The "buried object" work was always one of the most popular "works" at the Montessori school in which I taught. Children would literally stand at the small table for hours finding objects, placing them on the word mat, and then hiding them again. One child even begged his mother to get him to school as soon as the classroom opened, so he could beat his friends to the work. I can't say I really blame him --- it is a fun work.
Little Angel really enjoys it too. I do have to watch out though.... sometimes after she is done, I find "extra" treasures in the bowl where she has buried her own "treasures."
All you need is a bowl of rice,phonetic objects, and a word mat. Some teachers have used beans, however, I have read somewhere that if a child eats a certain type of raw bean, it could be dangerous. Since I cannot remember where I saw it, I thought it was best not to take the chance. You could also use cheerio type cereal, or anything in which you could easily "bury" small objects. The child sticks his/her hand in the bowl, hunts until an object is found and then finds the word that matches the object. The child then places the object beside its name on the word mat.
- Create a word mat with beginning letters of the objects hidden in the bowl (children match object with its beginning sound)
- I haven't tried this myself, but you could also do the same with middle and ending sounds also