Learning occurs best when it’s interactive, says the Montessori preschool model. Bring hands-on, cross-curricular activities to all preschool classroom learning centers. Here’s how to make a multicultural cardboard playhouse for Montessori preschool practical life learning centers. Take your practical life area around the world, with a cardboard playhouse that converts to dwelling styles in different cultures. First, use this easy guide to make a refrigerator box cardboard playhouse for practical life learning centers. Next plan your Montessori preschool world tour itinerary.
I developed this idea teaching a Montessori preschool vacation Bible school. In those VBS activities, we “traveled” to visit different saints and missionaries around the world. In one week, we “visited” St. Peter Claver in Cartegna, Columbia and St. Martin de Porres in Peru. We also “met” St. Kateri Tekakwitha in her Native American woodland Indian Algonquin village, Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta, India and St. Francis Xavier in Japan. In the Montessori preschool learning centers, I had to simulate a native American Indian longhouse, a Japanese house, a tribal African grass hut, a Middle Eastern caravan tent and various Asian dwellings, changing scenes daily. So I designed a multicultural practical life area that would be easily adaptable to each place. Here’s how.
Cut a refrigerator box open to make a free standing house. By placing it around one corner of a classroom, you can make a roomy, enclosed play area. Tape bottom flaps to the floor and sides to walls. The outside changes with the different cultures you will study. Let’s use our VBS world tour destinations as examples. For a tribal African grass hut, draw mud or adobe bricks with brown marker. You can also create a brick design by dipping a large cellulose sponge in brown paint. Stamp or print a brick design by making brown paint rectangles on the edge of the house. Hang strips of yellow and orange crepe paper streamers along the top edge of the house to resemble a grass or thatched roof. Cut a doorway and hang a brightly colored towel or scrap of cloth for a doorway. Let the children design the cardboard playhouse and they can pretend they are building their house.
The next day, tape large pieces of blank newsprint paper to cover yesterday’s art to and create a tabula rosa (clean slate!). You’ll do this every day. For a native American Indian long house, print Native American stencils and hieroglyphic tracings for childen to copy and draw. Here are free printable Native American patterns. Or let children design their own. Typical native themes include the eagle, beaver, salmon, moose, bear, otter and turtle. For an Eskimo or Aleutian home, print the brick design with white paint to resemble an igloo. Have children create murals on the outside of their home as if they were native American children. For the Japanese paper house, cover with paper and let children practice Japanese calligraphy.
For the Middle Eastern caravan tent house, drape cardboard playhouse walls with brightly colored fabric. Hang beads or bells in the doorway. You can also drape old plain colored sheets over the cardboard structure and let children paint their tent home. Inside cardboard playhouse practical life learning centers, place an assortment of multicultural baby dolls in various skin tones from around the world. Little children love to play with dolls of many lands, especially those in traditional native costumes. This lesson plan works well with preschool ECSE–early childhood special education–students (formerly called PPI). Special needs students interact beautifully to Montessori preschool learning centers. Older kids love them too. Don’t be surprised if you get a lot of volunteers to help play in Montessori preschool multicultural cardboard playhouse!