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.