Montessori Toddlers
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Sample Lessons

Sensory Activities: Introduction

General Points to Remember about Presenting Sensory Activities
  • Give the child opportunities to use all the senses, not just sight and hearing.
  • Include outdoor as well as indoor activities.
  • In addition to presenting activities, allow the child many opportunities to explore on her/his own, without direction.
  • Slow down and follow the child’s lead.
Summary of Sensory Activities for Toddlers
The following sensory activities give the toddler opportunities to:
  • name, identify and match colors
  • name and identify ten basic parts of the body
  • identify objects by feel
  • explore nature
  • match objects by pattern and texture
  • work with lay dough
  • experience and identify different sounds
  • experience and identify different smells.

Sensory Activity 9: Identifying Sources of Sounds

Primary Goal
Developing the sense of hearing.

Secondary Goals
Expanding vocabulary; developing memory and matching skills; following a sequence of events.

Work mat.
Work tray.
Tape cassette player that can be turned on and off easily. Before you present this activity, present a lesson in operating the cassette player, especially how to use the buttons ON, OFF, and REWIND. You may find it helpful to place a red sticker on the OFF button and a green sticker on the ON button.

Basket containing a cassette tape you have made recording six simple, clear sounds. Choose sounds from the child’s childcare center environment and sounds that the child is likely to know. (Other sounds can be added later as the child acquires experience and skill.) Make sure that each sound repeats several times in a row and that there is a long pause between one sound and the next.Examples of six sounds: cat meowing; dog barking; car honking; siren wailing; duck quacking; train whistling.

Poster showing six real-looking or real-life pictures, each corresponding to one of the things making a sound on the cassette.Pictures to match the above examples would consist of the following: cat; dog; car; fire engine; duck; train. Make the poster by gluing the six laminated pictures to a large piece of cardboard or construction paper. Position the pictures horizontally, in two rows of three. Fasten the pictures in the same order as the sounds on the tape, moving from the child’s left to right in each row.

  • This activity appeals particularly to the interests and abilities of toddlers 21 –24 months old.

  • In advance, get the poster and the cassette player. Then prepare the tape and place it in the basket. Put the basket and poster on the work tray.

  • Put the work mat in place and put the tray and poster on the work mat, with the cassette player alongside. Encourage the child to help.

  • Sit facing the child with the tray and poster between you.

  • Remove the basket from the tray and place the basket on the work mat beside the poster. Set the tray aside.

  • To make sure that the child can identify the pictures on the poster, point to each one and name it. For example, say: “This is a This is a” And so on.

  • Take the cassette tape out of the basket. Set the basket aside. Insert the tape into the cassette player, then press the ON button.

  • Play the first sound. When the sound stops, press the OFF button.

  • Look down at the poster.

  • Moving slowly and deliberately, touch the picture corresponding to the sound you just heard.

  • Repeat until you have listened to all six sounds.

  • Slowly and deliberately press REWIND on the cassette player.

  • Pause and smile at the child.

  • Invite the child to do the activity. Emphasize the words “on” and “off.” For example,
    say: “Now you listen to the sounds. First, turn the cassette player on.” After the
    child has listened to the first sound, gently remind the child to turn the player off.
    For example, say: “You have heard the sound. Now turn the cassette player off and
    find the picture that’s making the sound.”

  • Give the child ample time to start the activity.

  • If the child begins playing the tape, get up quietly and allow the child to work
    undisturbed. Do not correct or intervene if the child chooses an incorrect picture or
    listens to the tape without pointing to any pictures. The first few times the child
    works with the cassette player, remain nearby to help. However, help only if asked.

  • If the child continues to look interested, but does not seem to know what to do, ask: “May I help?” Then guide the child’s hand to turn on the player. When the child
    begins to engage with the activity, get up quietly and allow the child to work on
    her/his own.

  • When the child has finished the activity, involve the child in putting the cassette
    tape in the basket and placing the basket and poster on the work tray, then
    returning the work mat and materials to their proper places. This completes
    the activity.

  • Make sure that the materials presented stay available —on a low shelf, for example
    —for the child to work on again when she/he wishes. Some childcare centers set
    up a “sound table ”in a quiet nook or cranny. A low table can hold a cassette player, a basket containing a cassette tape, and a poster of corresponding pictures.

Extension 1
  • Make this a language activity by naming each sound, then its picture. For example,
    after the sound of a duck quacking, say quietly: “Quack.Quack.” After pointing to
    the “duck” picture, say quietly: “Duck.” Depending on the language ability of the
    child, you could ask the child to repeat the sound. For example, ask: “What does the duck say?” and see whether the child can respond: “Quack.Quack.”
Extension 2
  • As the child acquires experience and skill, introduce more sounds and pictures, up to a maximum of nine. Again choose things and sounds that are familiar to the child—for example, sheep baaing; horn playing; pig squealing; cow mooing; toilet flushing; goat bleating; hen clucking; bees buzzing; horse neighing. Other ideas: hands clapping; corn popping; bell ringing; tambourine shaking; piano notes; drum beats.
Extension 3
  • Make this a cognitive activity by taping five or six sequential sounds in the child’s
    typical day. For each sound, make a card picturing the activity that produces the
    sound. Example of a sound sequence: teacher greeting child at the door; opening
    song; children working at different activities; water running (for hand washing);
    snack time; goodbye song. Present the cards out of sequence. The goal of this
    activity is for the child to arrange the cards according to the sequence the child
    hears on the tape.
Extension 4
  • Combine this activity with other activities to focus on a theme. For example, take a small group of toddlers to visit a farm or a zoo (sensory, social). During the visit, you and the children tape animal sounds (motor, sensory, cognitive). Back at the childcare center, you and the children make a poster of corresponding animal pictures (creative, social). You can also read from books showing photos of the animals (language) and encourage the children to act out the movements and sounds of the animals (social, motor).
Extension 5
  • Make tapes and posters with specific themes, such as musical instruments (bell,
    drum, xylophone, piano); jungle animals (lion, elephant, parrot); vehicles
    (motorcycle, ambulance, car).

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