I bought the natural tower rather than the pink tower. Heleyna is 5 and so she already has the skills in building from largest to smallest in the tower and we have used other objects in her early years so that she can differentiate between heavy and light, big and small and so on.
She did build the tower first and used the correct words such as “biggest” and “smallest” and “cube”. She then spent some time with the two 1 cm² cubes. She has already done some measuring in 2 dimensions so understands length and breadth. With the cubes I am starting to teach her the third dimension (and I suppose I will do some work on the 4th dimension with Ronan and Avila).
After she had built the tower upright, she set about making the “houses” as we called them from smallest to largest with the cubes lying along the floor. There are two ways for her to build this. First of all she built it with each cube centred and then rebuilt it with one straight edge and the front “stepped” inwards. Using the 1 cm² cube she measured the gap seeing that each cube was 1 cm wider than the next.
The Helpful Garden has free downloads including some cut’n’paste pink tower sheets.
Here are some great photo’s of pink tower and brown stair extension exercises. I don’t have a brown stair at this point.
There are patterns that can be tried out too. Language words are “biggest” and “smallest” and beginning ordinal numbers “first”, “second” etc.
Mixing sizes and angles for different patterns work well. There are places around the net with ideas for different patterns. Heleyna built the tower with the blocks set to a corner so there was a 1cm rim around two sides of each block that the 1 cm block can step down.
Heleyna was particularly pleased with her spiral shape.
The next exercise was to have Heleyna build the blocks into patterns from the pink-square patterns I had made.
This was much harder to do. It involves visual spacial as well as hand eye coordination. She did pretty well.
Avila came to join us after she had finished some of her work and she had a go with the blocks too. I have to admit it would not have occurred to me to offer the exercises to Avila as I assumed she would not be interested – but she did some of them just for fun.
Some of you may remember that Avila struggled to learn to read. She showed a lot of dyslexic tendencies; letter reversals, using any letter in a word to work it out, reading from the wrong direction, not seeing word patterns and so on. There was a lot for her to overcome. She is now a fluent reader and her writing rarely shows letter reversals. In maths however she still reads numbers in a higgley way and reverses order and shape of her numbers.
With the cubes she found copying the patters from the pink square sheets very difficult to do. She did self correct, as Dr. Montessori would like, but she needed feedback on whether her correction was correct – which it often wasn’t. I can’t help wondering if this is a dyslexic thing. Visual perception problems in dyslexia is still hotly contended. As with many areas of interest the research is patchy and sometimes not very well done. But that’s immaterial to Avila. I think I will encourage her to use the cubes and do the extension exercises once I have a brown stair.