Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ace Schooling - Practical Skills

With 'Space Week' being such a huge success and Ace appreciating the one on one attention and focus on learning new things, I decided to push forward and create 'school' for Ace.    I have been following a lot of blogs that observe the Montessori Method and appreciate what that philosophy's objectives are.   The grossly over-generalized idea being that it's 'child led' education.    In Montessori 'classrooms' the activities, 'lessons', and objectives are all out for the child to choose which activity they'd like to engage in as they choose.   Parents/Teachers rotate these over the course of weeks or months depending on their personal preference.     Since Mae is now mobile and given our limited space here in Mississippi, I had to come up with a more contained but still 'Ace accessible' method - which ultimately became drawers with 'trays' or letter boxes in this case within those drawers that he would take out one at a time to engage in.   Then when he was completed with the task/activity he would put it back and get out another one.

The last two weeks of 'school' we have been focusing on 'practical skills' that  help practice Ace's fine motor skills and provide him with some instruction for things he sees on a regular basis.   The following are the trays and/or activities for the last two weeks. 
First up is his sensory tub for the month.  My plan is to spend one week on 'weather' - I have been slow moving on getting all of my science and educational materials in order and so we haven't officially had that week yet, but in light of that his sensory tub is based on 'weather'.  :)  Inside the box it has aquarium rocks of two shades of blue to represent the sky (unfortunately the dye comes off on your hands, so it's not as free to play with 'whenenver' this time around), square glass beads to represent hail/ice, white pom poms to represent clouds, snowflakes, a sun, rainbow, and pipe cleaners in the shape of lightening bolts.  Ace has enjoyed it - but it's not as big of a hit as the space themed one.

Pencil sharpening was one of his trays the first week of Practical Skills.  He took a little bit of trial and error to get his hands to work just right, but he did successfully sharpen the pencil over a few attempts. 

Pouring.  This is something he does very well with at first but then forgets after time to hold the cup and the mess is made.  No worries, he also learns the art of cleaning up when that happens and practice can only make perfect. So while he's pretty good at the onset of pouring the follow through still has some improvement to be had. 

Cutting.  A while back I posted about obtaining a kitchen and play food for the kids.  This garage sale find came with a TON of food and some of my favorite food was the kind that is velcroed together which allows to teach the idea of 'cutting' and thus one of Ace's trays this time. 

Tweezing. Another fine motor enhancement skill is the art of tweezing objects.   We as adults think nothing of doing this type of activity, but for little hands it takes a lot of concentrated effort.   Therefore, Ace's tray for this activity was to tweeze each of the 12 cotton balls into each of the spots and then back to the center.  When he began he had to use two hands, one to hold the cotton ball and place it just right so he could tweeze it, but as he went on he was able to do it with just one hand.   It was really need to observe the improvement!

Table Setting.   Another important life skill is simply 'how to set a table.'   We put a table cloth on his table (a yard of fabric I had nearby)  and I brought over the supplies.   I had him observe as I set one of the place settings and then he mimicked that and set the other one.    After the two place settings were properly in order, he and his tiger set down for some dinner and he poured them something to drink... and practiced cleaning up a spill as well.  :)  After they enjoyed dinner Ace learned how to clear the table as well.

Bead Threading & Pattern Matching.   Another tray of Ace's that in the second week replaced pencil sharpening was beads.   This was a fine motor skill along with pattern recognition and duplicating.   He had to lace beads onto the string to match the one that I had set up for him.  As the week progressed when he was doing this activity he himself would create the pattern and then tell me to match it.  :)  It was cute and a great example of him taking the initiative to go to his school boxes, take out a tray and execute the task unprompted.  

Art.  This past week we enjoyed doing an art project that involved stamping with pencil erasers.  Ace had a lot of fun with this unconventional tool and creating something out of nothing.   He made a dragon and what I find most successful is that this activity kept him still and focused for over 10 minutes!   I've been reading that for a three year old, if they concentrate for 3-4 minutes that's GREAT!  To not expect more than that - so it's always a thrill when he will focus on one task for longer. 

Overall, Ace's school time is going great.  It's a lot of fun to come up with new things for him to do and it's even more fun to get excited about doing them!  Learning in the process (right now) is just the added bonus. Weather week is still to come, as is our previously post poned Dr. Seuss week! 

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