This has been an interesting month for Montessori work for us. For the first time in a very long time I haven’t rotated any work in or out for Ender because he has been using every work every work period for almost three weeks. In a regular week we will start with work on Monday and usually by Thursday there is at least 1 or 2 baskets/trays I rotate out because he hasn’t used them all week. I usually rotate at least 2 more by the next Monday so that about every 2 weeks he has completely new work.
For the month of January the work on the shelves for my 4-year-old currently includes:
:: A tray with 1 die in a bowl and a half sheet of largely gridded paper that I made in MS Word. Ender rolls the die, figures out the number and writes the number in one of the grid boxes. This work meets his desire to be able to write numbers on his own (a frustration he met when he was measuring a lot of things over the Christmas break).
:: Moveable alphabet and cards with consonant pairs on them. -ch, -sh, -th, -wh, -gh, -ng, -ph. Ender uses the moveable alphabet to form the pair and then says the new sound. We just added the last four pairs to this work after working for a few weeks on the first three.
:: A cutting basket. Ezra is learning to make little snips in paper with scissors so Ender asked for cutting work too. Ender’s basket includes half sheets of paper marked with lines to practice moving the scissors forward has he cuts, precut strips that he can cut through with one snip and plain half sheets of paper that he can cut any way he likes. He usually starts with one of the more structured parts of the activity then switches to the plain paper part way through.
:: Using this cabinet for inspiration I’ve collected novelty erasers and small toys from the dollar store and the dollar spot at Target to use as counters. I’ve set the tray up in the same way with three bowls. The addition cards he uses only add up to 1-6 since he’s just starting out with this work and he can choose any 2 counters to work the problem. In the coming weeks when he feels a little more comfortable writing his numbers I’ll expand this work so that he wites the equation after representing it with the counters.
:: A tray with a white board, marker and eraser. I picked this board up inexpensively at Target awhile back. On one side it has the primary lines for writing letters and numbers and the other side is blank. Since Ender is still drawing many of his letters he uses the blank side most frequently. Recently, however, he has started to try to stay to a certain size when writing his name and he has been using the lined side for that.
:: Blank paper and markers to draw whatever he likes. There have been a LOT of dragons lately.
:: The Brain Quest Kindergarten book. I *know* it’s totally not a Montessori thing, but it has a lot of letter and number tracing along with space to try each letter or number on his own. For a kid that feels the urge to utter the “I can’t do it” phrase several times a day all the tracing work has been the perfect bit of confidence building for him. He’s much more willing to try once he realizes he has traced that letter with a pencil before.
We work on these pages as he desires each day, so sometimes he does one page, sometimes as may as four if he’s really wanting to write a lot that day. Our only rule is the same as other work- you must finish what you start.
:: As always we have two baskets of books on the bottom shelf. Right now our basket themes are Winter and Hibernation. We read from these in the morning and evening. Most are picture books, but a few are short non-fiction books. I order most of these from our awesome local library, but we do own a few. We try to add a few seasonal titles to our collection each year. Ender also checked out a few books about China inspired by dragons, so he also has a few of those titles on his shelves to look at whenever he’d like.