Montessori at Home

Below you will find Montessori information, activities, and games from the Guides. These are activities they use in the classroom and ones that you can easily replicate at home. They are listed in categories:

  • Language
  • Math
  • Practical Life
  • Memory Games
  • Sensorial Games

Enjoy and have fun!


Language Games for 16 Months – 3 Years

By Virginia Stone Rogers, Huckleberry Guide

Name It

First, collect some objects. Ideally these are themed, for example bathroom items or kitchen items or dinosaurs or safari animals. Find whatever objects or toys work in your home! Start by identifying each one, and asking your child to point to the various objects as you name it. For an older child who knows the objects well you can ask them to name it. Next we mix them up, asking the child to put the spatula here, here, here, the whisk on their head, on your hand etc. This makes sure they actually know all the names, not just the order. For our smallest friends this game can go on for a LONG time.

Bring Me

For children who might need a bit more of a challenge and a bit more movement, we introduce ‘bring me’. Leave the objects that you’ve been working with out and go to a different part of the room, or maybe even a different room. Now ask the child to bring you the whisk. They have to remember what you wanted all the way to the other room! Repeat with the other objects. You can repeat over and over, or try using descriptors to get the item you want, bring me the wooden thing, the grey thing, the thing with tusks.

Sound Game

For an almost 3 you could even add in a little sound awareness. Start with one object in your hand at a time. Say I’m holding something that starts with the sound ‘w’ (we use letter sounds not letter names). The child will guess whisk! since that is all you are holding. Yes! I was thinking of the whisk! Repeat with another object or maybe 2. Try to find sounds that aren’t similar, for example using a ‘pig’ and a ‘bug’ might be hard. After you’ve repeated individual items several times you can attempt 2 at once. If your child guesses the wrong item just state the sound it starts with, ‘whisk starts with w’ I’m thinking of something that starts with f’ Then they will guess again and get it right since there are only 2 choices!

All of these are great games for a sibling to play.


Language for Children’s House

The Sounds Letters Make

By Anna Ardizzone, Sunflower Cottage Guide

For literacy, it’s so important that your child learn the sound a letter makes instead of its name. T is a short t sound instead of “tee” and some sounds are a combination of two letters. I’ve attached a helpful list below so that you can know the sounds, too! While you’re out and about in the world or at home, you can point out letters that your child sees and tell them the corresponding sound. This is also great for when you’re playing “I spy.”

The Sound Game

By Anna Ardizzone, Sunflower Cottage Guide

Choose 10 objects in your home and sweetly review what they’re called by holding each object up and asking “what’s this?” This stage helps to clarify the game by helping the child to understand that for this game we’re calling it a “rock” instead of a “stone” or a “mug” instead of a “cup”. Based on the abilities of your child and the challenge of this game, you might like to be strategic about which objects you’re using.

With all the objects laid out on the table, isolate two or three in your hand or on the corner of the table. Say “I’m thinking of something in my hand that starts with p.” If your child gets it right, say “yes! You knew it. I was thinking of the pig!” If they didn’t get it right, stay just as positive and take one object out of your hand to make it easier for them, asking them again until they get it right. Play with many collections of objects.

When your child can master identifying which object you’re thinking of, ask them if they can hear any other sounds in the word. It’s okay if they can’t hear all the sounds. For example, with an object like “cat” they’ll probably hear “c” “a” and “t” but with something like “hippopotamus” they may reply “h” “p” “m” s” and that’s wonderful. The point is to practice hearing the sounds and isolating them. You can demonstrate by breaking up words into sounds.

Sandpaper Letters / Flash Cards

By Anna Ardizzone, Sunflower Cottage Guide

To help your child memorize all of the symbols (letters) of the alphabet and the sounds they make, write out the letters on index cards with a thick marker. Your child can play with you using three cards they don’t know at a time. You can talk about the sounds a letter makes and think of words together.

For example, let’s say you started with m, t, and a.

