Thursday, January 24, 2013

D.I.Y. Montessori-Inspired Verb Cup and Variations for Play

When something takes very little time and money to make, and provides literally hours of learning and fun over the course of less than 24 hours, I think it's worth pausing my plans for the day to share about it!  So, that's what I am doing.

Simple is best!  This D.I.Y. Montessori-Inspired Verb Cup has been such a hit!

Two Needs, One Solution

Need One
A tutoring student of mine needed a new physical warm up to begin our sessions. She is a motor-driven gal whose academic progress parallels opportunities to move, so I begin each of our meetings with a body and brain warm up. 

Need Two
My five year old daughter has been displaying “page-fright”. That is, although she can decode simple phonetic words, she becomes anxious when she is asked to read from a written page, even if there is but one word a page. So, I’ve been seeking paper-free reading exercises for her. 

An Easy Solution
Enter my Montessori-Inspired Verb Cup – a small twist on traditional Montessori Command Cards.  Not only did it bring smiles to my tutoring student, my daughter and me yesterday, but Luke, Nina, Jack and I have used it in various ways already today.

Make Your Own Montessori-Inspired Verb Cup

Nina reaching in for her next command.
You will need:
  •  craft sticks (We got 300 for less than $3 with a 50% off coupon at our local Jo-ann fabrics.)
  • a red marker (You can actually use a different color.  I chose red, because it is the color used for verbs when introducing Montessori grammar, and although I did not tell my children that all of the words in the cup are verbs, by using red I feel I am encouraging an indirect connection for later grammar studies.)
  • a cup (I used a tall, plastic container we received take out in one day.  It fit all the sticks perfectly and had a lid for easy travel in my tutoring bag.)
  1. Brainstorm 30 or more phonetic verbs or verb phrases that your child knows the meaning of, such as sit, stand, hop and jump.
  2.  Write one on each craft stick.
  3. Place 30 sticks in the cup and set the rest aside to be rotated into the cup at a later point. 
Basic Activity

No "page fright" here.  Just a happy girl intent on decoding.
When your child is watching. Inspect the cup with curiosity. Take a stick out. Read the word or phrase on the stick to yourself. Do what it says (or pantomime what it says, if it says something like mop.) Put the stick back in. Pull another one out... Continue until you are satisfied that your child understands what to do. 

Leave the Verb Cup out as an invitation for your child to read and act upon. 

Variations and Extensions

When playing Kaboom, Nina asked us, "Can I have another turn?" while showing us the stick she pulled out.
Kaboom (A fun game that we played this morning.)
For a  fun, yet not so Montessori, competitive game, add several sticks that say “Kaboom” into the cup. Player 1 pulls out a stick, reads it and acts out the command on it silently or out loud (whichever the player is most comfortable with.) If other players agree that the command was acted out correctly, Player 1 keeps the stick. Then, Player 2 goes. Play continues until a “Kaboom” stick is drawn. 

Whoever draws the “Kaboom” stick has to put all of his or her other sticks back in the cup, keeping only the “Kaboom” stick. When there are no more sticks in the cup, whoever has the most sticks wins. 

Hide, Seek and Act (Nina inspired this one by hiding the sticks so jack could find them and she could read them.)
Hide the sticks around the room. On "go” have child(ren) search for them. In order to place a stick back in the cup, the child(ren) have to enact the command written on it.

Player 1 draws a stick, reads it and acts out the command on it. Others guess the command. Then, other players takes turns.

Simon Says
Play like a regular game of Simon Says, except after saying, “Simon says,” draw a stick and show it, having the players read it. 

ABC Order
After acting out the commands on the sticks, lay the sticks down in alphabetical order. Begin by including just two sticks, then three, then more in the ABC order challenge. 

Practice, Assessment and Sensory Opportunities

Stopping to read between acting out the different commands helped Luke practice control of movement.
  • Reading (de-coding) 
  • Imagination (pantomiming actions)
  • Motor Skills 
  • Proprioception
  • Vestibular Input
  • Control of movement.
 We hope you enjoy learning and playing with your own D.I.Y Verb Cup as much as we have been doing with ours.

What traditional Montessori activities have you adapted as a solution to a child's needs?

Want to be inspired with others' Montessori-inspired ideas and work?  Click on over to Montessori Monday and enjoy.


Cris said...

You're right, Martianne: Simple is best! And this activity seems very fun, especially the extensions.

Elisa said...

I am really looking forward to trying this when my youngest is ready to read. I think her older sister will have fun playing too. For bilingual fun, I may write Spanish on one side of the sticks and English on the other side.

Martianne @ Training Happy Hearts said...

Thank you, Cris. Elise, writing on both sides is a good idea. You might also choose a second color and just write the Soanish in that color. Then, the sticks could also be used for matching; read, run and match and a host of other such extensions.


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