Otis attends a Montessori school three hours a day, five days a week. I'm very conscious not to double up or interfere with his lessons or learning at school. These are trays the can be found on his shelves in the children's study. They are not categorised, there is no method to our rotation schedule other than I rotate out when he has lost interest in a tray.
We don't have 'school' time at home, these are simply in the study for when he wants to use them, which is several times a day. Some trays will hold his attention for five minutes (pencil sharpening) others for longer (magnets and geoboard). Some he will use them alone others we will use together (command cards and geometric solids). Sometimes he will stay in the study for a short time but often for an hour or more.
When looking at his trays it's important to note that Otis does a lot of practical life that is not presented on a tray. We also have an art cupboard that he has free access to and we also have fish and hermit crabs in the study. During his day he will spend hours outside in play, in the garden working, in the kitchen along side me or looking through books.
1. Play-dough (in an easy open glass jar) with a place-mat and cutter. The cutter is his favourite tool right now but often there is more than one utensil there. He also has access to clay in our art cupboard.
2. Scissors and cutting strips. Otis has progressed past cutting simple lines and now will cut with some accuracy on the wavy line and has begun to cut out shapes.
3. Stencils. These are great for his hand control. Sometimes he will trace around the inside of the stencil and sometimes he will take it further in colour it in. Some shape recognition work going on here too.
5. Command cards. Although Otis will flip through these alone we generally use them together. For language and comprehension. I will read the command card and he will act it out or I will show him the illustration and he do the same and/or verbalise the action. This gets lots of laughs. (GO! Wallet Cards in the US here).
6. Large floor puzzle. This is one puzzle from a set so although it's large it's easy enough for Otis to do by himself. In the last few months we always have a puzzle out. We currently also have this one in a basket however Caspar and Otis usually do it together. (The floor puzzles can be found in the US here and here).
7. Mother and baby matching cards and models. Otis can easily match however this is for language. To experience the terminology 'Sow', 'Ewe' 'Hen' etc.
9. Spinning tops. Both of my children love using these and both really benefit from using their hands in this way. Spinning the tops assisting in building hand strength and developing hand control. Plus it's fun. The intent is for the child to use the tops (contained) in the tray however more often than not these are used on the kitchen floor.
10. Pencil sharpening. Otis is still trying to get this. He can only use the sharpener slightly not enough to effectively sharpen the pencil. This is purposeful practical life work and is also great for coordination and hand strength.
11. Geometric solids in the mystery bag. We use this as sensorial material. I have previosuly shown these to Otis using the three period lesson - so he is familiar (with some accuracy) with their correct names. At the moment we are only using three solids however will I'm sure more onto move when he is ready. (Similar in the US here).
12. Model elephant and book. This is fun to read with Otis as he plays and explores the model. It's also good to use when looking at different parts or features of the animal or for example when exploring the differences between an African and Asian elephant.
Trays 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9 can be found here.
Some other activities that Otis has been enjoying at home. Balancing using the wooden rocker. This is also used in imaginative play and is usually a boat.
We have a tennis ball on a string attached to a beam that Otis (and Caspar) can use to further develop their hand-eye coordination.
This week I also attended Parent/Child sessions at school. I've been a parent at a Montessori school for years now and this was still an eye opener. Obviously each child is different but both children blew me away with their skill and knowledge - this is what Montessori does!