“Let’s think of words that start with mmmm”

“Moon!” “Monkey!” “Mama!” “Marsupial!” Then show them the m and trace it (since your flashcards are not sandpaper it won’t be as entertaining to trace, but when they are ready they may want to look at these cards for practicing to write.)

“Now let’s think of words that start with t”

“Taco!” “Top!” “Tornado!” Show and trace the t.

“Now let’s think of words that start with a”

“Apple!” “Alligator!” “Astronaut!” Show and trace the a.

Once you’ve introduced the letters, you can offer simple commands so that your child can practice with these letters.

Say things like “which one is t?” “Pick up m!” “Hand me a.” “Put t on your head!” “Wave to m!”

When your child knows the sounds, you should be able to point to one and say “What’s this?” And they can reply with the sound.

Play this game as often as you’d like.

Moveable Alphabet

By Anna Ardizzone, Sunflower Cottage Guide

Let’s make a material! To help your child in making their own lists, stories, and letters to friends and teachers, print out the pages and cut up the letters so that they are small rectangles with one letter on each piece. Find a box with 26 compartments, you can make one, or use two egg cartons and combine some of the letters, so that you and your child can put them out in alphabetical order with the A’s B’s and C’s all in their own spots.

If you don’t have a printer, Melissa Potter, Maple Room Guide, suggests that you can create your own by cutting pieces of cardstock and hand writing the letters on them.  She thinks this would be a fabulous project for an older child!

Your child will let you know if they are comfortable using the Moveable Alphabet. Please remember that spelling at this stage is not important. Your child is connecting to language and beginning to love literacy. Let them be empowered and feel proud of their writing, even if you have a hard time reading it. If they are 6+ or asking, you may encourage correct spelling and show them how to do it.

For younger children who are not 100% sure on this work, check in with me for extra support. I can let you know how to proceed with this work and your child.

Resources:

Activities With Your Moveable Alphabet

By Melissa Potter, Maple Room Guide

The youngest children will benefit most from exploring single letter sounds and matching them to objects. For example, you could gather some kitchen utensils; a spoon, fork, plate, napkin, and cup. Bring the objects to the work space, and isolate the appropriate starting sounds for the objects. Guide your child to find and match the sounds to the objects. “What sound do you hear at the start of ‘fork'” You child may or may not know the symbol for the sound, guide them as needed. Play this game once a day, but repeat with different objects and sounds on consecutive days.


When your child is familiar with most of the letter sounds, you may begin building words with the moveable alphabet. It is helpful to start by choosing a category for the list of words; fruits, vegetables, farm animals, countries in Africa, dinosaurs, etc. Then guide your child as they decide on a word to build and work through the sounds that THEY hear in the word. It is important that the child feel successful in this work, therefore, it is imperative that you work beside your child without correcting them. Colbie and I made a video of this activity, and you will see that she hears a ‘d’ in the word ‘watermelon’. For now, that is perfectly fine, just observe and note that to yourself. Again, we are not concerned about correct spelling, we are simply analyzing the individual sounds in a word and using symbols to represent those sounds.

  • Some sounds require two letters, for example the sound at the start of ‘shark’ is represented with a ‘s’ and a ‘h’ These are called phonograms, if your child doesn’t know how to make a sound you can introduce it. “That is a phonogram, we will need these two letters to make that sound.” Other common phonograms are cheese, thick, boy, queen, rain, tree, pie, coat, book, blue, car, hamster, fork, out, auto.

Older children may use the movable alphabet to build stories or a letter to a penpal. The words may be copied onto paper, if your child is interested in practicing their cursive writing. Below are links to download pdf files of the papers that we use in the classroom for stories and lists. The oldest children may show interest in correct spelling, and if they ask, you should give them the correct spelling. For example a child will eventually ask which letter to use for the first sound in ‘kangaroo’- you may let them know that kangaroo has a ‘k’ at the start.

