I have seen this activity on Pinterest and on many other blogs, so I can in no way, shape, or form take credit for this. But I had always imagined it as an activity for older toddlers, at least 18 months or so.
My son will be 13 months in just a few days. I wouldn’t have even introduced this activity, but I already happened to be using masking tape for another activity in his room and he just seemed SO fascinated by it. I figured, why not?
The best part is that this took about 45 seconds to throw together. Yes, it was that fast! His hands were on it before I had even set the tray all the way down.
He didn’t really peel the tape off in a careful Montessori fashion, so much as pull it off with each little animal. But he did somewhat peel the tape off of the animals after removing them from the tray.
As a Montessori mom and teacher, I am allfor simple, quickly-put-together activities that promote engagement, concentration, and fine motor skill development. He liked this activity so much we did it again a second time!
This activity was a 10/10. Simple, fun and educational – which if you ask me, is the trifecta. The wide masking tape was perfect for his little 13-month-old fingers. To make it more challenging for older toddlers, you could use thinner, stickier tape, and smaller toys or figurines. The farm animals I used are pretty chunky and were easy for him to just pull right off.
If you’re looking for some fun toddler playtime activities, I definitely recommend that you try this out!
It is absolutely mind-boggling to me how twenty-something years from now, children will look back on this time we are living through and learn about it from a textbook. 2020 is the year the world (almost completely) shut down. Never in my life did I think we would be in a situation in which children would not even be able to go to school. Public schools and universities easily and quickly adapted to an online learning system in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis.
But how do you take a method so profoundly attached to its physical materials, and adapt it to a virtual learning format?
After two months of doing just this, here are the tools I have found to be the most valuable, each of which I will expand upon below.
Printables, printables, printables
The involved parent
Virtual “face to face” communication
Many of the teachers in my school elected to have weekly/biweekly Zoom meetings with their class. But here’s the thing – Zoom meetings are like having to be somewhere in person at a specific time. If you don’t make it, you miss the meeting! Zoom meetings are great for special meetings and communications, but I have personally found sending a YouTube video lesson each day of the week to be much more practical.
I have a one year old, which means my work schedule is very much dictated by his schedule. The director of my school is my boss, but my son is MY BOSS. There is no way I can commit to being available at exactly 9:30 am, uninterrupted, Monday-Friday for a virtual meeting. If I have this conflict, I 100% guarantee many of the parents in my class (who also have young children) feel exactly the same way.
I am an introvert. I have never been comfortable speaking on camera or in front of an audience, and this was a big hiccup I had to surmount in the first weeks of distance learning. I filmed and refilmed, and stopped and restarted my first few videos at least ten times each. But I adapted and got more comfortable with just talking to the camera as if it was one of my students.
My biggest trick in overcoming this is having the camera directed AT THE LESSON (instead of my face) during the actual presentation. This puts more focus on the materials and takes the pressure away from making sure my face doesn’t look weird during the presentation process. But then I make sure to film an intro/outro to each lesson. At the end of the day, the children just want to see you. They don’t care what you are wearing or if you have perfect makeup.
And my philosophy is that even if the parents aren’t able to actually print and complete the lessons, if the child at the very minimum watches the videos I send each day, they get to feel connected to me and at least have exposure to the concepts that I am teaching.
YouTube Tips At a Glance:
Direct camera at the materials while presenting lesson
Make sure that materials are all in the frame and not cut off at the top
Show your face, smile, and say hello during intro and outro of video
Make sure you wear an appropriate shirt (chest covered, no see-through, BEWARE OF WHITE)
Put on minimum makeup, at least blush and mascara to give your face some color. I promise it makes a huge difference on camera!
Film during the daytime for best lighting
Always film horizontally!
Keep videos less than 10 minutes
Printables, Printables, Printables
While parents won’t have access to the physical Montessori materials, the next best thing is to send them printable card materials to work with. Think: 3-part cards, nomenclature, vocabulary, cultural materials, rhyming, opposites, numerals, quantities. Consider anything that can be connected to the Montessori materials and taught with a printable material.
There are loads of great materials out there on the internet. If you search for something, you will find it. And if not, it is super easy to make your own cards on Microsoft Word. I have chosen to make many of my own materials, simply because I enjoy it and plan to use them in my classroom when this whole thing blows over and we are able to return to school. You can check out many of the materials I’ve made HERE! They are all under $2.00!
If you make your own printables on Microsoft Word, make sure to save them as a PDF and send them to the parents through email as a PDF. This prevents formatting errors when the parents print them.
The Involved Parent
I am going to be honest. This one is extremely important, and also extremely out of your control. Many of your parents (like me) are going to be busy working from home and will not have time to implement many of the materials you send. As I mentioned above, if their child is at the very least able to watch the videos you send, they will be exposed to the information.
