Creating meaningful connections through realia, object and/or materials from everyday life, helps to make content meaningful. Realia plays a crucial piece in our classroom environments as students learn a new language and progress towards trilingualism.
Learning a new language means learning lots of new vocabulary. Educators split vocabulary into three tiers to help assess importance, and how best to structure lessons.
How can we Foster Language Learning Through Realia?
Let's face it, the traditional approach of a teacher led classroom filled with textbooks and worksheets is outdated, and does not reflect the Montessori philosophy. Young learners thrive on hands-on activities where they are able to explore the world around them, foster their curious spirit, and development new concepts or scaffold onto previous knowledge. With the help of realia, students can do just that, while also strengthening their native language, or learning a new language.
Rather than reading excerpts about animals from a textbook and regurgitating information onto a worksheet, teachers can create an animal lesson utilizing realia to make content more meaningful. By creating animal cards with the real life photo and name of each of the animals, students can practice pairing the correct animal figurine to the photo and name card that matches. This activity will help students develop their matching skills as they begin learning what each animal looks like and the animals name. Once mastered, teachers can read animal books alongside their students to continue building tier two and three vocabulary (i.e. amphibian, hibernate, etc.), since students have already made the content meaningful through a hands on activity utilizing realia. This activity can then be scaffolded to have students match the photo and name card with the figurine and then sort them by habitat, by color, by place of origin, etc.
Learning language is best done through meaningful learning, like the activity highlighted above, rather than through rote learning, or learning through memorization. While repeating the animal names and showing a photo of the animal will eventually produce the result of memorization, your child will be limited to only remembering this basic concept, rather than using their full potential to understand, apply and analyze this new concept. Realia helps us bridge the gap between language, and a higher level of learning and application within the classroom environment.
Practical Life - Dish Washing
Practical Life is an integral piece of the Montessori philosophy. Practical Life activities, such as dish washing, provide children life long skills to care for themselves and their environment by fostering independence and responsibility. Try setting up a dish washing station in your Montessori inspired home this week to foster independence in your little one by following these easy steps:
Pictured left to right, a Montessori Helper Tower is a fantastic addition to any Montessori inspired home. The tower allows children the opportunity to reach the counter in a safe way with a supported back and sides. The Montessori Helper Tower will help your little one reach the common kitchen sink and can also be multipurposed for your little one to help prepare meals or wash their face in the mirror.
A key piece when creating a dish washing station is to ensure the child has the ability to complete the task independently. Once your child is able to reach the counter and sink independently, we need to ensure they are able to find and use all of the materials needed from start to finish to wash their dish. Some items to consider are a knob brush and soap for easy grasp and release, a dish towel for drying, a small container of dish soap. We also love using the sink extender in our classrooms for our toddler age group to bring the water spout closer to them!
2. Next, it's important to model dish washing for your little one, as they build concept development surrounding this new task. This may look like showing your little one the process while they watch, verbally explaining the process, and utilizing "First,.... Then,...." statements as your little one learns the steps to properly washing their dish.
3. In no time at all, your little one will have gained the independence and skills needed to wash their own dishes after meal time! Tag us in your little ones dish washing experiences on our Instagram @Amicimontessori
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Sean Michael Diana M.A.Ed.