One of the activities I felt was lacking in my child’s previous Montessori experience was the use of extensions. No, I’m not talking about artificial hair pieces! Extensions are activities that are introduced after the initial presentation with a material, in order to encourage the child to re-visit the material and solidify the skills and/or concepts it’s designed to provide.
Yesterday, my son came out of his new school with a huge smile, holding this painting:
This is a perfect example of an extension. In his classroom, there’s a tree puzzle (aff link), used to give three-year olds the names of the parts of a tree. Once the child has mastered the puzzle (which Zach probably did at his old school), there’s not much he’ll spontaneously do with it. And most children won’t voluntarily re-visit a material once they’ve figured it out.
Zachary’s new teacher invited Zachary to build the puzzle on top of a white sheet of paper, and trace the outline. Then, she showed him how to use finger paints to create all the different parts of the tree. This forced Zachary to slow down and really analyze the shapes of the tree parts and the relationship between them.
When I asked him to tell me about his painting, he pointed out the roots, trunk, branches and leaves. Through this enjoyable activity (which probably kept him focused for a while), he learned new words and became aware of the relationship between the parts, while enjoying some fun finger painting!