However, if you are lucky (again, like me) and have a parent that is able to devote time to communicating with you and implementing the lessons and materials, that child is going to receive the best quality education possible under these circumstances. I have one parent that spends every morning working with her two children. She very closely mimics the Montessori work cycle schedule, and also implements a quiet work time for her older child in the afternoon while the toddler naps.
This mom is committed to bringing the Montessori method home and actually executes it very effectively. I think she enjoys creating materials almost as much as I do, and has made some beautiful lessons for her daughters!
Again, very few of your parents will be able to devote time to distance learning in this way. But if you do have an involved parent like this, it is extraordinarily fulfilling to be able to guide that parent, answer their questions, and know that you are both working together to continue to cultivate the child’s love of learning.
Virtual “Face to Face” Communication
As a teacher, one of your most powerful devices is the frequent, open, and face to face communication you share with the parents on a daily basis. The more this communication occurs, the more trust the parents place in you to care for and educate their children.
Even something as simple as, “Yesterday ____ really enjoyed practicing the short vowel words!” gives the parent information about what their child has been working on. It shows that you are tuned in to their child, and it shows that you take the initiative to let the parent know what is going on before they even have to ask.
The problem with distance learning is the complete lack of face to face communication. When all communication is done via email and YouTube videos, this personal connection can easily fall through the cracks. I have found that making the effort to find ways to connect “face to face” via FaceTime and Zoom has done wonders in reinforcing the trust and emotional bank accounts that had already been built up with my students and their families.
We conducted our Spring parent-teacher conferences via Zoom, about 5 weeks into the quarantine. It was a little awkward having not actually seen their children in the classroom for over a month, and challenging not to be able to reference the materials in regards to academic progress. But it worked. The parents’ questions and concerns were pacified, and we were able to make sure we were all on the same page in order to move forward as a team.
I do not have any kindergarteners this year, but my oldest student is 4.5 years old. As such, she is already beyond many of the lessons I send out at the class level. I have to make sure they are doable by all my students, even the younger ones, so I have worked with her mom to create individualized lesson plans tailored to her academic level. This mom also happens to be the involved parent I mentioned above. We have a FaceTime call every Tuesday morning and her mom has mentioned to me how much the daughter enjoys getting to speak with me.
I may not be able to teach her in person yet, but we are still working together to move forward in the curriculum as best we can. Her mom sees that I devote time specifically to create materials for her daughter, and that I take time to answer ALL of her email questions, no matter how long and multifaceted they are.
It truly is not feasible to create an online only Montessori educational system. But there certainly are many ways to continue to bring the Montessori spirit into the home for these parents and their children. More than ever, these parents need to know that we are here to support them. And at the end of the day, when all of this passes and life goes back to normal, we will still be there waiting for their children with open arms.
I had only gone back to work in January, when the onset of this COVID-19 crisis threw the whole world off track. After three months, I had finally gotten adjusted to the routine of dropping baby off at daycare in the morning (sidenote – he won’t be old enough to attend my Montessori school until he is 18 months), going to work, and picking him up around 4:00. I liked our routine. I liked being with my primary students during the day, and disconnecting to be mommy in the afternoons and evenings.
But when all the schools began closing, I kind of found myself on both sides of the coin. I am still fulfilling that role as Montessori guide to my students (and their parents!) from a distance, while also finding myself responsible, again, for the full time care of my one-year-old. These dual responsibilities have become a delicate balancing act, as my husband is still working full time from home, occupied with phone/emails from about 8:30 am until 4:30 pm.
I have to fit my lesson planning, YouTube filming, email sending, around this schedule. In between I am navigating the world of integrating Montessori into my son’s life. He is just on the cusp of toddlerhood, still skirting the line between infancy and an ever-developing independence. I won’t lie, this is a fun and wholly adorable age. Just before his first birthday a week ago, I noticed he was bored with many of his toys, and began scrambling to create some Montessori-esque activities for him, on a budget and with limited resources available. (Post on this to come).
Anyways, I have had so much fun introducing him to Montessori activities, and I L-O-V-E to create materials for my primary students as well. This whole distance learning thing has forced me to get creative with lesson planning. I have had to get out of my comfort zone and onto the camera. I already have weeks worth of YouTube lessons that I have sent to my families. So I figured, why not merge these two Montessori lanes into one?
This site is my platform for sharing lessons, materials, and ideas for the 3 to 6 year old, as well as the Montessori activities that I am currently doing with my one-year-old.
So there you have it. The above statement is my reason for creating this site. Essentially I want to share my passions with the world, and possibly connect with others who share and appreciate those same passions. In this socially distant world in which we find ourselves living, the importance of connecting with others in the online realm has never been more important or relevant.
I hope you enjoy the content that I share here, and hope to inspire and be inspired by the others who visit this site.