Saturday, June 07, 2008

Preschool Montessori Activities--First Year of Primary (3 Year-Olds)

Update: Check out the sidebar on the right for a lot of free Montessori material links.

I'm hoping to write down some of the things my children did when they were in Montessori preschool so that when it's time to figure out what to do with my newest babe, I'll have a resource of my own to prod my memory. The Montessori Primary class is divided into three years. It covers three year-olds to six year-olds, preschool to kindergarten. The class moves from working with motor skills through academics.

From what I recall, the first year concentrates on learning self-discipline and small-motor skills. Most of these activities would be in a section of the classroom called 'the practical life area.' The first-year students in the Montessori Primary classroom spend most of their time in the practical life area.

All of the activities with water were surrounded by the same preliminaries and clean-up. Each activity has all of the materials needed for a single task on a tray. First the children would prepare their area. They would put on a water-proof apron and spread out a placemat on a kid-size table. They would then remove the tray with the required materials and carefully and slowly carry it to the table. (Carrying a tray was one of the first skills taught in the Montessori primary classroom--hold it with both hands and keep the tray close to your body.) After the activity is finished, any water is poured down the drain and other materials are replaced the way they were before the child started working with them. The tray is placed back on the shelf and any water spills are cleaned with a towel.

Here are some of the activities: pouring (water from small pitchers--like a large creamer pitcher--into cups), scooping (beans or cheerios with a spoon or small scoop from a large bowl into a small bowl), clothes washing (get a large bowl, fill about 1/2 way with water, put in a squirt of soap, swish the clothes around, dump the bowl, fill with fresh water, swish the clothes around, hang them over a line or back of a chair over towels to dry), making soap bubbles (put water in a cereal bowl, grate soap with a real grater over the water, use a wisk to make bubbles by putting the wisk between your palms and sliding them back a forth), ironing (with a toy ironing board and toy iron and doll clothes), washing a baby doll (fill a tub with water, add some soap, and put the baby in the water and use a washcloth to scrub the baby), making colored water (you have a few test tubes in a holder, fill them with some water, and then use an eye dropper to put different colors of dye--food coloring, into the test tubes--combining different colors to see what they make), and setting the table (the teacher explains where all of the utensils go and the children then try it).

Academically the first year students would learn to sit in circle, try their best at the quiet game (trying to do everything as silently as possible), begin using a piggy bank game (piggy shapes that have numbers 1-9 on them with the same number of circles and the kids take pennies and place them on the circles, so the 3 piggy would have 3 circles and the child would place a penny on each circle for 3 pennies) and other number identification (number rods), learn shapes in circle--the 3-dimensional shapes (spheres, pyramids, cubes, prisms, cylinders, ovoids) as well as 2-dimensional (triangle, circle, square, rectangle, ellipse, oval), beginning to differentiate beginning word sounds by singing a song (apple, apple, a, a, a--where 'a' is the soung the letter A makes--not the name of the letter. Montessori felt it was best to not confuse matters by teaching both the name and the sound. The names would be taught with the alphabet song half-way through year two, or the pre-kindergarten year.), learn to spell their own names (using the actual letter names--an exception to using the sounds), learn the continents of the world (singing a song to the tune of "The Muffin Man", "Do you know the continents, the continents, the continents, do you know the continents from all around the world. There's Asia, and Africa, North and South America, Europe, Antartica, and Australia too. Now you know the continents, the continents, the continents, now I know the continents from all around the world."), and learn the days of the week (using a number of different songs--this one is the Addams family music. "Days of the week -clap clap-, days of the week -clap clap-, days of the week, days of the week, days of the week -clap clap-. There's Sunday and there's Monday. There's Tuesday and there's Wednesday. There's Thursday and there's Friday, and then there's Saturday. Days of the week -clap clap-, days of the week -clap clap-, days of the week, days of the week, days of the week -clap clap-.")

A great resource is Montessori in the Home: Preschool Years by E. Hainstock. Also see the sidebar for additional resources--many of which are free printables and instructions for making your own materials as well as general Montessori instructions.

Days of the week:
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Days of the week (Addams family):
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Months of the year:
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The continents song:
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Letter sounds and beginning sounds song:

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Kristy Shreve Powers said...

Wow--very informative and inspiring. Thank you. I realized reading through this that my son would be capable of and love doing most of these things (he's two years nine months).

Kim said...

If he's ready, Kristy, go for it! The songs help them remember and it is so fun to have people in awe that your little kid knows all of the continents.