Organization of Materials
These months mark the beginning of Montessori's sensitive period for order. I recently organized Ryan's materials onto trays and shelves in a more practical way than we had them before. Ryan understands the expectation of putting all of his materials back before he chooses a new activity, and he has been doing this consistently.
I switch out the materials approximately every other week, based on his current interests. If there are particular works that he has already mastered, I will replace them with more challenging ones.
Color Matching and Identification
We have been focusing on matching colors and identifying them by name. I made this color wheel out of construction paper and painted clothespins.
It has taken Ryan a while to gain the coordination necessary for opening the clothespins and clipping them. Since he is still working on mastering this skill, I will probably keep this activity in the rotation for a while.
Along with the color wheel, Ryan has been practicing matching his colors with wooden people in cups and with popsicle sticks in felt. These are all simple to make, but if you don't know how to sew a stitch (like me!) you can purchase the popsicle activity on Etsy for $5.
I noticed that when Ryan works on these, he likes to tap each color and say "no, no, no" until he finds the correct color. I love it when he thinks aloud and I get to hear the inner workings of his brain!
So far, he can accurately identify and say the colors: yellow, blue, and orange. He sometimes gets confused between green and red, and he never seems to remember purple. His favorite color is yellow.
Sorting and Transferring
Sorting these kush balls by color also requires fine motor coordination in order to successfully use the strawberry huller to transfer them. This activity has been very challenging for Ryan at 20 months, and he works on it with such determination that he tends to block out everything else and focus solely on grasping with his little fingers.
Ryan really enjoyed going through these items and sorting them by whether they are "big" or "little". He seems to understand this particular concept easily, for some reason.
The final sorting activity involves placing these transportation vehicles into a category of either land, air, or water. Ryan is obsessed with trucks, cars, airplanes, and boats, so this was inherently motivating for him.
Fine Motor Development
Hanging small fabric scraps onto a clothesline is another activity that helps to develop the pincer grip. Fine motor skills, especially the pincer grip, will be essential to learning how to hold a pencil in order to write.
Since putting the spools of thread onto chopsticks (see 15 to 16 month post) has become too easy for Ryan, he has now moved on to placing the spools onto pipe cleaners. Next will be spools onto shoelaces, and then threading and lacing.
Ryan has continued to work on the letters and their sounds, and he can now correctly identify about half of the alphabet. These letter blocks, the alphabet puzzle, and the alphabet abacus have been very useful pre-literacy materials for practicing these sounds.
I have also been giving Ryan some foam alphabet letters to play with in the bath. We talk about their sounds and he likes to move them around and stick them on the side of the tub.
Practical Life Exercises
Practical life exercises help children learn how to do everyday living activities in a purposeful way. In the upcoming months, I plan for Ryan to have many more of these types of opportunities. I can't wait to give him a learning tower for his second birthday, so that he can "work" right alongside me in the kitchen and feel included in the food preparation.
In the first picture, Ryan is sweeping up crumbs into a mini dustpan (although Lucky usually does not allow many crumbs to be left around!) In the second picture, Ryan is helping to prepare lunch by slicing a banana.
He is so proud of himself after he is given a responsibility and a chance to be helpful. Even throwing something into the trash can gives him a feeling of accomplishment. He will usually cheer for himself afterwards. I love the self confidence at this age!