For our first week of preschool our general theme is “Winter”, so most of our shelf trays and activities are winter related. This first year we are focusing on the everyday world that surrounds us. So when I say “Winter” I’m not talking about Penguins and Polar Bears, but rather Snowflakes, Snowmen and Sleds. As Dr. Montessori stated in the “Absorbent Mind” we should always present the concrete before the abstract. It’s important especially for toddlers to have a firm understanding of their own world before learning about the more abstract worlds of foreign lands. You won’t find many Penguins and Polar Bears in Illinois.
Going from left to right top to bottom:
Tray #1: The Rough and Smooth BoardsMontessori Sensorial (Tactile)
I purchased mine from Amazon.com from a company called Elite Montessori
Tray #2 Mitten Match-UpPre-Math Matching and Sorting Work
This was a DIY matching game. I am just introducing the concept of matching and sorting to Logan so I made each of them very different and contrasting to make it easier for him. I put them all in this cute winter bucket I found at Wal-Mart for a $1.00, the metal handle is perfect for Logan to carry to his work mat.
Tray #3 The Pink TowerMontessori Sensorial (Visual), PreMath
I also purchased this at Elite Montessori. I simply store our Pink Tower in this canvas bin, it has handles on the sides which makes it easier for Logan to carry.
I used to think I needed the stand to display my tower however after watching some wonderful videos by Margaret Homfray (assistant to Dr. Montessori) I learned that Dr. Montessori simply stored her tower in a bin or on a tray. She thought it was too much for young children to carry the tower to and from their work mat piece by piece as is taught in most of the current modern day curriculums and I agree. How is a child expected to put the tower back properly on the stand if they can’t stack it correctly in the first place? So we are doing it the old Montessori way and storing ours on the shelf in a bin.
Tray #4 Color Tablets Box 1Sensorial (Visual)
These are DIY color tablets I made out of paint samples and flat sticks. I store them in wooden recipe box I found at the thrift store.
Tray #5 Dry PouringMontessori Practical Life, Pre-writing, “C Grasp”
These are straight cups without handles and we are pouring some white and blue pebbles to go with our winter theme.
Tray #6 Cylinder Block 1
Montessori Sensorial (Visual), Pre-Math
Our cylinders were purchased here at Montessori Outlet.
Tray #7 Lacing BeadsFine Motor
These are the Melissa and Doug Primary Lacing Beads, they came in a nice wooden box but I found that it would be too hard to put them back properly especially for a toddler so I put all the beads into a basket and the shoelace along side them. These beads originally came with a red and green shoelace, I swapped those out for this light gray one, I thought the bright red and green just distracted you from the beads and it’s the beads I want to stand out, especially when we use them for pattern work.
Tray #8 3 Part CardsMontessori Language
These are my DIY 3 part cards all Voc Words about “Winter”, I found most of the images off Google, so I’m sorry but I can’t share them! We are using only the control cards right now, in typical Montessori they would start with just the picture cards, however Logan has become very very interested in text and words so I included the words with the picture on his. The text is in cursive because we will be learning cursive before print, so I want him to see as many examples of cursive writing as possible. That wooden box from our Lacing Beads made the perfect container for them.
Tray 9# Snowman Sensory BinSensory and Language
I plan to highlight this bin in a future post but I’m sure you can figure it out just by looking at the photo.
Tray #10 Build A SnowmanFine Motor Skills, Themed Activity
This is pretty much like a DIY Mr. Potato Head expect that it’s a snowman. I simply constructed many different snowman parts out of socks and felt.
Tray #11 Snowflake Counting MatsPre-Math
This was also a DIY counting work, I took some snowflake ornaments (stole them from my parents Christmas Tree, ehhhhhmmm) attached some Velcro to the back and a dot of Velcro on the mat, this helps direct the child as to how many snowflakes go on each mat and where they should be placed.
I also left off any kind of numbers as I want Logan to understand and recognize quantity before learning Number Symbols. Concrete before Abstraction.
Tray #12 Snowball SpooningFine Motor Skill, One to One Correspondence, Pre-Math
The child simply spoons one snowball (a.k.a a cotton ball) in each cup. I simply used a left over egg carton. Thus far this is his least favorite work.
Our Art Area
The Cutting Basket
We are using The Fiskars My First Scissors, they are spring loaded so they help teach the child the proper cutting motion. I also like that they will only cut thin pieces of paper and nothing else. I just put in some thin strips of paper to cut.
The Coloring Tray
I used the lid to our Rough and Smooth Boards box for this tray, there is just some crayons and paper for coloring. I tried using the block crayons and Logan didn’t really like them he prefers the original sticks the best.
The idea here is to dip the Q-tips and cotton balls into the white paint, making snow prints on the blue construction paper. I normally do not leave the paint in the cup, however we had just finished using this tray when I took the photo. I used a Christmas Snowman tray I already had in my kitchen for this work.
In our nature basket we have several different clippings of Conifer trees, we found 4-5 different evergreens just around our block. Also there is an abundance of pine cones and a few nature items Logan found on our hikes. I have included a small child’s magnifying glass to examine them with. Alongside the basket I have several books both fiction and non-fiction about Evergreens, Trees and Winter Birds.
The Book Nook
As you can tell our Book Nook is filled with all sorts of books about Winter. We have at least 30 books on our shelves, all from the library and we’ve read through most of them already. Logan loves books it’s one of his favorite things to do. I will be sharing some our favorites from this week, soon.
This week our Dress-Up Area is all about “Winter” clothing. We have many different types of scarves, hats, gloves, coats, boots and even an ice scrapper available to try on. I was surprised that this was the first part of our school room that Logan was drawn to. He jumped right in and began trying on scarves and hats. We have used many of these items in our dramatic play.
I originally just thought this was fun and it would go with our Winter Theme, however it has come in so handy when we need a little down time. It’s also great for increasing a child’s attention span as focusing on this bottle is absolutely memorizing. Even Mom enjoys playing with it.
We are also playing many different “Winter” games, “Winter” Dramatic Play, “Winter” Play Invitations, learning to make Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nature Hikes and even a Field Trip. Although this week is all about “Winter” we will continue exploring this topic with at least one or two activities a week for as long as it is Winter.