Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Montessori Curriculum for "Toddlers"

Let's face it: I'm a planner. A big time planner who spends hours, if not weeks, sifting through "pages and pages" of books, blogs, websites, and albums each and every week to plan the "perfect" Montessori themed "lesson" for my kids. Over the years, I've naturally accumulated A LOT of "stuff" to plan out these days of discovery and learning: from the free Montessori albums (yes, some people have generously published their albums online!) to the much appraised, practically AMS endorsed KHT ones (my all-time favorites). I'm not sure why but I love collecting Montessori albums (a bad habit considering most of them don't come in cheap!). This year again, I'll be using a mix of it all (and probably venture off curriculum again and again...and again...). Curious about what I have planned for my 2.5 year old? Here is the "big picture" with a few hints of what we'll explore in the upcoming school year. If you want more details, you'll most definitively want to stay tuned! :) 

Montessori Albums: The Most Useful Way to Prepare Yet Another School Year
Pictured Here: Three Albums Made by Kht Montessori

Practical Life
Without a doubt the area we'll be focusing on the most this year. As a growing toddler, Zahavah would love to become more independent and this part of the curriculum will do just that. Practical Life activities will teach her to care for herself (dressing frames, hand washing, shoe polishing, etc.) and her environment (sweeping, weeding, washing dishes, etc.) but will also explore the facets of grace and courtesies (pretty please, anyone?, did I hear a "thank you?", etc.). This portion of the curriculum will also feature food preparation, cutting preparation, and writing preparation without forgetting exercises involving fine motor development (whole hand grasp, wrist turning, three finger grip, etc.).

Zahavah is still very much in the sensitive period for Sensorial Exploration and as such, a big chunk of her school time will be spent on such work. I am planning to introduce her to the following Montessori elements: Pink Tower, Brown Stairs, Tactile Fabric Box (different kinds of fabric), Primary Color Box (aka Color Tablets Box 1), Hue Matching Box (aka Color Tablets Box 2), Visual Fabric Box (different patterns on the fabric), Geometric Presentation Tray, Knobbed Cylinders, and Power of 2.

This year, Zahavah will be focusing on getting familiar with the numbers 0 to 9. It will be mostly a year of preparation for her in this area. An introduction to the number rods and the Sandpaper Numbers shall also be done if and once she appears comfortable seeing, hearing and manipulating numerals.

For a "toddler" like Zahavah, the language shelves will always be filled with diversity but mostly for a preparation to writing and reading. Little "Z" will of course not be doing too many "proper language activities" this year but one can keep in mind that many sensorial activities (such as sequencing), art (drawing, anyone?) and practical life (love pattern cards) activities help to the development of the skills involved in writing and reading. To help the small muscles involved in writing, we'll also be doing a lot of fine motor activities involving the much celebrated "pincher" technique (hello eyedropper!). Amongst the actual "language" activities, Zahavah will do a few activities based on oral expression such a reciting poetry and start tracing with the metal insets (eh...ours are made of plastic though...yep, I'm a bargain hunter sometimes...).

Basic Art Skills such as tearing paper, learning to use scissors, and learning to properly handle different mediums (think crayons, paintbrushes, pencils, etc.) will be presented. We'll also go over Basic Art Activities (making a collage, clay sculpture, painting, etc.) of course. Zahavah being so young, I am still debating whether to introduce Art Appreciation. I really want to but in Montessori schools, this is Primary/Elementary stuff, not Toddler work.  I know next year will come soon enough and will truly open the doors to the Elements of Arts and techniques so I'm truly trying to hold myself back here; for everyone's sake... :)

Music & Movement
Singing, dancing, playing music instruments, and participating in musical games is currently on our curriculum. I'd love to introduce more but musicians and their work can wait another year for a formal introduction. Listening to them on the other hand...now that is something more doable but only outside of school hours.

I love studying geography but unfortunately, this year won't feature a lot of it for Zahavah. Sure I'll introduce the subject and we'll include a study of various landscapes/cityscapes/seascapes, but other than that, we'll keep our focus on other areas... :(

Physical Science
This is one of these albums where restraint is a must. If it were up to me, I'd present it all but I constantly have to remind myself that I have three years to introduce all these wonderful activities to my child and that her comprehension will only grow with time. As such, so far, I've hand-picked only a few presentations for this year, including the beloved sink or float activity. I think I'll also be including some work on light refraction, some water, air and sound "fun" and possibly some inclined planes tasks. It's a year of discovery after all...

Mentioning my toddler will study botany next year always sounds a bit strange I must admit, but botany truly is everywhere and Zahavah's first school year would not be complete without a light touch of it. I expect we'll talk about leaves, grasses, plants and flowers without getting in too deep.

Children love animals and Zahavah is no exception. As my themes include several "types" of "animals" (pets, zoo, bugs, forest "friends", etc), we'll get to go through several picture sets of animals and 3 part cards I'm sure. I am also thinking I'll make a few booklets and maybe a wall chart or two to go with it all. We will most most definitely try to head to the zoo, the pond and farm as well for some zoology field trips.

