You can turn many Valentine’s Day craft ideas into Montessori-oriented activities. Not only will your child have a chance to repeat the activity as often as he or she wishes, but you will give your child extra opportunities to develop important skills.
Giving your child a chance to repeat activities is especially important when your child is working to meet the needs of a sensitive period. By turning a craft into a Montessori activity, you will help your child meet his or her needs for a particular sensitive period at the same time.
I used Montessori principles to convert a simple pipe-cleaner-and-bead heart craft into the Montessori-oriented activity in the photo at the top of the post. To prepare the activity, I used a tray, pipe cleaners, and beads from a hobby store and heart-shaped dishes from the Valentine’s Day section at the supermarket. The dishes wouldn’t have to be heart-shaped, but the heart-shaped dishes do add to the interest and seasonal appeal of the activity.
There are many ways you can prepare the activity to include color sorting or shape sorting, depending on which beads you want to use for the activity. The activity is especially helpful in developing fine-motor coordination along with a sense of order and concentration if you allow your child to work with the activity as long as he or she chooses.
If your child wants to make a number of pipe-cleaner-and-bead hearts, he or she can make Valentine’s Day Hanging Hearts from 4 Crazy Kings. You could always hang one or more hearts in the window or hang small hearts from a Valentine tree.
Here are some Montessori techniques you’ll find helpful in creating Montessori activities from craft ideas:
- Use a tray for the activity.
- Think about the practical-life skills of the activity. If your child is working with a tool such as a stapler or scissors, it’s best if your child has had experience working with the tool previously.
- Place all the materials needed for the activity on the tray (unless certain materials, such as crayons or markers for an activity, are always in a central place near the tray).
- Arrange the materials as attractively as possible and in left-to-right order wherever possible. Materials on trays and shelves in Montessori education are placed in left-to-right order as an indirect preparation for reading and writing.
- Show your child how to use the activity, focusing on points of interest (such as carefully folding the pipe cleaner in half and twisting to make a loop before threading the beads – see Valentine’s Day Hanging Hearts). Use the Montessori technique of analysis of movement, or breaking the movements down into clear steps, when demonstrating a skill. Individualize your demonstration according to your child’s age and ability. For an older child, you could even leave written instructions.
- You can just show the beginning of the activity (for example, with the pipe-cleaner-and-bead heart activity). It’s often best to avoid leaving a model so that your child doesn’t try to copy your example but feels comfortable with his or her own creation. Your child can ask you for help if he or she has difficulty with a step of the activity, such as twisting the pipe cleaner to finish the heart.
- Store the tray on a low shelf, so your child can independently choose to work with the activity.
- Allow your child to use the activity as often as your child wants, making sure your child cleans up the activity and returns the tray to the shelf after finishing.
- In a Montessori classroom, one child uses an activity at a time unless he or she invites another child to do the activity at the same time. That allows children to develop concentration by working on an activity without interruption and teaches them to take turns. When I had a Montessori school, a new art activity often had a number of children working together, so it typically was a social experience anyway.
UPDATE: This craft was featured in The Heart Project. Follow the link to find out how to get your copy of this beautiful book, which is raising funds for the American Heart Association.
Here are links to a few other Valentine’s Day crafts that can easily be turned into Montessori-oriented activities:
Heart Paper Chains (great cutting practice) from 4 Crazy Kings
Valentine’s Day Heart Bag from memetales
Valentine Heart Pouches from Zakka Life
Hearts from Paper Strips from Paper Crafts
Paper and Wire Hearts from Crafty Staci (a more advanced extension of Hearts from Paper Strips)
Have fun creating Montessori-oriented activities from Valentine’s Day crafts!