Montessori Minute ~ A Preschooler’s Guide to Home Improvement

Montessori-Minute1

Going to the home improvement store with your folks?

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Thinking you’ll be bored stiff by all that grownup stuff you can’t touch? Don’t be so sure. There might be things for you to look-touch-smell-hear-see. There may even be something to put in the cart to make you a big helper when you get home!

This store is huge, enormous, gigantic! How many steps did it take to get to the door? When you get there, turn around and see if you can see your car in the lot. Did you count the barbeque grills lined up out front? Where is the hot dog smell coming from? I could sure use a cold drink on a hot day like today.

Let’s get inside. Be sure to say hi to the person in the apron, they work here. If you get lost, go to one of these people for help. Now, steer Mom or Dad to the paint department. Wow, check out the colors!

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Mom can tell you their names. You can take sample cards home for free! Get a couple each of the Primary Colors: red, yellow, blue, and the Secondary Colors: orange, purple, and green; and also get black, white, brown, pink – oh, just throw a bunch in! You can match the colors up at home. Ask Mom to make you name cards you can match to the colors. Get some with shades of one color, cut them apart, and line them up darkest to lightest (see the Montessori Minute Sensory post).

A paint roller and sandpaper make a great rough vs soft experience. If your family has a painting project coming up, ask your folks to get you a small roller and a brush so you can help. Stop by the paint desk and I bet the man will give you a paint stir stick. Maybe he’ll be shaking up paints in their big loud machine!

See if they have a computer for seeing how different colors will look in the rooms of a house. This can be a lot of fun. Stand up in the cart if you have to but make sure you try this one out.

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Dad said the kitchen sink needs work? That means plumbing. No fun there. Wait, what are those things? They’re pieces of pipe! Get your folks to show you how ‘right is tight, left is loose’. You can make all kinds of different pipes and run marbles, rocks, or even water through them. Very cool. Just don’t drop one on your toes – these things are heavy!

imagePhotos courtesy of Buttercupbooks.com. Visit for a great post on this activity

 

I’ll bet you get tired of hearing “You’re not old enough yet” when you want to help out around the house, right? It sure would be nice to be able to do something important. Guess what – they have things here to help you do just that! Here are a few:

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You probably have a bunch of batteries lying around your house, right? Who knows if they have any electricity in them anymore? With a simple battery tester like the one in the picture, you can be in charge of testing them to see! Keep the good ones in a box. Do you know the names of the sizes of batteries? Get some and put some AAA, AA, C, D, & 9 volt batteries in the mystery bag so you can learn to identify them by feel. You could even trace their bottom ends on paper.

When you get home, have your folks show you how to change the batteries in the TV remote and in your toys. Now you can be the In-Charge-of-Batteries Person!

That thing that looks like a funny metal pencil is a tire gauge.

imageIt tells you how much air is in a tire. Have your folks show you how to press it onto the air valve and watch the ruler pop out the end! Read the number to see how much air is in the tire. Find where it says on the tire how much air to put in.

It also has 4 little plastic valve caps. These screw onto the air valve on each tire. Those little caps keep dirt and water from ruining the air valves. It is super important to keep the right amount of air in each tire and keep the same amount of air in all the tires. Stop by a gas station with an air pump on your way home and see if any of your car’s tires need air, and if they all have their air valve caps. Now you can remind your folks to do this. You are becoming indispensable!

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Say, how tall are you now? Do you have a doorway or wall marked with your height as you have grown taller? I bet your folks use a tape measure to see how tall you are. See if you could get one of your own. The one in the picture only costs $2.25.

