Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Holidays

I hope you are all having a nice break. We are planning for the new year and looking forward to seeing everyone next Monday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

more Montessori kids

Here are a few people who also revelled in the experience of a Montessori education:


Thursday, December 11, 2008

we've got time

The clock is placed low on our wall, but most of the class is at a complete loss as to the meaning of the numbers. Hence, we've been encouraging the use of the Montessori clock materials. First, a child simply matches the clock face to the "1 o'clock" or other corresponding label. Then the clock faces are stamped in the tablet and the child writes the time and draws on the clock's hands. A slew of other activities follow, then the child works on the "half past" clock faces.

Before introducing the "quarter to" and "quarter past" clock faces, I like to use this material that Mrs. T, designed. It is perfect for garnering an understanding of all the numbers and minute notations on a clock. All this takes time, though. The children are young, and learning to tell time is not easy. We encourage but must never frustrate. The goal of Montessori is to give the children the tools to succeed on their own.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

writing "stories"

Some of the children have begun writing stories. Mrs. D. first suggested the assignment to the class in general. At that time, many of the children looked at her with looks of surprise. Within seconds, some of those looks changed to smiles at the thought that Mrs. D. found the class to be so capable. Since then, a number of children of varying levels often choose to write stories. The subjects range from "a cat sat on a mat" to family and school events. They are usually one small tablet page in length. The importance of all this is the evident self confidence to try something bold and that these simple stories are advancing fine motor, word order, decoding and spelling skills and giving the children another way of expressing themselves. Not everyone has begun this adventure. Some need more time and when we see they are ready, we will not fail to encourage them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dancing around the room...

Enthusiastic dancers following Rob as he beat a drum and sang a lively Native American tune.

In November Rob came and spoke to the children about the local native American culture. Ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta went his drum as we entered the basement room where he had baskets, skins and artifacts waiting for us to see and touch. He told us the story about Rainbow Crow. The children were thrilled to feel the warm winter fur of a deer and the prized softness of a beaver's fur. Later, in the classroom, L.W. practiced weaving and many drew pictures of Rainbow Crow. This one was drawn by E.N. The next school day, L.W. brought in this paper model of a Native American rattle that she had made at home. She remembered Rob's rattle made from a deer's leg bone and hoof nails.

Monday, November 24, 2008

helping each other

Just had to post this, although it was taken a few weeks ago on a cool day. However, many of the children are still always eager to help when the need arises. If someone drops a little drawer of division beads, there is an immediate patter of feet as numerous children rush to contain them.

More recently, we've been reading and talking about the Native Americans and how they once lived. Here, two boys proudly show off the little mat they wove with plant stems.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Everyone's excited about reading!

Here is J.F. after matching pictures with their beginning sounds. This was a few weeks ago. She's beyond that now, making words with the "mumfable alphabet". Oops!

It's the moveable alphabet. And here is M.B. moving around the letters to form words. Listening for the sounds in the words hones reading and spelling skills. Learning to read well is a gradual process taken one step at a time.

We strive to have each child practice reading skills every single day.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

An alpaca, colorful Diwali and jumping in leaves

On Friday morning a darling alpaca visited the school, then R.M.'s and T.M.'s mothers told us about the Indian holiday, Diwali. They showed how colorful designs called rangolis are made on the sidewalk outside of homes. With the traditional materials of yellow, orange and black lentils and rice flour they led the children in making several rangolis. Here is L.C., H.K., L.K. and E.N. working on a design.

Later, upon seeing leaves covering the playground, the children took their little rakes and made this large, soft pile, then took turns jumping and tumbling into them. This is A.T.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

With velcro so prevalent, I sometimes wonder if we really need to know how to lace. But then, this morning, as I was tying my shoes, the lace suddenly snapped. It doesn't happen often, but I suppose lacing is a handy skill.

Tying, like lacing is learned through practice, usually just a few times, once each day. With tying, though, I tell the child that s/he is really teaching her or his fingers to tie. Each bow helps their fingers learn another step of the procedure. I am just as excited as the child when those little fingers are able to tie a bow all by themselves.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Parade

Today the children came to school dressed in their Halloween costumes. There were princesses, heroes, friendly creatures and witches and even a helicopter. The children gathered inside their classrooms as their parents gathered outside with cameras in hand. It is always such a sweet surprise for the children, as they emerge from the school onto the porch, to see the paparazzi that awaits.
Lucky for us that we had a sunny day to parade around the park. Back inside, we read stories, created art, sang songs, practiced French and shared treats. The children work so hard every day. This was a well-deserved break.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just 4 of the adorable jack-o-lantern bags made by the children for their Halloween treats.
Because skeletons are one of the Halloween icons, we've been learning about the bones in our bodies. You'll soon see cut and pasted skeletons and painted skeletons coming home. Since one of our students recently broke a bone, this lesson is especially meaningful.

