Today, my 8-month-old was pretty sick and pretty contagious, so regretfully, I had to cancel school. The doctor recommended a 24-hour waiting period for the antibiotics to kick in, so we should be good to go for tomorrow.
In the meantime, though, I've been meaning to do a post about the pin-punching activity I put out recently, because it would be so simple for anyone to set up at home. I'd been searching for punches in all of my local craft stores and couldn't find anything, which left the internet. All of the Montessori sites wanted way too much money for punches and felt, and they wanted even more for shipping, so I wasn't sure what to do. Fortunately, I saw this post at My Montessori Journey and noticed that the "pin" in the tray was a simple push pin. Surely it couldn't be that easy, could it?
I emailed Laura at MMJ and asked her about it:
I’m trying to set up a pin-punching activity in our classroom. I was prepared to spend about $45 at Montessori Services (not including shipping!) for a set of punches, a punch holder, and some mats, when I saw this post. Do your kids really just use a push pin? Can they hold a push pin in their hands as well as they can hold the punches from Montessori Services? (I know you have both because I’ve seen them in other posts.) If money were no object (wouldn’t that be nice? :), would you recommend I go ahead and invest in the ones from Montessori Services? My youngest child is only 7 months old, and I know we would get a ton of use out of the punch set; however, if a push pin works just as well, I’d love to put that money toward something else in the classroom.
She graciously replied, and then even more graciously allowed me to share her advice with all of you (thanks again!!). Here is her response:
When I first taught in a Montessori school several years ago, we used push pins, but BIG ones. You can buy them at most office supply stores. I am talking about ones that are about 2 inches long, really big. When I came to my current school to teach, they had the wooden handled ones from Montessori Services. After observing the children in my classroom using the regular (small) push pins and the Montessori Services ones, here are my thoughts. If a child can hold a pencil well using a tri-pod grip, I think the Montessori Services ones are great because they are the same diameter as a regular pencil. However, I pulled out the small pins for my littlest students who haven't yet formed a good tripod grip. The small push pins pretty much force the child to use a tripod grasp. So........my advice is to start with the regular small push pins. As far as the pad, I do really like the thick wool ones from Montessori Services. However, in the past I've just used a square of thick carpet padding. You could probably get a remnant piece of that for free from any home improvement store that installs carpet. That would be a cheap way to get started. Hope that helps!
I never made it to a carpet store to get carpet padding, so instead I got eight 9x12 adhesive sheets of felt and stuck two together to make four felt pads (I left the backing on the bottom sheet of felt). Voila! Pins and pads for four kids for about $4! For the outline, I did a Google images search for a leaf outline, copied the image into a Word document, and printed it out on construction paper (never knew I could do that!). Now that I have the pins and pads, it will be very simple to add new outlines to go with the current season/holiday, etc. Fun!