Sunday, 24 August 2014

Montessori Cultural Experiences - Zoology Puzzles

I read in an interesting Montessori literature how the author observed that actually, nature frightens most people. The author wrote... "They fear the air and the sun as if they were mortal enemies. They fear the frost at night as if it were the snake hidden in the grass. They fear the rain as if it were fire. Civilized men, is a kind of contented prisoner, and if now, he is warned that he should enjoy nature for his own health, he does so timidly and with eyes on the alert for any danger. To sleep in the open, to expose oneself to the winds and to the rains, to defy the sun, and to take a dip in the water are all things about which one can talk but which ones does not always put into practice. The strength of even the smallest child, is more than we imagine, but it must have free play in order to reveal himself."

Children have an anxious concern for living beings, and the satisfaction of this instinct fills them with delight. It is therefore easy to interest them in taking care of plants and especially of animals. Nothing awakes foresight in a small child, who lives as a rule for the passing moment and without care for the morrow, so much as this. When he knows that animals have need of him, that little plants witll dry up if he does not water them, he binds them together with a new thread of love; today's passing moments with those of tomorrow.

Education in school can fix the attention of a child on special objects which will show exactly how far he has been able to stir up within himself a feeling for nature or will arouse within him latent or lost sentiments. Here, as in every other kind of activity, the function of the school is to supply him with interesting information and motives for action. A child, more than anyone else, is a spontaneous observer of nature, certainly needs to have at his disposal, material upon which he can work on.

This is where I have often shared that a prepared environment in your home is important to the growing needs of a child. These materials have an inner purpose. One of which is to assist the child in his own self-construction and in his physical, psychological, intellectual and social development. The materials provide stimuli which captures the child’s imagination and helps him to initiate and expand the process of concentration. This means that, if the materials are to be effective, they must be properly presented to the child at the right moment in his development. Materials should be age-appropriate. If the right materials are introduced at the right time, the child will relish in the moment and subject himself to hours of interest for the material and often, over days after as well. If your first presentation of a material is done right, it paves the proper way for your child to work towards.

Sensing chubs' sensitivity to nature and interest in puzzles, I slowly introduced to him our humble collection of gently loved puzzles; that we offered to love again with all our hearts at a modest price I could afford then... from a dear Montessorian acquaintance. Thank you, Lynn.. for at the time when chubs' interest in puzzles was at its peak, your materials have allowed for me to better prepare my environment for him to move forward in his Montessori journey. We will give your materials a second lease of life in our home and love them all over again, just how we are sure how you loved them, with your son…

I decided to introduce him to the fish puzzle first, as he loved asking questions pertaining to them during our monthly grocery shopping, when he watched different types of fish swimming at an aquarium, through books and definitely when he had an opportunity to feed some fish when I was just about to be wheeled in to give birth to his baby brother at the hospital. So many teachable moments were explored prior to the time of my introduction of the fish puzzle. I knew chubs was more than ready. The result? Chubs worked on not just the fish puzzle, but was curious to work on the rest as well. He was curious about the names of the other parts for other animals and found these highly stimulating, linking his hours over them to play instead of work.

It is wonderful to watch him work in concentration, most times with bated breath over the next steps to take, at times with his cute little mouth gaping and those times when he scrunched up his nose or twitched his eyebrows upon a challenging move… These moments to me, are priceless.

Here's sharing two of the videos of my tiger_chubs, slightly before he turned two, working on his favourite fish puzzle. 

In the above video, chubs names the parts of the fish whilst taking each puzzle piece off the puzzle board. We took a number of weeks 
to get to this stage.

In this second video above, 
I'm trying to nurture the skill of 
sight reading using the 3 part cards 
ie. labels / word cards. 

While chubs was not able to read the words 
on the labels, he can match the names to the parts of the fish. 

So, we worked with that first. Reading is still a work-in-progress at this time. 

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