Montessori cosmic education teaches children about the interconnectedness of all living things. In the first plane (0-6) this is experienced with sensory learning and connecting with nature. Sensorial experiences are also incorporated in the classroom to deepen the understanding of our planet.
Once the child is introduced to cosmic nesting boxes and sandpaper globe, we begin our study of the planet Earth. These topics are introduced in the form of Unit Study in the classroom. Not all unit studies will interest all children, so it really depends how deep you delve in the unit study topic based on your child’s interests.
Cosmic education starts with macro (whole) and moves toward micro (parts) of the Earth. The lessons in early childhood (3-6) includes: Land, Air, Water Sorting, Sandpaper Globe, Montessori Puzzle Maps, Study of Planet Earth, Botany, Science, Geography, Geology, History, and more.
In our Monti-Story Box, we decided to look at the layers of the Earth. The book we chose for this box, represented illustrations of planets to as accurate as possible and the activities are simple but purposeful. There are 5 activities pertaining each curriculum of Montessori classroom and 1 art activity based on the artist study of the box.
Transfer with tong activities prepare hands for writing. It promotes and strengthens tripod grasp. This activity builds concentration and allows repetition. With repetition comes normalization.
One to one correspondence with ten frames. Ten frames are a great graphic tool to teach children place value. This graphic organizer can also be used for simple addition and subtraction activity
Always pick a book with realistic illustrations for younger children
“Pointillism, also called divisionism in painting, the practice of applying small strokes or dots of color to a surface so that from a distance they visually blend together.”
Impressionistic lesson of Layers of the Earth. We used avocado pit for inner core, ketchup for outer core, gravel for mantle, and apple skin for crust
This box also comes with sensorial activity, paint, parts of Earth layers three-part cards, digital downloadable instructions. All of this you can get for only $50 in our Etsy Shop
Montessori materials are very intentional. There is a science behind each and every material. In Montessori (3-6) classroom, children get the first introduction to mathematics. This abstract concept is very concrete for Montessori children. In fact, it is so concrete that children learn binomial theorem with material and can learn to manipulate this abstract concept in a concrete way. Did I spark your interest in Montessori math yet?
Needless to say, Montessori math is my favorite. It begins in a sensorial area, where children learn to visually discriminate among different sizes and learn three dimension and two-dimension shapes.
Montessori math follows a pattern of left-right, concrete to abstract. The very first material that your child will ever work with is Number Rods. Number Rods are so big and concrete for children to deeply understand the difference between rising quantities. The number 10 rod is exactly 10 times more than the number 1 rod. This concept is fascinating for children.
As we move away from concrete and more into abstract, the first introduction is to the short beads material. Montessori short beads material is small compared to Number Rods and Spindle Box. This is the first lesson that will build a solid foundation in Montessori math material. The colors of the bead repeat in other Montessori materials such as bead chains, decanomial work, checkerboard, and more.
Children do this work over and over that they learn the colors for each number. This lesson is so appealing to children due to their sensitive period for counting and for small objects.
Did you like this material? You can get this now in our shop. We also added some printable activities that you can do with your little one after the presentation.
One of the classic Montessori pre-writing materials is Metal Insets. The design of this simple material is genius. By tracing each shape in the set, a child actually learn every stroke of letter formation. Not only that, but this work also builds curiosity in geometry and encourages art appreciation. Now, wouldn’t you call this material genius Montessori design too?
So, what is Montessori Metal Insets? Montessori Metal Insets are made of metal consists 5 straight line shapes and 5 curved line shapes. We recently launched our wooden shapes inspired by the original Metal Insets in our shop.
In Montessori, we emphasize learning the proper technique for handwriting. Research shows that tracing letters is not as effective as preparing the hands for writing. The typical tracing activities involve tracing broken lines. Children would be so focused on the tracing part that they forget the letter formation and shape. “It is important to remember that learning to write letters starts with learning the motor plan for the letters and being able to fluently link the successive strokes to form the letter”
The Metal Inset builds:
correct pincer grasp
control of small movement
the result of pressure on pencil by forming dark versus light lines
geometric sense and artistic abilities
movement of tracing curved shapes and straight shapes which directly transfers to letter formation
The beauty of this material is that there are 7 different presentations with the same material. This work is explored in early childhood for tracing and then in the elementary classroom to understand plane geometry. I love the versatility of this material. It can be used in so many different ways. Here are some of the resources on Montessori Metal Inset Extensions
Folktales are an ancient form of art. This is the way generations of humans shared their wisdom, morals, values, and the meaning of all the unexplainable things around the world. Stories was the only form of communication and literacy. People gathered around the fire and told stories about the stars, earth, rain, animals, and so worth. These stories usually had an important message and wisdom to share, to inspire people to do the right thing.
If we think about it, we are still quite similar to our ancestors in that terms. Even today, we prefer a good story and are much more likely to remember them compared to simply stating the facts. Perhaps our story delivery has changed, we certainly don’t gather around the fire to tell stories but we use media to tell our wonderful stories.
