Summertime is the perfect time for outdoor projects. Maria Montessori believed that young children ought to be engaged in meaningful work using their hands. If you cannot join one of our summer camps offered this year, here are some of the activities you can do with children.
Providing simple materials (water, objects for floating, sinking, or mixing, colored dye, etc) allows children to explore. Woodworking is a great way to introduce and isolate skills one step at a time while creating meaningful work that will be enjoyed for years to come.
Using real, child-size tools and materials will engage your young child. Using real tools, not play or pretend ones, lets them know that they are working just as an adult. It doesn’t negate their experience by putting it into the realm of make-believe. Real tools also teach respect and responsibility. They are not to be handled carelessly, but cautiously and carefully.
Children can have their own space in a garden or pots on a balcony to raise plants. They can also help build bird feeders or baths and observe the birds that come. They are capable of building and creating with cardboard or wood and screws.
Build vocabulary with books. Children can read books independently at their level or higher level books with an adult, an older sibling. Practice sounding out words using the Sound Game (“I spy something that starts with __ and ends with __.” This can be done at home or anywhere- on a car trip, running errands, or exploring the outdoors. Build handwriting skills through coloring activities and writing practice. Allow children to choose their own topics to keep writing joyful, rather than forced.
Developing a child’s creative mind not only gives them tools to express their emotions and ideas, but also helps build problem-solving skills. Imaginative play helps the child’s mind to solidify what it has learned and to play through different situations and different possible outcomes. Creativity can be expressed artistically through indoor and outdoor art areas with paint, colored pencils, chalk and chalkboards, bubbles, sewing materials or playdough. Children can sew or create their own puppets, sets, and create their own stories. Children can create their own obstacle courses and scavenger hunts in the backyard- all they need are the materials, the time, and freedom to explore!
You will notice that many of these involve the child’s body and hands, as well as their mind. During this age, children are capable of learning complex concepts through their direct experience. Even if we do not sit down and explain the physics behind what they experience dropping different objects into water, the child’s experience will help them understand this concept when they study it in school down the road.