Monday, May 24, 2010

Making Memories & Montessori Monday: Buttons, Buttons, Who's Gotta Button?

Peanut butter cup time...a memory and a Montessori tie - in!
Memories of Playing with Buttons:
When I was a little girl, we used to go to my grandparents' home and would get to play with the big jar of buttons she kept in her dining room hutch, which she referred to as "the buffet."
My grandmother, known affectionately as "Gramma Mickey" by her grandchildren, had a rather huge stash of buttons. It was a massive jar with a screw top lid.
She kept her buttons in one of the lower drawers of her buffet. Not something you would normally expect to find in a dining room hutch, but that is where they were kept.
Well, it was always like a treasure trove...truly one of my very favorite things to play with, as I would open up the buffet, carefully carry the over sized jar to the floor, unscrew the lid, and then, would put my hand into the jar and carefully and neatly start scooping out the buttons.
Would count them, sort them, think about where they had been prior to ending up in my Gramma Mickey's button jar, and then, would think of what the buttons would look neat if they were sewn onto, such as on a skirt, a shirt, or a sweater.
It was such a simple thing that kept us grandchildren entertained, but yet, was so fun for us...and not just for me, but for my cousins, who were a bit older.
My cousins had lived in Germany, as my uncle was in the US military...
They would spend time with my grandmother, a.k.a. Gramma Mickey, on and off, in between times spent overseas.
The one big difference though was that they did not seem to know the unwritten, unspoken rules about playing with these buttons, such as:
You have to ask if you may open the buffet to get them out...
You need to treat them with great care...
You may play with them on the floor...
You may take out handfuls at a time, but under no circumstances are you to just pour out the entire jar at one time.
You need to treat each and every button as if it were made of gold...
Then, when you are done, you are to put all of the buttons carefully back into the jar and very neatly place the jar back in the exact spot where you found it.
Under no circumstances are you to pocket the buttons for yourself, as they are for others to enjoy and for Gramma Mickey to use to sew onto clothes.
If Gramma Mickey has a button that you may have, she will give it to don't ask for a button...
You just wait, play nicely, and she will come over and offer you one to take home...
Or she will let you pick out a few to go on something she is making for you...
I was maybe four or five but I knew these rules...
They were never expressly spoken to me, just demonstrated to me by Gramma Mickey.
My older cousins had bopped all over the globe, mostly in Germany, but then, they would pop back to Pennsylvania and stay there while my Uncle was in Vietnam.
His first tour was before I was born, and my one older cousin was actually born while he was over he did not get to know his dad or bond with him until he was a toddler.
My uncle's second tour in Vietnam was when I was little.
I do not remember anything about it, except from what I have been told, but it impacted his children immensely, as when he went over for the second time, they were a bit older and the reality set in that they would not see him for years.
Having a dad off at war does not make for happy children...or confident children...
Well, back to playing with Gramma Mickey's buttons...
When my cousins would come over, they did not play by her unwritten rules...
They would spill the buttons all over the floor, throw them, pocket some, not put them back to where they were supposed to go in the buffet and so forth.
They were having fun, at least on the surface, but just made a huge mess.  And then, inevitably, they would get caught...caught making a mess, caught stuffing buttons into their pockets, caught not putting the jar back in its proper place or all of the above...
It really frustrated my grandmother.
She would generally mutter something half under her breath like "That is what happens when your dad is out of the respect."
Sometimes, she would try to be a little more direct in trying to show them how to take care of the buttons, but sometimes, she would lose her patience and all of the buttons would be confiscated and the fun would be over...for a few days at least...
Flash forward to becoming a teacher...over the years, there were children who did not seem to know the underling rules of how something is supposed to be treated, whether it was how to treat a friend, how to use a material, or how to do a particular work. There were also children who acted act as they were frustrated about something tied in with their lives outside of the school day.
Photo used with permission.  Thank you, Lori. 
Copyrighted by  Lorimarsha, Refined Designs. Wear. Smile. Repeat. Eco-conscious Recycled Fashion
Reflections and how it relates to Montessori:
In the Montessori environment, there are more opportunities for children to learn from each other, but that does not always mean that a child will get it and do as they are supposed to...
As frustrating as it is, it is up to the adults in the situation to try to be patient and kind, as well as to redirect a child who is struggling with using a materials or treating a friend nicely.
My grandmother tried to be patient and tried to redirect them as she knew how, but it just seemed like an uphill battle with them. She had every right to be frustrated (it frustrated me and I was a preschooler!)
What did seem to work in the classroom with children who did not get it is when they were asked to demonstrate how to correctly do something, was to model and then, maybe have someone else model it yet again and again until they got it...maybe for several attempts at doing the work, a particular child might need to see the work done again and again, with different people demonstrating the work.
Also seems to help to have a child who is floundering to be encouraged to choose a work that they love and are proficient at doing so that they are made to feel more confident...
Kind of gently guided free choice...
Maybe if my grandmother would have been able to be more consistently patient or would have been able to sit with us and model step by step for them to follow...maybe that would have worked...not totally sure, but the thought has crossed my mind over the years when I have had students with difficult situations, including students living in a shelter, students with incarcerated parents, students with parents who travel overseas all or most of the time, students whose parents lived in different countries, as well as students with parents deployed in the theater in the US Military.
What is so nice about the Montessori environment is that it encourages older ones in the room to take on the role of being the model for the little ones...but it also works out that sometimes, little ones who get it can actually be helpful by working with an older one who does not seem to get it as well...
Montessori tie in:
Inspired works and work extensions using buttons
Photo used with permission. Thank you, Lori.  
Copyrighted by Lorimarsha, Refined Designs. Wear. Smile. Repeat. Eco-conscious Recycled Fashion
Practical Life:
Demonstrate how to button.
Introduce the button dressing frame to a young child.
Demonstrate how to sew a button on to a piece of cloth.
How to Sew a Button
To make it into a Montessori work, be sure to have all necessary items to sew a button onto cloth on a tray...A few pieces of cloth, thread, needle, scissors, tiny basket filled with buttons
Have a child string buttons onto a piece of yarn.
Have a child do a dry transfer work with buttons.
Try the work with a scoop, tongs, chopsticks, spoon, etc.
Have a work set up for a child to wash and dry plastic buttons. 
Have a child sort the buttons to go with the color tablet boxes...
Use different sized buttons to make homemade sound cylinders.
Do as a work by making two of the exact same sound cylinder and have them match the two containers.
Have works set up where a child can use the buttons to count, do patterns, etc.
Sorting, Counting Classifying Lesson 
Here, the buttons are being used with the Montessori wooden numbers.
Here are some lesson plans that correlate with the book, The Button Box by Margarette S. Reid. These lessons could be easily tweaked to work within a Montessori inspired home or a Montessori classroom...
Statistics Lesson
This lesson is by PBS.
This lesson is from NCTM.
Photo used with permission. Thank you, Lori. 