For this, reason this month’s Monti-Story Box is African Folktale. We chose African Folktale for this beautiful book, Bringing Rain to Kapiti Plains, which tells the importance of rain in a small community of Africa. Rain is the most essential for farmers in the poor countries. This story depicts how everything is linked in our ecosystem and one event like draught can affect people and animals.
Folktales are a great way to introduce different culture and art in our kids’ lives. Lets look at some of the activities included in Monti-Story Box and some additional ones that you can do with your child.
Fine Motor Activities such as pre-writing board and puzzle are a great way to strengthen the pincer grasp. Moreover, puzzles help understand the pattern and putting two parts together.
Adinkra are visual symbols with historical and philosophical significance originally printed on cloth which royals wore to important ceremonies
Montessori three part cards, also known as nomenclature cards are important Montessori literacy materials. You will find these cards in every area in the Montessori classroom. They can be used in so many ways. Children use the big cards with pictures and text as flashcards to learn new words, they can be used for object – picture matching lesson, picture-picture matching. Refer to my previous post on the importance of these lessons for reading development.
Also, check out our private Facebook group to learn how to present these three part cards in a Montessori Way. The group is only open for Monti-Story Box customers.
Do you want to raise confident, caring, and resilient children? That starts with not reading and mathematics but teaching children social emotional awareness. Social Emotional Awareness means:
Learning about me
Learning about others
Learning about coexisting on this planet
Research shows that about 80% of the job success is social emotional awareness. It is our ability to learn our emotions and manage them in a positive way helps us understand and relate to others’ emotions. Our daily interaction with the world is based on our social emotional awareness.
For toddlers this is a new feeling and something they struggle to understand. They feel it in their bodies but do not know what it means and how to deal with those big emotions. When toddler is going through this big emotional wave, it is best to ride it out instead of redirecting or interrupting that behavior. However, adding some social emotional learning activities can help your child understand their own emotions. It will give your child appropriate vocabulary to express what they are feeling.
This week on our shelf, we’ve added some fun social emotional learning activities. Here is a small glimpse of how we are supporting our son’s social emotional awareness.
Make your own Calming Bottle
This calming bottle is a part of our self-calming/peace corner. It helps children to slow down and observe the movement of confetti
Being able to identify each face with the emotions is a big step for toddler. This subtle differences in faces with emotions helps the children to understand more about feelings. The wooden emotions discs and matching cards are included in our Monti-Story Box.
Sorting by Colors
Give the emotions some colors so child can understand this abstract concept. Let your child drop a pom-pom in a cup based on their feelings.
This coloring activity is a part of our Monti-Story Box but it is a great self-calming strategy
Identify My Feelings
This is a great way to let your child choose how they are feeling. This is also an activity included in our Monti-Story Box
Playdough is the best sensory and calming activity for toddlers. I often make a simple salt dough at home and provide some cookie cutters in a tray. This work sits on our shelf.
Our recent Monti-Story Box includes most of these activities for your toddlers and preschoolers.
Reading is an advanced mental process, which requires some complex cognitive skills such as analysis and synthesis.
There are four stages of Language Development: Stage 1: Spoken Language Stage 2: Phonemic Awareness Stage 3: Creating Words Stage 4: Reading
Before a child can tackle reading, we need to expose them to the skills that will aid in the process of reading. Pre-reading activities prepare younger children for reading later. Visual discrimination, auditory discrimination, sequencing, pattern recognition, sorting, spoken language are all precursors to reading. All of these activities aid in the process of reading development. For younger children the more concrete these activities are, the better they grasp these concepts.
10 Pre-Reading Activities Ideas
This is the most simple and easiest activity you can do with your child. Even if you cannot get time to do anything else, you can only read every day to your child. Reading aloud with your child will help him or her emotionally, socially, and academically. It will create a lasting bond and will promote a healthy emotional state in your child. Research shows that children who are read to every day have a better grasp on reading.
Note: You can read to your child anytime at your convenience. It doesn’t have to be at bedtime. Find the time that works for your family!
Object to Object Matching
This is a very concrete activity for toddlers and the easiest to prepare with what you have around the house. The idea is to have the exact same objects to match. For example, if they are matching spoons both spoons should look exactly alike for the initial experience. For this activity, have a basket of objects that look the same and then line a set on the left. Name each object as you line them and then model matching each object. Place it all back in the basket and then have your child repeat the activity. It is very important to show the entire process from start to finish to your child. Putting the work away is also a big part of learning.
Note: For a young toddler keep the objects limited to 2 or 3 set for matching.
Challenging Version of Object-Object Matching
Object to Picture Matching
This is the same concept of matching but this time we are adding a bit of a challenge by doing it abstract. Pictures are not as concrete as the objects. What we see in 3D and 2D are two separate experience. Thus, for a younger child it is a bit of challenge and a good practice to distinguish objects from 3 dimension to 2 dimension.
Backyard Birds Matching
Picture to Picture Matching
Now, we are taking away the concrete completely and introducing only abstract concept of matching. This lesson comes after the child has successfully matched objects to picture.