Resources:

Reading & Puzzle Words

By Anna Ardizzone, Sunflower Cottage Guide

I recommend Miss Rhonda’s Readers for early mostly phonetic reading. If your child is an early reader, cut up small slips of paper and write labels for objects and things around the house. Some example words that are phonetic and easy-to-read are:

cup, lamp, rug, plant, sock, rock, pants, mom, pop, pot, lid, pan, hat, pet, pen, rag, mat, nut, mop, dog, cat…

You can write out colors, shapes, the list goes on!

When your child is ready and willing to read with you, choose a short and simple book, have your child put their finger on the word they’re reading and help them to sound out each letter. If they’re having trouble, cover up most of the word, exposing the sounds they need to understand and say them for the child. For example, a word like “cheese” you can isolate the “ch” and help them say “ch” then isolate the “ee” and help them say “ee” and then isolate the “se” and say “in this word it makes a zzzz sound.” At the beginning, books should be simple and easy enough that the pictures help the child to understand the context of what’s going on. When you get to a puzzle word like “the” or “was” just tell them what it is. The English language is difficult and not phonetic so often you will find words like “cough” or “light” where you’ll just tell them what the middle sound is, without reasoning out why it’s like that. Good luck!

Labels

By Carolann Zinda, Butterfly Room

You could write labels for your child to read and place around the house or in the yard. Materials you will need: small strips of paper and pencil. Think of an object in your room (for beginning readers use phonetic objects. Phonetic means that every sound in the word is represented with it’s letter,  ie. rug, cup, cat, dog, etc. English is full of tricky spelling and silent letters and we want to set the child up for success. For more advanced readers labels can move out of the phonetic range). You can even tell the child, “Would you like to read my mind? I’m going to think of an object in the room, but not tell you what it is.” Then write the object on the slip of paper and let the child read it and then place the label on the object. You can play this with categories such as colors, things in the bedroom, things in the kitchen, things in the backyard, types of food. Get creative and most importantly have fun! If your child is a writer, you could switch it up and have your child write the labels.

Listen and Do

By Carolann Zinda, Butterfly Room

We play a game called ‘listen and do’. For this we give commands for things around the classroom. “Go stand by a plant”, “Go touch the refrigerator”, “Go look out the window.” This game has endless possibilities and could easily be taken outside, “Run to the fence and skip back.”

 


Math for Children’s House

Math as a Quantity

By Anna Ardizzone, Sunflower Cottage Guide

When a child starts out in Montessori, they are exposed to numbers all the time, but not as the numbers that you and I see in the world. Instead, they are exposed to numbers as experiences. Numbers need to start as verbal games, songs, and concrete things. Many of these things you’ve probably already been doing with your child since they were a baby.

“Touch your nose! How many eyes do you have? One, two! Two eyes!”

Have you asked your child to sing 5 Brown Buns with you? They can teach you the song and movements that go along with it!

Counting Things

By Anna Ardizzone, Sunflower Cottage Guide

Count categories of things:

  • On the kitchen table how many things are red? Blue? White?
  • On a walk, how many dogs do we see? How many petals does this flower have?
  • On your shirt, how many buttons are there? Let’s count them!

Numbers as commands:

  • Jump three times
  • Hug me five times
  • Clap ten times
  • Scream zero times

Numbers as amounts:

  • Today you can have five crackers for snack
  • You can fold seven napkins from the laundry
  • When setting the table for dinner, “how many plates do we need? One for each person? How many? Let’s count!”

Introducing Symbols

By Anna Ardizzone, Sunflower Cottage Guide

Most children know 1, 2, and 3, but higher numbers can be tricky. At the beginning just focus on numbers 1-10 and write them out clearly on pieces of cardstock or paper. Ask your child to bring you “4” and when they do, associate it with an action or count to four together. Do this with all of the numbers and make it fun and happy.