It's the season for apples. Mrs. T. made this apple matching exercise, then helped the children peel and cut their apples to be cooked for applesauce. As it cooked, the whole school enjoyed the scent. All agreed that the applesauce tasted delicious.

I wasn't quick enough to get a shot of anyone peeling their apples. Here is the aftermath. We showed the children how to hold the apple and peel away from themselves and their fingers. Then Mrs. T. or I washed and cut their apples in half, cored them and watched as each child cut the halves into quarters, keeping hands and fingers always on top of the little knife. Again, I couldn't get a picture. As you could imagine, all my attention was focused.

Friday, October 24, 2008

We are pleased that everyone now has the habit of turning off the bathroom light and closing the door when finished. However, determining if the bathroom was occupied or unoccupied was difficult. Clever Mrs. T. solved the problem. When the switch is lowered, the light is off, therefor the bathroom is empty, or open. When the switch is up, the light is on because someone is occupying the room, and so we say it is closed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From caterpillars to the leaves they eat ~

Here are some of the caterpillars the children made from the egg cartons. They're creeping up our walls! But enough about bugs. Now we're examining leaves! We are using some of the zillion maple leaves covering the playground to make leaf rubbings and prints.

The children made little Parts of Leaves books, labeling a leaf's veins, petiole, midrib, margin and blade. Last week we took advantage of the beautiful weather to hike over to the park in search of specimens for leaf books.
Here they are at the base of an oak tree, discovering the acorns hanging above and even more on the ground around it.
Upon returning to the classroom the leaves were pressed in books. Today we worked together to identify, label, create covers and bind them. The finished products brought many sweet smiles.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

crickets, grasshoppers and woolly bear caterpillars

Showing the class a Woolly Bear caterpillar. We could see its little pro-legs and its true-legs.
With great concern, these children spent part of their playground time searching for food to nourish our classroom guest.
Then R.D. found this young cricket. All who came to look at it saw the long delicate antennae that distinguish crickets from grasshoppers, who have short thick antennae.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Seguin boards

This is Seguin Board I. With this, a child learns that our teen numbers are made up of a ten and a number of units. It helps children in writing these numbers and in understanding our base ten system. E.C. caught onto this quickly and had a good time with the task.
This is the Seguin Board II. A.N. is matching the correct number of ten bars and a one to nine bead bar to a two digit number. Through this Seguin Board children gain a better understanding of two digit numbers to 99.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

getting buggy on insects

Thank you so much for all the egg cartons that were sent in for our class. The children are still busy making their own insects with 6 legs, 2 wings, 2 eyes and 2 antenna, of course. Here is E.W. and J.K. painting their creations.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

hanging around on the playground

H.K., A.T., T.K., L.Z. (not yet in our class), M.L. and A.N having a blast on a beautiful day.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Solving division problems with the Division Board is usually a popular activity. With this material a child can divide one and two digit dividends by up to nine divisors. Skittles are used for the divisors and beads are used for the dividends. It is easy and entertaining for a child to see when the beads are shared equally among the skittles and when there is a remainder. We often are besieged with two or three children happily pleading "I want to do division".

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Bank Game

As in all Montessori classrooms, the range of math materials the children use is wide. But all of the math concepts and procedures are taught through handling the special materials designed about one hundred years ago by Maria Montessori. They count beads to solve simple addition, subtraction and multiplication problems. They use the division board to solve simple division problems. The Seguin boards show the children the base ten system in our teen and double digit numbers.
The bank game, pictured above, shows the relationships between the units, tens, hundreds and thousands. Eventually many of the children will use the thousand cubes, hundred squares, ten bars and units of the bank game to solve simple and long math problems. When I was a child, I learned to do long addition through memorizing the trick of working from right to left, placing the right digit of a 2 digit answer under the problem's line and carrying the left digit into the next line of numbers to add. It worked, but children do much better when, through the use of the Montessori materials, they discover and understand why.
I'll follow this, soon, showing you the division board and the Seguin boards.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How was your day?

