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.
On most days we end our morning work cycle at 11:15 with an optional group. The children can join the group, continue working or help set-up for lunch. My preference has always been towards a more informal group focusing on songs, storytelling and books. During the year we do weave geography, science discussions and lessons into group, but for the most part I just like to sing. Now, I truly have no talent or aptitude toward music, not at all, but I do have great enthusiasm and a knack for remembering the words, or making up words that work at the moment!
This list grew out of a few parent requests for “the songs we sing”; where possible I have linked to videos. Two of my favorite resources for new songs (other than listening to other teachers) are Music Together CDs/classes and Pandora Radio’s Family Folk Song station.
John the Rabbit