Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links (at no cost to you).
One of the things that Z struggled with up till about 2 months ago is the concept of always going from left to right.
Why teach left to right progression?
The left to right concept is needed in language (specifically English language for us) — letters and words are formed from left to right.
This is why the concept is reinforced and stealthily embedded in a lot of Montessori activities. When presenting cards, or miniatures, or when doing 1-to-1 correspondence, or land/water/air jars — we always present from left to right.
It is over time that a child will eventually get the concept.
But as homeschoolers, I have a one-on-one advantage. When I observed that the concept still eludes him, I tried to come up with several activities and work trays specifically targeted at working on and isolating the concept of left to right.
Left to right activities
1. Sensorial tracing. This is no different than the concept of sandpaper letters — a tactile method of helping our minds remember left to right. I don’t have a photo of this because we already threw it out, but it was a simple card with a horizontal sandpaper strip (like a long ‘minus’ symbol). I attached a little sticker on the left to help him remember where to begin. This was a very simple and quick activity — I don’t always wait for him to choose this activity from the shelf, most times I just take it out, hold it in front of him and ask him to trace it 3 times. That’s it, work done.
2. Using miniatures. I noticed that when he uses his little cars, he can line them up in order. Yet when presented with miniatures that do not have a specific way of facing, he may line them up in random order. So I came up with these activities using things that have a specific way of facing.
- Vehicles. I drew a little traffic light on the left of the strip. The objective is to line up the vehicles at the traffic light, and there is no other way to line them up other than left to right. Once all the vehicles are lined up, the light turns pretend green and he drives each car back to his bowl starting with the first car on the left. Very intuitive and easy to understand for a 3-year old. We used vehicles from this set.
- Lego figures. I drew a slide on the left. The objective is to line up the Lego figures to take turns on the slide.
- Animal miniatures. I used our Safari Toob Zoo Babies miniatures for this, again same concept, standing in line from left to right.
- It doesn’t work if the miniatures are not facing left. For example, if all the vehicles faced up, the activity loses its logic and Z goes back to random ordering.
- Because the activity has a logic to it, a bit of scenario setup was needed in the beginning. In the vehicles example, I explained to him that the vehicles all need to drive up and wait behind the traffic light. And when the light turns pretend green, they need to be driven back to the bowl.
- If you draw placement boxes like in my vehicles example above, it also doubles as a Math one-to-one correspondence activity.
We changed up the miniatures and scenarios a few times, but the activity trays were only on his shelf for about 3-4 weeks. That was how long it took for the concept to sink in about 80-90% (At this young age, I do not expect 100%.) Then we removed the trays because they weren’t needed anymore.
I really like this article — “5 things kids need… before they’re ready to sound out words“. One of the points talks about the concept of print going from left to right. I never used to, but now I will start pointing out the words as I read to Z.
What other miniatures or scenarios can you think of for this activity? I would love to hear your ideas!