Copyrighted by Lorimarsha, Refined Designs. Wear. Smile. Repeat. Eco-conscious Recycled Fashion
Classify the buttons:
Magnetic  / nonmagnetic
Natural vs. man made materials
Identify the region or the history of a particular button.
Classify buttons for particular holidays, such as pictured above, Christmas buttons. 
The Button 
Box by Margarette S. Reid (1990, Hardcover)
Read The Button Box by Margarette S. Reid.

Use buttons as an extension with the grammar boxes
Use buttons with command cards
(Place the button in the the button behind the basket, etc. )
Make a mobile with buttons hanging down from the mobile.
Make button imprints by pressing buttons into PlayDoh or clay.
Set up an art area to make a button multi-media collage or sculpture.
Have a variety of materials for a child to choose from to make a multi-media collage or sculpture.
Creative Writing:
Have a child select a button and then, write a story about where that button has been.
Perhaps it is a button that was on a uniform, or was part of a costume, or was on someone special's outfit. 
Photo used with permission. Thank you, Beau!
Photo copyrighted by Beau Bergman of  Down Under Antiques. 

All in all, buttons can be quite fun...just be sure to demonstrate for a child how to use the buttons properly and if for some reason, they are off task, very gently redirect them and model and have others model how to use them correctly.

Please be sure to check out:
Jennifer's Making Memories Monday link-ups,
Jody's Montessori Monday at Mommy Moment link-ups,
and Nicole's Montessori Monday link-ups.

Happy Monday, everyone!


Discovering Montessori said...

Oh, thank you so much for sharing!! I love your story about your grandma and how you tied in montessori. I love button activities. I'll have to try some of these.

The Sunshine Crew said...

In case anyone is reading this, I am up at my mom's and had set this to automatically publish at 1:00 pm and I am not back yet and have not gotten to update the links for Jennifer, Jody, and Nicole. If you click on the link in my post, it will take you to last week's Making Memories post on Jennifer's and last week's Montessori Monday posts on Nicole's and Jody and Lena's. When you go to their blogs, hit home and you will be redirected to their respective posts for today. I will also do my links to them when I get home.
I also got permission to attach some very cool button photos from an artist and Etsy storefront owner, so I will post those when I get back, too. Thanks Lori!!!

Jennifer said...

Another great post, Colleen! Thank you for sticking with Making Memories Monday! Maybe you can help me: I'm trying to learn more about Montessori with the 6-9 crew. I can't decide whether to do on-line training or to just do an independent study on my own. What would you recommend? Can you or your readers recommend an on-line course? How about books to read on my own? Or maybe you recommend blogs that use Montessori with older kids: mine are 6 & 9? I really want to incorporate more Montessori principles into our day, but I'm more familiar with Montessori in the preschool years. HELP!

Mommy Moment said...

Great pictures!
You are sure great at tying everything together!
I am catching up on reading blogs- had over 400 in my Google reader when I got home LOL.
Talk to you soon!


Nicole said...

LOVE this post! I really need to add to our button collection; we have lots of different colors but no fun shapes. Thanks for all the great ideas, and thanks for linking to Montessori Monday. :)

Mari-Ann said...

WOW wow wow!! This is a great post - I'm starring it in my google reader for later reference. Thanks for sharing!!

Pip said...

Thanks for popping over to my blog and giving me the opertunity to find yours!
This post really struck a note with me as i have been thinking back to fond memmories of our button tin as i was growing up. I don't know if it was my nans or my mum as nan lived with us but i had such fond memories of this tin of wonder.
After a chat with a friend about her experience of her mums button box, i decided to start collectiong some buttons for my boys to enjoy. Not many in the box at the mo but i think we can do some hunting and build up our collection!

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