Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stereognostic Sense: Mystery Bag

The Mystery Bag is a classic Montessori Sensorial activity, used to train the ability to recognize objects by touch and movement alone (without the eyes). While we didn't do the exact lesson, it is quite Montessori-inspired.

The first bag we did used shapes as Ty is certainly familiar with the basics. We examined and felt them then placed them in the bag. I did a quite exaggerated demonstration first, wiggling my hand around, exclaiming that I had found something, then letting Ty know that I was moving it around in my hand to figure out what shape it was. After my guess I removed each shape and confirmed...or found a mistake. Once in a while I do like to purposely make an error to give Tyler a sense that it's okay to not be perfect. He delighted in this, saying "Silly Mama!" with a big smile.

Then it was Tyler's turn. Sometimes he pulled shape right out, sometimes he guessed beforehand. I playfully asked "What did you find?!" when he had hold of something to serve as a reminder to feel and name the object first. It worked.

The next set of objects was much more fun. We used items that Tyler handles on a daily basis or objects that he is very familiar with. He was excited by them all and couldn't wait to get them into the bag.

After a little practice with the shapes, he was much better about feeling and naming before taking the objects out. They were also easier to discriminate than the shapes.

We used these objects at least four times, with Tyler excitedly putting them back in the bag to play again each time he completed the work. This will be one to do again and again with various objects for sure!

Odds & Ends

Here are a few activities that I thought may be of interest to others. They didn't really warrant an entire post by themselves, but I didn't want them to slip through the cracks either!

Tyler has been quite into tracing feet and hands, so I decided that we could put large sheets of paper together to trace his entire body. He was game!

He found his outlined body quite interesting

Ty was sick and pretty unfocused so he didn't really feel like trying to make any sort of face, but that was of course fine. I just let him go.

We then hung it on the wall and he added to it over the course of several days. He also wanted us to trace him again and again standing up, as you can probably see!

This is just one of those moments you walk into that make you smile and feel glad that you let your child use materials freely. His play dough press wasn't put away after earlier play, and when doing salt writing, so he decided to see what would happen if he filled it with salt and tried to "press" it. I watched him for a good while.  

We've been using all sorts of blocks with our animals to create play scenes.

Since Tyler has been so into numbers, I was curious to see if he wanted to learn to write them by tracing. I wrote them lightly on a piece of paper then tucked it into a sheet protector so that he could use markers over and over again while trying. He liked it, but didn't always follow the lines and just thought it was neat to marker on a different surface. I'm not sure he's ready for this activity, but it may be a nice way to save paper for drawing at times as we can simply wipe and start again! We used regular, washable markers and it worked fine.

I put letters 1-9 on Tyler's magnetic board to see what he would do. He enjoyed sequencing them as I figured. Anything to do with numbers is sure to delight him right now!

We've used elbow macaroni to practice pouring between small glasses.

This has been one of Tyler's favorite activities the last couple weeks. I really thought it was a random activity that may last a day or two if that as it seems like a "younger" activity! His work is to put popsicle sticks into the jar, dump them out into the old play dough cup, and pick up any sticks that miss. He does this at the table while listening to his favorite versions of "The Twelve Days on Christmas" on our laptop (yup, still!), which is useful only as a CD player at this point. It shows the old Windows Media Player visualizations as it plays, which our mildly-sensory-quirky, highly visual Tyler likes to look at on occasion to self-regulate. We also switch out puzzles and shape sorters for him to do as he listens.

I've noticed Tyler looking out the windows at the birds and squirrels a lot lately as our weather has warmed. A neighbor has also put plenty of bird seed in his feeders which attracts quite a nature show for us to relax with.

We tried Hopscotch with Ty for the first time seeing that we've had great weather! I knew he'd be into it as it involves numbers and jumping! He loved jumping forwards and backwards in sequence and calling out each number as he hopped.

Montessori kids have to be the only ones who get down and trace their hopscotch numbers with fingers!

I showed him how to throw a rock and see what number it would land on, for future skipping, but he didn't want to throw it too far. I think he was afraid it would go outside of the board and that was apparently not acceptable to him!

I taught him how to jump to keep his feet on different numbers. He doesn't fully have the movement down, and he liked to get creative as well, putting his feet at a diagonal, say with one foot on four and the other one five.

After his tracing session a few days before, he decided to try to trace all of the numbers as well. He did well with ten!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First Time with Cards and Counters

Though we haven't worked with the Red Rods or the Spindle Box, I feel like Tyler has a really good sense of numbers and quantity and decided to start him on the Cards and Counters work to see how he would do.  

