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October 09, 2020

6 Ways to Keep Kids' Hands Busy on a Virtual Call

In a Montessori school, kids are constantly moving. Maria Montessori called her method an "education of movement" because learning happens with and through movement. In this Covid world of virtual schooling, that movement becomes a lot harder to come by. Especially if you are attending a Montessori school virtually, like Nora. While her school tries to balance the amount of time they are on a virtual call and the amount of time they are away from screens, she is spending SO much more time than I would like on a screen. Typically as a screen free family, she wouldn't have any daily screen time. Now, we're looking at a couple hours a day. 

With this virtual model, her need to move hasn't just disappeared. Nor has the need to learn through movement. So, I've been trying to offer her some concrete ways to keep her body engaged in the digital learning. I've found that if her hands stay busy she is much more likely to pay attention and learn from the virtual class. 

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Here are seven ways that we have been keeping her hands busy during these calls:  

Sensory Bin

A simple bin from the dollar spot has been perfect for adding a bit of sensory material to keep hands busy. I have left the bins empty of any other manipulatives so that it doesn't become too distracting. She can watch the screen and just run her hands in the material. So far Foam Alive has been the biggest hit, and I like it because it doesn't dry out. 

Cross Stitch 

A simple patterned kids cross stitch kit {similar} has been super engaging for her. She can work just a little bit at a time on it and then pick it back up when she feels the need. Plus, it will be a pretty reminder of her time when she's all done. The work itself isn't too challenging for her so she can do it pretty mindlessly. 

Finger Knitting

Nora has a lot of experience with finger knitting so this is another easy one for us to include. She can sit and knit without help or needing to thing about it too hard. All she needs is a ball of yard. 

Coloring and Art 

Proving just simple coloring experiences has been really great for Nora as well, and super easy to set up. I've rotated a few options for her including coloring in a coloring/activity book {we love these}, using colored pens to draw, and doing leaf rubbings. 

Sewing Shapes 

Again, Nora is good at sewing, so providing some shapes traced on fabric and some floss has been great for her. I provided more structure just so she would be able to do it more mindlessly, instead of creating new or different patterns which might distract from what she is hearing. This would only be something I would use if your child can independently use a needle and thread. 

A Pet 

Our little dog, Mia, has been joining Nora for some of the sessions. I only let this happen during the class read-a-louds where they are just listening to a book. Nora and Mia enjoy a cuddle and a story; it's very cute. 

Now, this doesn't work every time she is on a screen. There are some lessons where she need to be writing, drawing, or moving Montessori materials around. But, for a lot of the time when it is just listening to stories, or kids talking, or whatever these things have been a lifesaver. 

I know that not every teacher/guide will be as accepting (although I URGE them to be if you are reading this!) But, if your child has to learn via a screen this year, give some of these ideas a try. 

Have you found ways to make virtual learning a bit easier for your child? 

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Erica said…
Thank you so much for this