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I bet you have these in your house:

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Do you want to feel like Superman or Superwoman? Get a pack of these:

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Have you made it to the Hardware section yet? There are some cool things waiting for you. Ask the man who works there where the Hex Cap Screws are. Find one each in these sizes:

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You can do all kinds of cool things with the washers besides, of course, counting them:

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Also in the Hardware section (but tell Mom you might find this stuff cheaper at Walmart) you can find all kinds of cool locks, links, and snaps. When you get home, you could combine these with a bag of some kind that has zippers, snaps, and Velcro to make a great fasteners activity:

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When you go by the area with all the doors and windows, practice opening and closing a few. Make sure your parent is right there keeping things under control! In another area there are sample window blinds to try – go slow and be careful. The kitchen area has all kinds of doors to open and close.

Did you go by the tools yet? Have Mom or Dad show you all the sharp, dangerous points and edges that are all over the place there. Drill bits, saws, blades, knives, pointy tools – danger everywhere! They will cut off your finger as easily as they cut wood. You have to learn how to use these and sorry – you’re not old enough yet. It won’t be long, though!

While you’re near the Lumber section – where all the wood is – find a bottle of this stuff:

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Wait, your folks are getting ready to leave and you haven’t been to the Garden section yet? Steer them over there. This place is ultra-cool!

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Do you have a garden? If not, create one. Even a small garden is a fantastic source of experiences in biology, horticulture, and growing good things to eat. Some big words there but you’ll get the idea soon enough. Gardens rock. You might even learn to like vegetables!

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While you’re here, get something to keep your cool new tools and gadgets in:

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Project: Montessori Mini Red Rods

Did your Mom say that the Montessori Red Rods were too big for your room and too expensive? While we are here, we can get what we need to make your own set of Mini-Red Rods. This is a pretty simple project. Let’s make a list of what we’ll need: image

  • 3 – 5/8 X 36” Poplar Square crafts rods (or any rectangular crafts wood rods, poplar cuts & sands easily)
  • 100 grit sandpaper
  • Workbench & handsaw
  • Pencil, ruler, tape measure
  • Red paint
  • Small paint brush
  1. Mark off rods in 1” increments, so you end up with ten rods. The first is 1” long, the second 2”, etc., up to the longest which is 10” long. Draw your pencil lines straight and cut exactly on the outside of each line. That will maintain size consistency. Poplar cuts easily. Wear safety glasses. Hold the rods firmly against something solid while you cut, or get a cheap plastic miter box & saw combo. You will find many uses for this.
  2. Sand the edges to remove any splinters. Sand the ends flat but don’t take too much wood off. Sand the faces of each rod with the grain. Your rods should look like the left photo below.
  3. Paint all surfaces red (or another color if you like).

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“Education is a natural process carried out by the child, and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” Maria Montessori

“Little children, from the moment they are weaned, are making their way toward independence.” Maria Montessori

“Help me do it myself.” A child to Maria Montessori

To all you great parents:

Bringing Practical Life skills, Sensory experiences, Science, Language, Numbers, and more into your child’s life just requires remembering to do it, taking the time, and choosing activities that fit your child’s current abilities. Montessori is as much an attitude of respect for the child and helping children learn as it is brick and mortar Montessori schools. Experiences like these in a child’s formative years create strong, efficient brain architecture and a positive, confident self-image: the two main goals of early learning.

 

The world can be your child’s Montessori school!

John Bowman is the author of Montessori At Home! and Help Your Preschooler Build a Better Brain. His website is at www.montessoriathomebook.com. Email: [email protected]

This article, others, and many new activities are included in the upcoming revised edition of Montessori At Home! Parents purchasing the original ebook will also receive the revised edition as soon as it is available, supplements with free materials, and the monthly email newsletter, all free. A new web site is in the works, too.


My thanks to John for writing this extensive article for us here at 1+1+1=1! I invite you to ask him any questions you may have in the comments below and he can hopefully answer them for you. If you have an article you hope he will write for us in the future, please let us know in the comments also!

Mr. Bowman has lowered the price of the Montessori at Home! eBook on his site too! The eBook was priced at $9.95 {and well worth that!} but he has decided to lower the regular price to $7.95 so more people can have access to it!

Did you miss earlier Montessori Minute Posts?