Category Archives: Activity

Resources Series: Intro

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After my post last week I spent some time this week focusing on researching Montessori scope and sequences. In the process I stumbled across several excellent resources for teacher’s manuals, products, free printables, scope and sequences, and more. I thought for my own sake, as well as anyone else looking for some guidance, I would create an annotated bibliography of sorts. I figured to make it more manageable I would break it up into a series of posts each one with a different type of resource. The list is by no means exhaustive and if you have a favorite resource feel free to post it in the comments. I am especially glad to have found the teacher resources as that is the area where I feel least prepared to follow Montessori principles.

Obviously I haven’t actually put all of the resources into practice or even read each material cover to cover, so I can’t give them ringing personal endorsements. However I think if you are looking for places to find information these would be good places to start and would be worth taking the time to see if you are interested. If nothing else, it may give you peace of mind that there are materials out there to help you.

Under the Sea

Photo by Tom Wroten
Photo by Tom Wroten

Photo by Tom Wroten

This month we have a conference in Monterey, so we’ll be paying a visit to the fabulous aquarium there. In preparation I’m trying to expose Cam to names of sea creatures, but also to colors, number and stories. I’m also hoping this month she really transitions to one afternoon nap so we can get into a better routine than we had last month, but I know kids don’t always follow your plan!

Cam is currently really into putting things into containers. She is also totally into putting lids on bottles and jars. In the Montessori fashion, I’m trying to create activities that encourage and reinforce those skills (and maybe sneak in a bit of an ocean theme). I have to admit, though, the lids thing makes me nervous. She’s most interested in small lids, like those on water bottles, but she isn’t totally out of the phase where she puts things in her mouth. It had created a dilemma for me, since I worry she’ll choke, but I don’t want to discourage her. She has really good fine motor/dexterity, so the large lids don’t really do it for her. If any one has any suggestions I would be more than grateful. In the meantime I haven’t made it an activity that can sit out on her shelves and she has to be very closely supervised while she plays with them.

I just recently went back and looked at a little chart I created that shows the phases or “sensitive periods” that Maria Montessori based her method on. I was very surprised to find Cam going through several of them just as predicted. Not really surprised that it was true, but just amazed by my daughter. I have to admit being a parent is really cool and it’s so gratifying and rewarding to watch my daughter explore and discover the world.

Sensory Box: Colored Rice

Wednesday of last week we gave another sensory box a try. I found instructions online on how to dye rice in fall colors. It’s surprisingly simple: Measure out as much rice as you would like into a large Ziploc bag. Put in a couple generous splashes of rubbing alcohol and some squirts of food coloring. Close up the bag and massage and shake the rice around. Once the rice is all evenly coated and as brightly colored as you want it to be ,dump it out onto waxed paper to dry.

My red rice turned a little pink as it dried, but Cam didn’t care. She was super excited to get in there and throw the rice around. She also sampled a handful, after which she made a face and didn’t do it again. I did notice that the rice will leave a dust of food coloring on your hands, so be forewarned. I had Cam play in this in just a diaper and I wiped her hands afterwards. All in all, a winner. Now I want to find some small fall items (apples, pumpkins, spiders, etc.) and hide them in the rice.

Sensory Box: Oatmeal

I recently read about sensory boxes and realized I had already done one with water. Per the blog post I read from Pink and Green Mama, I decided to try out some more. I went over to Walmart very early in the morning to avoid the crowds and bought a huge tub of oatmeal as well as a plastic bin and some plastic measuring cups with colorful handles. The day before I had found some large plastic spoons in the dollar bin at our local hardware store. I dumped the oatmeal into the bin and placed the spoons on top.

Cam was thrilled to run her fingers through the oatmeal and scoop it up. She also had a grand time dumping it on the floor. I had my handy little dust pan and whisk on standby, so clean up wasn’t difficult. Cam also tried eating some of the dried oatmeal and fed me a few grains, but that didn’t last long. All in all, it was success and we’ll be doing this again soon. On to colored rice next.

Wonder Boxes

When Cam was about nine months old, maybe even eight, I began putting together what I call Wonder Boxes. They are just little bins of things she can paw through and explore and examine. They’ve been so popular I have kept them around and continue to add to them. Any container will work. I happened to have closet/dresser organizers from IKEA that I was using to organize things in her room. They come in several sizes so I was able to have some smaller and larger Wonder Boxes. I filled them with anything and everything. The box in the kitchen has all kinds of kitchen items that I either had duplicates of (wooden spoons and spatulas, for example) or items that I rarely use (a sushi press I don’t think I’ve ever used).

 

It’s been really interesting to watch which objects become more interesting to her over time. For awhile she was really into cards so the box from her room has a lot of Starbucks gift cards. Currently the orange spatula from the kitchen box gets carried around A LOT. My husband just found it by his side of the bed the other day. The little pie crust punch, seen in the picture below, has also been a particular favorite.

I feel compelled to note that Cam has always been pretty good about not putting things in her mouth, so I went with some smaller items. However, if you try this, be aware that items can pose a choking hazard.

Sensory Box: Water Play

On Monday I put together a sensory “box” with water for Cam. We have done this several times before and it has always been a big hit. The first time I gave her a bowl of water with some measuring spoons she banged them on the rim and “sang” along. This activity always ends in a huge puddle on the floor and soaked clothes. But it doesn’t matter, Cam loves it. This time around I got smart and put down a huge beach towel before putting the bowl down. It didn’t keep her clothes or the floor from getting wet, but it did keep the puddle to a minimum.

Items for water play:

-plastic balls

-measuring spoons

-plastic spoons

-bath toys

-rubber ducks (a favorite in our household)

-nesting cups

-bath time books

-bottles

-straws

-anything that is water proof!

Encouraging Independence: Toothbrush

Toothbrush

Since Cam recently turned a year old we went to the pediatrician for a visit. This resulted in a few shots and a discussion about brushing teeth. Cam has seven teeth right now and the doctor recommended that we try using a tooth brush on her. He did note that it could be quite a battle and, if that was the case, not to worry about it for awhile. I believe his words were, choose your battles. :-) Being the first-time parents that we are, we immediately bought her a toothbrush at Target. I wasn’t thrilled with our options since they all seemed to be designed to market some T.V. or movie character, but beggars can’t be choosers and there weren’t any other options. We ended up with an Eeyore toothbrush.

When we got it home I thought about trying to brush Cam’s teeth myself, but I had a feeling that would be, shall we say, a challenge. The pediatrician had said plaque comes off children’s teeth easily so having her swish the brush around in there would be totally adequate for the time being. That fit perfectly with the Montessori philosophy of “never do for the child, what the child can do for herself”, so I went for it. Now to figure out how to get her to put the brush in her mouth and move it around. Cam is a good mimic and that came quite in handy. We now brush our teeth together each morning. She finds the activity quite funny. Go figure.