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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Autumn Scavenger Hunt

This week we went on an Autumn Scavenger Hunt.  Wugs’ preschool presented him with a piece of paper with a variety of items on it that he could find on his walk.  The scavenger hunt was part of an initiative to raise funds to purchase more Montessori materials at the preschool.  For each item the child would be sponsored a certain amount.   The list ranged from basic things that could be found in the garden like a blade of grass and a stone, to items that are more difficult to find such as a winged seed.  This was a lovely way to encourage the children to appreciate nature during Autumn and raise some funds for the preschool.

Autumn Lanterns

This week we have been enjoying the colours of Autumn!  We took a trip to our local park and admired the changing of the seasons.  I asked the boys to gather together different-coloured leaves (this was initially part of Wugs’ Autumn Scavenger Hunt, arranged by his preschool), but the boys seemed eager to pick up more and more leaves and fill their baskets, so we used the leftover leaves to create these beautiful Autumn lanterns.

I purchased a couple of glass jars from Sainsburys and using a paint brush I covered the inside of the jar with Mod Podge.  (You could let the child do this part, but mine were tired after all that walking!)  Then I asked the children to choose the leaves they wanted to put inside their lanterns.   I pressed the leaves into the inside of the jars and then brushed Mod Podge over them until they stuck.  I found non-waxy leaves worked best as they stuck to the side better.  This part was quite difficult to do as the mouth of our jars was fairly narrow, so I pushed down the leaves inside the jar gently with the paint brush.  A jar with a wider opening would have worked better and the child could gently place the leaves inside him/herself. When we had finished we left the jars to dry overnight. 
The next day we placed LED lights inside the jars which illuminated the leaves to show their intricate designs and colours. 

What we used:
Coloured leaves 
Glass jar
LED light
Mod Podge
Paint brush

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Letter-Matching Drop Box

I created the letter-matching drop box in response to my three-year old’s fascination with letters (phonics and writing).  The colour-matching drop box was so successful with my two-year old that I decided to apply the same “control of error” principle to the letter-matching drop box.

I purchased a sturdy cardboard box from Hobbycraft and cut out 15 windows into the lid.  Above each window I wrote an upper- and lower-case letter, so that each window's letter corresponded to an object (the name of which began with the corresponding letter) that was to be posted into the window.  For example, above one window was the letter “Ee” and in the basket to the side was an object (an elephant) to be posted into this window.  

To enable my son to check whether he had matched the objects to the letters correctly, I took pictures of the different objects in the basket, printed these out, laminated them and fixed them to the bottom of the box underneath the corresponding window.  Once my son had completed the activity, he could remove the lid of the box and check whether he had matched them correctly. 

As the drop box contained many windows, I decided to create sections inside the box to stop the objects moving around, therefore making it clear whether he had matched them correctly.  The intersections were made from an old cardboard box with slits cut into them so they interlocked with one another.

As this was a new activity, I decided to use mainly familiar objects that I knew my son could match correctly.  There were a few less familiar objects like the otter, the beaver and coral, but including these became a way of introducing new vocabulary and to maintain his interest.  The sheer number of windows meant that a little more concentration was required of him than with the colour-matching drop box.

After a few attempts, my son has become familiar with all the objects in the box and can match them correctly without any help from me. The activity can now be modified to include different objects to further expand his appreciation of the beginning sounds of words as well as with his knowledge of objects around him.

What we used:
  • A sturdy cardboard box (a shoebox would work well, provided it is strong enough to have the windows cut into its lid and provided words and patterns do not obscure the letters around the windows)
  • Craft knife
  • Small objects and figurines
  • A marker pen
  • Paper
  • Laminator

Colour-Matching Drop Box

This September I started training to become a Montessori-qualified teacher.  It’s been busy studying with a pre-schooler and a toddler at home, but I’m hoping the course will help me to facilitate my children’s learning and to enable me to share our experiences on here with you.

The inspiration to create drop boxes came from an attempt to apply the principle of “control of error” to the children’s activities.  Control of error refers to a mechanism whereby a child can perceive his/her own mistake when undertaking an activity because the activity is designed according to the principle of one-to-one correspondence.  A typical example of this would be a jigsaw puzzle in which every piece is different and only interlocks with the correct corresponding piece.  

The first drop box I created was for my 2.5 year old who has developed an interest in colours (or at least the names of colours).  He would point to a red car and say “I want the green car” and this would lead to some frustration on his part and confusion on ours.  Rather than correcting him each time, I thought it would be more effective for him to realise his mistake through a self-checking element incorporated into the drop box. 

I purchased a sturdy box from Hobbycraft and cut some windows into the lid.  Around the edge of each window I created a border using eight different-coloured marker pens to correspond to the different-coloured pom poms to be posted into the windows.  One of the pom poms was multi-coloured, so I represented this with a multi-coloured border.  (I added the names of the colours above each window so that my 3 year old could also use the box and become familiar with the words that correspond to the colours).  Inside the box across the base, I made coloured circles to correspond to the coloured edges of the windows, so that when my son posted the pom poms into the box, he could remove the lid and check whether he had posted the pom poms into the correct window.  To make the self-checking element more pronounced, I could have created sections inside the box (as I did with the letter-matching box), but as I used only a few pom poms in this activity, they tended to fall exactly on the coloured circles, making it obvious which window they had been posted into.  The decision to use just a few pom poms worked well as I found my son’s concentration was beginning to wane as he came to the end of the activity.

The drop box managed to grip my son’s attention and after six or seven attempts over the course of a couple of weeks, he was able to match the pom poms correctly and refer to the colours of objects in the room accurately. 

What we used:
  • A sturdy cardboard box (a shoebox would have worked well provided the coloured borders were not obscured by writing/patterns)
  • A craft knife
  • Marker pens
  • Coloured pom poms
Click here to see our letter-matching drop box