Sunday, February 15, 2009

Montessori Monday

I freshened up the Montessori shelves a bit last week.  New to the shelves was, of course, the felt snake activity.  The reason I made two ribbons was actually so Me Too could participate as well (if possible) but for once he was not interested. He was however extremely interested in this new activity.  

This will not be new to any Montessori Moms out there...I'm not even going to credit it to anyone's blog at this point because I think I've seen it on almost all of them.  

For those who haven't seen it, this is one of those shapes you can suction cup to your bathtub so you don't slip.  It has 14 suction cups and marbles fit perfectly.  I've always seen it done with tongs, but I thought we should do it for a couple days with fingers first.  I was right.  Kal-El originally tried it for a couple of minutes and said "This is too hard for me" and put it back on the shelf.  

Arrrggh!  I've tried sooooo hard not to teach him that phrase.  I didn't want to raise a whiner who avoids work by saying it's too hard for him.  I can't say that I've ever used that phrase with him directly.  I always say instead that some things are "hard work" never that something is "too hard" and he receives a lot of praise and encouragement for doing hard work.  We had a great opportunity to talk about it when we went rock climbing and watched my husband accomplish some difficult runs.  When he was having trouble in some spots Kal-El asked "is it too hard for Daddy?"  We talked about how it was hard work but Daddy was having fun, and it's fun to do hard work. He was quite the cheerleader after that and shouted "Good job Daddy!" "You can do it!" and told a lot of the the other children there that his Daddy was "up high" and doing "a really good job, it's very hard work." When he completes something difficult I say "great job! That was hard work and you did it!"  

We have talked about things being too heavy for him, or jars being too tight to open, and somehow he figured out how to turn the sentence "that's too heavy for me" into "that's too hard for me" and I'm sad.  I was hoping it would work out as well as not using the word "mine" did.  We made a point to never say "that's mine" to him when he had something we didn't want him to have and he never learned to say it.  It has been nice to not hear him grabbing things from other kids and yelling "mine" all the time.

At any rate, "It's too hard for me" was mostly code for "you're paying attention to Me Too and not to me, so I'm not going to work."  I pulled the work back of the shelf, provided him with a cheering section, and after that he did just fine and repeated the activity many times.  

I knew it required more finger dexterity than Me Too currently has, but he was fascinated...mostly because he loves "balls" of any kind.  It was too difficult for him, but he loved it.  With some practice, he would eventually get 4 or 5 of the 14 marbles actually on a suction cup. He just stuck the other ones in-betweeen much to Kal-El's chagrin.  After Kal-El moved on to something else, Me Too began a work cycle that involved:
  • Carefully carrying the tray from the shelf to the rug.  
  • Saying "oops" when he put the tray down on the rug and the container of marbles fell off each time.
  • Putting the container of marbles back on the tray.
  • Opening the container.
  • Saying "ooooooh" as he sees the marbles.
  • Spilling the marbles.
  • Putting the marbles back in the container.
  • Closing the lid.
  • Returning the tray to the shelf.
  • Come to Mom with hand in the air to receive a "high five."
  • Repeat 11 times.
Another work that proved much too difficult for Me Too that I actually did put together for him was this sorting task. 

In the center of the tray there were four of each cats, dogs, fish, and bears.  There was one animal of each type in the four colors orange, blue, green, and yellow.  The tray has four compartments.  The idea was that he could sort them by color and perhaps later by type. 

The concept of "sorting" was way beyond what Me Too was able to do at this point, even though he does know his colors.  He instead emptied animals from the tray to the rug one at a time and then returned them (one at a time) to various compartments on the tray (all in one, then all in another).

After he was done with this activity, Me Too moved on to an old reliable...hammering.  You can see Kal-El taking over the sorting tray in the background.  The boys really enjoy having some time sharing a rug as much as they enjoy using their own rugs.  I would say they do 50% of their work together and 50% on their own.

Kal-El did not need a "presentation" on this work initially, it was clear to him that he could sort the animals by color.  Afterwards, I gave him a presentation on sorting by type and he asked "did you do it the wrong way Mommy?"  I never was able to convince him that it was a valid way to sort.  

Both boys spent some time arranging flowers, stacking boxes, and playing with a couple of new items I added to Me Too's mystery basket.  Kal-El also accomplished several sound sorts and worked on a felt snake.  His work with the felt snakes is already paying off.  He was able to unbutton the jacket he was wearing today by himself.  Both boys also worked for a very long time with their new insect activity which I will describe in a separate post.  I put away several things, including the task with the balls, tongs and ice cube tray.  I put the balls in a small, galvanized bucket and moved it from Kal-El's shelf to Me Too's...I thought he would enjoy taking them in and out of the bucket.  Me Too didn't touch it, but Kal-El took it down and asked for the ice cube tray and the tongs back so he could work on it. it is back on the shelf.


  1. Hello i recently stummbled upon your blog and have to say it has some very good ideas. I was interested in knowing where you can buy the suction cup figures for this exercise.

  2. Anonymous,

    I picked up the suction cup figures at the dollar store. They were in the section where they keep things for the bathroom. They had packs of butterflies and dinosaurs. Each pack had maybe five figures in them. (They are meant for sticking to the bottom of your bathtub so you don't slip). I wound up with more than I need, but the boys like to stick them to the windows.

  3. oh that is great i am heading to the dollar store right after work. I also noticed your montessori phonics swap post and was wondering where you would get the tiny objects that you have pictures of are those also from the dollar store. I didnt quite understand the swapping part..i feel so naive...