When summer rolls around, we at Montessori N' Such get excited about the longer days and the flexibility of our schedules. We feel like we can finally take a break and slow down for a bit.
All educators and caretakers know the importance of incorporating free play into their classroom, but sometimes it can be hard to encourage this type of unstructured time into our busy lives. Free play allows children to use their creativity and develop their imagination while also practicing important social skills. Through this unstructured time, children have to use their problem solving skills and learn how to express themselves and their thoughts to others.
Here are some simple ways to add lessons to your classroom that allow both open-ended and structured learning:
Shape Matching: This beautifully embroidered Shape Mat can be enjoyed with a variety of materials. Use it with the bag of objects or on its own to bring extra interest to your next shape lesson.
Rainbow Pebbles: These rubbery, smooth rainbow pebbles are irresistible to toddlers and preschoolers. They come in a variety of colors and can be used with the matching shape cards or on their own. Invite the child to try to stack them or ask them to create a scene and describe it to you. You'll be amazed at what they come up with!
- Puzzles: This mandala flower puzzle and multi-layer nesting geometric puzzle are wonderful additions to your classroom for the summer. These puzzles offer a variety of complexity and can be used on their own to promote free play and deeper exploration with shapes.
- Ideas for Toddlers: Invite the toddlers in your environment to practice their sorting and fine motor development this summer with the wood shape toddler sorter and nest and lace shape activity. They may also enjoy finding small objects in these peekaboo lock boxes. With an assortment of locks to practice, this activity will keep your toddlers and preschoolers interested for long periods of time.
- Peace and Meditation: Summer is a time for pausing and finding moments to relax. Encourage this daily through meditation and the use of a Buddha Zen Stone. Children love painting the stone with water and watching it disappear.
These materials are versatile and can be used through a guided lesson, or through unstructured exploration. Add them to your environment today and see how your children enjoy using them! This week's worksheet is a shape cutting work.