Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Intentional Play

I've been reading bits and pieces from this book lately. I've learned a lot and have tried to incorporate a few things into our daily play that I thought I would share with you.
One of the main points that really stuck with me from this book was the opinion that children learn better, think better, play better in a tidy organized space. Ouch! While I try to keep our home that way, by the end of the day it is chaos. Usually the chaos gets picked up before the next day starts, sometimes not so much. Anyway, I made a conscience decision that this was going to change in at least part of our house (you've got to start somewhere, right?) Sydney and I spend the beginning of our day upstairs in our house. We get up, snuggle a little, have breakfast and play until lunchtime, then she goes down for a nap. So I decided to focus on the dining room and living room. We keep a lot of her toys in an armoire in this room. I cut back what was stored in there significantly and focused the toys to puzzles, games and other things that we like to do together and are at least semi-educational. All the items are organized as much as possible and labeled. (I got a new label maker for Christmas and am loving it!!)

The next principle I took from the book was to provide a mat for the child to play on. This helps them to focus on one thing at a time and to keep a tidier space. I made this for Sydney out of leftover curtain fabric from the living room and a soft decorator weight fabric from a clearance bin somewhere. I sewed them together with some very crooked square quilting and so far have only serged the edges because (believe it or not) I don't own any plain brown fabric to use for the binding.

The mat is about 2 1/2 feet by 4 or 5 feet. We've been using the mat for a little less than a week and I have to say it does really work. She loves to do puzzles and other stuff on her "play mat" as she calls it. I'm not sure if she is more trained, or if I am just more insistent that we clean off the mat before we start the next thing but it works. Our space has remained very tidy and I think she enjoys playing with her toys even more instead of being a little overwhelmed with them all.
Some other things we have done...
  • Set up this art easel in the corner of the dining room.

  • Rearranged my china cabinet to make room for a "project jar". I keep all my scraps of fabric, paper, ribbon, etc. from my projects and put them in here. She loves to cut and glue them onto paper. I also cleaned out one drawer in the cabinet to house things like glue, scissors and paints.

  • Made number flashcards. Numbers on one side, correlating dots on the opposite side. Also a good way to learn colors. I printed these out, trimmed them up and covered them with contact paper. I could totally feel a little Kindergarten Teacher coming out in me when I was making these! :)
  • Bought a "movable alphabet" of sorts. These are foam letters I got from Michael's with my 40% off coupon. Much cheaper that the real Montessori thing and I think they work just as well. So far I've only sorted out one set of letters. I plan to do more.
Sorry, today's post was pretty wordy! If anyone out there has any other ideas to add to the discussion I would love to hear them!


Jada2929 said...

We've implemented a lot of these ideas in our house too. I like the book a lot.

We also like doing transfer and pouring work.

A nature tray is a simple thing to have around as well!

This is a fun work activity as well.

Jada2929 said...

Oh, I forgot something! For a pre-reader, using photo labels will help them know how to put their own things away. I can find the link to the website where I was able to print these labels for free if you'd like!

Amy Jo said...

What great ideas...tidyness always makes me feel/think better!

Mary Ann said...

Have Miss S help with clean up, too! We incorporated that into C's daily routine early on, and she still keeps up with tidyness at 10.

Raesha D said...

My Miss S had a mat when she used to go a Montessori school - I loved that school!

amandajean said...

what great ideas! I love the scrap jar idea a lot...I might have to use that one, too.

I had some of that brown paisley fabric for curtains in my house in michigan. yay for mill end!

happy birthday!!!!!! I hope you have a fantastic day!

Vallen said...

I admire your mothering skills. Maybe you could be a teacher - whatya think? There is always a shortage of great ones and you'd be a great one.

Hip Mama Crafts said...

Happy Birthday Roxanne! I hope you have a great day! Thanks for the organizing post :)I really need it!

Frogdancer said...

Happy birthday!!

(From Australia. See? You're becoming more International already!)

Hope you have a great day.

Linda said...

A little birdie told me it was your birthday, so I thought I'd stop by and wish you a very happy one!

Felicia said...

Sounds like a fabulous book. Hope you have an awesome birthday :)

Amy Jo said...

Happy Birthday, Roxanne! Have a great day ! :-)

Em said...

Happy Birthday! Great job on starting Montessori stuff at home! My daughter goes to a Montessori School, and I love it! I have implemented several things into my house as well... maybe I'll post on that sometime soon! I hope you have a great day! Em

Danetta said...

I heard it was your birthday, hope it is a great one!

Anonymous said...

Hyvää syntymäpäivää from Finland !
Happy birthday.............Maritta

G'G'ma said...

Heard that it is your birthday today. Happy Happy Birthday.

It is mine too. I've had very many birthdays!! Today has started out great, gifts, phone calls, and an invitation to a favorite Italian restaurant for a gorgonzola pizza that I just love. Life is good.