Village Montessori Blog
As Fort Mill’s top-rated Montessori school, Village Montessori & Preparatory School prides ourselves on creating a preschool and private kindergarten environment that provides a “whole child” approach to development: cognitive, spiritual, social, emotional and physical.
This development method allows for a dynamic prepared classroom environment that enables children of mixed age groups to explore a myriad of materials with differing levels of difficulty and learn as they are naturally inclined.
Whether in our infant room, preschool classrooms for 1-4 year olds, transitional kindergarten or private kindergarten, we emphasize and teach the whole child approach as developed by Maria Montessori.
In this blog we will be focusing on the Practical Life Area of our prepared classrooms and sharing ideas for how parents can create similar prepared learning environments in your own homes.
Practical Life Activities in the Prepared Classroom
The purpose of the Practical Life Activities in our prepared classrooms is two-fold:
- The prepared activities are meant to assist children in developing social skills and personal independence. Children learn to respect and take care of themselves and their environment and, in doing so, to respect and take care of others.
- The second purpose is to develop a child’s gross and fine motor movement, providing the foundation for every other facet of the learning environment.
Practical Life Activities are designed to encourage competencies in the following categories:
- Preliminary Activities
- Care and Respect for Self
- Care and Respect for the Environment
- Social Grace and Courtesy
- Fine Motor Skills
- Life Skills
All Practical Life Activities are uniquely purposeful and calming, and may appear simple and repetitive. However, if you were to observe a child as they perform such activities, you would notice:
- A high level of concentration - working on an activity for an extended period of time
- A developing sense of order - completing activities methodically from start to finish
- Pride in their work - showing you their completed work and/or demonstrating it for you
- Taking responsibility for any necessary cleaning - putting materials back where they belong in the classroom
- An increasing sense of independence - self-selecting activities and completing them independently
Practical Life Activities at Home
While the introduction to these Practical Life Activities may begin in our preschool and kindergarten classrooms, they are easily replicated at home. We invite you to try some of these fun, easy to set up activities and encourage your children to continue building their practical life activities in your own environment.
The following activities will help children work on their fine motor skills, color and shape recognition, and stimulate their senses:
Sorting: Gather small cupcake liners, cups or bowls in a few colors. In a larger bowl, add a variety of small toys, balls, art supplies, etc. that match those same colors. Encourage your child to sort the items into the matching colored cupcake liner, etc.
Transferring: Get two small bowls or containers. Add beads, puff balls, any small items easy to scoop with a spoon. Encourage your child to transfer the items using the spoon from one bowl to the other. You can also do this activity with small tongs.
Lacing: Cut out a shamrock, or another fun shape such as a heart, circle, or square, and punch holes around the perimeter. Provide a shoelace or ribbon for your child and show them how to lace/weave the shoelace in and out of the punched holes.
Bead Work: Add small beads in a variety of colors to a small bowl. Provide your child with a few pipe cleaners. Show them how to thread the pipe cleaner through the beads to create a pattern, a bracelet or a necklace. They can repeat the activity over and over again creating different patterns with the beads.
Sensory Bins: In a large bowl or plastic storage container add rice, beans, or sand (if you are brave!) and a variety of themed items such as small toys, plastic coins, buttons, beads, figurines, etc. Invite your child to find the items, scoop them out into smaller containers, arrange them in patterns, sort them, etc.
We hope you enjoy these ideas and creative ways to stimulate your child’s senses and fine motor skills at home!
To learn more about our Prepared Classrooms and Montessori Curriculum, we invite you to Schedule a Tour to visit our Fort Mill, SC location. We would love the opportunity to show you our school in motion!
Interactive & manipulative preschool activities to do with your child at home
A great way to engage your preschooler at home is to create activities that build upon skills they’re learning in their classrooms - sensory bins, water work, sorting, and tracing, among others.
We’ve shared a few ideas below that we use in the Village Montessori & Preparatory School preschool classrooms and can be easily replicated at home.
Pouring Water Activities
Pouring water activities allow children to finesse their fine motor skills, sense of measurement and depth, and eventually learn to pour water and drinks for themselves.
At school, we do this on small trays to catch overflow and splashes. At home, you could do this outside, in a sink, or on a baking pan.
Simply fill small cups with water (it’s fun to color it slightly too with food coloring) and provide different sized containers to transfer the water. Your children can learn to pour from containers that are the same sizes or learn that some sizes require different amounts of water to be filled and emptied.
When they are done, invite them to help empty all the containers, wash/dry them, and put the items away until they want to use them again.
Sorting Items By Color
Sorting items by color helps your child develop the ability to recognize colors, color gradients, comparison, difference, and order.
Simply gather items from your home and place them in a box or on a pan. A mix of items creates an interesting array to sort.
Invite your child to choose one at a time and begin to sort them by color. They can place them in colored bowls, boxes or even on brightly colored paper that matches the colors of the items.
You can evolve this activity into sorting items by size, shape, use, where they are found in the house, etc. Or invite your child to create their own categories to sort from what has been gathered.
When they are done sorting items, invite them to help put items back and clean up!
Tracing Letters & Numbers
In our classrooms, children utilize a number of different materials to build literacy, letter and number recognition, and strengthen their fine motor skills.
One activity that is simple to replicate at home is having your child trace their name, letters, numbers, lines, and even pictures or coloring sheets. Not only does it help them develop their recognition, but it also helps develop hand control, their pincer grasp, and their ability to ultimately string letters together into words.
To do this activity you can print number and letter sheets, coloring pages, or a document with their name on it and slip them into a clear sheet protector. Choose colorful dry-erase markers for them to use and a small cloth for them to clean their surface between uses.
If you don't have clear sheet protectors you may also simply have them trace items with colorful crayons or markers.