Many children give no more than a one word answer to this question. Not much to satisfy a parent's curiosity about their child's day in school. Here's an idea and some questions to ask to get your child to "spill the beans" on his/her daily activities.

View this blog together, discussing the pictures and who might be in them.

Ask any or a few of these and your own questions:

Was anything funny today?
Did you help anyone today? Who? How?
Did anyone help you?
Who did you work with today?
Who did you play with?
Did you learn something new today?
What choices did you make today?
Did anything surprise you today?
Was anything challenging for you today?
Did you discover anything today?
What questions were you asked today? How did you answer?
What problems did you solve today?
Can you draw a picture or make up a song about something you did in school today?

If you have any other good ideas to share with fellow parents please share them in a comment.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

spider webs

First the children paint the ground, stems and grasses, then they paste on flower petals, a yarn web, 8 spider legs and a pom-pom head and spider body. Here are a few of the resulting spider web pictures. They certainly have brightened up these rainy days.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Is it even, or is it odd?

Here is S.S. with her completed Cards and Counters work. It drew the attention of several of her classmates. Quite a few opened new tablets to list numbers under even or odd headings. Children are reviewing and moving forward with new material. Most are learning the routine of a new classroom, having snack, choosing activities and helping to keep their room and materials neat and orderly.
Remember, to see any image larger, just click on it. And don't forget the PODS meeting on Monday 7 to 8 P.M.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Meet the Teacher

Summer is at its end. Even the weather feels as such. Tonight is our Meet the Teacher night. Classrooms are prepared. The cubbies are labeled with lots of new names. Teachers are ready and looking forward to welcoming a new group of smiling and chatty children on Tuesday. Although many of the faces in our classroom will be familiar, I am excited to really get to know each child's strengths and interests. Along with reading and math, we base a good part of our curriculum on shared interests. The projects, learning sessions and discussions that arise will enliven our classroom throughout the year.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer Renewal

We're well into summer, and two big projects are nearly complete. Two of our teachers have reorganized the materials and supplies room and the small playground has grown with the addition of a super-large sandbox. "Where", you say, "could a super-large sandbox actually fit?" You'll be surprised to see how nicely the small playground has been extended.
The Summer Session has ended. Classrooms are full or filling up, calendars and supply lists for the upcoming year are being mailed and teachers are readying their curricula.

Here's a snappy picture of a dad made by his adoring daughter for Father's Day in June.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yay for Reading Skills!

The entire class has been ecstatic about our "treasure" hunts on the playground. During our morning work time groups of 4 are escorted outside. Each child grasps a different set of instructions to follow toward a hidden treasure. Some finds require perseverence. But these "pirates" don't give up and they are awfully eager to help each other.
Today is our School Spring Picnic with each class providing entertainment. We had our last rehearsal this morning. Everyone is giving it their best. They'll be giving a great performance!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

classroom tidbits

- signing the Thank You note for another yummy snack.
- a rousing time playing the Money Game.
- planning routes for cross-country trips.

Monday, June 9, 2008

so many artists

Simply looking carefully and talking about what is seen opens many eyes to more details than I imagined. We started with a beautiful multi-colored tulip. Each child bravely touched their brush full of paint to the paper. And each one created a striking still life on the black water color paper. Now the peonies are blooming, and "peony gardens" are appearing on the easel.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Still Working

The school year is coming to a close but the class is still a group of eager learners. Today, one of our little students wore this Hindi quote on her shirt: The deeper you dig in the sand the more water will flow. The deeper you learn the more your knowledge will grow.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Fair Day & Mother's Day

Along with busily preparing for the annual Spring Show, we got interested in whales, which led to fish, then whale puppets, then a sting ray puppet which I found on the net and other various fish puppets with pictures to follow.

For Mother's Day, with encouragement to look carefully at their mother's features, the children made thoughtful and adorable, if not always accurate, portraits of their dear moms. We especially enjoyed passing on the why I love my mom comments. I like my mommy because "she plays that swing ball game with me"; "she makes nice pancakes"; "she loves me a lot"; "I do".

PODS gave the children a Fair Day last week. They loved it. Moms doled out freshly made popcorn (a big hit), pizza and snow cones (another sought after treat). On their own, children obediently stood in lines for face painting and balloon animals, flowers and swords.