Last week, I ended up setting out several trays to occupy Dora while my finger healed. One of the trays was what I call a “language tray”. I don’t know if these are actually a Montessori thing or not, but they seem like they should be and they use Montessori materials, so I am calling them Montessori. A lot of materials for teaching language are on paper – cards, lotto games, worksheets, matching puzzle pieces, etc., but Dora has made it very clear to me that she is only interested in truly hands-on learning. She has rejected all of the puzzles and lotto games, turned her nose up at flashcards and worksheets, and generally made it clear that paper is not useful to her for learning language skills (unless it is in the form of a book). At the same time, she evidences some of the problems with language that both Primo and Gohan struggled with at this age and they both ended up having language processing disorders. So I am trying to work a lot on language skills with her. Right now, I am trying to get her to map words using as many neural pathways as possible (i.e. an apple can be associated in the brain as a fruit, as something associated with the fall, as something red, as something roundish, as a type of pie, etc.). The more neural pathways a person uses to access language, the easier word retrieval is and the more fluent speech is. So first I made a go-togethers tray, with simple objects that go together (i.e. moon/sun, bat/ball). This tray proved to be a real challenge for her and I realized that I needed to step backwards a bit. So I made a categories tray instead, using four objects for each category and having three categories on each tray. She struggled a bit at first, but is getting the hang of it now.
For the objects, I simply used objects that I have in our alphabet box. I first read about alphabet boxes on Counting Coconuts, when Dora was about one-years-old. I knew as soon as I read about it, that I wanted to make one for her. So I have been collecting objects for over two years now and have a very extensive collection (we have many more objects than most alphabet boxes have, but I knew I wanted to use miniatures for other language activities, so I bought extra). Mari-Ann, of Counting Coconuts, does an excellent job of telling you how to set up an alphabet box and where you can get miniatures for your box, so if you are looking to set up your box, head on over there. My Boys’ Teacher at What DID We Do All Day? also has an excellent post about other ways to use your miniatures. After reading her post, I’m realizing that I need another storage box so that I can start working on blends and digraphs.
I also set out a basket of cheap bead necklaces to let her cut them up. She had already cut some of them and had started working on some of her nicer necklaces, so I was hoping that by isolating these beads with the scissors, she would stick to cutting only the cheap beads. I’m afraid that it didn’t work and neither did any of our attempts to talk with her about why she couldn’t cut some things up. She took the fact that she could cut these beads as permission to cut up anything and everything. When she started cutting up the pants she was wearing, we finally had to take the scissors away and put them up out of her reach for a while.
On another tray, I set out a metal inset with some paper, in hopes of enticing Dora to give the insets a try. It worked like a charm. She immediately started using the insets.
I also put out some tongs with bath dots and showed her how to tong marbles on to the dots. Though it did not present much of a challenge for her, she really enjoyed it, so I still have it out this week.
Finally, we did some cylinder work, putting the knobless cylinders in the knobbed cylinder blocks. Dora thought I had completely lost my mind when I first started trying to do this, but she quickly joined in (what she doesn’t realize is that I lost my mind a long time ago, so I don’t have anything left to lose).
How about you? Did you get in any Montessori work last week? I’m linking this post, as always, to Living Montessori Now, your source for Montessori inspiration 24 hours/day, 7 days/week!