the new “activity shelf”

We found a lovely Montessori preschool for Br to attend the days I am working outside of the house, and my husband is trading building classroom furniture for schooling.  My husband built a “prototype” shelf (& small table) out of scrap wood, so I absconded it last night to set up some of the activities for the kids.  (“Yay, hobby woodworker husband!”)

new activity shelf
The new activity shelf

Br hadn’t really noticed it until Bl came out and pulled one of the activity trays off.  Bl had grabbed the 1-to-1 correspondence tray. I’d set it up with tongs, figuring Br would be using it.  Bl doesn’t have the fine motor skill yet to operate the tongs, so I gave him a spoon.  He wasn’t quite getting the concept, but he was amused with moving the pompoms around with the spoon.


Blake using the 1-to-1 tray
Blake "using" the 1-to-1 tray

Br had turned around on the couch and noticed the touch-matching game. As he was out of reach of Bl, he was actually able to try it a bit! He did initially match a popcorn kernel bag to a lentil bag, but I checked it and then offered him the two (popcorn & lentil) in the opposite color so he could self correct.


Br trying the touch-matching game
Br trying the touch-matching game

Br came around to try the 1-to-1 correspondence tray after Bl had wandered off, and tried out the prototype table. I had put the spoon away when I gave it to Br (leaving the tongs), but Br complained “I wanted the one with the spoon!” Unfortunately, by this point Bl had wandered back.  I’ll need to figure out a way to set things up so Bl isn’t always interfering with Br trying activities.  Let me know if you have any suggestions….

Br doing 1-to-1 correspondence activity
Br doing 1-to-1 correspondence activity, with Bl's "help"

Bl enjoyed having a turn after Br was done:

Bl's turn!
Bl's turn!

With the touch-matching game as well:

Bl touch-matching game 1Bl touch-matching game 2Bl touch-matching game 3

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Sensory matching “bags”

Montessori teaches that 2 1/2 to 4 years old is the critical window for developing sensory perception, so I’ve been trying to come up with activities to help Br “heighten” his senses.  I came across an idea for making a touch matching game on the site “Chasing Cheerios” (isn’t that an amusing, and mommy-appropriate, visual?)


-balloons (5 pairs- I used 5 red & 5 orange balloons, as they coordinated nicely with the containers I found in the $1 area of Target)

-materials to fill balloons (I used cornstarch, cornmeal, dried lentils, & popcorn kernels- 3 to 4 Tablespoons per balloon seemed to be about the right amount [so, 6-8 T per material]. For those of you counting :) , still need a 5th item.  Plan is to get some large dried beans for my last pair of balloons…)

-funnel (I didn’t have one the right size-small end fits in the hole of the balloon, but opening big enough for the beans, etc. to fit through- so I made one out of junk mail [card stock weight] curved into my funnel shape & stapled in place)

-2 containers (one for each color of balloons)

-blindfold/scarf (something to cover their eyes or the containers so they are only using there sense of touch to match them- once they have there “matches” they can self correct visually) – found eye masks for $0.50 in the $1 area at Target, near where I found the paperboard bins we used for this

Voice of experience:  I recommend using a halfsheet pan (cookie sheet with sides) or tray underneath when your filling the balloons. My balloons slipped a few times and the stuff came pouring out of the funnel… good to have that contained.  Try to squeeze as much air out of the balloons as possible before you tie them closed (so it will be easier to feel whats inside).  Do this *very slowly* with the cornstarch- I didn’t the 1st time and my black shirt was short of “gray” afterwards….

touch matching game
picture of the game on the shelf

I tried to have Br play the game this morning.  He was pretty amused with wearing the eye mask, and started trying to match the items.  Unfortunately, Bl was also very interested in them.  Bl kept grabbing one and then dropping it to grab another. Made it pretty impossible for Br to do much of anything blindfolded…. Luckily (?), Br wasn’t that vested in the activity yet, so he didn’t get too upset.  Br did call Daddy over, told him how to do it, and had Daddy try (& Daddy was quick enough to get them matched before Bl could run off with them) .  That was pretty cute.  I’ll try again when Bl is napping sometime.

As a side note, I was a little surprised how difficult it was too tell the difference between the lentil & popcorn kernel bags.  We’ll see if that part is too challenging for Br.

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