The more I read about the Montessori principles and methods, the more I’m convinced that I should be doing more Montessori at home. I’ve been reading many of Maria Montessori’s own writings, but I’ve also been reading other books about Montessori. One book I’m reading right now is an e-book called Montessori at Home! A Complete Guide to Doing Montessori Early Learning Activities at Home with 3-6 Year Old Children by John Bowman.
Bowman’s book is very practical and pulls from many resources, including many blogs about how to teach Montessori in your home. He talks about how you can either purchase traditional (and not so traditional) Montessori materials or you can make your own materials. His book is a great resources since he links to many Montessori stores and also to sources that show you how to inexpensively make many of your own Montessori-inspired materials.
I realized after reading the Practical Life activities section that I’ve been doing many of the activities with my 4-year old since he was a toddler. WJ is intensely independent and his favorite phrase has been “let me do it” pretty much from the time he was first able to utter those words. So, by default, we’ve done fairly well in implementing the Practical Life skills.
WJ loves to help us cook, he helps set the table, makes his bed, helps with gardening and several other Practical Life activities but there are still many activities suggested in Montessori at Home! that we haven’t been working on — pretty much anything that has to do with gross or fine motor development! Just last week his preschool teacher noted that even though his cognitive development is quite advanced, his motor skills aren’t quite where they should be.
This week I decided to present WJ with a popular Montessori-inspired Practical Life activity – transfers with tweezers.
The first activity involved green pom poms (for St. Patrick’s Day!), tweezers and a rectangular box divided into 10 sections. I brought out our tray with the materials and demonstrated the activity for WJ. He was able to complete the task in about a minute. This was clearly too easy for him so I quickly came up with another transfer activity for him.
The next transfer activity was much more popular since it involved M&Ms! I put several mini-M&Ms (5 different colors) in a bowl and placed the bowl with M&Ms, 5 silver bowls for sorting the M&Ms and the tweezers on our tray. I demonstrated the activity for WJ by using the tweezers to pick up one M&M at a time and then placing the M&M in one of the silver bowls. I did this for each color M&M and then let him work on the activity.
At first, WJ got a little frustrated since he had a hard time keeping the M&M in the tweezers but after a little practice he was able to complete the task. I’m sure he was somewhat motivated by the fact that I told him we could eat some of the M&Ms when he was done with the activity! He loves M&Ms but only the brown ones. He calls them the “chocolate” M&Ms. I was given the other colors to eat. He had a lot of fun sorting M&Ms with this fine motor activity.
The only problem is that now I’m going to have a hard time finding another transfer activity that WJ will love as much as this M&M tweezers project!