Sunday, August 2, 2009

Opening and Closing

In my last post, I mentioned that my toddler is very interested in opening and closing activities. Believe it or not, children of all ages enjoy this work. I used to teach elementary Montessori and even these children enjoyed a challenging basket of containers. The trick is finding containers that suit your child's ability level. Here are some examples of great containers for children on the primary level (3-6). And here is a set that's already put together for you. Honestly, though, I wouldn't spend my money on these expensive containers when you can typically find similar items at the Dollar Store, Goodwill, or yard sales. Over the years, I've had generous families contribute containers from all around the world. Here are some possible items you could use for your child's basket of "opening of closing" work:

  • Different types of bottles with twist or snap on lids
  • Different types of boxes made from an assortment of materials
  • Try an assortment of nuts and bolts for opening and closing

In order to avoid boredom and misuse of the materials, switch up the containers once every three weeks or so. Always follow these steps when presenting work at home:

  1. Observe the child
  2. Prepare activity when child is not present
  3. Practice using/presenting the material to be sure you haven't missed anything
  4. Place the activity neatly on a low shelf
  5. Invite the child to see the new activity
  6. Present the lesson using words only when absolutely necessary (children cannot listen to you and watch your hands at the same time)
  7. Clean up the activity without putting it away
  8. Invite the child to try
  9. Show the child how to place the work back on the shelf
  10. Observe the child using the material and jot down notes
  11. Make any necessary changes to the material when the child is not present
  12. Observe again!

Hopefully, if the work is developmentally appropriate and you've presented it in a way that intrigues him, he'll choose the lesson at another time and repeat it until mastered. You can see a common theme here: observe, observe, observe! These are the steps that Montessori teachers use each time a material is presented. Typically, teachers recommend for parents to only put out practical life and sensorial materials at home, so as not to interfere with the order of the academic lessons.

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