Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Observations - Scooping Beans

Today Link scooped beans.  In the mornings he likes to help me make Daddy's coffee.  So I decided it would be a good time to practice this skill.  I asked him if he wanted to and he said YES!

I've seen other people go step by step through what they did and I like it because it really highlights the skills he's learning.  So here's what we did:

  1. Link carried his little chair into the room and I carried the table
  2. He sat in the chair to my right
  3. I named everything (the bowl, spoon and beans) and had him tell me what they were
  4. He watched me scoop some beans from the left bowl into the right bowl.
  5. He tried to scoop some beans (I'm not sure if I handled this correctly or not, but he wasn't tilting the spoon and getting anything, so I showed him again, then did it once holding his hand)  He did it some with his right hand, then switched to his left because it wasn't working well.  He did better with his left hand.
  6. He scooped most of the beans over, then said he was all done.
  7. I said, "okay, now lets move them back" and showed him.
  8. He said "you" (which means he wants me to do it) so I did a few times, then he took over.  
  9. He put the spoon down and used his hand to move them, then he "explored" a little.  He just felt the beans in the bowl, grabbed big handfuls and dropped them in the other bowl.
  10. When he'd had enough, I got the bag for the beans and he helped me transfer them (from right to left) using the spoon in his right hand and his left hand. 
  11. He felt around with the beans in the bag some more
  12. He carried the chair and helped me carry the table back. 

Observations and Questions

  • At what point does exploring become playing and when should I step in?  I decided it was at the point that he started to make a mess.
  • He did well picking up individual beans that he dropped, but I had to encourage him to pick up the spoonfuls that fell while he was "exploring"
  • How much should I interfere with his switching of hands?
  • He said he was done, but then when I showed him something different to do, he kept going
  • All together I think it was good for both of us - we both got practice with presenting a lesson, he had to wait until I showed him for his turn, I practiced observing and not interfering

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why is Montessori Education so Cool?

Well, there are lots of reasons I think it is great, but this post is about a study I read that was done in 1967 and was funded by the U.S. Department of Education.  (I wonder if there are any newer studies out there with the same or different conclusions?)  Anyways, they were studying "the general problem of finding more effective ways of preparing pre-school age children for their initial formal learning experience in school"  I'll skip right to the conclusion, and if you're interested in reading more you can check it out.   Since I am not that great at statistics, I'll just quote the conclusion rather than summarizing it.

The investigators found that the superior gains (27 percent greater) in verbal ability made by Montessori trained children over the other-than-Montessori-trained children were statistically significant at the p. .001 level of confidence.
Of the eight factors which emerged from a factor analysis of the variable rated in this study, only three: positive learning attitude, sensory motor coordination and verbal ability met statistical criteria for retention and further discriminant analysis.  The authors found positive correlations between positive learning attitude and verbal ability as well as with sensori motor coordination, but with the latter factor, only in the Montessori group, where many of the sensori-motor learning activity involve manipulative mathematics devices designed to develop the child's concept of number.  The investigators suspect the influence of general intelligence accounts for the positive correlations among these factors.  Group variance (higher for the Montessori than for the Control children) was significant at p. .05 when correlations of positive learning attitude were compared with sensori-motor coordination.
However, Montessori-Control group variances of the positive learning attitude factor and of the sensori-motor coordination factor were not significantly different.
Of the five to five-and-one-half year olds in this study, Montessori-trained children (67 percent and 94 percent) seem to have acquired greater "reading readiness" and "first grade readiness" than those in the Control group (30 percent and 50 percent).
Primary teachers in the public and parochial schools to which the children in this study transferred found no particular adjustment problems "peculiar to Montessori-trained children."  Then found no significant differences in creativity between children coming from Montessori and other pre-schools.  They rated children who had attended Montessori pre-school superior (at a statistically significant level) to their peers in interest in learning, independence, interpersonal relations, leadership and learning ability.
To fully understand what they were measuring and how, you'd have to read the study and look at the forms and other material they used.  I did not read the entire study, but it looks like it was well thought out.  Since I already thought Montessori Education is great, I didn't feel the need to be convinced all over again.  If you aren't convinced, this study may help :)

Here's all the info on the first page to help you find it:
Montessori Pre-School Education
Project 5-1061
Grant No. OE 3-10-127

Urban H Fleege, Ph.D
Michael S. Black, Ph.D
John A. Rachaushas, M.A.
June, 1967

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

He ASKED for I Spy!

It's been really slow going, but Link has been doing 2-3 little activities 1-2 times a week, and I Spy cards maybe 3-4 times a week.  Here's what I've put together so far:

We don't have room for much, so I stole 2 shelves from Daddy's bookshelf, and we put out a work rug in the small little space in front of the shelf.  This room isn't off-limits to Link, but he can't reach these things because we don't want him hanging out in the room alone.

I made I Spy cards even though I know you are supposed to use objects because I don't have a ton of objects, or the money to buy a lot right now.  Plus, its hard enough thinking of things that start with a certain sound, finding actual objects seems almost impossible (I know its not, because I've seen other people do it, but whatever.)  Also, I didn't like anyone else's pictures because they all use clip art and things I'm not sure Link could identify.  So I made new ones.  (feel free to download them here)  I only have A through G right now, but will add them as I make them.  I used a business card template because we have lots of business cards we'll never use for anything else, and they are easy to cut up :)

I also made some classification cards.  I took pictures of my kitchen, living room and a bathroom and printed them on index cards.  Then took pictures of things from each room and printed them on the business cards.  I figured it would make more sense to him if it was our house.  I plan on making some more with themes, but I'm not sure how yet.  I'm thinking things like things-you-take-camping, or things-that-go-outside.  But I may never get around to it.

The other things on the shelf are toys that Link seems to like, but he doesn't play well with them unsupervised.  The lacing beads got a lot of use as a fishing pole, until he got tired of it. So I moved it to the shelf and do it with him.  He really enjoys threading them on.  The Melissa and Doug See and Spell was not supposed to go out yet because I thought it was a little too advanced for him.  But my sister sent it to him for Christmas and he wanted to play with it as soon as we got it out.  So I give him a couple of boards with the letters already in them, and he does it like a puzzle.

That's all we've done so far.  I have a few other things on the shelf, like a matching game he used to love but won't touch now, and some little paper mache boxes that are different shapes.  Link likes to take the tops on and off, so I'll get it out again soon.

I'm super slow and not very creative, so adding activities takes me forever.  I don't even have a plan right now for adding anything new.  Once I stopped worrying about it so much, its actually been less stressful, and we're doing something, so I'm okay with "slow".