Being that I have a history minor, I think it's safe to say that I love history. Of course, nothing will please me more than pass this love on to my daughter. This year, I intend to cover as much history as possible. :) Of course, being that she is only 2.5 years old, history will be mostly taught in its concrete aspect this year and a big part of it will be done daily thanks to our classroom calendar which will feature of course the usual month/week/day/season and all. Other than studying the calendar, we might go into Zahavah's timeline a wee bit and introduce the clock as well. The passing of time (the making of history) will also be examined. I'm excited already! :)

After much thinking, I decided not to include "any" astronomy into Zahavah's first year of school. I simply couldn't make it fit under any of my chosen thematics and although a lot of the presentations are  suitable for children Zahavah's age, I also felt like waiting until next year might be beneficial in terms of understanding at which point I would also have a unit on Earth Day and "Space Exploration". "Z" already knows a lot about the solar system thanks to her big brother though so as part of our daily circle time, I'll probably include the phases of the moon. I think she'd like that as she's always on the lookout for some lunar action.

It's never too early to introduce geology to children. Kids love nature...to include rocks so I'll most certainly include some rock hunting activities. Once the introduction to the subject has been done,  geology can often be made part of Practical Life, Sensorial and even Math trays (tonging, matching, counting, etc.). The more proper geology tasks such as the hardness scale tests and properties of the rocks won't probably be studied until next year...:)

Zahavah being a little young, our  focus will truly be on Sensorial and Practical Life activities this year. Ecology will still be introduced but very little and only when truly relevant to our theme. For example, with our Up in the Sky theme, I may chose to do a presentation on Air/Smoke/Fog/Smog. When studying forest animals, making a simple bird feeder or "playing" with a small "Keep our Green Spaces Green Sensory Bin" (aka don't litter Sensory Bin) would also make sense.

As it is only July, I am still working on what will be included each week. I tend to include only what can relate to my chosen theme of the week so it can prove tough at times to include a lot of Montessori elements to my weeks. This year, I may try to do things differently and add some activities that don't fit perfectly simply because Zahavah is ready and looks like she may be interested in that kind of work. One thing is sure, I'll dig deep to find a connection! :)

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  1. A girl after my own heart! I'm also a big planner, and I love getting ready for a new school year. My youngest is close in age to your daughter, so we'll be focusing on some the same skills this year. Can't wait to see what you share throughout the year!

    1. I am so glad to hear I am not alone! I sometimes feel like the school year never ends but I think it's mostly due to the fact that I don't want it to really end. I am as bored as the kids when it does so I end up planning for the next year! LOL I must visit your website soon. I haven't been online in a while now so I know I missed a lot of link ups and good posts. :)

  2. This is a wonderful post! You amaze me at all your planning and wisdom with using Montessori. Your kids are very blessed to have you as a mom!

    1. Thank you. I love using Montessori with my kids. I hadn't originally intended on using it that much when I first started teaching them and every year, I include more and more. :)

  3. My daughter just turned three and I've decided to try my hand at "homeschooling" her this year. I'll easily admit that I feel in over my head!

    The only things that have kept me sane is all of the planning I've already put into it and websites like this that are so full of wisdom and great ideas.

    I only happened upon your website today but I look forward to gleaning lots of wonderful information from these pages in the future!

    Thank you!

    1. I know the feeling. I felt quite overwhelmed at first too when I first started and read tons of books, researched a lot and planned quite a bit. It will all fall into place in good time; you'll see. I'm glad you found my blog and that you're inspired by what you've seen. Come back anytime and feel free to ask any questions if any pop up. :)

  4. I featured this at TGIF this week (http://www.123homeschool4me.com/2013/08/tgif-linky-party-87.html), pinned & G+ it as well.

    Thanks for sharing your creativity with the rest of us! I hope you'll pop over and link up again today!

    Have a GREAT weekend,
    Beth =)

    1. Thank you Beth! It's always an honor to be featured on your blog. I just linked up my latest posts and looked through your latest ones as well. :) It's always a pleasure to read what you've been up to! Such inspiration! Have a great week-end too!

  5. hi there!

    i'm so new to everthing montessori. i've been reading so much, my head is spinning :) information OVERLOAD - for sure. however, after reading your blog - its coming together now. your daily schedule and theme schedule has really helped me to mentally organize what i would like to do for my 17 1/2 old. with that said, i'm looking for curriculum to use for her age - what subjects should i focus on for her age? scheduling themes for the week - should be fun, i'm really excited to be starting this with her. :) thank you for your help. i'm working on her learning nook now and its almost complete.

    1. Hi Frances! Thank you for taking the time to comment and for your kind words. The Montessori Method is great. My children both love it and love the thematic approach. As far as curriculum is concerned, my scope and sequence is well defined for children in between toddlerhood and 12 years of age. Your daughter is 17 1/5 so she would be in an Erdkinder House if she'd attend a Montessori School in Europe. In the US, there are a few high school and most have "Regular" academics but most teach their subjects at an honors level and offer 2-3 electives. Take a lot at Clark Montessori High School's Curriculum on their website if you'd like. It will give you an idea of your child would be doing if she'd be enrolled. If my child is already enrolled in school, I tend to keep my home focus on subjects that need help, subjects that are loved and subjects that are not taught in school...:) Hope this helps!

  6. Did you share these somewhere? (Or are you selling them somewhere?)

    1. I do not sell curriculum. I did buy the one pictured from KHT Montessori. They are available by the album. If you look at the picture, you'll be able to click on the KHT Montessori link and buy the albums and print them at home like I did. You can even take online classes through them if you wish. Good luck and sorry for the late reply!

  7. Awesome! Are you going to post a detailed albums you plan to use? I am totally overwhelmed preparing for my 2ys old :/

    1. I will not. Mostly because I stopped blogging years ago. My kids are all grown up now and homeschooling is time consuming. I truly enjoyed blogging and posted everything I could back then but now, it's just impossible. :( Good luck!