Sunday, August 15, 2010

To infinity and beyond!!!

I’d love to say that this week Ian's kept the explosive enthusiasm for Montessori activities he displayed last week, but he didn't. One day he liked activities, the next day he didn’t. I think it almost sums up his development. I must remember that he is on the border of being ready to absorb all that is around him and I must wait and observe … I must, but I cannot :-) I'm still struggling with my expectations, every time a bit less but still struggling.

At the moment he is very busy playing imaginary games. He has moved from acting the stories from his books to acting his favorite movie “Toy Story 1”. The character "Buzz Light Year" has became his best friend :-) and all the "great activities" I set up for him cannot compete with him! Unbelievable!!! :-) Well, at least we invite him to participate. See the next collage of photos; Ian was so concentrated with band aids of his friends…I know, fantasy characters are not Montessori-ish at all, but peeling and sticking are. 

And take a look at this contrast. I better laugh at myself :-)

Between those extremes, there were other activities that were appealing to him, especially those related with discovering how objects work: the magnet tray still captures his interest (that is a historic record! ) and this week he discovered what is inside the flashlight. On the other hand, his interest, revealed last week, in exploring his tactile sense, has persisted, and this time was the turn to feel flour.

The details follow.
Practical Life

I did not prepare Practical Life "lessons" this week, except for using the sifter. The rest arose naturally in the kitchen, as usual.

Using a slotted spoon. I put cooked broccoli in a bowl with ice cubes and water to stop the cooking and Ian helped me by passing the broccoli florets using a slotted spoon. The best part of it came when he used his hands to take the broccoli florets out of the bowl with water and took the ice cubes off to another bowl; he really enjoyed experiencing the different temperatures of the ice, the water and the broccoli: frozen, cold and warm. The sensorial experience is becoming more and more interesting to him.

Using a Sifter. This activity was more difficult than I thought. It requires lot of skill to shake the sifter hard enough to sift the flour but not so hard such that the flour falls off. Ian tried hard and sometimes he got it . He animated himself saying "shake,shake!!!" :-). Soon, it got very messy and Ian got confused when he had to scoop the flour into the sifter, he seemed to be wondering: which hand should I use to grasp the sifter? and which one for the spoon? from which bowl should I spoon the flour? ... etc. too much complicated for my toddler. I should have started with a simpler exercise using just one bowl and a slotted spoon.

Even though sifting was not that easy for Ian, he insisted to try it again and again...well, he just wanted to see and feel how the flour fell delicately. Look at his adorable face!

Later, he was amazed to see the outline of our hands on the table after we put them on it and sifted flour over. "high five!" he called out while raising his hand :-)

Rolling. Ian had gotten some practice rolling his floor mat, bamboo placemats and a fabric mat. He does it pretty well when it comes down to big things as he can use whole hands. This week he did a great job rolling the herbs in paper towels  (see the firm supervision of "Buzz" :-)) ; but, when he tried to prepare his jam rolls he could only make thick ones, because he can't coordinate his fingers to make thinner rolls yet.

Pouring. My boys (I mean, Daddy and Ian) have been resisting my encouragement to became vegetarians. I am attempting to get Ian to drink veggie juices and every time I prepare one for me I give Ian a portion to try. He pours the juice, pretends he tastes it looking at me very playful :-) and keeps pouring from the pitcher to the glass and viceversa, over and over again. I guess he likes the different colors and  densities of the juices.


Transferring and sorting by color using a tong. This is our third activity with tongs (see the first one here and the second one here). The extension for this week involved transferring and sorting four different colors of cotton balls. Ian likes this activity enough to practice it almost every day. Sometimes he asks me for help and I just show him  my hand doing the squeeze-realease movement and remind him of the sound effect "clack, clack" :-) after that he is excited enough to try again.

Button outline matching. As Ian has been enjoying visual matching activities I set up this one for him (besides the one above with the split butterflies that Ian did not pay attention to at all) and Ian completed it successfully; he enjoyed identifying the figures of the buttons and looking for the outline; but, lost his interest completely within the next few days. I think it was too easy for him and the buttons look boring to him.


Flashlight. After all the blackouts we've had lately, Ian has mastered switching on and off the flashlight and I wanted to show him more about its workings.
The flashlight we have comes apart at one end only and that is enough to begin. I looked for a transparent flashlight but I could not find one.
I drew around each piece on a paper to guide Ian where to place them as the flashlight is disassembled, but he took the flashlight apart and set the pieces in any order. In spite of that, he remembered perflectly how to reassemble the flashlight. He only asked me for help to screw the bulb piece because it requires a bit of pressure before screwing it down.

Then he went on to test his job switching on the flashlight. At first, it often did not work because he put the batteries in backwards, and he rejected my help to show him the error. We resolved it just placing the batteries vertically instead of on their side, ready to insert in the flashligh correctly.

As my "guide" was completely ignored by the novice scientist, I replaced it with a three-part tray where Ian could place each piece separately.

Great experiment for a curious boy. Great lesson to learn about how many parts make a whole.

I almost forgot to tell you the most important challenge we started this week: potty training. I've been postponing it for a long time because Ian's been experiencing many changes lately, but changes are and will be part of our lives for a while, so I decide to undertake potty training.

I am sharing this post in One Hook Wonder where you can see other toddlers learning according to the Montessori Method.


  1. Thanks for sharing!! I like how the handprint turned out with the flour. The broccoli with the ice cubes work is awesome!!! Gotta love natural learning.

  2. Really neat post!
    Lots of variety in the works he is doing...
    Question with respect to the work you mentioned that he is not seeming to enjoy, such as the butterfly matching:
    Is he selecting the work himself and then, tiring of it or are the works already laid out for him and he is showing no interest?
    Or is it that he tries and then, either gets tired or bored?
    The reason I am asking is that his response might be due to several different factors:
    If he is not selecting the work himself, he might not have interest in the work that has been laid out for him to try.
    That's okay...just put it away for the time being and reintroduce it to him at a later time.
    Also, sometimes children will show what Dr. Montessori called false fatigue. You can either help to re-direct him or give him a little break and then, you will see that his interest in a particular work may be revived.
    Since you are doing lots of neat practical life activities and he seems to enjoy this, I would continue having him do these and maybe keep the butterflies for another week. When my sons show signs of false fatigue, then, I usually remind them that they are free to make a snack if they are hungry.
    Snack prep is a great way for a child to refocus and revive enthusiasm for their work.
    Also, if he is into imaginary play after seeing a movie, that will happen, for sure, as I see it with my sons as well.
    You can do things like have him work on topics that are related to his imaginary play, such as real space info. if he likes Buzz Lightyear or real information on cowboys and horses if he is a fan of Woody.
    You really are doing an amazing job with providing him with so many learning opportunities and hands on, Montessori inspired works for him.
    He and my boys would probably have a blast playing together, as they seem to like the same sorts of works.

    Happy Monday!

  3. Colleen,
    Thank you very much for your advices. I really appreciate them. With respect to the butterflies activity, I showed Ian how to match one and asked him to try, he showed no enthusiasm, matched one and went away. I am quite sure he is able to complete this activity, but clearly it is was not interesting for him. Sometimes, he shows no interest at first but tries later, so I keep the activity laid out for him and observe. If he does not select it by himself I rotate it.

  4. He is so adorable!!Sometimes kids get bored easy..Little C can do an activity over and over again but somethimes she varely finishes one even if she choosed to do this activity. Like you guys say sometimes is because they feel hungry or they need a break..we just need to try another time.

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