Saturday, April 04, 2009

Book Review: Teach Me To Do It Myself

Teach Me To Do It Myself: Montessori Activities For You and Your Child, by Maja Pitamic, published by Dorling Kindersley. (I think it has been republished under another title - I Can Do It: Play-and-Learn Activities to Help Your Child Discover the World the Montessori Way)

If you want Montessori for Dummies, this book is for you. If you want educational theory, lots of information about Maria Montessori and her philosophy, and the whole Montessori caboodle then it isn't. Teach Me Do It Myself has a limited remit, but what it does it does very well indeed.

The book has a simple format. It is a collection of activities to do with your child, divided into five sections: Life Skills, Developing the Senses, Language Development, Numeracy Skills, and Science Skills. I have read enough about Montessori to see that the activites are all based on the standard Montessori sequence, but the author uses layman's language rather than Montessori terms ("life skills" instead of practical life, "graduated building blocks" rather than pink tower). It completely removes the whole Montessori mystique and what is left is clear, simple and looks very do-able. At the beginning there is a brief (very brief!) introduction to Maria Montessori and her method, a double-page, bullet-pointed list of instructions as to how to use the book, and a set of frequently asked questions. After that you simply get on and do it.

Within each section the activities are presented in sequence of difficulty, and each activity ends with some extension ideas. Almost all the activities in the book can be put together using items you are likely to have at home without requiring a great deal of preparation time. A few worksheets are included at the back of the book so that you can make simple manipulatives, including a very basic set of red and blue number rods using thick card.

Each activity is set out in the same clear and simple format:

  • A brief introduction explaining what skill the activity is intended to teach or develop
  • A "tip box" with suggestions on how best to present the activity
  • A list of what is needed for the activity
  • Simple bullet pointed instructions on how to present the activity.
  • Other related activities to try
The activities are suitable for children from age two or three up to five. The author avoids giving age suggestions for individual activities so that children can progress at their own pace.

I have toyed with the idea of using Montessori at various times and did dabble a little when Angel was young, but I soon gave up because I couldn't justify buying lots of expensive Montessori items and doing it myself just seemed too overwhelming (I think I gave up making sandpaper letters somewhere around F!). This book makes the idea of dipping a toe into Montessori seem both attractive and manageable. After the Easter break I am going to try a few of the activities with Cherub and see how it goes.


Jennifer said...

Great review! I've been wanting something just like this - an introduction of sorts. I'm curious about Montessori, but also overwhelmed. This looks perfect.

Melanie B said...

I am just like you. Every time I get convinced by some blogger that Montessori just looks so intriguing, I'm completely put off by the idea of having to buy or make lots of materials. I've got one book, can't recall the title, that has many great looking activities; but almost every one of them would require me to go out and buy something.

I'm adding this book to my wish list. It sounds intriguing.