I introduced the Montessori nuts and bolts activity to Z recently. It’s a great activity for toddlers to work on their fine motor skills and his pincer grip in particular.
While I would have preferred to use real nuts and bolts from the hardware store, I had these plastic ones from a toy set handy, so I thought I’d give it a test drive first. I chose four different colored bolts with matching nuts. Not only does he get to work on his fine motor skills, he also gets to practice his color matching skills.
(And if he decides to goof off and mismatch the colors, I’m fine with that as well. He’s already mastered that skill, and it’s great for him to now explore how the colors play off and work with each other.)
You can see him concentrating on twisting the bolt — pincer grip and hand twisting motion both hard at work. His non-dominant hand gets a pincer grip workout too, as he needs to grip the nut so that it doesn’t move.
In the beginning, you can see him trying to figure out which part he needs to move. He tried to move both at first, sort of like a two handed twist dance, then he figured out that one part needs to be held constant while the other moves.
He’s also tried to twist the nut instead of the bolt. But he quickly learned that it’s easier to twist the bolt for this particular activity and the way I designed it.
On a separate note, you’ll notice that he’s working at the shelf instead of the table. In Montessori, we teach the child to bring a work tray to the table, work with the materials, undo it to the original way he found it, and finally put the tray back on the shelf.
It is clear that Z is not yet normalized in our homeschool setting. He’ll sometimes get so attracted to a work that he starts to work right at the shelf. I’ll remind him to bring the tray to the table if I catch him earlier, but this is one of those times where I was busy so I didn’t catch him. In this case, I don’t interrupt him. I’ll let him finish the work at the shelf so that I don’t break his concentration.