Looking for some creative ways to engage your children at home?
Setting up educational activity stations in your house that help kids learn through play, as well as supplement what they are learning at school, can be a fun way to naturally build on their progress.
Check out these Montessori activities you can easily set up at home to re-energize playtime and encourage development!
Make an alphabet grab bag
This is a great activity to help solidify letter recognition and shape by using the sense of touch. Take some letter pieces from a puzzle or alphabet game and put them in a bag. Have your child put their hands in the mystery sack and guess what letter they are holding. No peeking allowed! Depending on how advanced they are, once they identify the letter, you can also have them tell you the sound or some words that begin with that letter. This activity can also be adapted using other materials to practice texture, temperature and more.
Sorting activities are wonderful for a variety of reasons. They help kids master beginning math and science skills, can be adapted to different levels, and as a bonus are pretty easy to set up as you can use just about anything.
For toddlers, you can sort objects by color, shape, type of animal, and so on. For example, after you set out a few baskets with different color labels and a pile of legos, have children sort the Legos by color. After they finish, practice counting how many legos are in each basket.
As your kids get older, add some more advanced math skills in. Put out bowls with numbers taped on the inside, and have students count out that number of objects to put in each bowl. Be creative with what you provide them to sort, and mix it up. Bring in some leaves or rocks from outside, give them a bag of beans from the kitchen, or ask them to give you some ideas of what they’d like to use!
Play-doh’s popularity with kids has stood the test of time for good reason. It’s not only incredibly engaging, but it’s also great for motor skill development, and happens to be very versatile in its usage as an educational tool.
Playing with Play-doh can improve a child’s attention span, sense of order, independence, creativity, sensory refinement, and coordination.
Use it to form letters or shapes. Use it to create characters and tell a story. Use it with stamps and other tools such as rolling pins, plastic knives, safety scissors and more. Use it to practice following directions by copying mom or dad to sculpt a fun new creation step-by-step.
Learning through use of the five senses is a big part of the Montessori philosophy. Children naturally form impressions of the world around them by seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching everything they can get their little hands on.
Providing sensory materials and activities for them to explore at their own pace is a great way to teach them about everything from the environment they are growing up in, to practical skills, to math, science, reading, and writing.
The possibilities are pretty endless, but here are a few suggestions.
- Set up a nature table with materials collected from outside, such as sticks, leaves, rocks, flowers, grass, etc.
- Fill up a bucket with soap and water and let your child wash plastic dishes with a sponge, or throw some ocean animal toys inside for them to explore.
- Practice color mixing with finger paint.
- Create sensory bottles such as scent, sound, or weight to develop use of the senses. Fill some small jars or bottles with different herbs (olfactory awareness), rice, salt or beans (auditory awareness), or varying weights of sand (weight awareness) and have children match which jars they think hold the same smell, sound or weight. Then, talk about it.
- Practice writing numbers or letters in a bucket of sand using a finger, or a stick.
- Go here for more ideas.
Once you start planning out games and activities for your children, you’ll find if you use your imagination, you can turn almost anything in the house into an educational tool.
Keep in mind your child’s sense of wonder, curiosity and natural process of taking in and evaluating information, and, after providing them with the tools, simply let them do what they do best — explore.
Just watch as they light up, become more independent and build confidence in their abilities.
Most importantly, have fun watching them grow!