As part of getting my Language shelves up and running, I prepared a new activity that I wanted to share. I call it the Parking Lot Game. It is not my original idea. I know I found it on a teacher's website, but I can't remember for sure which one. (It may have been Little Giraffes. I used this website a LOT last year when co-teaching. Mrs. Flanagan has so many great ideas for thematic activities and shares them freely on her website along with lots of photos to show you just how things look. I highly recommend checking out her many resources.)
Anyway, I made up the parking lot boards by just drawing them with a wide black marker. I copied them on gray cardstock (to represent concrete) and laminated them. See the photos and description below.
For my language activity, I used a black Sharpie marker to make two boards for each of the three letter groupings. The red boards are pictured above. I wrote the letters randomly on each board so they wouldn't be identical. This way, if a child chooses to play with a friend, they can't "cheat" and look at where their friend "parked." The gist of the game is that the child chooses a board and a car and "drives" to the correct space. In the photo at right, I pulled out a picture card of a baby. If the child picked "baby", they would drive to the "b" space which represents the initial sound in "baby." I will probably make little color-coded pouches of pictures to use with this work.
There are several possible variations of this activity. For example, you could write sight words, CVC words, math facts, etc., on the boards. When I used these boards during the past school year, I used them with small groups of children and since I was leading the activity, I was the one who said which sound or word they should park on. In my Montessori classroom, I will set it up so children can do it independently (as shown above). If you plan to change the content on the board frequently, dry-erase markers work fine and can be easily cleaned off. However, nail polish remover will take off permanent marker on a laminated surface.
Although this is obviously not a traditional "Montessori" activity, I like it very much for its novelty and applicability to reviewing a variety of skills. Driving the little cars is a very intriguing point of interest for the children. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of "point of interest" as it applies to Montessori education, I wrote about it in this post.