Micah and I are planning to chronicle our adventures in learning. Here’s a quick peek at some learning materials he currently loves.
When making materials, I always keep order in mind. At 17 months old, Micah is nearing the peak of what Maria Montessori called the sensitive period for order. This period lasts from birth to age five and peaks from about 18 months to 2 1/2 years old. [More on sensitive periods over here.] During this time, children are highly in tune to the manner in which their world is ordered. Order in their external environment helps them construct internal order. I try to keep our home environment fairly consistent [in that I’m consistently somewhat inconsistent]. The big stuff stays in the same place- furniture, plants, dog hair, a touch of Weltschmerz. And most of the materials have a pretty stable home. A bunch of them live on this shelf:
I rotate items in and out based on his interests at any given time. This way he stays focused on simple tasks and I don’t have to listen to irritating battery operated toys. [Most of the things I do for Micah have a bit of a selfish motivation. All of this ‘fostering his independence’ stuff is partially so he’ll do his own laundry soon.]
Sidenote! Those books under the lamp up there have loads of ideas for simple activities:
By keeping the materials spread out on display, Micah can easily choose what he would like to work with at any given time. This arrangement also supports that sensitive period for order. Soon I will start helping him learn to put each material back when he is finished which creates another win-win situation: he learns to independently satisfy his need for order, and I don’t have to clean up after him. Much. Maybe. If I time it right, he’ll actually enjoy the process. Maybe. I’m hopeful.
A Few Materials
Empty argo tea makes an excellent sensory bottle. Just add corn.
Micah has been super into bugs lately. Some sort of creature [dragonfly?] busted out if this exoskeleton and left it on our tent when we were camping. I keep a lid on this little mason jar and Micah loves inspecting it. The other day I was in the kitchen and heard him quietly whimpering in the other room. I peeked in to find that he had removed the lid from the jar. Somehow the exoskeleton made it’s way onto the back of Micah’s shirt and he was just sitting very still making those tiny whimpering noises. I stifled a giggle and made the rescue. He still loves bugs.
Blocks for stacking!
And another way to support independence and order: start simple and gradually increase in complexity. Micah can put a few blocks back when he is finished, but a whole crate of them might be overwhelming right now.
I keep hoping that Micah will enjoy this material as much as I do. He does like the kitchen utensils, but he could care less about making a lovely sound with them on the washboard.
This work zone is right near the shelf of materials. As his work increases in complexity, it will be helpful for him to have table space to keep it organized.
A little color stomping I mean sorting. He hasn’t shown too much interest in actually sorting the two colors yet. Magnets are way more intriguing at the moment.
I’m not entirely sure what that metal looptydo contraption is…banana hanger?Whatever it is, Micah enjoys looping mason jar rings onto the little looptydos. And I can see his spatial awareness muscles flexing as he does.
This little transfer work happened on the fly as I was bringing a load of tomatoes in from our garden. He liked watching the tomatoes plop to the bottom through the clear glass as he moved them from one jar to the other.
A sensory zone born out of necessity. Micah just really loves putting all of Reggie’s dogfood into his water. I try to remember that a lot of times when a child is doing something aggravating, he is just has an interesting need that needs to be met. Thus: birdseed and water bins. Micah has logged multiple hours on this side stoop of our house. Which is super convenient because he can slop around here while I slop around with dinner.
The process of creating materials for Micah is a valuable experience for both of us. As Micah develops concentration, fine motor and problem-solving skills, I learn how to continually support those efforts.
For another lovely resource on DIY materials, pop on over here: How to Make Your Own Montessori Materials .