{Montessori Practical Life} Sharpening Pencils


This Saturday was "Kid's Day" at our local Farmer's Market. There were lots of fun activities in the park, complete with bees and a mini model cow that could be "milked." The highlight, however, were the emergency vehicles; parked and open for the kiddos to explore. Silas favored the police car over all others, which I believe was directly related to the number of buttons that were available to be pushed.

In our goody bag was a pencil and a pencil sharpener from the fire department. Silas loved flipping the sharpener open and closed and I took this interest as a sign that it was high time he learned how to sharpen his own pencil.


This is pretty standard work for Montessori practical life. On the tray was just the pencil in a holder and the pencil sharpener. Our sharpener kept the pencil shavings contained. With an open sharpener I would have also included a small bowl for the shavings.


I demonstrated the process for him and then passed him the tray. In all honesty, I wasn't sure if he would understand how to rotate his wrist to make it work. He immediately got it, though.


He was very interested in seeing the shavings and paused every few seconds to open up the sharpener and check on his progress.


He was able to sharpen the pencil about halfway before he asked me to finish it for him, which I did. While doing so I drew his attention to the scraping sound the wood made against the blade and we explored the pile of shavings when we were done, rubbing them between our fingers until they were dust.


Of course, this was followed immediately by some pretty intense drawing. I must admit that up until this point, Silas has not really had free access to any writing material. There are crayons that we keep in a drawer that he can access, but he almost never thinks to do so. Out of sight, out of mind. Because of this, I haven't been giving him the opportunities to draw and to make marks that I should. Well, no more. We moved his desk to the living room where I can keep an eye on him and this is where his pencil and a stack of papers will now always be available to him. I'm really interested to see how often he thinks to use them.

Silas is 2.5 years old.

7 comments:

  1. Such a great, practical, life skill. That's what I love about Montessori and Reggio-inspired activities... allowing the children to explore real-world experiences.
    xoxo

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    1. I feel the same way. Why play at doing things when you can *really* do them? :)

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  2. What a wonderful skill to learn!!! And I bet he was proud of himself when done! Good for you...I am a believer in open access to writing and art materials. Can't wait to see what he creates...

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    1. It was a big hurdle for me to leave writing materials out -- even though it's only pencil and there's really nothing in our house that is so precious that I would be upset if he marked on it. It's worth it though, for the sense of freedom it allows him.

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  3. Isn't it amazing how much we create when we have the tools right in front of us. I think that goes for adults and kids too. We rearranged our play/art room this summer. We moved into our new house in March and the boys just weren't ever spending time in the craft area. But just a few pieces of furniture moved around and some art supplies moved out in the open, and they are making art just about every day!

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    1. Absolutely! Sometimes all it takes is a little rearranging to light those creative sparks. And welcome back to the blog world! It's good to have you back! :)

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  4. We just set up a serious art/creative space ala Project Based Homeschooling and it's really interesting to see the change. When you make the materials available and visible they will use them.

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