We worked with five numbers at a time, 1-5 and 6-10. Digging into our "Montessori Stuff" box for possible counters, he became excited about a bag of rocks, so we used those. I put the exact amount of rocks needed into a small basket and we lined-up the cards. Though I went through a demonstration on where to place the rocks and in what fashion, I pretty much knew he would want the rocks on the cards. No biggie. I will keep demonstrating.

 [If you're not familiar, this is how the counters are to be placed]

Ty's work was to use one-to-one correspondence to count the correct number of items for each quantity represented by the numerals. He made a few errors but mostly did really well with the work. He made mistakes that really surprised me at times, like skipping the number six, and he over-counted when he got to nine and ten at times (which wasn't as surprising).

This work really excited him! He wanted to repeat it over and over again.

The cards that we used are also the cards that I made for our What's Missing game, which range from 1-20. Tyler picked-up on this and wanted to do higher numbers. Here he chose 11 and 13. He also decided upon 19, which he truly shocked me with. No over-counting or errors and he wanted to do it again and again. I literally had to stop observing and leave him with his work so I could start dinner or it would have been a very long night!  

Negative Space: Dry Erase Board Painting and Prints

If you follow along, you have probably seen how Tyler enjoys scraping his nails over his paintings near the end to see the paper or dried colors underneath. A while ago I set him up for a simple easel paint session and let him go. The first thing he did was to excitedly combine his yellow and blue to make green.

 The side of the easel that has the paper holding clips for paper is also a dry erase and magnetic board. After doing a couple paintings, Tyler decided to flip his paper up and paint on the dry erase board. He looked back at me a few times to be sure it was okay, and knowing the paint would come right off, I told him to go for it.

After covering the board, he used his fingers to scrape the paint, then a paintbrush, sponge and one of the cups holding his paint. It had a dramatic negative space effect. It was also nice because after scraping and dragging his fingers down the paper, it sometimes rips...not so of course on the board.

When he was finished and off washing his hands with Daddy, I grabbed a piece of paper and pressed it to the board to print what he had done. It was pretty cool, and Ty thought so too.

This was our first result (minus some paint that it came across the next day) We planned to go ahead and paint on the dry erase board again very soon.

So of course we did so the next morning!

He decided when he wanted to make the prints. This was one of them.

Neat! I secretly adore how it looks like a lowercase "b".

He used different sized paint brushes, q-tips and of course his fingers to create the negative space.

Something about the prints that just struck me...

This is just one more reason why I tend to let him go and do as he pleases with art. There is no specific product or way to do it. As long as he isn't running around painting the walls or the furniture, his explorations often lead to cool discoveries! I have to trust that he knows what he's doing. 

Warm Griddle Coloring

I did this activity long ago with my first toddler class, lugging my own griddle into school, but had forgotten all about it until I saw in on Pinterest. I knew I had to try it with Tyler! 

We simply set our griddle on warm (not enough to really burn unless you lay your hand on it for a few seconds...supervision required!), measured some paper to fully cover the griddle (my husband reminded me of what a pain it was to removed crayon from this years ago), and grabbed our crayons.

After experimenting with his first pictures, we noticed that Ty's fat toddler crayons worked the best versus the regular sized ones. It was also easy to see that black, his favorite color, melted exceptionally well for some reason which he adored.

 This was a huge hit with Tyler! I'm sure we'll be doing it again soon!

We hung his art in the windows, which made them look even more interesting and bright as we used thin paper. Tyler was most excited that he could see the white crayon this way! He often tells me that you can't see "white on white" (though he always tries anyhow), but we could here!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tonging out of Water

Ty was so excited to use tongs a few months ago and was doing well, but his interest completely dropped around Christmas-time. I would really like him to work on his grasp, so (after several weeks of working up the courage to do water indoors with our floors) I decided to see if he would tong objects out of water.

He loved it! We used pieces from Toppletree, a balancing game he received as a gift from his Aunt and Uncle. He worked on 1:1 correspondence, placing each piece into it's own space in an ice cube tray.

His focus and determination for this activity surprised me. He was really into it!

Tyler seems to really enjoy being responsible for his spills lately. Yay!

When Ty became bored with tonging, I gave him a large slotted spoon to practice scooping the pieces out and into a bowl. This was tricky...too tricky. The pieces moved around a lot in the water and seemed to avoid the spoon at all costs, so he ended up putting them on the spoon by hand and then dumping them in.

I ran and grabbed him Duplos to use instead and he had a bit more luck, but the object size didn't matter as much as I thought; it was still difficult. He wasn't nearly as into it as he was with the tongs. We will repeat the tongs again for sure! 

Linking-up with the fabulous Living Montessori Now and 1+1+1=1