We've been keeping busy again this week! My father in law dropped off a big bag of little vehicles for the Toddler last week. We're talking a combination of wood, plastic, and metal vehicles of all sizes and shapes! The Toddler loves cars. He loves climbing into Daddy's lap and driving our car (with no key in the ignition and the parking brake on. I get paranoid.)
This week, instead of continuing with our farm theme, most of our activities had to do with vehicles. I thought that the combination of using toys that the Toddler loves for our Tot School activities would really spark his interest. The results were ... we'll, you'll see!
I also tried to incorporate quite a bit of Montessori work into our Tot School activities, which, I think, has been going fairly well. I'm still going back and forth with whether or not I want to stick to a weekly theme, bi-weekly theme, or no theme at all though.
Regardless of what I do end up choosing, I have a quite the growing collection of printables in my Tot School folder, so at least I won't be short of supplies and ideas! I've been really enjoying researching Montessori, and coming up with what seem to me like Montessori inspired/compatible activities and printables. It's been quite a bit of work, but I've been having fun, and the Toddler is learning, too!
Here's what we focused on this week sans action shots as my phone officially refuses to charge and I still haven't been to the shop to repair it:
Language building works
Nomenclature cards and toy cars.
We used this activity in multiple ways. First, the Toddler saw me working on this printable on the computer. He was so excited! I told him the names of each of the vehicles, and asked a few times if he could point to the car, or the tractor. He loved it. A lot.
Then, I printed a copy. The Montessori Nomenclature cards are meant to be three part cards (one card with both the photo and the word, one with just the word, and one with just the photo). However, the Toddler isn't ready for that, and these cards can be used in so many (more) ways anyway!
Then, I introduced the printed cards. I pointed to each object and read the name a few times. Later, we took the whole tray outside, and tried to do a matching game. The Toddler didn't want to. He just took the toys and went 'vrooom!' So, I simply explained again what everything was as he played with them.
For a third copy, I actually printed off much smaller versions of the photos, and in multiples. That way, we can practice small and large if we want, or practice counting. I made a counting tray for the Toddler, but we didn't actually get to it yet. This is the idea:
I am continuing with using them still, and probably will leave them out for a few more days. The Toddler does like them, and I added two more. I don't use them as an activity per se, but during a meal or quiet moment, I will simply go through them once or twice and then put them away. Is he getting it? No idea, but I feel like I'm giving him an extra opportunity to learn words.
We also worked on a:
The Toddler loves, loves, loves to be in the garage! He loves helping Daddy, and will often reach for safe tools like wrenches and tries to 'fix' our car. You know, by banging on it with a wrench. Luckily, we watch him very carefully in there, and he hasn't dented or scratched the car ...yet.
This activity was very simple, I explained the names of the objects and let him explore. The top middle object contains drill bits and the Toddler enjoyed pulling them out and then putting them back in the correct spot. That was fairly difficult because they are so similar.
Straight forward. The Toddler was done with this in seconds and didn't return to it. I guess he thought it was too easy. Oops!
You'd think that by now, I would have given up on using his actual cars, but I was determined, I suppose. I tried to set up a size sequencing/sorting of activity. I had a bowl of various matching cars, and intended for us to work on laying them out in pairs of two (large and small) or sorting them into large and small.
So... the idea of using his cars for tot school ended up being a fail because this:
really turned into:
He saw the tray, took the bowl, and put in on his little rug. Within seconds, there were car accidents, diggers and excavators tearing down buildings, while 'Vrrroooom' was excitedly squealed! But I told him which color each car was, so that counts, too, right?
Yep, pretty much turned out the same as the one above. Toy cars are meant for going vrooom! on the road rug and not for tray work, Mommy! Lesson learned... almost.
We ended up turning to our tools again to get some math in, and practiced sorting large and small that way.
And some more 1 to 1 correspondence. I gave him a spoon, too.
At first, he seemed bored by this. Really, I think it's a skill (scooping) he mastered much earlier especially because of baby led weaning. Anyhow, what he did enjoy was building towers out of the egg holders. I told him a little bit about the colors of the poof balls, and then we ended up stuffing them into our stacking cups.
