I recently had a bit of a clear out of our games and resources for younger children. Although I sometimes miss those years, it was generally with a grateful heart that I filled a nice bag for the charity shop!
So, as we are slowly moving on from this season, I thought I’d jot down a little of what worked for us, and what I learnt from it.
I found that it’s often better to spend a little time with the youngest, before I piled into more academic work with the older ones. For me, this often seemed counter intuitive, as I wanted to get on with the more structured learning, rather than “playing” with the youngest. It’s something I still struggle with, but I think a little investment of time at the beginning of the day maybe helps a younger child to play more contentedly.
I used my fairly limited knowledge of the Montessori philosophy as our basis for organising activities. I think the idea is that each child chooses an activity from a range boxes, puts it on a tray, explores, creates and plays, and once finished, tidies it back into the box.
In retrospect, a few small boxes would have been more practical than my one large one, but it fitted the space I had and it reminded me of the seaside! I filled it with lots of activities which I hoped would be good for developing fine motor skills and give space for their natural curiosity, eg lacing cards, threading cotton reels and beads or pasta shells, picking up small objects with tweezers, pouring with a jug through a funnel (used lentils for this) and playing matching games with old cards.
Playdoh and clothes pegs are useful for developing pre writing hand strength, so as well as sometimes “helping” hang out our washing, I found it was less stressful for me to give them a little clothesline to hang dolly cloths, hats and gloves on. I sometimes gave them sorting games, using a variety of different coloured and shaped objects.
I generally put a couple of games or puzzles on a tray on the floor each morning, and on days when I was feeling strong in mind and body, we did messier play with water, mud, ublec etc…
Sometimes we did an activity which everyone could join in at different levels, eg plate painting, salt dough, clay modelling. The picture below is a salt dough relief carving which one of the boys did when learning about the Medes and the Persians.
And of course reading and going outside, our two daily staples can be enjoyed by everyone!