Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Red Rods & my new approach...

Part of my desire to loosen up our home Montessori was that I had been starting to feel like all of the (Montessori) learning & reading & thinking & making that I have been doing this year was kind of going to waste a little bit.

Because Lovely doesn't see anyone else using the Montessori materials he isn't too inclined to use them (often choosing hammering & other non-typical Montessori activities) & because our Montessori materials are kept in a closed cupboard (we typically start our workcycle by listening the a chime & then L can open the cupboard doors) & because I have tried to be quite particular about the use of the materials & because (I swear there won't be any more 'and because-s' in this sentence! ;) there hasn't been any specific time for Hug to work with us... a lot of our beautiful things have been pretty lonely.

Take the Red Rods that I made for example. Lovely worked really well with them when I first presented them but has *never* chosen to use them again! Hug saw them on the shelf (I've actually taken over the bottom shelves of a bookcase too - so some materials are visible now) & mentioned that he'd "done them" at his previous pre-school & showed no further interest. I had tried to inspire him by talking about the maze but he said he'd "done" that too.

But this morning... in my new spirit of relaxing the barriers & times & approach with Montessori, when we had done all of our morning tasks & we still had some time before Hug was being collected for school, I just quietly went & got out 2 floor mats & started to take the Red Rods off the shelf. Well, that certainly grabbed their attention! They *instantly* rushed over & began negotiating who could pick up the next rod. I took a moment to show Hug how I expected them to be held (one hand over each end) but that was my only instruction & I let them take over, showing them what I wanted to make - a shining sun! - with the smallest (natural) tower cube in the centre. I had had the idea in mind for a few days & in all honesty I would have been rather happy to make it all by myself but I was *thrilled* that the boys wanted to be involved!

After we had celebrated over the creation of our shining sun Lovely said that we must make the maze so I asked them to put the rods back on the shelf before we made something new. When they asked why I explained that it would help them to make the maze but I knew that it also reinforced the need to return work to the shelf when we have finished using it. Having returned all of the rods back to the shelf in order they proceeded to make the maze with only a little starting guidance and were thrilled with their results. We each took turns walking it while the rest of us watched on.

Next, I asked Hug to help me place the rods randomly on the rugs & asked whether they could build the maze when the rods were like this. They said no at first but after a little discussion decided that they could :)

During the construction of the second maze there were a few disagreements about who could place which rod (that metre long baby sure is popular around here it appears! ;) & when Lovely started trying to grab a rod off Hug I gently removed him to sit with me outside & left Hug to his own devises. He called out that he had finished the maze & then that he was going to do it again & then - when I realised what the time was & came in to ask him to come & put his shoes on for school - he said he had to just do one more thing!

I took this photo & then went back outside to wait for our friends (we car pool the school run :) who promptly arrived. Giving him an extra moment I took his bag out for him & he came out a few moments later. I quietly smiled when I came back inside after he had gone & observed that the rods were all placed neatly back on the shelf :)

So, maybe the experiment is working...

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Comments :


  1. That is so great ... I am really interested in how to combine the best of Montessori and the best of Waldorf. Provided the mother is not deeply anthroposophical (I'm not, although it fascinates me) I can't see any reason they can't be combined really well. Love the pictures.

  2. Looks like Montessori meets unschooling - love it!! :)

  3. Gypsy - we share the same interest :) I am *fascinated* by how Montessori & Waldorf can work together (& am enjoying your posts - and questions about the same).

    You are absolutely correct about Anthroposophy - that is the element that splits M & W in many ways & a deeply Anthroposophical mama would have problems with Montessori - just as a purist Montessorian would have problems with Waldorf (& homeschooling for that matter!).

    I appreciate all parts of this equation because it's what makes it work in a way - without the purists (on both sides) neither M or W would be as wonderful as it is today - both would have been so watered down so as to no longer contain the true essence & wisdom of the originators.

    So I celebrate the anthroposophical mamas! & the purist Montessori mamas! - & then I take what I need into my own family & our own lives & try to make it work for us.

    MSV - Yes! Montessori meets unschooling. Yippee :) I love Theresa (from the blog Lapaz Farm)'s take on this too - she's really into that combo. BTW, I just popped over to your blog & am looking forward to reading some of your NVC posts.

  4. Amber,

    I to experience the children not touching any of the works on the shelves unless I personally work on it myself or find a way to get them interested in them. The only thing my children will do spontaneously at home is Art/Music/and puzzles!

    At school they do it all but it is because they see other children doing it or because the teacher (like we do) invite them to do the work and make it appealing.

    I know you must have felt so happy to see all of this fabulous work going on!!


  5. Love the photos and am glad the experimentation worked well for you; we move back and forth between our Montessori activities, Waldorf inspired learning, and other ways of playing and learning that have sifted into our world and taken mine and my daughter's interest.

    I'm looking forward to visiting your blog again; always searching for new ways to learn with my daughter.

  6. My kids also become "inspired" after me seeing me work with the equipment. And I was inspired by your post to put the red rods vertically and see where in their bod(ies) each rod reached. Of course they giggled to see that their feet were bigger than the smallest rod.

    Then they made mazes and triangles!

  7. Hello Gigi :) - It's so inspiring to hear other Montessori mama's talking about the dynamic with materials at home. Just like your children - mine never hesitate to do a puzzle or to do a drawing or to play lego. I am hoping to make the M materials *more accessible* so that they will choose them in the same easy way. Just this morning Lovely walked into the lounge room & announced he was going to choose some work, opened the cupboard & selected something. Perfect :)

    Hi Green Mama - was that you being inspired by the felted rocks over at Magic Onions?

    Koko's mama - Hello :) Your experiments sound fun! We might just have to do that! I am just about finished making the number rods so maybe it's the perfect activity for them!


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