Animal match activity and a short introduction to the Montessori method
For the last year I have been looking into the Montessori method, a holistic approach to education that aims to develop the whole child. I am no expert and still have a lot to learn but I aspire to use this approach more in our day to day life.
Maria Montessori was the first female doctor in Italy and spent a lot of time observing children to find out how they learn and how educators could help them to reach their full potential. She established schools in Rome for disadvantaged children and this became an opportunity for her to develop her method of teaching. This method is now known throughout the world and many are realising the benefits of a method that recognises the importance of self-motivation and independence in learning. Montessori saw the ages of birth to six years as a critical period for learning where children have the greatest capacity for learning.
Both my children are in this critical period of learning at the moment and I realise the important of giving them opportunities for learning everyday and everywhere. Montessori talks about setting up activities for children to do on trays. I like this idea as it keeps the activity contained (most of the time) and gives the children a manageable area to work in. Ideally, trays should be set up and available for children to use at any time they wish. However, my children have not yet mastered the skills of tidying up (something we are working on but really difficult with a toddler!) so I don't normally leave things out for too long. I usually set up these activities on trays when I know we have a bit of free time.
I love the way Montessori promotes independence in young children, suggesting they learn practical life skills with activities which can be set up on trays. Practical life trays can include activities such as peeling carrots, polishing mirrors and scooping and pouring. However, I also like to make activity trays for a wide range of activities.
This activity is one I have seen a few times on various websites. I have packs of animals cards and a variety of little animal figures so it only took a few minutes to set up. I set up 2 different trays, one for D and one for R. The aim of the activity is to match the 3D figure to the 2D picture.
This activity helps to develop a number of important skills. When children do an activity like this, it enables them to understand the picture is a representation of a real object. This skill is termed symbolic representation. As you can see, the pictures here are not exactly the same as the real objects (they are not photographs). This tests the child's ability to think about the distinct features which the object and picture share. It is a way of testing their reasoning skills as well as building their knowledge of different categories. Visual discrimination skills are also needed for this kind of activity. So many benefits to what would, at first, seem like such a simple activity!