I run a Family Childcare Home. It’s kind of my dream job. I’ve known I wanted to work with children since I was seven years old and would entertain the other kids at the pediatricians office. I was a nanny for years before I opened my home to kiddos. The only thing that could be better if I were able to open a Montessori Childcare Center, complete with open ended play, vegetable gardens, and chickens running around the backyard.
Maybe one day.
I’m really fortunate to have wonderful kids in my care, from great families. I’ve had them all for a long time, some since infancy, others since toddlerhood. But my babies are growing up, and four of my six Littles are in preschool this year.
It’s finally time to move a bit from the practical life skills, sensory immersion, and open ended play and introduce the preschool shelf.
Like most of my curriculum, and following a bit in Maria Montessori‘s footsteps, our preschool shelf is child-led. The kids decide if and when they want to do their “works”, and which work they decide on. It’s never forced, but it is encouraged when I am noticing a child who needs some quiet time to themselves. I change up the works as the children get bored, master one, or as a season or theme changes.
Today’s post is a sample of my current fall Preschool Shelf.
- The sensory box. I adore the clear plastic shoeboxes to store my sensory boxes in. You can read a little more about the value of sensory play Here. The fall box includes filler of oats, northern beans, and pinto beans. You may not see it but there is a wax scentsy cube in there which makes the whole thing smell lovely. The kids sort objects, run their fingers through. The sensory boxes are always a favorite.
I always include some sort of STEM works on the shelf. This one is number and counting matching. Not only is the child using counting skills, they are able self correct through counting the corresponding dots, see the number they are counting, and it works their fine motor skills- they have to clip the number pin to its matching leaf.
- Color gradient. The picture is fairly self explanatory. I simply cut up the free paint samples from the hardware store and got glued them on the clothes pins and he card stock. We have several colors that we trade out. The kids like it because it is quick and yet there is still a slight challenge to it.
I should probably apologize for this one. I have no artistry talent at all. It’s a fun felt Jack O’lantern. It’s great for shape recognition but also spatial awareness and studying facial features.
The children love the tracing works. They are so proud of their ability to independently write and trace the letters, but I think they enjoy erasing and marking just as much.
I also always offer a puzzle that gets changed out very regularly, and coloring books for some peaceful down time. The folded blanket on the bottom shelf is a signal to be other children that the child working needs some independent space and is not not to be disturbed. This gives my Littles some needed time to themselves, as they are frequently here 10+ hours a day and need some space to work independently.
When I first organized the preschool shelf a little over a month ago, we had a serious talk with the Littles. The Shelf is a big responsibility. The children are responsible for respecting the works. The items are not for free play, and each work must be put away before getting another work out. It took some adjusting the first week and a few gentle, firm reminders but the kids do great keeping the shelf organized and for them. It’s been a wonderful learning tool and has helped reiterate what they are already learning at school.
We’d love to hear from you! Do you have a preschool shelf set for your little ones this year?
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