I am still learning about different aspects of a Montessori curriculum, but after reading a few things here and there, I wanted to get started right away!
Here is what I learned (or rather re-learned, because I did briefly study Montessori topics way back in my undergrad work) about the importance of the learning environment.
So the first thing that I did was look to the environment where I was doing most of my learning activities. First thing I noticed when I really stopped to look: Clutter. Too many toys; some slightly organized in small baskets and bins (as they are in a typical classroom) and some just scattered. I usually like to try and keep the area organized, but some days, it just gets overlooked. In a Montessori classroom, things are simple and clutter free. So I put away some toys and cleared a few shelves, which fortunately are a child friendly size! I found (and bought) a few trays from the Dollar Tree and Walmart and began our new Montessori-Inspired set up.
Because of my 9 years of teaching experience, embracing Montessori 100% seems too overwhelming of a task. Not to mention, too much of a change all at once for the munchkin. So I will try to find a nice balance of Montessori activities and activities that I know and love to use!
Anyhow, this week we went right back to work, and our Letter of the Week is Mm.
Here is how our learning area is now set up.
I chose to start off with 8-9 activity trays for her to begin with. I plan to switch up maybe 2-3 activitiy materials mid-week, depending on her interests. I plan to only change the materials, not the concept. For example, once she completes the art activity (cotton ball painting), then I can add another type painting activity.
Here is what is on our shelves this week:
On the top of the shelf, I have 3 trays: Letter Mm Tray (using my awesome Alphabet Soup Cans that I was so excited to finally purchase- and some items that begin with the Mm sound), another Letter Mm tray with coloring and letter search activities and an Art Tray where she could use stencils, paint, clothespins and cotton balls to paint.
On the lower shelf, I put out a Puzzle Tray (20 wooden pieces), a Lego Tray and a Writing Tray (which you can't see from this pic)
Letter Mm Trays
Letter Mm Tray and Art Tray
(with my DIY Sandpaper Letters)
On another lower shelf (an old tv stand) I put out a Play Doh Tray, a tray for Water Pouring, a tray to Measure & Pour Rice and a Math tray with M&M patterns and graphing activities that I have from the Letter of the Week Curriculum by Confesssions of a Homeschooler.
The first things we did was read our Letter Mm books and she selected one of the Letter Mm Trays. (The Alphabet Soup Cans just arrived this weekend and she was eager to get her hands on them!)
The other popular activity was Water Pouring. (I found some super cute, measuring pitchers at Walmart). I placed 2 cups, a funnel and a towel on the tray as well. I demonstrated how to use the materials and how to clean it all up when it was done. In this manner, she will learn to use the materials correctly for her exploration and respect them as learning materials. And she does need work in the respect area because she tends to make a mess and walk away!!
Anyhow, this Water Pouring Fun occupied 55 minutes of her time!! I kept track because as she worked, I sat back and played the observer. I was so happy when I caught glimpes of her little smirks as she worked hard and focused. Pouring can be hard work!!
And the pouring fun continued with the Rice. She learned how to measure and pour rice!
And with her newfound pride and confidence, she begged to make her own lunch! Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich with Strawberries (that she cut herself) and a glass of milk, that she poured herself, of course!
It was a fun, Montessori-Inspired day!