5 Montessori Activties for Pre-School Children
It’s that time of the year, with the long vacation for children and those visits to school yet again, called summer school. So how do we make this time count for the children? If you are tired of the worksheets and drills and you also want the children to be inspired and motivated then activities might work for you. Today we will talk about a few activities you can do to spice up your Mathematics stations lessons.
Why mathematics you may ask? Well something happened a few months ago and this got me thinking about what may help during summer school. Let me tell you what happened: a few months ago a lady brought her daughter, Ronke, to the school and wanted us to put her in a class that would move the child to Primary 1 (Grade 1) next session. I talked to the child a bit, made her feel comfortable and then proceeded to ask her to pass me some objects on my table. Her mum said she could count from 1 to 250 comfortably she was just 4 years old.
“Ronke, can you give me 4 pencils please?” I asked. There was a stack of 10 pencils in a pencil holder on the desk right in front of her. She counted and counted and gave me 7 pencils.
“Thank you, so much Ronke” I said
“Can you give me two erasers please?”, she handed me three erasers instead.
“Thank you very much”, I said yet again and then got a Class Assistant Teacher to take her out to join in with the other children playing outside in the playground area. It was break-time. I wanted to have a serious talk with mum, but did not want her there.
Mum was not happy when I proceeded to inform her that Ronke was definitely not ready for Primary 1, neither would we be able to get her ready for it within the time frame we had left till the end of term. Luckily I added, Ronke was too young anyway, so it would be better for her to stay in Nursery 2 then go to Nursery 3 the following session, while we start working on helping her to understand the numbers she was able to recite so well!
I’ve seen this over and over again, children have a great capacity to memorize a lot of stuff, but please do not mistake this gift for a true understanding of what ever information they are able to learn by rote
So how do we get the children to learn and understand during the summer long vacation? Here are some activities, we used to help Ronke and I hope you will find that they would help you also along the way.
- For children who need Counting exercises, count fingers,toes and objects around the class and school. Give them sets of objects to count. Assess what the child knows, consolidate and build upon their knowledge. The objective here is to encourage one on one correlation when counting. It is the first skill a child needs in order to succeed in Mathematics. (If Ronke had this skill, she would have been able to give me the correct number of pencils and erasers she was asked for.)
- For children who can count properly, confirm their ability to recognize the numbers correctly and then get them to match object sets to the numbers
- Understanding the concept of zero. You can use 6 similar objects to explain zero. You will also need the numerals 0 to 3 cut out or written on cardboard paper. Set out your objects counting 1 -3 in sets and then placing your figures underneath the corresponding set with the zero to the left of the 1 with nothing above it. Point to the 1 and say “This is 1. How many pencils do we have here?” Let the child/ children answer, point to the numeral 2 ands ay “Here is 2. How many pencils do we have?” get the to anwer or ask just one of the children to answer, and to the numeral 3 and say “This is 3. How many pencils can you count here? Let them anawer, “We have 3 pencils here”. Now point to the zero, that is the numeral ‘0’ and say “This is zero.how many pencils do we have here?” The answer they give should be “None, zero means none, nothing!” Then pointing to the empty space on the left you count “Zero, One, One Two, One Two Three” Always allow lots of time for repetition so that the concept has time to stick in their minds.
- Play the Zero Game, children love this and it helps to consolidate their ability to count and remember that the number zero means nothing. If a child understands this then a lot of arithmetic missunderstandings would be avoided! For example a lot of people sometimes think 0 x 3 = 3, but if you think “nothing three times” then your answer would be “nothing, that is zero”. So how do we play this zero game? You will need sheets of papers with numbers written on them from 0 to 9, folded and placed in a basket. Prior to the class place different obects is sets of 1-9 around the classroom. Get each child to pick a folded piece of paper, check what is written on it and find the correct set of objects, the child with zero would be tempted to join in searching until they remember that zero means nothing. It’s fun, there is movement and we are reinforcing important maths concepts.
- Simple Word Problems, I am always amazed at how quickly children can add and subtract in their minds once they can coundt correctly. Ask them questions like, “Mummy gave you two sweets in the afternoon and one more after lunch, how many sweets did you have all together?” or ‘I like fruits and I ate 1 bannana at breakfast and 2 apples for lunch, how many fruits did I eat?” or “Daddy bought 4 toys, he gave you one, how many are left?” You can use objects in the environment to represent the numbers and let them use these to solve the problems posed, very soon the children will be posing their own questions and answering them. It is a process, one skill gained becomes a concept understood.
Have a great summer school, and even if you are home with the kids I am sure these activities will give you lots of practice and fun-time doing Mathematics the Montessori Way.