.
Note the concentration. This is a good discipline for parents to get into as early as possible. Stop, drop, and READ!
Pat the Bunny has been around forever (see books at www.MommyTeachMe.net)
We had a big family, so knowing our resources would benefit many children, when I homeschooled I invested in some extras - like this book display shelf which spotlights different books each week.
Siblings reading are a great incentive to both!
The Montessori method tends to produce early readers. Often the child knows how to write words before she has the hand coordination to form the letters. Rather than being slowed down, though, she can keep moving ahead when we provide alternatives enabling her to "write" words.
Another system of "writing" words - kind of like the Montessori movable alphabet.
Siblings can be a great source of inspiration to younger children.
Nothing like a sibling's love.
Speaking of pictures saying a thousand words, I asked my daughter Maddy to take this one to make us stop and think how difficult and uncomfortable the adult-sized world can be for children. The first step in learning to teach your children is to see the world through their eyes.