Monday, June 22, 2009

Introducing a rug

In Montessori classrooms, children are encouraged to work wherever they're the most comfortable. Maria Montessori provided child-sized tables and chairs, but observed children often choosing to work on the floor. To accommodate that, she introduced small rugs that children could lay out on the floor. This provided a way to contain their work from spreading all over the floor, and to keep other kids from stepping in the middle of the work.

Yesterday, Nugget and I made a trip to Old Time Pottery, a local overstock store. I was able to find 2 lightweight cotton rugs with an unobtrusive pattern. These will be easy for Nugget to roll up and carry around.

I introduced the rug idea this morning along with a shadow matching game. I printed these pictures from a site with story stretchers for "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?".

Nugget was able to do the work quite easily. I think the more valuable part of this was the opportunity to see what the rug is for.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Clothespins and trays

I love to watch Nugget embrace the whole procedure of doing her Montessori activities. She seems to enjoy the fetching and replacing as much as the activity itself.

For example, I recently set up a few new activities for her -- flower arranging and clothespins. For the clothespins, she gets a tray with a basket containing the pins and a small round box. She removes the box lid and places the clothespins around the edge of the box. When they're all placed, she removes the pins, replaces the lid, and returns the tray to the shelf.

The purpose of the activity is to strengthen Nugget's fingers in the writing grip. When I introduced the activity two days ago, she couldn't get the hang of using the clothespins, either by pinching them or by squeezing them in her fist. After a few tries, she returned the tray and left it alone for the next day.

She picked it out again today, though. And, to my amazement, after a failed try or two she got the hang of the pinching motion and was able to place and remove the clothespins correctly!

She seemed to get a kick out of this, too, and repeated the activity numerous times. The fun part to watch is when she finishes putting the clothespins back. She replaces everything on the tray and returns the tray to the shelf. Then she picks the tray up again and takes it back to the table! She did this probably 3 or 4 times before moving on to her trains.

She really seems to see the fetching and returning as an integral part of doing the activities. I'm really happy with that. I think part of it is that she has a neat streak and we've encouraged it -- she's taken to cleaning up on her own during her play, without being asked. But I also think part of it is the delineation that the tray gives. I think it's a brilliant part of the Montessori method.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Next steps

This blog has been quiet for a long while. Part of that is because Nugget remains very imagination-focused.

But the other reason this has been quiet is because I've been deciding what my next step was going to be. It got to the point that we had to start thinking about whether we wanted Nugget to go to a Montessori 3-6 program next year (2010). I've embraced Montessori more than Waldorf during this time of experimentation, and I wanted to continue with that. But I wasn't feeling confident about my abilities to do justice to the Montessori curriculum at home.

So, after a lot of debate, we decided that we would run as true of a Montessori school as possible out of our house for Nugget. To that end, I've started a distance education program for Montessori educators. We plan to complete that certification and then outfit ourselves with all of the supplies you'd find in a Montessori classroom.

The plan isn't cheap. But it ends up costing less than a year of tuition at the local Montessori schools, and if we have a second kid, it can all be reused.

So we've financially committed ourselves to homeschooling Nugget for 3-6. Depending on how that goes, we'll think about continuing as she gets older.

Now the question is... where can we fit a classroom in our house?
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