Adventures with Montessori and Autism: Practical Activities

We are all over the map with Montessori right now. According to the book I am following (1), Beth is in period 4 for Math and writing, and a mixture of period 2, 3, 4 for everything else. At this point it makes the most sense to write about each area of the curriculum (e.g., math, practical, or sensorial) in a post rather than talk about periods. One thing is for sure, trying to put a kid who is all over the developmental map into a typical development program is a challenge! We usually muddle through the lower levels and I push her to master the tasks as well as possible, but sometimes we move on a little prematurely before she dies of boredom and hates the work. I know, really scientific and rigorous, but sometimes you have to use common sense!

In this post, I will summarize our experiences with practical activities (chores, self-care, manners) in periods 2-4. This type of work is on my mind at the moment, due to this article popping up in our autism feeds: https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/autism-study-associates-self-care-skills-success-adulthood . Hopefully schools will finally realize it is not life skills OR academics. It must be a mixture for our kids.

Here is a summary of Montessori practical from periods 2, 3, 4: pouring water from a jug, medium difficulty dressing frames, simple braiding, setting table, polishing surfaces, washing hands, washing cloths, scrubbing a table top, sweeping sawdust, brushing clothes, folding clothes, hanging clothes on a hanger, handling a book, scissors exchange, greeting people, kindness to visitors, being silent, pouring water from a jug and funnel, difficult dressing (bows and laces), advanced braiding, tying a tie, simple cooking chores, ironing, making beds,  responsibility for certain daily care of environment, helping and advising younger ones in a group.

As you can see, there are a lot of chores and preparation for later household duties.  Rather than getting wrapped up in the details, I just had Beth help me in useful ways around our house. I can’t tell you the last time I made a bed, polished anything, or ironed, so those are not a priority in our household. Instead of sweeping up saw dust with a small brush, we used her little broom and it was nice to see she can finally do the sweeping motion after years of trying. We completed all dressing frames except tying bows, and I am trying to figure out the best way to teach her how to tie. To maintain dressing skills over the summer, I have Beth do a dressing vest once a week. The one thing on the list that cracks me up is pouring…if I leave Beth alone in the kitchen for 2 seconds she pours obsessively. Yeah, we don’t need to encourage her to do that more, but thanks for the idea! Ha! As for the being silent goal, sitting and being with ones thoughts, blah, blah. Isn’t that the definition of autism? Yeah, ignoring that one too. We work on please, thank you, and greetings every day, so we have that covered. Our brand of “kindness to visitors” is, hey Beth, you must not run away when visitors come, okay?

Here are some snapshots of our brand of practical work:

Laundry time! Just don't eat the soap!

Laundry time! Just don’t eat the soap!

Putting toilet paper away-the hardest part is opening the package due to sensory issues.

Putting toilet paper away-the hardest part is opening the package due to sensory issues (the sound of the plastic and tearing with fingers).

Working on her knees...this took years for her to do. Transitions from sitting to standing, bending, etc make chores challenging.

Working on her knees…this took years for her to do. Transitions from sitting to standing, bending, etc make chores challenging.

Emptying in the dishwasher (we started with silverware, and have added plastics and pans). The hardest part is the noise...she hates clanging pans and silverware. When I work with her I have to keep the sensory issues in mind and work quietly.

Emptying in the dishwasher (she started with silverware sorted into just three compartments [spoons, knives, forks] and recently she has started putting away plastics and pans). The hardest part is the noise…she hates clanging pans and silverware. When I work with her I have to keep the sensory issues in mind and work quietly.

Putting away silverware

Putting away silverware

Working outside is hard due to distractions and her desire to go for a car ride. So we only go for small goals outside.

Working outside is hard due to distractions and her desire to go for a car ride. So we only go for small goals outside.

Encourage her to pour....ha!

Encourage her to pour….ha!

Making toast

Making toast

Look Mom!  I made my own cereal while you were in the shower!  Points for independence. I need to buy more dish rags.

Look Mom! I made my own cereal while you were in the shower! Points for independence, but I need to buy more dish rags.

________________________

(1) This will be a quick and poorly edited series because things are happening fast and I just want to write it all down. My daughter is almost 7 years old and we are starting the Montessori program from the beginning using this book, you tube videos, and common sense alterations. We homeschool and do other standard K activities. Montessori is an attempt to fill in developmental gaps and increase independence. See this fellow blogger’s post on the division of the work into periods as outlined in David Gettman’s book: http://thehometeacher.org/2009/03/sequencing-your-activities-more-on-montessori.html. We are starting with period 1 activities (taken from the book), with adjustments of course:

montessori book

Period Two

  1. Practical- pouring water from a jug, medium difficulty dressing frames, simple braiding, setting table, polishing surfaces, washing hands, washing cloths, scrubbing a table top, sweeping sawdust, brushing clothes, folding clothes, hanging clothes on a hanger, handling a book, scissors exchange, greeting people, kindness to visitors, being silent
  2. Sensorial- advanced cylinder blocks exercises, brown stair, red rods, boxes 2 and 3 of color tablets, geometric cabinet exercises 1-4, binomial cube, blindfold, tactile tablets, stereognostic bags exercises, sorting grains, sound boxes, preliminary presentation of bells, three stage lessons and the names of Sensorial qualities
  3. Language- classified picture exercises 3 and 4, stage 4 of I Spy, exercise 1 of single letter sandpaper letters, metal insets, frequent speech questioning
  4. Math- none
  5. Culture- Land and water exercises, first maps, places classified pictures, preliminary work for classification by leaf.

Period Three

  1. Practical- pouring water from a jug and funnel, difficult dressing (bows and laces), advanced braiding, tying a tie, simple cooking chores, ironing, making beds
  2. Sensorial- Geometric Cabinet exercises, constructive triangles, square of pythagoras, trinomial cube, fabrics, thermic bottles, baric tablets, presentation of bells
  3. Language- double letter sandpaper letters, advanced I spy, exercise 2 with all sandpaper letters
  4. Math- Number rod exercise 1
  5. Culture- all maps, places picture folders, past and present, stories about the past, air, water, magnetism, classifying animals, classification by leaf, parts of animals, parts of plants

Period Four

  1. Practical- responsibility for certain daily care of environment, helping and advising younger ones in a group
  2. Sensorial- Geometric cabinet exercises 9 and 10, thermic tablets, mystery bag, visual work with blindfolds, bell exercises 1-3, tasting cups, smelling boxes
  3. Language- movable alphabet, writing individual letters, writing families of letters, positioning letters on lines, sandpaper Capitals, box 1 and 2 of object boxes, action cards, reading folders exercise 1
  4. Math- number rods exercise 2, sandpaper numbers, number tablets, spindles, numbers and counters, memory play, limited bead material, number cards, function of the decimal system, fractions
  5. Culture- gravity, sound, optics, places artifacts
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