“It was about six months later that they began to understand what reading meant, and they did so only through associating it with writing. Their eyes followed my hand as it traced the signs on paper, and they grasped the idea that thus I was expressing my thoughts as if I were speaking.”
Maria Montessori would often speak about the connection between a child's hand and brain. She observed that children who used didactic materials learned concepts quicker and deeper, which led her to create the foundation for her educational philosophy.
Learning with the hands begins at birth and throughout infancy. Infants have to learn how to stretch and grasp items in their environment while they build their motor skills.
Giving infants items such as the triangle clutching toy or a chunky puzzle like the dog puzzle assists them in practicing important fine motor skills. To help infants learn how to focus, add objects with bells or rattles to bring a natural interest to the toy.
Toddlers continue this development by refining their newly learned motor skills. They have stronger fine motor skills and are interested in using items they can explore.
The move the bubble activity and bear nuts and bolts toy are perfect ways to invite fine motor strengthening while maintaining their interest.
Speaking of maintaining interest, a stackable music box set and playing with a jumbo wood knob pegboard set are additional ways to invite long lasting interest while helping a toddler develop important skills through the use of their hands.
Preschool Age and Beyond
As children grow older they want to perform more complex and creative tasks using their newly developed fine motor skills, as they continue to strengthen them.
The hammer away cork board has always been a fan favorite in our classroom for older students. This board uses small thumbtacks to hammer into shapes in order to create a geometric picture. You can also encourage children to practice their patterning skills with the magnetic match rings.