1st April – some thoughts….🙂
I hope everyone is safe and keeping well. It is a very uncertain, strange and busy time right now for everyone and one thing’s for sure I do not think anyone expected us to be in this situation. With that being said, we just have to embrace the madness and unknown and do our best as a school community to adapt and get through it.
I am sure there are very busy households around the country at the minute with children being at home and some parents still attempting to work from home. Asking ourselves, questions like; “When is this going to end?”, “Am I doing enough with my son/daughter each day?”, “How am I going to keep them entertained for another couple of weeks?” and “How will I keep them entertained, work and do all the house work?” I, like many more, am in this predicament and this morning when I was hanging up clothes to dry, my mind went into overdrive. As I was hanging up the clothes, my ten-month-old daughter Grace continued to take out pieces of laundry and throw them in every direction. After picking up items for the third, fourth, fifth time, I realised that instead of trying to stop her and keep her away, I had to embrace it and let her join in. I was a far cry from the Montessori student I once was, studying about the importance of children carrying out practical life tasks.
I think we can become so concerned about what we are not doing with our children every day that we forget all the learning that is or can take place in our homes each and every day. There are so many learning opportunities in the simplest of daily tasks that must be completed anyways. For example, washing dishes after meals (also a lovely sensory experience), hoovering or sweeping, helping to prepare meals/snacks, organising laundry, loading the dishwasher, loading the washing machine, the list is endless. All of these tasks can be adapted to suit your child and would be a lovely addition to what you are already doing with your children and they may help you out too.
Although many people associate Montessori education with younger preschool aged children, Montessori practical life tasks are for all age groups. I have added some links in relation to Montessori education and the value of practical life exercises for students. I hope these links will be helpful to you and your family.
Take Care, Sinéad
http://ageofmontessori.org/the-beauty-power-in-doing-household-chores/ (The importance of practical life tasks)
http://www.montessoriworld.org/praclife/pltoc.html (There are some ideas here, they may not all be useful but some will)
https://sugarspiceandglitter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Montessori-Practical-Life-Checklist.pdf (A list of practical life activities at home)
31st March – Sensory Play with Spring Flowers
With the abundance of beautiful Spring flowers, why not have a little Spring flower sensory play! We had great fun exploring tulips, daisies, daffodils and a little water…we had a great time and learned that daisies do not taste good. @PDST_Hwellbeing @PDSTLiteracy #SpringTime https://t.co/VvJdMAXCWD
Hello from Sinéad!
I have decided to outline some general information, tips and activities that might be useful to you all in the coming days/weeks. They will be general ideas that involve preparing students for learning activities, movement break ideas and some sensory play and story ideas.
Readiness for learning: is so important for all students. If a student is not ready and fully regulated in order to start an activity, then there is no benefit in carrying out the activity. I created a “readiness for learning board” in my old classroom a couple of years back that gave us ideas of activities we could do with the students in order to prepare them for learning. I have found a wonderful resource online that outlines information on the proprioceptive and vestibular systems and some activities that you can do at home with your child.
This website also has lovely ideas for strategies according to all the senses.
Quiet time, meditation, mindfulness activities: As teacher Niamh has already said it is always nice to start the day with some nice meditation or quiet time. I think it gets everyone off to a good start and there is a lovely relaxed atmosphere created in which to learn. Some of our students are also very fond of a hand and/or foot massage during these quiet moments. Here are some links from youtube.com that I find nice and calming for students. There are some nice visuals too.
There are so many to choose from on youtube.com and you could choose some relaxing music with visuals that suit your child’s interests (farm, wildlife, Disney, etc.). There is also another website called https://www.gonoodle.com/ that has excellent quiet time/meditation resources.
Spring is really starting to appear all around us now too so another idea for a meditation/quiet time is to open up the back door into the garden/open the windows in your house and see what you can hear, see, smell and touch in your garden or close surrounding area with your child. If you gather some spring themed items (leaves, flowers, etc.) you could also do a nice relaxing spring sensory lesson with your child. Here is a link to some sensory bin ideas.
Even hiding some Spring themed objects and/or pictures in a tray of lentils or rice can be great fun for students.
Movement Breaks: are very important for students throughout the day. This (in the home setting) can range from a walking, running, marching, jumping, moving to another room to going out in the back or front garden for a run around. A movement break for wheelchair users may involve a positional change, floor time, sitting in a new seat (e.g. peapod), etc. It really varies from student to student the activity, frequency and length of movement breaks but you will know yourself. The one piece of advice I would give in relation to this is, if you find like you are getting nowhere with a task and/or your child has lost interest then have a quick movement break and try again later. Setting up a small obstacle course that is appropriate to your child’s needs and interests in your home may be a good option for you. I set one up in the classroom and the students loved it. There are many resources online in relation to movement breaks; these are some of my favourites.
Some movement break activity ideas:
https://twitter.com/jaybilly2/status/994279132291915776?lang=en (This is a good example of an obstacle course that could be used at home…even if it is a bit big).
Sensory Lessons: There are so many opportunities for language, maths, drama, music, science, geography and history when it comes to sensory lessons. I find that they are a great way of consolidating new ideas and concepts for students. I also think that some element of them will appeal to all students. I find that picking themes is the easiest way to develop some sensory play ideas. As I said previously, it may be a good idea to choose something that your child is interested in (e.g. the farm). Sensory play activities can involve any object, concept, theme or layout…the sky really is the limit.
I use sensory bins, which involves using a box/container of materials (sand, water, jelly, dried lentils or pasta, etc.) and putting different objects or pictures in that the child must find. You could then discuss, talk about, look at or just explore the items.
It is also possible to get objects according to a certain theme and just explore these objects. A good example of this would be a Spring flowers sensory lesson. You could get some flowers from your garden or around the local area and allow your child to explore them (smelling, touching, looking at, etc.). I have attached some links of nice sensory play ideas.
Bag Books and Sensory Stories: are a fabulous activity that I use regularly. Again, you can really follow your child’s lead when it comes to their interests and favourite authors. It does not have to be over complicated you can use everyday items to make different sounds and representational objects. Here is a link that gives very good advice about making your own sensory stories, the benefits of sensory stories and examples of some.
https://inclusiveteach.com/2019/07/13/blue-abyss-sensory-story/ (there are more links to follow on this page for more stories)
Here is the link to get the bag books.
I hope these ideas help you in some way.
For the remainder of 2o2o, Sinéad will be working with students in Sweetpea, Snowdrop, Lily, Daisy and Bluebell according to what they need.
Sinéad has huge experience in the area of SEN and is particularly skilled in the areas of positive behaviour support and early childhood literacy.