I’ve prepared a new series of blogs with step-by-step directions for crafting Montessori materials and miscellaneous math and writing materials.
I’m using inexpensive raw materials, such as beads and buttons, which can also be replaced by nature materials such as seashells and pebbles – which are free!
Crafting these materials can become a project together with children. Sometimes the lesson is learned while the material is being made.
When you craft together with children, I suggest you work on your own material, and let the child work on a separate set. This way the child can learn by imitating you, while working at her own pace and in his own style. These informal lessons can become a wonderful memories of time spent together.
Children from about 3 years on are basically “emotional learners”. For them, the lesson itself is not as memorable as the emotion accompanied by the process. The joy of creating is more important than a perfect outcome or product.
It’s also ok that your product might look “better” than the children’s product. It’s in the nature of things. You have cut and glued and measured a hundred times, whereas a child is just starting to learn those skills.
I encourage parents and teachers to use hands-on learning materials in teaching, and also to let children experiment, tinker and play with them – of course without breaking them.
Be very clear and patient in explaining how a specific material can be used, and how it shouldn’t be handled.
As an introduction you can state the material’s purpose, play with it, and if appropriate narrate your activity. This way you give the child a chance to imitate you again.
You can prepare a special shelf or table with the new materials, and give introductions when the time is right.
I hope you enjoy the learning process together with children!