I realised that the Toddler prefers activities that involve fine motor practice or practical life over anything else, especially sorting. This activity came about when I was trying to get him to be interested in the transportation nomenclature cards for the third day in a row (I know! I was asking way too much!), but he was not having it.
So, I thought to add a fine motor aspect to our cards, and cut a slit in a leftover box.
I showed the Toddler how to put the cards in the slit or else they wouldn't fit, and also so that the photo faced him. As he put each card in the slot, I told him what it was.
We also tried putting nuts on bolts:
We also tried putting nuts on bolts:
Not pictured: he practiced putting toothpicks into a spice jar, which was a huge success. At first the Toddler struggled a little, but by the second go, was getting them perfectly. I liked the extra hand eye coordination practice that he got with it. It's fine motor practice, too, but his fine motor skills are really very, very good.
Car wash activity! A work that used toy cars that was actually well received!
This also doubled as our science activity for the week. The two bowls represented different temperatures of water - hot (warm) and cold (ice in the bowl). We watched the ice melt, I showed him how to transfer it with a spoon or with our hands. He was not amused and was quite glad when it had melted.
Then the real fun started!
He had a blast with this activity! We practiced pumping the soap and scrubbing the cars.
The soap bottle was almost empty and I had mixed it with water, so it squirted out as soap-y water. After we were done with this big activity, I left a small bowl out, the soap, the sponge, and brush. The Toddler returned to this activity a few times during the week.
Arts and crafts
We finally did something for arts and crafts! Not much, but it's something! A mess free, paint brush free, paint free art project. And, I got him to use a toy car for a school activity.
I put a small bowl of water on the table and let him have a go at the paper. He had fun for three minutes before taking the car back to his road rug. He loves that thing!
You can also make your own car using card board and paper mache!
This is actually one that my husband and I made for our son's Surprise for Saint Nicholas' Day. We hid some small toys for the Toddler inside of this car, and he still loves playing with it.
Thoughts on MontessoriI am still adoring Montessori. A lot. It has really let me re-focus my efforts with our tot school activities, and I have seen a large increase in the Toddler's vocabulary and skills since we've started! He's becoming even more independent, and simply adores all of the practical life work he's been doing.
I realised though that I need to get to the basics with him. When we started tot school, I was
What was my point? Oh yes, I first started tot school, and just did whatever I thought would be awesome or cute, without thinking about what he likes to do, the skills he already has, and what needs improvement. This week, I was making up printables, such as this Cars Shape Matching Activity
when I realised... maybe he doesn't know these shapes? I mean, I honestly don't know. We've talked about shapes a lot and play with wooden blocks all the time, when I reiterate the names of shapes and different colors. Does that mean he really knows them? Can he identify them? Not really. Kind of?
Even though I ended up continuing with the other cars themed activities I had planned for the week, next week, I am going to get back to the basics - we'll be focusing on a few shapes (rectangles, circles, triangles) and a few colors (red, blue, yellow). I will be adjusting my printables to be simpler so that we can return to them in the future, too.
As we work on them, I'll try to offer them up on here (free) if anyone is interested. I do make these for personal use so they aren't perfect, but they are simple Montessori inspired activities and we have been learning a lot from them. I especially love that Montessori uses real images.
You can download the nomenclature cards we used this week here:
For more Tot School and Montessori activities, be sure to visit my Toddler Activities page. For specific Montessori based activities, stop by my Montessori inspired pinterest board.
Today, I am linking up at: the Kids Learning Printables Party hosted by Renae at Every Star is Different (awesome blog with loads of Montessori ideas!), Thoughtful Spot Blog Hop, Montessori Monday, We love Weekends hosted by Emma at P is for Preschooler, Jolanthe at homeschool creations, Share it Saturday, and the Tot School Gathering place. (I should probably just split these posts up, so I don't feel the need to go check out all of these awesome link ups with the same one, but it's so much easier to make 1 toddler post a week! Sorry for the gigantic list, but these parties have such fantastic ideas and are definitely worth having a look!)
Thank you so much for reading,