Patterning is such an important skill for children to learn for reading. When we are reading a language or learning a new language, it is all patterns of letters put together to make a word or a sentence. Patterning helps children make prediction to what comes next and use logical connections.
This is a very important preschool activity. Sequencing help children understand the patterns of things. For example, using your daily schedule for sequencing can help children understand what to expect next. This is also an important skill for reading because then a child can compartmentalize the concept of first, next, then, and last.
Any sorting activity you can find around the house will help your child understand to put things into category. A basket of spoons, forks, and knives can be a great sorting activity for a younger children to understand the concept of organization. Not only it prepares the mind for reading but also for writing and math.
Sorting by Colors
I-spy games are great for working memory and building that visual discrimination. In order to read we need to have phonemic awareness and also we rely on our memory of hearing that sound or word before. This game can be played at various stages. For this activity have a basket of different object that the child is familiar with and then you can do I-spy for each object either by color or touch. For an older toddler or Pre-K student who is learning the phonetic sounds, you can say, “I-spy an object that starts with the sound “s”. You can mix it up by doing the ending sound or middle sound depending on the child.
These are great addition for pre-reading shelf. They help build inference knowledge in children. Oral language development is a first step to reading development. Conversation Cards also helps child understand the concept of questions and answering.
The sand paper letters is the way we introduce letter sounds in the Montessori classroom. Tracing the letter and associating it with letter sound prepares the hand and the mind. It build the muscle memory as child internalize and remember the sound by tracing the symbol.
Before I introduced all primary colors, I started with introducing by isolating only one color at a time. First, we started with a unit study Red, then Blue, and then yellow. I will have to post those at a later time for reference. This unit study exceeds my expectation as I made some of the materials by myself and used some of the materials from different lessons I already had. With doing Montessori at home, it is extremely important for us that we are not buying expensive materials for all the skills that my little bug need to learn. There are many ways you can create your own beautiful materials at home at much cheaper price and they work great. Do not get me wrong, I do buy Montessori materials from Montessori websites as they are beautiful and durable and let’s face it, sometimes it is just too hard when you are trying to make everything. There are some lessons that are authentic Montessori and then some I added from Amazon because I thought they went well with my unit study. Here is a sneak peek into our lessons on the shelf:
Color tablet and clothespin
I made this inexpensive lesson with the Dollar Tree wooden clothespin and a wooden board I found at Michael’s Arts and Crafts for 59 cents. With some acrylic paint, there is a lesson that helps with hand-eye coordination and strengthens child’s visual discrimination. I also like this lesson as it promotes bilateral hand use.
Wooden Peg Lesson
This lesson was another DIY with inexpensive material find at random places. The peg board was created free by my husband. He found this piece of wood for free at Home Depot and I bought Pegs from the Michael’s Arts and Crafts store for $2.99. This lesson is another great lesson for hand-eye coordination. It strengthens child’s finer motor skills and prepares their hand for pincer grip, which is an indirect objective of this lesson for later writing development.
Threading Wooden Spools
I found these wooden spools at a local thrift store for $3.00 and wooden dowel is from the Dollar Tree. This is a great lesson and it is also a little challenging lesson for little ones. My son is only 12 months old and his finer motor skills are not as refined as probably any other older child. However, this is the lesson I’ve seen him getting out the most and trying to thread the spool. He can easily thread one at a time after working at it for a few minutes and he almost succeeded with all three spools. The reason I did not remove it from the shelf is because it provides him a challenge that is just right. He is not frustrated with the lesson yet and since he is going back to it over and over, it reminds me that this is what he needs to do right now.
Sorting by Colors
Simple sorting activity with birds and flowers. Sorting is such an important skill to prepare a mathematical mind. This activity will eventually build up to sorting by initial sounds, shapes, textures, patterns and more.
Basket of Music Instruments
Basket of simple music instruments. For this unit, I chose all the red, blue, and yellow instruments from the Melissa and Doug Kit that I bought during Christmas. My little man loves music so I try to incorporate opportunities to make music when I am planning my unit study.
This is just a simple knob puzzle that I bought from Montessori N Such. You can see from the picture that it is a much loved lesson. He mastered this puzzle at nine months but he still loves it a lot.
DIY Coin Box
This one is just a paper box from the Dollar Tree where I cut out a little hole to turn it into a coin box. We also have a Montessori Coin Permanence Box but this is a little twist to fit our unit study. This is a good lesson for hand wrist movement, developing fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and teaching the child when object disappears out of sight does not mean its gone forever.
Threading Pipe Cleaners
Simple DIY to help more with fine motor skills. This jar and the pipe cleaners are from the Dollar Tree.
Wooden Color Blocks
Wooden Acrylic blocks for open ended activity. These block I found them on Amazon and they’ve been a favorite for many activities. You can take them outside to see nature with these colored blocks or stack them or use them as building blocks. They are very versatile and a good addition to our unit. I’ve also used them for storing materials as they are perfect size.
These are only some example of our Primary Colors unit study. If you like to see more of our lessons in use, you can follow us on Instagram @trulymontessori.