Wheaton Montessori News
Emersyn, the older child in the picture, is teaching her younger classmates how to play “I Spy” in her multi-age Montessori classroom.
Three miniature objects are placed on the rug in front of the children. Emersyn names the miniature objects aloud, so that the younger children know the name of each object involved in the lesson. (Here, “chest, “apple,” “ball.”)
Emersyn then says, “I spy… something that begins with ‘ch’,” making the sound distinctly for the younger children to hear. The children listen very closely to the sound Emersyn is naming. They look back at the miniature objects, thinking about that sound they’ve heard and trying to match it to the name of the object they’ve just learned. They learn to discriminate sounds and associate those sounds to a word and object. For these young students, this “game” is an important part of Montessori’s systematic, multi-sensory approach to reading and writing.
This isn’t just the older child pouring information into the younger students. This is an opportunity for Emersyn to display her own knowledge: of the lesson, of the names of the objects, of the sounds. She can give the lesson because she’s previously demonstrated her own mastery of it and her ability to communicate what she knows. It’s an opportunity to build self-confidence, learn how to present what she knows to the people around her, and be a role model for the younger students. She’s envisioned herself in this role many times as she’s watched children older than herself “give the lesson” to other classmates.
Want to try it at home? Attached to your Parent Handbook is a list of sounds that are used in this game. Limit the number of objects to three so as to help your child experience success in the game early on.