To learn more about our Classroom Activities and Montessori Curriculum, we invite you to Schedule a Tour to visit our Fort Mill, SC location. We would love the opportunity to show you our school in motion!
Oftentimes, teachers are challenged by the exceptional students in their classrooms. These exceptionalities come in many forms. One of the more common differences you may see is a child with ADD/ADHD.
These students may require extra effort on the part of the teacher to adapt to their learning style and help them thrive in the classroom. It is my experience that children with ADD/ADHD also contribute many new and exciting opportunities to the classroom.
I like to tell children with any learning difference they have a "super power" and are all gifted by God to be exactly who He needs them to be.
Sometimes those gifts are energy and creativity that can challenge the "normal" classroom. That same energy and creativity can yield something innovative in the future they might contribute to. By not always seeing things the same way their peers do, these exceptional students add a different lens and way of seeing the world.
Instilling grit and perseverance to match the energy of these gifted students is one of the best things we can do for them as educators. We should strive to help them learn who they are, highlight their unique gifts, and focus on the flavor they add to the environments around them.
As teachers, we have the duty to empower these children and the opportunity to witness them bloom into learners that can succeed and thrive in any environment.
The following article below outlines the gift of having these dynamic children in the classroom: Why I Love Teaching Kids with ADHD.
If you are exploring Learning Intervention Services or Educational Support for your child, we invite you to learn about the programs we have at Village Montessori & Preparatory School in Fort Mill, SC. We offer both individual and small group services after school between 3:00 - 6:00 pm.
We also offer specific programs for elementary school students in the areas of literacy and math: Elementary School Literacy Leaders (Tuesdays from 3:00-4:00 pm) and Elementary School Math Masters (Thursdays from 3:00-4:00 pm).
All services are provided by Mrs. Stacy Atkinson, VMPS Education Director & Learning Interventionist. Mrs. Atkinson holds an M.Ed. in Exceptional Student Education with a concentration in Educational Therapy. She is also a licensed Educational Therapist and her training is accredited by the International Dyslexia Association. Mrs. Atkinson has experience working with preschoolers up to college aged students as an academic coach, tutor and educational therapist.
- By Mrs. Stacy Atkinson - VMPS Education Director & Learning Interventionist
Our mission at Village Montessori & Preparatory School in Fort Mill, SC is to lay the foundation for developing productive, independent, and respectful lifelong learners through the combined Montessori & Balanced Literacy curriculums. Rooted in holism, our philosophy aims to foster intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social and physical development to prepare children for their educational journey and for life.
Maria Montessori’s entire approach to education was rooted in holism – focused as much on the immaterial (matters of the heart, psyche and spirit) as the material (learning by manipulating works with the five senses and developing motor skills). Just as man is not one-dimensional, but is made up of immaterial aspects and physical material.
Montessori offers a true “whole child” approach to development: cognitive, spiritual, social, emotional and physical. This method enables children of mixed age groups to explore a myriad of materials with differing levels of difficulty and learn as they are naturally inclined.
It also fosters a child’s leadership and followership skills. Older children solidify their understanding of material they have mastered as they help younger children with their work and younger children have a heightened desire to complete a work if an older child is assisting.
To create a sense of readiness for learning and respect in the classroom, we create a calm, loving, soothing classroom environment. Quiet music is played during lessons and naps. Bells are used to reset the classroom when needed. Teachers speak to students in a hushed voice, mirroring the environment in which they are creating.
In fact, we follow much of what is shared in the following blog post from the North American Montessori Center (NAMC) to enable children to reset themselves and learn a greater respect for their teachers and their peers. The goal is to not only create an environment that shows respect for learning but to also prepare children to mirror and respect these behaviors outside of the school environment.
In the Montessori Curriculum, math fundamentals are taught to children at a young age through both sensorial training and manipulative math activities.
Sensorial training provides a basis for learning in an orderly manner, which prepares children’s minds for mathematics. The sensorial materials refine the senses and develop cognitive skills such as thinking, judging, associating, and comparing. Activities include visual discrimination by size, color, shape, and pattern recognition.
In our Montessori math work, children as young as 3 years old are learning to identify numbers, sequences, and math patterns through manipulative works that help them identify visual math cues (such as with the use of blocks, cubes, beans, etc.) and numerical numbers (such as with number cards and written materials).
To learn more about our preschool in Fort Mill, SC and our approach to sensorial and math curriculum activities in the Montessori Classroom for preschoolers, TK and Kindergartners visit us at 5 Areas of the Prepared Classroom.
WEEKEND WORK IDEAS - PRACTICAL LIFE ACTIVITIES!
While you have your students home after school and on the weekends they may love to show you how they can care for a doll by giving it a bath, transfer water to and from containers, care for a plant, and scoop and sort different materials in your home.
The purpose of the Practical Life Activities in the Montessori curriculum is two-fold: The activities are to assist the child in developing social skills and personal independence. Children will learn to respect and to take care of themselves and their environment, and to respect others.
The second purpose is to develop the child’s gross and fine motor movement that will provide the foundation for every other facet of the learning environment.
All Practical Life Activities are uniquely purposeful and calming, and may appear simple and repetitive. However, if you were to observe a child as they perform such activities, you would notice a high level of concentration; a developing sense of order (putting materials back where they belong); pride in their work; taking responsibility for any necessary cleaning; and increasing sense of independence.
Practical Life Activities are designed to encourage competencies in the following categories: Preliminary Activities; Care and Respect for Self; Care and Respect for the Environment; Social Grace and Courtesy; Fine Motor Skills; and Life Skills.
To learn more about the 5 Areas of The Montessori Classroom we invite you to visit us at 5 Areas of the Prepared Classroom.