Just as I am not the Montessori teacher to go to for art ideas, I am not the artsy mom either. I can get into crafts, but as I confessed in my last post, I do struggle to find ways to encourage and support art in the class and the home. My general philosophy for most things is — if the materials are ready and easy to put together, it is far more likely I will use them. Following that, at our house we have the our art closet. It’s not perfect, it’s not always neat, it’s not a lot, but it is working.
I am not the Montessori teacher to come to when you are looking for a fantastic new work for the art shelf. Together with my co-teacher, Callie, we try to keep all the works on the art shelf process-oriented and open-ended, but we are always looking for creative new ideas and ways to fit these goals. One thing I do think we have figured out, our easel painting setup.
I have tried to think about what would define our home as a Montessori home, because it is, but how? I do not have works for my daughter – she comes to school with me and has a whole class full of works and two wonderful teachers, thankfully that is off my plate – but I still support and develop the basics of all Montessori activities — coordination, concentration, independence and a sense of order. Here are a few ways that I have found that work for our family.
The Learning Tower
If I had to pick, I think the moveable alphabet has to be my favorite work in the class. It is a work that can be modified to fit so many levels, it can be extended to meet the child where they are and you can connect it to the interest of the child.
blue, green, red, yellow – writing words describing her metal inset
Work with the moveable alphabet consists of what is called encoding – or spelling. Encoding almost always comes before decoding (or reading), it is very important that the child have a great deal of experiences with encoding before we present any sort of reading. And, since Dr. Montessori was so brilliant, she knew if you took away the mechanics of forming the letters (handwriting), and gave then a set of letters – the moveable alphabet – a young child could easily build meaningful words.
Most days there is some sewing happening in our class. We try to have a logical sequence of activities that call to children at different ages and stages, and a variety of works that allow everyone in the class to participate and create
I find sewing to be such a versatile area of the Practical Life curriculum. While yes, I can continue to make endless variations of pouring works, and repeated practice with pouring will no doubt help the child develop independence, improve eye-hand coordination, and will increase his self-confidence and concentration. There is something about engaging the child in creating a meaningful product with his hands – even if it as simple as stringing pony beads on yarn or sewing a line on burlap – it can focus the most unfocused child in a matter of moments.
There are so many wonderful ways to incorporate Montessori into the home. Some families have beautiful Montessori inspired playrooms, others have whole classrooms where they focus their homeschool activities, I fall somewhere in the middle. I am starting this series “our montessori home” as a way to show how we do Montessori in our home and how it has worked, how it hasn’t (I am thinking about our disastrous floor bed experience), and how it has evolved as Imogen grows.
To start it off I wanted to share my recent redo of my daughter’s closet.
Okay, here it goes, the before. Close your eyes, it’s a scary sight.