A favourite saying of mine and something I truly believe in. ‘Busy hands are happy hands.’ When the hands and fingers of a child are occupied, they are almost always happy. Happy and content and fully engaged in an activity.
Maria Montessori said “He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence”. (The Absorbent Mind, p25).
Now, when I talk about busy hands, my meaning is far from saying children need to be constantly fidgeting with their hands. You do not need to jump on the latest fidget spinner craze.
It’s more about children being interested and engaged in what they are doing when their hands are leading the way. Need some time to get a few things done at home? Here’s a few ideas, which take moments to set up, yet provide plenty of playtime as well as development opportunity.
Let the hands lead the way
Touching, feeling textures, doing, making, drawing, creating, building, pouring, and transferring. There are so many ways to entertain children along this line of play, whilst developing key skills.
-Pouring using two small jugs.
-Transferring dried pasta from one bowl to another bowl.
-Sand and kinetic sand play.
-Play-dough with animals and shape cutters.
-Take a tub of water. Provide cups, jugs, spoons, twigs, shells and your little person will be lost in exploration for ages, learning about how water flows, whilst building coordination skills.
-A cheap large plastic square low container is ideal for this type of play.
-Very young children love plastic coloured balls in the water, which is a great way to develop co-ordination skills, as well as language skills like’ ball’, and naming the colours of the balls.
-This tray can then also be used for sand play, and small world role-play.
Sensory play is phenomenal in engaging children.
-At Busy Bumblebees Montessori in Camden we use sensory play every day to learn to count and gain early awareness of letter shapes.
-Children form number shapes with play dough numbers and letter cutter sets.
-They also work with sandpaper numbers and letters, which through touch helps build muscle memory, aiding writing skills later on.
-Washing foam and plastic letter shapes in the water tub is another fun way to blend play with sensorial learning of the alphabet.
Out and about
There’s lots of free activities in the local area that children and parents can join, with plenty of drop-in sessions to choose from. So get out there and find out what’s on.
About our Montessori methods
Montessori loves to teach children through their senses and the Montessori method uses materials that follow the natural physiological and physical development of the child. Motor education, sensory education and language are the key areas, all of which can be built upon by exploration activities such as those suggested above. Children learn the principles of motor education via the care and the management of the Montessori environment. The sensory education in a Montessori environment is filled with many didactic materials that educate the child’s senses. There are also many Montessori materials that encourage and develop language skills including the sandpaper letters, and Montessori language boxes.
These types of activities keep children’s hands busy and are perfect for developing fine motor skills and concentration. Above all, the children become fully absorbed in what they do. They are content and happily achieving. Busy hands are happy hands.
Sensory learning activity ideas for letter awareness
If you are in Central London and fancy learning more about Montessori techniques to use with your child, Busy Bumblebees Montessori offers a weekly Preschool Nursery Drop-In session during term time. For more information contact Dorothy at firstname.lastname@example.org.