Saturday, June 8, 2013

Material Delivery & Misusing vs Abusing Materials

It is always interesting to the boys when a box is delivered.  It is almost impossible for me to get a package without the boys knowing and wanting to see what it contains.  So, when new school materials arrive they usually help me unpack them.  It gives them a chance to handle the material, check it out, and "sensorially explore" it.  But I wonder, how much of this "sensorially exploring" should I allow for Bumblebee?  I have explained that this particular work is for Link, but he is naturally very curious about it.    I wanted to take a nice picture to show off the new material, but I haven't been able to pull him away.  As you can see from the pictures above, he is "misusing" the materials but not really "abusing" them.

Feeling how big the thousands cube is.
Noticing that he can make a cube out of the hundreds.
Moving the units to the cups.
Pouring the units back in the box.

Matching the hundreds to the top of the thousand cubes.

Sliding the tens down the hundred boards.
The things he is doing in the pictures above all seem very innocent.  But should I allow it to continue?  Check out the video... I was going to stop him here, but then he starting using the hundreds to fill in a hole in the middle of the thousands, and I thought that might be okay.  He told his brother, "I'm building squares."  

He made a new arrangement, and was very pleased with himself.  I showed him how to put them back, and he did for a while, then said "No, I want to stack."  He proceeded to stack up all the hundreds that would fit under the shelf.  Honestly, he never spent this much time with the pink tower or brown stairs. I guess they weren't new enough.  (That's why they are put away for now.)

In the end he was willing to put them all back right, but had a hard time getting them to fit.  With help, he finished up and we went to make donuts!

Soooo, anyone have any thoughts on this?  Should I allow him to explore materials as long as he doesn't abuse them?


  1. I struggle with this. My kids often misuse materials without abusing. It is hard for me to interrupt their own guided work or curiosity just because it is the "right" way according to Montessori. What if that is their method to get to the right way? But then maybe I should do something else besides Montessori. Usually I will let them do with it what they want after they have used the material at least once the way it was presented. Then they can explore other possibilities on using the materials. I think it might be easier if it was a classroom full of children. There would be more observation of how others "do" it. Or at least that is what I tell myself. I also enjoyed your post on Math materials, but never got around to commenting on it. If I had the time, I would have written almost the same thing. I have listed compared, listed,compare pricing and possibilities again and again. I was glad to see your post on it. ;)

  2. I also hesitated to interrupt, but Bumblebee isn't even at the point that I could give him a presentation with the golden beads :) However, after his initial exploration, he seems to have gotten his fill. He wants to join in with Link's work, but he doesn't take it off the shelf anymore.

    I wish I understood the order that the materials were needed a bit more before I'd ordered. I ended up getting a few things mixed up :)

  3. Is there a list somewhere or do you just make one from your albums? I have searched the internet high and low. My guess is I am not using the correct terminology in my search. I don't have a complete set of albums, just what I need at the time.

    1. I'm far from an expert on this, it actually causes me quite a bit of stress. My problem is that there are so many lists out there and they are all different. The albums I use are the Karen Tyler ones and the free ones I have found. The Gettman book and the Karen Tyler manuals are my primary resources. On my post here: I list the places I used to create my list. It really depends on the age of your child. Montessori For Everyone has a list for each age group here:

    2. Thanks! Sorry I am just now replying. I am so stressed out about it, I am making myself crazy. Thanks again for the info!

    3. Check this out, just found it today!
      I haven't gone through it much, but at first glance it looked like it would be helpful.