Home Depot Hacks!
Being fancy with my fingers and accomplishing something through the DIY method was never my thing. The projects I imagined never seemed to turn out the way I pictured them to be. They always looked better in my head! I always admired my friends who could whip things up in an instant and made pretty creations out of paper, scissors and glue. I on the other hand, always ended up with a disaster. Thus, I stayed far away from places like Home Depot, Michael’s and Joanne’s. These crafts and DIY home improvement stores were definitely not on my shopping list. I would always find myself ordering pre-made materials that came with minimal instructions.
But since we found ourselves in the transitional state for a couple of months, I quickly realized that I had to be more resourceful with finding ways to teach the boys. I had to go out of my way to create lesson plans that involved recyclable materials and put together practical life activities with what was currently available. Being in the situation we were in, my husband and I tried to find frugal ways to decorate and improve our new home. I found myself visiting Home Depot (a retailer of home improvement and construction products and services) a lot with him. As we would casually walk around the aisles, I would find random things that were “FREE” (because they were samples) and some that would cost less than $5 to put together as lesson. Ideas of how we can “Montessori-fy” (modify to make it Montessori) started to pop into my head: some of these could be used for the Practical Life area and some of them for the Sensorial area. Most of which required minimal time, creativity and effort to put together. I got excited and started collecting them. I was quickly converted into a Home Depot fan!
Here are some of the Home Depot Montessori activities that turned out to be big hits with our boys. These activities enhanced their fine motor skills, encouraged a lot of independence and concentration and sensorial exploration.
1. Carpet samples
b. Then he put on a blindfold and tried to just use his sense of touch to find the ones that match. He got to check his work after they were all paired up. I’m pretty sure he sneaked in a peek or two through the bottom of the blindfold.
c. Lastly, we took the samples to the “Real World” and compared it to the things around or outside the house that might have the same texture as the samples he had. This is one way to Micah learned to relate what he learned “at school” out into “the world.”
He really enjoyed discovering that the “fake grass sample” could be compared to the real grass in the backyard. It was cool to see that his grandpa’s work mat was the exact same texture as the “blue rug sample” he was holding.
He was delighted to find that his dad’s golf mat had a very similar texture to his “fake grass sample.” He also compared and told me the differences he felt with the different samples and compared it to the real ones he found at home.
Here are some paint samples that are conveniently displayed by the paint section. These help you determine which paint color you would prefer to buy in the different shades they offered. I did not realize how many shades of red or blue or green there were! But these mini-paint samples are a great resource to use as cutting practice sheets for those tiny hands. The sheets are small enough to hold and the lines are short and easy to follow! All your child has to do is cut along the lines.
PS: Make sure you show your child how to use the scissors properly. Find a pair that is sharp so it cuts nicely but small enough to fit into his hands.
3. Floor Samples
These are the four different kinds of floor samples that I picked up on one of our trips to HD namely; Marble, Limestone, Tile and Hardwood. Since I knew that we would have these textures in the different areas of our house, I thought it would be fun and interesting to have the boys explore it and see if they would spot them in the different places. We started by visually matching each of the sheets. Then I had him do it with his eyes shut and just use his sense of touch to “feel” for the same ones. After he got that down, I introduced the names of the different textures. Interestingly enough, he pointed out that the “tiles sample” looked like our bathroom floor and the “hardwood sample” looked like our regular floor underneath the rug. I was excited to see that he had made those observations by himself. He thought the “marble sheet” looked like our quartz counter top but I explained to him that it was a different kind of stone but the colors are very similar. What an interesting lesson that was!
4. RANDOM ROPES!
These are all heavy duty ropes made from different materials that have different textures. They were really sturdy and Titus enjoyed pulling on them a lot. He even took a bite at it. (See the picture below…at least he is using all his senses. HAHA) This activity really encouraged Titus to explore and discover different distinct rough textures that are all new to him. Tugging on them without breaking them made it more engaging and interesting.
5. Nuts and Bolts
Each of these cost about anywhere from 6 cents to a dollar. Some are sold by the pack too. But since I didn’t need that much, I just chose a three that were different sizes (but I knew would be big and heavy enough to hold but small enough to fit in the tray.) You can choose the size and weight that would fit best with your child’s age. Some of bolts were pretty heavy! Then I found the nuts that matched them.
The boys really enjoyed working on this activity. They were engaged and intrigued by the challenge of finding the one that fits perfectly. The twisting motion encourages a lot of wrist action and pincer grip action which will come handy when the they start writing. Concentration and independence was definitely reinforced throughout this activity. The fact that there is one nut for each bolt allows this activity to have a great control of error. (A traditional Montessori material has a control of error which is way for the child to check his own work. There are a number of benefits, including help with the child’s ability to analyze and solve problems. Control of error in the materials also aids the child’s independence, self-esteem, and self-discipline.)
I was really excited to see my boys engaged in these simple yet very interesting activities that were frugal and educational. They were able to discover things using their senses and appreciate the world around them a little bit more though these hands-on experiences. I hope your kids enjoy them too!