Pin punch activities are more than art
Much of the work in the Toddler and Primary classrooms is designed to help children to develop their fine motor skills, which involves the coordination of the body’s small muscles and refinement of their hand control. The development of fine motor skills helps children to learn such things as how to write and important life skills, such as how to dress and feed themselves.
“An adult who does not understand that a child needs to use his hands and does not recognize this as the first manifestation of an instinct for work can be an obstacle to the child’s development,” Dr. Maria Montessori once said.
To give children the opportunity to work with their hands, the Montessori Primary classroom includes the practical life area. This area provides activities that help the children develop and strengthen their hand-eye coordination, aid concentration, develop a sense of order, and facilitate independent functioning. Pouring, polishing and scrubbing are among the lessons found in the practical life area that encourage fine motor skills development.
In both the Toddler and Primary classrooms, the art shelf also provides opportunities to develop these skills. Painting, clay and pasting help to develop these small muscles. The art shelf in both classrooms use pin punch activities to help prepare the child’s hands for the eventual task of holding a pencil and, eventually, mastering the skill of writing.
In the Toddler classroom at Montessori Tides School, teachers allow children who are ready for pin punch to request a jumbo bulletin board pin to punch a picture on construction paper. Supervision in the Toddler classroom is necessary, and the pin punch is kept out of reach when not in use.
Miss Meghan said the colorful paper and drawings that are part of the pin punch work is what initially creates interest in her Toddler classroom.
“Once the child has prepared herself for the work by selecting the tray and finding a seat, we give them the tools, in this case the pin, to complete the task,” Miss Meghan said of pin punch in the Toddler classroom. “The whole process of pin punching exemplifies meaningful work joined by an inner need for deep concentration. It takes practice to refine the hand-eye coordination needed to complete the task, and yet it appears to bring the children joy to be given the proper environment to carry out such an important task.”
In addition to helping children strengthen their hand muscles for holding a pencil, pin punch also helps to develop hand-eye control and concentration.
“It’s hard to summarize the importance of the hands for human beings,” Miss Meghan said, “but in general, one might say the future of our world is in the child’s hands, and, if this is so, then pin punching is one exercise that is directly helping to shape our future.”
For Primary students, pin punch is extended into other areas of the classroom. The Primary students can pin punch such things as the planets, the world or the tree, extending their work on their fine motor skills into science, biology and geography.
These larger activities involve pin punching multiple pieces to create the planets in the solar system, the continents, as well as the leaves, trunk and roots of the tree. After the pin punch work is completed, the children glue the pieces onto paper, paint the background and then decorate their work with stickers. Some activities, such as the world and planet, also involve writing the names of the continents and planets.
To further aid a child’s small motor muscles, parents can set up a pin punch work at home. While a pin punch stylus is available, a large bulletin board pin works well, too. A thick piece of felt or small scrap of carpet, about 6×7 inches, is needed to protect the table surface while the child punches the shape on construction paper.
Paper with simple outlines of seasonal or geometric shapes can be pin punched, and Ms. Johanna recommends pictures with dots, instead of lines, to punch for younger toddlers. Older children might like to draw their own designs to punch. Younger children will need supervision during this activity, and children may need help separating their design from the paper.
In writing about a child’s growth periods in in her book “The Absorbent Mind,” Montessori said, “He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.”