Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Help Your Child Develop Good Vocabulary

One important part of the Montessori educational program is that we always use precise and accurate vocabulary with children.

For those of you with infants and toddlers, this may seem silly. Why describe an oval as an oval and not just a funny circle? The reason is that that children under six years of age soak in language at an amazing rate of speed. Everything that they hear gets absorbed and goes into their vocabulary base.

For older children, this language use process continues to be important and key to developing good vocabulary and reading skills. Explain to your child why a decagon is a decagon and not an octagon, for example.

Accurate language also helps your child learn how to describe and understand his or her world.

Montessori curriculum for parents to use at home (newsletter format) on our site here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Technology and Children: So Young, and So Gadgeted

Reading the online article So Young, and So Gadgeted on the New York Times website brings to mind a few comments on technology for children.

Technology aimed at 0-2 and 3-5 year olds is created to sell using an educational twist. For those of you who want your child to be super tech literate as early as possible, these baby tech toys are not the equivalent of training wheels on a bike in that they do not really help children move to that next stage.

The equipment is generally just a toy with some features to entice parents. It's preferable to focus on reading real books to your child, building a Pink Tower, working with sandpaper letters and movable alphabet sets, and then going outside for some physical play.

When your child is interested in using your laptop or a PC, introduce a real one with some practical and fun applications such as emailing a relative, using skype to place a video call to the grandparents.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Montessori Math for Toddlers: Sandpaper Numerals

Sandpaper Numerals, Spindle Boxes, Red Rods, and Red and Blue Rods are all designed to give young children hands-on exposure to counting, quantities, and relative sizes of numbers.

The Sandpaper Numerals are designed to be traced in the direction they are written. Your child uses his or her pointer and index fingers to lightly explore the configuration of each numeral.

Here are the Sandpaper Numerals.

You will see that the set includes 0 through 9 (as do the Spindle Boxes). The concept of ten and teens will be introduced in the next stage.

You can use cardstock, fine-grained sandpaper, and stencils to create DIY Sandpaper Numerals (or you can usually find a good used set online).

Photo credit

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Practical Life for Summer

Practical Life exercises are a staple of the Montessori classroom because they help children develop fine and gross motor skills that promote brain development.

These exercises include such activities as pouring, carrying, squeezing, polishing, learning how to zip or button with dressing frames, and other specific activities that use equipment for small hands.
As summer brings the promise of outdoor activities, we start to move these exercises outside. You can include child-sized gardening tools, water buckets, and small shovels for a host of activities that help children work on Practical Life skills in a healthy outdoor setting.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Bilingual Chinese - English Dinosaur Cards

Our first bilingual Mandarin Chinese and English Montessori material is now available. We even have dinosaur cards!

Using original material from Montessori for Everyone (a great source for printable and printed Montessori material for all topics ranging from language to biology), we put together beautiful color-photo cards with Chinese characters, pinyin (for pronunciation), and English.

Children can mix and match cards, practice writing characters, or work on their pinyin. You can join in, too, even if you speak no Chinese yourself because our master card set has all the words and characters written down.

See the Bilingual Cards here...