When you’re out on a walk, look for numbers. For younger children, find addresses on houses and practice saying the numbers aloud “Three! Five! Four! Seven!” For older children, encourage them to practice saying aloud the four digit numbers “There’s three thousand five hundred forty seven!” Saying it with your child and helping them to start with the thousands is great practice.

Cards and Counters

By Anna Ardizzone, Sunflower Cottage Guide

Here’s a material to make at home!

  • Cut up a piece of paper into 10 small pieces and write a number on each piece.
  • Gather 55 small stones, beans, shells, beads or anything lovely that you have around the house.
  • Mix up the numbers and help your child to put them in order in a line, starting with 1.

Help your child to count out the right amount for each symbol and put the quantity underneath. Counting ahead to have 55 makes sure that your child will be able to correct themselves. When they do it right, there should be nothing leftover. If they don’t have enough or have too many, they’ll be able to start again and correct their own mistakes.


Give them a lovely box or tray or bowl where these items can stay so that they can repeat this as many times as they like.


Practical Life Overview

By Virginia Rogers, Huckleberry Guide

These weeks at home provide an excellent opportunity to include your child in all aspects of the life of your home, which we call practical life. Practical life supports the child’s functional independence, gross and fine motor refinement and allows the child to feel that she is contributing meaningfully to her community, which supports self-esteem and confidence. We break practical life activities into three categories, Care of the Environment, Care of Self and Food. Your toddler knows how to do a variety of tasks in all of these categories already.

When you move through your daily routine think about what parts your child can help with. It is more than you might think. Young children use their Absorbent Mind to take in everything the adults in their environment do and attempt to replicate it. You may find that even without showing them if you provide the materials your toddler already knows how!

Provide access through stools or working at low tables. Provide smaller sized objects if possible, or plan to collaborate and hold a larger item together. Looking around your home you probably have a smaller dish or pitcher that your child could use. Your child wants real, meaningful work to feel like they are contributing to the family life.

Care of the Environment

This topic includes things like cleaning and preparing the space.

Example activities include: dusting, washing a table with a sponge, sweeping, using a dustpan, caring for plants indoors and outdoors, caring for pets, setting a table for meals, arranging flowers, wiping out the fridge and so many more.

Care of Self

This includes independence in dressing and toileting, as well as caring for a dirty face, hands and body. Think also about if your child has independence in selecting their own clothes. Since you will likely not be rushing out the door in the morning this is a great time to sit on your hands and let them practice getting themselves dressed. Most of your children can do their own pants and underwear at least. Remember, do not help the child with a task at which they think they can succeed, even if you know they won’t be able to complete the entire task, let them try! This is how they learn! I remind myself daily in the classroom that if a child is able to do an activity correctly and perfectly the first time I show them then I waited too long.

Food

Food is a huge motivator and interest for young children. Each of the children in our classroom has the option to prepare some basic snacks for themselves, as well as helping with larger cooking projects. This is a great time to think about what food your child can help herself to. When you are cooking dinner are there steps your child can help with? Pouring and stirring are great options. Chopping and mixing for older children.

Pillow Sewing (Children’s House)

By Anna Ardizzone, Sunflower Cottage

 

Materials

  • a tray, box, or container to hold all the pieces
  • a small pair of scissors (if you have a sewing kit at home you might already own a beautiful pair of golden scissors that would be perfect)
  • a small cloth or felt pouch to hold the scissors (optional, but makes safety stylish and lovely)
  • a box to hold embroidery threads
  • collection of embroidery thread, either wrapped around plastic bobbins or just scraps of paper/cardboard
    embroidery hoop (https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Bates-Hoop-Embroidery-6-Inch/dp/B000GBT9F0/ref=sr_1_25?keywords=embroidery+hoop&qid=1584985810&s=arts-crafts&sr=1-25)
  • a needle (I find that chenille needle is best, you want a needle with a sharp tip and a large eye)
  • a pincushion
  • a threader (optional, but for older children this can help them be independent and not need you to re-thread their needle)
    any fabric (blank muslin works well, but an old sheet can easily be cut up into 9×9 squares for sewing)

Instructions

Using a pencil or marker, draw out a design in the middle of the fabric. Keep it simple, you can always add more later. Your child will know how to measure out thread, cut it, and may need help threading the needle and tying a knot. Put the cloth into the hoops with the smaller hoop underneath the fabric and the larger hoop on top. Tighten the hoop so the fabric is taut. Your child is ready to sew!

