Montessori is a method of education that seeks to develop a child’s natural curiosity and interests. For young children, Learning Trays are one of the many tools that are used to encourage and promote this approach to a child-centered education.
Much like a typical Montessori classroom provides a stimulating yet orderly environment for a young student to explore, a learning tray provides the individual child his or her own engaging yet organized workspace. The learning tray activity and materials are clearly displayed promoting focus and concentration while providing gentle guidance. For young children, these activities are engaging and appeal to natural curiosity, as well as promote fine motor development, hand-eye coordination, writing (or pre-writing) and cutting skills. Learning trays invite different kinds of exploration, creativity and play, while allowing the child to work independently and develop essential problem-solving skills. Keeping items organized (on a tray) not only provides focus for the activity at hand, but also keeps messy activities contained for easy set up and clean up.
Learning tray activities are easy to assemble and require minimal materials. The following Holiday and Winter themed activities are appropriate for toddlers through early elementary age students. Divided trays were used to set up these activities, but a simple wooden tray or plastic tray would work as well.
- red and green construction paper
- glue stick
- colored pencils – to provide direction for young children limit colors to red, dark green, white, brown and gold
- small shape stencil (for preK and older)
- star or snowflake sticker (optional)
Instructions (for parent/teacher):
Simply set up a learning activity tray as shown above. Pre-cut green paper into small triangles (fold and cut square in half) for young children. The tray can be presented to the child as an activity, or set up as an “invitation to explore and create.” While stacking and gluing the triangles to represent a pine tree brings a strong sense of achievement to a young preschooler, a Kindergartner can continue to creatively decorate and personalize her stacked-triangle tree.
- white, black and dark blue construction paper
- glue stick
- colored pencils – to provide direction for young children limit colors to black, brown and orange
- 1″ circle punch, such as Fishers medium squeeze punch, EK Tools circle punch, or Fiskars circle lever,
- kid-friendly rounded tip scissors
Instructions (for parent/teacher):
Simply set up a learning activity tray as shown above. Pre-cut black, blue and white paper into smaller pieces (manageable for little hands) as shown. Depending on hand strength required to punch out circles, this can be pre-cut as well. Like the Triangle Tree, this tray can be presented to the child as an activity, or set up as an “invitation to explore and create.” While aligning and gluing the circles, cutting and laying out “the hat,” and using pencils to add a bit of detail brings a strong sense of achievement to a young three-year-old, a Kindergartner can continue to creatively personalize her happy snowman.
By replacing white construction paper circles with cotton balls, little ones can make their snowmen “pop” out of the page, adding texture and depth to their snowy character creations. A small cone of orange construction paper makes a simple carrot nose, too!
Interested in other snow-themed activities for young learners? The snowman images below are shown in order of complexity starting with toddler/preschool activities and progressing through elementary/middle school STEAM concepts. Links to posts below!
To further explore art, math and science concepts through snowman-inspired activities, go to the following links:
- Stacking Snowman Shapes (top + center left – this post!)
- Simple Snowmen (top right)
- Snowmen Perspectives (bottom left + center)
- Thaumatrope Snow Globes (bottom right)
Looking for more snow and winter-themed activities that include more complex math and science topics? The images below display snow-themed activities incorporating elementary through middle school STEAM concepts. Links to posts below!
For more winter-themed art activities above that incorporation math, science and engineering concepts (including the projects shown above) go to the following links:
- Do You Want To Build a Snowflake (top left)
- Snow Crystal Geometry (top center, top right + bottom left)
- Growing Snow Crystals (bottom center)
- A Blank Canvas of Snow (bottom right)
Pingback: Do You Want to Draw a (Perspective) Snowman? | Design in Play
Pingback: Simple Snowmen (with Shading & Highlights!) | Design in Play
Pingback: Thaumatrope Snow Globes | Design in Play
Pingback: Do You Want to Build a Snowflake? | Design in Play
Pingback: Snow Crystal Geometry | Design in Play
Pingback: Growing Snow Crystals | Design in Play
Pingback: A Blank Canvas of Snow | Design in Play