Annie's Montessori-style Quilted Numbers
I didn't do much sewing for Christmas this year, but did make two sets of quilted numbers for granddaughter Annie and my little niece, Audrey. This idea comes from Growing Up Sew Liberated!: Making Handmade Clothes and Projects for Your Creative Child by Meg McElwee. Basically you make little quilted numbers that can be used similar to the Montessori sand numbers. The numbers can be clipped onto clothespins which are glued on either a branch (Annie's here) or a dowel rod (Audrey's.) The branch or dowel then hangs from a ribbon.
You can use the Montessori "Three Period" method to playfully teach numbers as follows:
Montessori Three Period Lesson
1. First Period: Naming - "This is..."
Have your child choose a few numbers to work with on a flat surface (mat, table, etc.) Name them repeatedly: "This is 3, 3, 3." Trace with your finger and encourage your child to do so as well. Identify each of the numbers several times. Put numbers away for another day.
2. Second Period: Association/Recognition - "Show me..."
This is where you have some fun! You can ask your child to hand you the three, put the six under the table, or trace the seven, or put the four next to the front door. Be creative and playful.
Work with these first two periods until you are pretty certain your child can recognize and identify the numbers by name. Then you're ready for the final period.
3. Third Period: Recall - "What is this?"
After playing around in the second period, ask your child, "What is this?" and see if he can remember the correct number name. If not, don't say anything, just continue with the first two periods for a while longer. He'll get it before long!
This "Three Periods" idea works to introduce and teach all kinds of concepts to preschoolers. It's a powerful tool, and fun as well. You can also play other games with the numbers such as "Knock, Knock" in which you place several or all of the numbers face down. The child "knocks" on the back of a number and asks, "Knock, knock, who's there?" Then turn over the number, trace, and say its name. Later, you can use the numbers to associate the symbol with quantity. Ask your child to pick a number and then have him jump (give hugs, take steps, etc.) that many times. Alternatively, you can put together a set of counters such as buttons, and use these to teach your child to count the correct number of objects for each number card. These ideas and more are found in Ms. McElween's fun book.