Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Bank Game?

Calling all you Montessorians out there - I need your help!

First, a little back story. Lately I've noticed my oldest daughter's interest in the shelves waning. She has pretty much mastered everything I've got out right now, and I blame myself for not staying two or three steps ahead of her. My 9-month-old is very mobile and is extremely hard to manage in such a toddler-unfriendly environment, so we rarely do work in the Montessori room outside of "preschool." We turn out the lights in that room when everyone leaves for the day, and they don't usually go back on until the next time we meet, so the Montessori room just isn't at the forefront of my mind (plus, life is just busy with three young kids, you know?). So, here's an additional, off-topic call for help to all you Montessori homeschoolers with small kids - do you have any strategies for managing your crawlers/toddlers so that your older kids can get some work done?

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked. We didn't meet today because of the ice/snow storm we had last night, so I used it as an opportunity to take stock of everything and see what new things I could put out that might pique my daughter's interest. In the far reaches of my basement I discovered, of all things, something called "The Bank Game."

The Bank Game? I thought we already knew how to do the Bank Game. I opened it up and quickly flashed back to this summer, when I was setting up the Montessori room: I opened the box and little number cards flew all out of order and I had no idea how to reorganize them, so I quickly put the lid back on and vowed to come back to it another day. Well that day has come. Today when I opened the box, I knew somewhat intuitively how to arrange the number cards, but that's where I got stuck, and here's where I need your help. Can anyone out there tell me how to use this beautiful game, or at least point me to a written or video demonstration of it?

As you can see from the photo, there are white number cards with colored numbers along the left-hand side that go from 1 - 9 in each category (1 - 9, 10 - 90, 100 - 900, etc.) from units to 1 million. On the right side, there are colored number cards with black numbers that go from 1 - 9, 10 - 90, 100 - 900, and 1000 - 9000. There are three each of the unit cards 1 - 9, and then there are three "00" cards. There are six labels: Cashier, Banker, Bookkeeper, Controller, Clerk, and Customer.

I would be very grateful for any advice you might have, be it related to "The Bank Game" or to reining in a 9-month-old. Thanks!!!


My Boys' Teacher said...

A really good blog to read regarding managing little ones while you homeschool other ones is called Preschoolers and Peace.

There are many places to look on that blog, but in the left-hand sidebar there is a section called "pages" and start with the one titled "little hands."

Good luck!

Tess said...

Check out the "related videos" for the more advanced versions

Looking forward to seeing pics of it in action!


Spesamor Academy said...

I don't have this problem anymore, since my youngest is 2. But when she and my now 3yo were crawlers and I wanted to do stuff with my then prekers, I relied HEAVILY on naptime and snacktime. Naptime gave us a couple free hours in the morning and snacktime was always good for an extra ten to fifteen minutes. Giving her things that she can play with but not destroy might also help a little. My circumstances were different than yours, since we were home alone all day, and I didn't have to ever work around schedules, but maybe this helps. :)

Hannah said...

I read some of Preschoolers and Peace, and the one idea I really liked was having room/crib time! Your baby may be a little young, and is probably still taking a morning nap, but mine is 17 months and definitely a handful during our school time. I am planning to start crib time pretty soon...then I could at least give lessons to the big kids in peace.

We have our school things in our dining room, and it is definitely used during off-school hours. Two of the cabinets have doors, and I put things in there that are messy or could spill. We also have two shelves with no doors, and I have trained/am still training my daughter that she can look but cannot touch ANYTHING on those shelves. She has her own things during school time that are kept on the other side of the room...and this has worked well. She just doesn't tend to go over there, knowing that she won't be able to touch. Granted, she is old enough to be able to follow directions.

On to older children...I have the same problem with my children on occasion, noticing that they get bored. I am in the process of learning how to deal with this, but one thing I have learned is novelty attracts attention. That is, change things on the shelves often! Notice what your daughter needs to work on still, and try to put out a different work that will teach that skill. Or move the work to a different, more appealing location. Or just take it off for a while, and then bring it back later.

I just recently gave all my school-children (we have 3) their own shelf with their own works on it. While I'm not sure this is kosher for Montessori, I think it is working well so far. I am able to really focus on what each child needs and is interested in, and I can change them as needed to specifically focus on their interests. It has only been a couple weeks, but so far, so good.

Also, I wanted to mention art projects, and developing your own works. My kids really like drawing, pasting, cutting paper, and other basic skills, and having these on the school shelf gives them a fun choice during school time. I have also put things out from materials I have around the house, like a small jacket so my son could practice zipping, or nuts and bolts to match up. Give them a lot of practical skills works.

Good luck! It's always challenging to stay ahead of them...we have a special spot my son can sit when he gets "tired" during school, but I set the timer for a couple minutes and then he has to choose a work again or I will choose for him. When he gets back to it, he usually chooses something that he hasn't done for awhile, and does good work. He just needs that little break!

Anna said...

I seem to remember that treasure baskets were good for keeping littlies occupied. Essentially they are a basket filled with objects made from natural materials that 9-15 month olds find irresistable. Things like wooden spoons, silk scarves, metal whisks, anything textured or that makes a sound (but always natural like lentils in a glass jar or a bell in a cotton ball). Lots of the things you will find around the house.

Also ,and this is very anti montessori (but she never had the 2 distinct age groups together for this reason) I would consider a playpen. If your little one is into everything it is probably because she is practicing crawling and pulling up and a playpen, in a sociable part of the room, with some activities to suit her could be a very useful place - for her to practice pulling up and for you and your older daughter to get some much needed space. Don't feel guilty - my grandma used to tie my dads ankle to the table leg!

For your bigger daughter, apart from the bank game which I'm sure she'll love - how about extending some of the things you have out. This is one area my training only touched on but now I am in a classroom I find it is a large part of my job. So, she can do the phonic objects with the LMA - print the words, make a book of them with pictures, have her think of story using some of the objects and she can dictate it to you and if you leave a space she can fill in the gaps with the words she can spell out.

Go over board on the cultural side of things for a while - do a study of a continent. A really good place to get pictures is a travel agents. You have to nip in quickly and grab as many brochures from the rack as you can getting a good selection before you get nabbed by the person behind the desk wanting to sign you up for a holiday to the Antarctic! Or do a study on some-one who grabs your attention. And borrow from the Charlotte Mason crowd and make a lapbook. I think they are great and give a good opportunity for using new skills from all areas of the classroom in a "real" way.

I hope this helps a little!

My Boys' Teacher said...

Hi, me again.

One of the blogs I read had an excellent post about reigning in a little one today, she had a lot of ideas and A LOT of pictures:

If you want to see what one of our Montessori sessions looks like with our "little" one around, check it out here:

Lindart said...

This bank game box is an elementary activity. The Casa Bank Game is much simpler. From this box you could use the units, tens hundreds and thousands numerals. You would also need much larger numberals of the same. And you would need the concrete materials to represent units, tens, hundreds and thousands.

N from the Learning Ark said...

Hi, I know this is soo late, but I was meaning to post about the bank game to help you understand how to use it. I've been so busy but finally I have written up a quick tutorial and I hope that it helps!