Why a Montessori Mat is One of the Best Cheap Homeschool Materials Around

Why a Montessori Mat is One of the Best Cheap Homeschool Materials Around?


The work mat is one of the first materials introduced in a Montessori education. Baskets of pretty rugs are often found throughout a Montessori school, and photos on Instagram show homeschool works carefully placed on top of them. Of all the materials used in at home or in the classroom, none would be complete without the Work Mat. Going beyond simply a piece of fabric, the work mat is a unique and defining aspect of learning in a homeschool environment.

What Is the Work Mat?

A Work Mat is typically a simple rug or piece of fabric. For table works, you may find trays, plates, or dishes used in place of fabric. There are enough mats for each student in the class, or homeschool room. Each student may have their own special rug or there may be community mats used by everyone. You’ll find elegant hand woven mats, simple felt mats and everything in between. Mats should be stored in an area that is easy to access, generally they’re rolled and placed in a basket or stacked nicely on a low shelf.

Why Kids Love Having A Rug in Montessori at Home?

 

The mat or rug exists to provide the student with a defined workspace. Students also learn gross motor skills by carefully rolling and unrolling their rug and placing the rug into its proper storage space. In organizing their work on the mat, a student begins to learn about an ordered environment. This is especially important when you are doing Montessori at home and don’t have a fixed space to do lessons. By utilizing a Work Mat, the student has a defined top, middle, bottom as well as left and right in their workspace. This helps with works involving sorting and organizing. The top to bottom, left to right reading and writing skills are also reinforced by using a mat.

 

When multiple students are working together in a classroom, the use of a rug helps avoid conflict among students trying to find a spot to work.

 

Use of a rug also helps provide a clear walking path without concern of stepping on top of classmates and helps to teach personal space. The Work Mat is a critical aspect of maintaining the organized Grace & Courtesy aspect Montessori classes are known for.

When and How to Use The Rug?

 

A student will choose a Work Mat, or tray, for every work. The student selects a mat, unrolls it in their desired workspace and places one work at a time on it. After completing a work, it should be returned to the proper spot on the shelf before a new work is selected. When a student is given a lesson on a new work, they’re also taught how to position the work within the mat. For many sensorial and art works, a simple cloth which can easily be wiped off may be preferable so the student can independently clean up any messes.

How Is the Mat Introduced?

 

Introduction of the Work Mat is one of the first lessons presented to a Montessori student. The teacher, or parent, will place the rug out and give a Three-Period lesson on the mat.

 

Read this blog post here if you don’t know what the three period lesson is.

 

ShillerLearning: Larry Shows How to Use Montessori's Three Period Lesson

Students are taught that this cloth is to be used by one student for one work at a time. Plenty of time is given to let the child practice rolling up the mat and returning it to the proper space when complete. Sometimes several lessons will be given over a few days covering the proper use and care of the mat.

 

My Very Own Space!

 

Students often love the use of the mat and desire to have the same kind of space in other areas in their life.  

 

Parents have incorporated a mat concept into their homeschool materials to help siblings with a defined space for play, eating and relaxing.

 

Just think of it like placemats at the dinner table. Children love to have their own space they can decorate and control! Consider providing your children with a rug for school and a rug for their own use at other times. Our homeschool parents often use the mat included in our kits outside of regular lessons.

 

Looking for more tips on how to make your home and school more peaceful, relaxed and organized?  

Check out these posts:

 

How the Montessori 3-Period Lesson Changed Our Homeschool

 

Teaching Kids to Read With the Montessori Method

 

How This Free Grace & Courtesy Printable Pack Turns Chores Into Games


Want to See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits?

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Colorado. She loves Colorado’s outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >

 

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How The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Inspired a Generation of Musicians

How "The Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time" Inspired a Generation of Musicians


The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time was once ranked by IGN as the #3 Nintendo game of all time. The only ones to beat it were Super Metroid and Super Mario Brothers.

 

The main character in the game, Link, used this magical Ocarina to travel through time. His quest to defeat the evil Gandoff and restore peace to Hyrule captured the hearts of gamers. But what no one expected was what would happen to the main star of the game: the ocarina!

 

Before the Ocarina of Time, few people had heard of this truly magical instrument. It’s over 12,000 years old and has been used by Chinese and Mesoamerican cultures for centuries. Today there are millions of ocarina players. An entire generation of kids first learned to play music with this instrument.

We partnered with STL Ocarina after seeing and hearing it for ourselves. We knew our homeschoolers would love seeing their children become budding musicians.

 

STL Ocarina doesn't know how many of their customers learned about our favorite instrument from the Legend of Zelda" - as almost all of our customers learn about the Ocarina from playing the video game growing up or hearing the instrument on the game soundtrack and enjoying the sound.

 

The video game is multi-generational and most younger players learn from their parents. The story and Ocarina are passed down in families so often that I rarely meet someone who has not heard of Zelda and therefore has in a way, heard of the Ocarina.

