I made these little guys, but I’m still not sure what to call them. I thought they looked inviting and they seemed like a good work for the beginning of the year. I see them as a Practical Life work, but I would totally understand if someone used them in Sensorial. They were a pretty easy DIY Montessori material.
That being said, I don’t really love them. Even though I see them as a Practical Life work, the idea of them in Practical Life kind of bothers me. I am really trying to focus on making our Practical Life as practical as possible, and is practicing balancing colored balls on top of matching pots really practical? I know that having a child use tongs to move the balls to the pots will help fine motor and reinforce how to use tongs (which is how they serve themselves snack) so it does go back to a true practical skill. But, I am still struggling with it as more of a busy work than a true practical activity.
I do think they will be useful at the beginning of the year. One, there will be plenty of children coming into my class who need to practice using tongs. Two, it is a work that I think will call to the children and that will prompt them to choose work, complete the work and then return it to the shelf ready for the next child – reinforcing the work cycle, which is the most important work at the beginning of the year. So it is not a complete loss. And works that focus on tonging, spooning, and such, are important aspects of early Practical Life materials, especially when children in the class DO need to practice those skills.
Also, I don’t love that the balls and the pots didn’t take the watercolor stain evenly. I am planning on putting on a coat of wood polish, but I might save that until the day our kindergarteners come back to help set up the class – now that’s some practical Practical Life!
The pots and the balls are from Michaels. I used liquid water colors and put a few coats on each. Since I had the watercolors it was only about $10 for all the materials.
I then made text copies of some of our early readers. A text copy is simply a book, typed up and printed on plain paper. For these books I started each sentence on a new line and I type everything in Century Gothic at about 20 pt.
Why did I make text copies? Engaging a child in repeating readings of a familiar books is a wonderful tool to increase fluency, sight word recognition and reading confidence. The text copies will be for children who have read and are comfortable with the corresponding book. Having them read it from a plain paper puts all the same words in a new context and gives them repeated exposure and practice with the text. It also takes away some of the familiar cues they may have been using when they were reading the book and it has them focus on just the words.
Also, there are some fun things you can do with the text copies.
- Have the child read it in a funny voice
- Alternate line reading – you read a line, the child reads a line. Just do it twice, with a different person starting each time so that the child ends up reading all the text!
- Read it together at the same time – choral reading
- You read a line, the the child reads the same line back to you – echo reading
- Have two children do alternate reading, choral reading or echo reading
- Have the child read it to a younger child in the class
- If you have access to a tape recorder (or anything that will record your childs voice – a fancy phone) have them practice the passage, then record it. They can then play it back and read along with their recording.
All of these ideas can be done with a book, but it is often easier to have all the text on one page.
* I would share my text copies, but I think that violates copyright law
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