Why all the fuss about early learning? Shouldn’t toddlers be let free to roam and play as they wish?
Well yes. Early learning can be fascinating to young children when they are engaged creatively. It boosts their confidence, teaches them to play independently and meets their natural needs at this unique stage in their life.
Have you noticed that toddlers adore letters and numbers and music and physical activity? That they want to know how everything works and want to do things on their own and often getting frustrated in the process? Montessori style activities are life-based. They help children build skills for everyday life, with a focus to building upon the necessary foundations needed in academia.
Through genuine enjoyment and enthusiasm for learning I have watched my toddler boy naturally gravitate towards the activities we put forth for him without force. He is enchanted and often calmed by putting things in order. We are at the stage now where he watches us and learns how to do a new exercise through us and often asks for help. Sometime he does these exercises on his own, and sometimes he wants us to help him. That’s all part of the joy for him: to gain independence and build his self-esteem from doing things on his own, or to revel in our company and assistance.
The first years are so incredibly formative in a young child’s life. They really do pave the way and set the tone for how they perceive the world, how they learn. This is a short time to help our children develop their brain architecture and a positive self image. To believe in their own ability for inner growth and to develop a true love for learning is one of the greatest gifts we can foster for our children.
I’ve never been the type of parent who follows any sort of strict parenting guidelines or theories, which is why you’ll find some styles of activities that don’t exactly fit the Montessori mold. I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite DIY Montessori Inspired Activities that you can easily create and share with your children in their home environment.
Language: Fiddle Sticks 1 of 10Probably my favourite learning activity in this round-up. At 33 months of age, my little guy is starting to read. He knows his letters, his vowels and consonants, is working on pronunciation and has a hard core love affair going on right now with anything to do with letters (and numbers.) In the blink of an eye he went from forming words to stringing together sentences. Which naturally transpired into an interest in reading. We sound out letters together and he's started to recognize his words. Fiddlesticks is a diverse game that can work on a bevy of skills such as; sight words, letters/sounds, parts of speech and more. The resources available at Make & Teach (where I found this idea), are incredible. Make sure to book mark the site.
Click here, for printable lists of from the DOLCH 220 Sight Word List; assessment form and materials (lists 1-3), and PDF instructions for assembling Fiddle Sticks as well as different ways to play! (I know, right?!)
Mathematics: Counting 2 of 10Math: a subject which I deplore, although absolutely respect the necessity of. I also want to keep my dislike of it under wraps and engage my little ones in math activities they can learn to love. After all, we are surrounded by math everywhere in its abstract ways; we know that math is a study of the science of pattern. Wide and varied patterns, numerical, abstract, shape and motion. This activity may be a simple counting game, to lay the foundation for understanding more difficult concepts as children grow. Little ones are naturally attracted to numbers. I see it with my own son; he is obsessed with numbers and with order. So I'm going to continue on with the positivity and engage in his growing knowledge through his home environment with activities like this.
Photo credit and activity idea via:Scribbalicious
Sensorial & Creative Language: Scrap Craft 3 of 10This free and creative form of play is a great way to introduce the alphabet to your little one or build upon their foundation of knowledge. Parenting has shown me that language is taught to a child from a natural awareness of hearing us speak, to more focused lessons. I think this would make a lovely project to do with the entire alphabet where we can hang up the letters permanently in the playroom. This activity merges sensory skills and creative play into tactile design.
Photo credit and idea via: Cluck Cluck Sew
Sensorial: Discovery Baskets 4 of 10This game can be molded to suit any young age group. Discovery baskets are all about sensory and are especially great for younger toddlers. The little treasures that they can categorize and play with encourage them to explore, investigate and examine new materials, shapes, colours, tastes, textures, sounds, weights and quantities. We've been a fan of them over the years; watching our children play independently, their little minds to thinking on their own.
Photo credit and more ideas can be found over at How We Montessori
Movement & Exercise 5 of 10This may not be a part of the primary guide to Montessori, but it has its place. We all know that toddlers are busy, often hyper little humans. As a former social worker I was taught that daily exercise is vital to their physical, mental and emotional development. Engaging your child in everyday physical activity will help lead them into a lifetime of happy and healthy living. I've learned that exercise stimulates the mind, builds confidence and a stronger immune system.
Photo credit and a great list of ideas that you can incorporate inside or outside, via: Childhood 101
Learn more on the benefits of exercise for children over at Take The Magic Step
Homemade Finger Paints 6 of 10I'm a firm believer that creativity must be a part of the everyday. Without art, learning could be pretty mundane. After all, gaining knowledge in and of itself is a true art-form. Creative free play or arts & crafts may not be a part of the Montessori educational pedagogy, which is why I am once again convinced there is never any one right way of doing things as a parent. No almighty parenting theories better than the rest, no supreme way of educating your child void of merging other styles. I see Montessori as a highly creative way of teaching by its mere existence, as many other parents do, contributing to the great pool of resource sharing happening on the Internet with DIY materials. So as you may gather from my ramble, this is why I included homemade finger paints in my round-up. Art may not be a part of the primary part of the traditional Montessori Primary Guide, but it is around my house.
Photo Credit, recipe and how-to via: Sweet Shop Designs
Practical Life Activities: Flexibility 7 of 10This exercise aids in your child's ability to concentrate; hand-eye coordination is coupled with focused, controlled, movement. It helps your little one develop an orderly way of thinking and learn some of the basic movements of society: grasping, carrying and putting things in their place. Your child learns how he or she moves and learns to adapt how he moves through such exercises.
Photo credit and activity idea via: My Montessori Moments
Montessori Workboxes 8 of 10What we have here is a fabulous collection of easy, Montessori inspired workboxes. Most of the materials use things you can find around your house or in nature.
Photo credit and collection of workbox ideas via: Nurturing The Tender Years
Practical Life Activities: Sorting – Flower Arranging 9 of 10This is such a sweet little idea. I've noticed my own toddler boy naturally drawn to picking and gathering flowers into bundles on our nature walks, all of his own accord. Which he then promptly hands to me. The Ooff! Of the heart! I think I'll have this one ready for him to do tonight.
Photo credit and activity idea via: My Montessori Moments
DIY Nature Tree Table 10 of 10You know you love this. Think of the fun! Your tot can gather leaves and pine cones and rocks to dress their table, you can use Waldorf figurines, felted little people and animals of various styles, or Playmobile characters as in the image. Your child's imagination and sensory skills will merge the practical and the creative. Nature play is a fabulous way our children can learn!
Photo credit and idea via: Made by Joel, courtesy The Violet Hours
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