 

But the founders of STL Ocarina knew they were passionate about teaching music. Players of all ages could easily learn with the right tools & guidance.

 

They started STL Ocarina in 2005 to provide musicians with high quality, affordable, and long lasting instruments. They are constantly seeking to enrich and strengthen educational programs.

 

Why did they choose the Ocarina?


- Firstly, they use the Ocarina because it is simple to play, easy to learn, and opens up a new world of musical knowledge to every student.

 

- Secondly, the Ocarina is present across many cultures and time periods. It made a dramatic appearance for over 30 years in the video game “The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time.”

 

- And third, the Ocarina is accessible to everyone. It is small in size, effortless to hold, and can be played by students of all ages and abilities. It can be tailored to fit any need, whether it be at home playing a simple melody or in an ensemble performing an entire concert!

Types of Ocarinas

 

There are two basic types of Ocarinas: 6 hole and 12 holes. 6 hole is played with the thumbs and second and third fingers of each hand, while 12 hole uses every finger. The 6 hole Ocarina is fully chromatic and has a range of a tenth, while the 12 hole is also fully chromatic and has the range of an octave and a fifth. 6 hole is great to start on, as it’s usually smaller and a little easier to hold for younger hands, while the 12 hole plays a wider range of repertoire and can be used to teach many genres of music – even classical pieces by Bach and Schumann! They can also be made of ceramic or plastic and come in many colors, shapes, and sizes - you’ll see both kinds in STL’s products here!

 

They offer educational materials specifically for homeschooling families and have a strong passion for using Ocarinas to teach the basics of music and to build a foundation upon which a lifelong musical journey can begin. The Ocarina is quick and easy to learn, and this helps young students retain their musical curiosity and to not become discouraged.

 

They believe that every child should have the opportunity to study music. We agree that the Ocarina makes this possible! We look forward to providing Ocarinas for any and all music programs. And STL will be here to ease the beginning and also ensure the continuation of music classes in every home!


Want to See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits?

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Colorado. She loves Colorado’s outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >

 

The MultiSensory Approach

The MultiSensory Approach.


 

Your child completes a lesson correctly - say it was a visual / writing lesson that requires looking at a picture and doing a simple calculation. And then the child successfully completed several drill questions on the same material. Does that mean your child has mastery and a full foundational understanding of the topic covered?

 

The problem is that this lesson and drill only reached 30% of the child's brain. The other 70%? Not getting this concept.

 

The 30% that was reached was the visual part of the brain: the neurons from the retina. What about other neurons? Consider for example, if the student was given the opportunity to approach the problem in another lesson with his or her hands ("tactile"). The neurons in the fingertips that sense pressure and temperature reach a completely different part of the brain. Imagine that a second lesson imparts the same concept to the student from a tactile perspective. Now 50% of the brain is in use - and connections between the visual and tactile parts of the brain are made, creating a foundation or web of knowledge that lasts much longer and better supports future learning.

 

Imagine four lessons on the same concept - one each for Visual, Tactile, Kinesthetic, and Auditory neurons. Now the child's brain is being engaged 100% - to its fullest potential - and connections are rampant. Only then will a child truly have mastery.

 

A building constructed on only 30% of its foundation won't get very tall until it topples over. That's why the USA 3rd graders score well on international tests but 15 year olds don't: Because they're being taught to use only 30% of their brain.

 

The four main senses:

 

1. Visual . Neurons from the retina.

 

2. Tactile. Neurons from the fingers and skin.

 

3. Kinesthetic. Neurons from muscles. The thighs, abs, and shoulders are the largest muscle groups. By using these muscles (throwing a ball or otherwise physically moving the body) a completely different part of the brain is involved - one that is nearly always missing from math and language arts curricula.

 

4. Auditory. Neurons from the ears. Different materials make different sounds. And songs cause the brain to be involved in unique ways.

 

Without a complete multi-sensorial experience children lose the richness that comes from absorbing the same material from all the senses: Visual, Auditory, Tactile, and Kinesthetic. Only then will a student form a rock solid web and foundation of knowledge and ability.

 

Whether your child is gifted, ASD or normal, is a current or former Montessori student, or not, is a pre-K student or in junior high, make sure that the math and language arts programs for your child includes a multi-sensorial approach like the one used by ShillerMath.

 


Larry Shiller

Larry Shiller is President of ShillerLearning, whose mission is to help kids learn - and enjoy - math. Shiller has degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Business School and is the author of Software Excellence (Prentice-Hall).

A father of three, Shiller is active in non-profits and his hobbies include working with local startups, music (Shiller is an accomplished violinist who - when not helping children learn math and language arts - performs in the NYC tri-state area), tennis (Shiller's team made it to the USTA national finals in his skill bracket), Quoridor (Shiller is a former USA Champion), backgammon (Shiller is the Voice of Backgammon, doing commentary on backgammon tournaments worldwide), table tennis, and flying (Shiller holds a private pilot's license).