## Monday, November 26, 2012

### 8 Montessori-Inspired Learning Activities with a Battleship Game

Games that are meant for older kids can be used for fantastic early learning activities for the younger set.  I recently found a travel-sized Battleship game for \$5, and my 3-year-olds have been having a great time using it for all sorts of neat Montessori-inspired educational activities.

Fine Motor Skills Practice

Our travel-sized Battleship game has ridiculously small pegs (don't let all the close-up pictures fool you - these pegs are teeny tiny).  Putting them into the pegboard is a great exercise for fine motor skills (pincer-grip) and concentration.  My kids really focused on this one, and I was very happy to see that they didn't get frustrated when the pegs slipped out of their hands or didn't go in as they intended.

One-to-One Correspondence and Counting

Put some battleships down and have your child put the pegs in the holes.  This is great for practicing one-to-one correspondence and also for counting.  I also challenged E to tell me how many holes were in each ship without counting (recognizing groups up to 5), and then put the pegs in to see if she was correct.

Matching, Sorting, and Ordering

The pegs can be sorted by color.  If this is too easy for your child, make it more of a challenge by mixing them all up and then using a stopwatch or timer to see how fast he/she can sort them.  The battleships are great for matching (by looking at shape and size), and also for ordering by length.

Sequencing

Start a couple rows with some 2-color sequences (ABAB, AAB, AABB, etc..) and ask your child to complete the pattern.

Geometry

L (3) especially enjoyed making geometric shapes using the Battleship game as a pegboard.  It really takes a lot of visual-spatial awareness, geometry skills, and planning to figure out how to make a specific shape.

Map Skills and Coordinate Grid

Point out the row and column labeling to your child and demonstrate how to look up a specific coordinate by running one finger across the correct row and then the other finger down the correct column.  A fun game is for one person to make a simple design on their pegboard without letting the other see, and then calling out the color and the coordinate of each peg to see if the other person can replicate the pattern.  If your child can master this skill he/she might be ready to play the actual Battlefield game.  I've done some coordinate grid practice with my kids before, but usually for a much smaller grid, so we still have some work to do on this one.

Letters, Numbers, and Words

The pegboard can be used to form letters and 2-letter words.  It can also be used to make numbers (think analog clock).

Patterns and Creativity

It came as no surprise that my kids' favorite activity using the Battleship pegboard was to create their own patterns and shapes.  In the pictures above, all three of us worked on a pattern of squares, then E made a dog, and L made a house.  This is a great opportunity to be creative, and I think I had just as much fun playing with making patterns as the kids did.

With Battleship I'm so glad that I found a game that my kids can play 'correctly' when they are older, but can still entertain and educate them now.  Every time I've taken this game out, L and E have concentrated on it for such a long time.  One day while L was taking a nap, E and I played with the pegs for over an hour - learning, experimenting, and chatting the whole time.  We had such a good time that it brings a huge smile to my face thinking about it.