Hot Dots - Interactive Learning by Play and Self Correction

If you sift back through my previous posts on The Montessori Method you will see a strong connection here between these particular learning tools and one of the main Montessori Missions about encouraging autonomy by way of self correction.

A simple example would be the "classroom" in a Montessori school. You may notice the children are using mini sized porcelain dishwater, and drinking from actual glasses. In most children's centers/schools you will see them using plastic dishes, and utensils, for safety reasons. Why on earth would a 2 year old be allowed a glass cup? There are a few reasons behind it and the two unrelated to this post like learning to manage their movements within the fragility of the environment around them, or simply to empower them by letting them user real things understanding that we trust and respect them. Those said, the most relatable lesson here would be learning natural consequences of dropping a dish or glass on the floor and to provide an excellent opportunity to learn about clean up safety.

When we prevent mistakes we give less value to mastering a concept. There is no impression made to recall at later times, "If I run, I could drop my glass like last time. It can break. It could make me or my friends fall and get hurt if I spill my drink and don't clean it up." So the goal is to encourage recalling mistakes and self correcting when presented the same situation in the future, and this child would hopefully recall his mistake dropping the glass and remember that the cups are breakable and that he needs to make the right choice based on the current variables in his environment and where he is at in that particular space. I will plug in another good book by (Julia Cook -See my author review here )- the book is titled, "Be Where Your Feet Are!"

So, what are Hot Dots and how are they relatable to this concept? The above scenario is a great example of promoting autonomy. Autonomy is the freedom from external control or influence; or in shorter form, independence. This confidence is key to healthy learning, being able to navigate an error, and correct without being told he/she is wrong.

The Hot Dots cards are cards that use a pen to navigate the answers. If your child chooses the wrong dot (a cold dot) they will know by the reaction of the pen. The pens have two modes, light up + vibrate mode and sound +light + vibrate mode. Green = correct and red = incorrect, they will also go through a series of different responses such as "Yes! Great! an Error sound, "Sorry" etc..." making each response different that way they are more likely to pay attention and differentiate between the different tactile, visual and auditory signals/ "codes."

They are able to sit and work independently learning by way of self correction. At first, your child may just go through the cards quickly only enjoying the reactions... don't be fooled, although it seems they are just playing around they are still finding and making a connection with that one right answer. The response from the pen stimulates them to recognize the right answer regardless. I do recommend sitting down with your child the first few times and prompting a few critical thinking questions to help them rule out the wrong answers. Here is an example card:

When we do pattern recognition here at home, I always "sing" the variables in their own tone, almost like a song... for instance I may sing it like this, "banana (high) apple (higher) orange (highest) and again, banana (high) apple "Blank (higher)" If she selected banana for this cards answer (when the actual answer is orange,) I would sing it with the same tone I used for banana in the original tune.... it would sound like this, "banana (high) apple (higher) banana (lower)" She would likely self correct with this auditory prompt and be fine, getting the answer correct on her own.

If it were a critical thinking card with multiple choices and she chose the incorrect answer, before allowing her to continue, I would read the sentence with the choice she chose and then re-read the sentence 3 times, each time with each of the 3 different choices and then let her try again. This is essentially training your child on how to successfully navigate and conquer a test question.

A short video showing Hot Dots in action!

This is one card from the sounds and digraphs set! (This is an older set, here is the newer version!)

They are super easy to store on the shelf, and for the littles to grab themselves and start learning! We keep ours in a basket we got from the dollar store!