My family has participated in the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge since it started in 2011. We participated as an adult family until this year when we’re able to include 14-month-old Zoey. Even as adults, we used some Montessori principles during our challenge. This year, we’re using even more Montessori principles as we include a toddler.
Using Montessori Principles with a Toddler or Preschooler in the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge
Montessori principles are probably most commonly associated with toddlers and preschoolers, so our 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge this year looks more like a traditional Montessori activity. Here are some of the principles I’m using with my granddaughter.
- I use the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge as a way to introduce Montessori grace and courtesy to Zoey. Sometimes I’ll show Zoey how we do a kind act. At other times, I just talk with her about a kindness we did or that someone did for us.
- I have a tray with a laminated 100 Acts of Kindness Chart and small containers of heart stickers. If Zoey were a bit older, I’d use this partly to reinforce work on the Montessori hundred board. Even though that isn’t a focus right now, she’s still gaining an unconscious image of the hundred board. I don’t use the chart as a reward chart. It’s simply a countdown and way to talk about kindness.
- I showed Zoey how to put stickers on the chart. She’s still learning how to use stickers, and this is a great activity for fine-motor skills and concentration.
- Because stickers are only placed on the number of spaces associated with acts of kindness, I included an extra container of stickers and another paper on the tray. After placing the stickers on the spaces used that day for the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge, Zoey is given the other container and paper to continue placing stickers as long as she wishes. This is important because of the value of repetition in meeting the needs of a young child’s sensitive periods. I would leave the tray with stickers on a low shelf for a preschooler or older toddler. Because Zoey still needs a lot of direction with this, I keep the tray in a separate area that I bring out when we work on the 100 Acts of Kindness Chart.
- Zoey uses a child-size table and chair when we work with the stickers.
- I follow Zoey’s lead in doing the activity. If she wouldn’t be interested one day, I would save it for another day. See “Top 10 Montessori Principles for Natural Learning” at Living Montessori Now for more about using Montessori principles in the home.
- I treat Zoey with kindness. (This is easy because she’s such a sweetheart.) As Maria Montessori said: “Let us treat them [children], therefore, with all the kindness which we would wish to help to develop in them.”
UPDATE: I used Montessori principles in the 2016 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge, too: Focusing on Toddler Manners in the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge.
See “Montessori-Inspired Kindnesss” at living Montessori Now for more ideas of Montessori-inspired kindness activities.
Using Montessori Principles with Children or Adults of Any Age in the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge
Montessori emphasizes following individual interests, which is important for both children and adults. I use that principle to encourage my kids and kids-in-law to use the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge in a way that works for them. It’s often nice to use it just to place an extra focus on doing random acts of kindness. Other times, a more specific project works well in following an interest.
My daughter and I are both interested in helping females have a positive body image. We used this interest last year to combine 100 Acts of Kindness and Operation Beautiful.We both found it fun and meaningful … and we hope we helped some females feel better about themselves in the process.
I’d love to hear if you’re participating in the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge this year! If you aren’t already, it isn’t too late to start. Be sure to check out the weekly challenges at Toddler Approved and Coffee Cups and Crayons. 🙂
The first week’s challenge is lots of fun! It’s to “Hide 5 love notes in secret places where your family members can find them.” Isn’t this love note from my son-in-law to my daughter sweet?!
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