A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I taught in a Montessori preschool. There are some things that I really enjoy about the Montessori method especially for those younger preschool years. Those first five years are just chalk full of so much happening in their little lives and world. It’s such a fun and active time.
I learned a lot during my Montessori certification and used it extensively when my kids were little but with Claire about to turn eight (where did my baby go?!) I haven’t given much thought to all of that. But I’ve got some friends with preschool age kids so lately I’ve been thinking about simple activities that can be done easily. Because I am blessed to have a lot of these little people in and out of my house on a regular basis I started pulling together some things for them to do when they come over. I have a large basket on my washing machine where I am adding and keeping stuff as I make/assemble the activities.
I thought I’d share them here too because it’s nice to have ideas of things for them to do while you’re cooking dinner or paying bills and whatever.
The great thing about most of the things you do with children this age is how developmentally helpful the activities are and the kids are clueless and just know they’re having fun. They really couldn’t care less that you are working to strengthen their small muscle control or eye hand coordination, both of which will be helpful down the road with reading and writing. For them work is play and play is work.
Another great thing about these type of things is that they can be put together on the cheap or you may have stuff already on hand. The first thing I put together required a sugar shaker (the Dollar Tree) and some wooden skewers I already had. This activity can be done by children as young as two and as old as five with some modification.
My friend Bobby is two and he played happily with this for almost 45 minutes. I showed him the pointy end of the skewer and we talked about it being sharp and how we needed to be careful with it so no one got hurt. And then I showed him how to poke it through the holes of the sugar shaker lid. This kind of activity works their small muscles, specifically their pincer grasp, and their eye hand coordination. It also helps develop their ability to concentrate and their ability to follow directions.
A few days later my little friend Gabriel, who is three, came over and he wasn’t interested in this game at all. It was too easy for him which got me thinking how it could be modified to suit older kiddos.
Changing out the skewers for pipe cleaners makes it more difficult to get in the holes since they are more
bendy.You could also throw in some color matching skills by adding pony beads to the process. Once they’ve placed the pipe cleaners in the holes you can have a bowl of beads ready for them to thread onto the matching pipe cleaner. Have them count the beads and now you have them doing math 🙂
One thing I want to add about these kinds of activities is that when I was using them with my kids clean up was part of the process. I wanted to reinforce the idea that they were not completely done with the task until everything had been returned to its proper order. I Corinthians 14:40 reminds us that everything should be done decently and in order and it is in simple little ways like this that we can instill that concept into our children so that it becomes their way.
Next time I’ll show what I came up with for Gabriel that kept him busy for a little while and was more challenging for him.