I continue to reflect on my classroom and evaluate how certain lessons and materials have maintained interest and whether or not they have been used in ways which are meant for optimum learning.  Some of my thoughts about the Language area are revealed in the post HERE about Sandpaper Letters and writing and in THIS POST about the Sand Tray.

Another area of the Language curriculum I have recently evaluated are the grammar lessons with Montessori Farm materials.  As much as I appreciate and admire the genius behind the lessons, I must admit that its use in my classroom is minimal, at best.  This is partly because the Language lessons with the farm materials are intended for children who are able to read and adhere to the given lessons using the corresponding boxes of labels and symbols.  These lessons introduce the child to Parts of Speech and the power of words.  This is typical work for the young five year old.  Herein lies the problem – the farm, the animals, the set-up, etc. all appeal to the young threes and fours!  Surely they cannot be expected to use the material with its intended purpose of introduction to Parts of Speech and grammar symbols. As a result, I’ve let the children proceed with using this material for exploration – sorting animals, playing Sound Games, integrating other Language materials with the farm.  Sometimes, I sensed that this became the “easy work” when a someone needed a break from other lessons (which is not inherently a “problem” as I recognize and consider the natural cycle of children’s work habits….)  Nevertheless, I feel that the Farm material for the young threes and fours in my classroom is in need of an option to make it a more self-directed activity.

As a result, I’ve rearranged the Farm materials and added a few points of interest.  This materials used to be set up on two shelves in the Language area of the classroom – this was fine until I also realized that two shelves is a lot of space for something which is not utilized all that often.  I’ve also always wanted the Farm to be set up at its own table rather than on the floor during lessons and on the shelves when not in use, so I thought of a way to solve these two problems at once:

Our new Farm Table (lined with stiffened felt) and a separate shelf underneath for the corresponding labels intended for grammar lessons.  The basket on the very bottom holds the animals for setting up on the table.

As far as making the Farm more self-directed for the youngest members of the class, I made a new set of Initial Farm Labels which the kids can match to the objects in the Farm.  I’ve included a picture of the object so that pre-readers can still complete the activity while beginning readers and readers can identify the word:

Initial Farm Labels  in use on the Farm Table…

…they are small so as not to take too much space in the set up.

I even made a little pond for the duck and goose!

Hopefully, with these changes and additions, the Montessori Farm materials can be explored with more self-direction by the youngest members of the class, yet remain true to the intended purpose the way Montessori designed the lessons.

The Farm Table in relation to the rest of the Language Area.

I’ve made the set of Initial Farm Labels available for my readers as a little thank you for your interest in keeping up with my blog!  You can find them on Scribd HERE.  This is the first time I’ve attempted to share documents, so please let me know if it works! 😉

Montessori Monday Link-Up

Montessori Monday