If this is a new/early lesson for your child, contact me and I can help you with more guided instruction.

Beyond the Basic Stitch 

If your child has been sewing a lot, here are some links for more stitches they can try. Remember: if you’re available to sew and learn the stitches along with them, they will probably enjoy this process even more. It’s wonderful for them to get to see that everyone can learn!

Split stitch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P4EN5PSFCM

French knot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjI5yo656U4

Chain stitch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BslGFb4L7To

Satin stitch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzAumfcqpWE


Memory Games

From Melissa Potter, Maple Guide

Today, I would like to share with you one of the most versatile and interesting language games that we use in the Children’s House; Memory (Distance) Games.  These structured activities allow children the experience of using their memory to hold specific sensory information apart from the physical object that the information refers to.  The child should be familiar with the objects, but may be using new vocabulary to describe a quality of the material.

Memory Games:

  • Exercise concentration
  • Build short-term and  long-term memory
  • Support the recognition of Sensorial Qualities in the World
  • Validate and confirm knowledge
  • Encourage gross motor movement

You might choose to play this game with a toy that a child already has out but has lost interest in.  For this example, let’s imagine that your child has legos out, and has been playing happily but eventually becomes bored of the activity.  You could invite your child to play a new game with you!  If your child is interested (which they surely will be!!) you could ask your child to join you in a comfortable place at a distance from the legos.  You should not be able to see the legos at all.  You will use the phrase “Bring me….” with each turn and then send the child off to retrieve the appropriate object.  Since Legos can be categorized by color, you might say, “Bring me a red lego.”  Your child will likely dance away with a big smile, knowing that they will be successful with this game.  When they return, you should ask, “What did you bring me?” allowing them the opportunity to use the language too, “I brought a red lego!”  Acknowledge the success, “You brought a red lego!”  If there is a mistake and the child brings the wrong item, simply acknowledge what they did bring, “You brought a green lego!” Final note: KEEP IT FUN!!!

Variations:

  • This could also be a counting game.  You could give the child a small tray or basket to carry a number of legos and then ask “Bring me 8 legos.”  When the child returns, count the legos together.  This is a fantastic way to practice counting teens, the numbers 11-19.
  • Use could also use this game to explore comparative and superlative language, “Bring me a larger lego” or “Bring me the smallest lego”
  • When you and your child are comfortable with the game and have practiced a number of qualities, you could stack qualities together into a single command, “Bring me the largest red lego.”  Remember, you have 3 weeks to work up to this!
  • You can also incorporate movement aspects to the commands, “Tiptoe over to the box and bring me 4 small, red legos.”
  • If your child is a reader, you can write the commands on paper for them to read and follow.

Colbie and I played this game today with our Magnatiles.  We practiced the language for 2-dimensional shapes, but you could also practice 3-dimensional shapes with them.  The photos below are a cheat sheet of the language- in case your geometry language is rusty 🙂  Please don’t hesitate to ask me about any other vocabulary that you may be unfamiliar with.


Sensorial Game: Finding Circles

From Anna Ardizzone, Sunflower Guide

(you can use any shape, color, or sensory detail, but I think circles are a fun and easy place to start)

1. go to any room of your house and invite your child to find a circle

2. if you’re available, take a turn a find another

3. count verbally or keep track on paper

This can be a simple and quick game, but for some children it might turn into finding circles in all of the rooms and keeping track “the kitchen has the most circles!” or it might become a game of finding other shapes in the rooms.  Maybe you’ll go on a walk outside and keep track of the circles you find out there in the world.