Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Yay, the Pink Tower is up!"

It is always such a joy to see the scientifically designed Montessori materials in active use.  With our new and young group, we wanted to be sure the children were ready to receive the lessons for these special materials.  We were excited to see the Pink Tower being built as it is a sign of how our classroom is already progressing.

Walking slowly and carefully on the line.  (You should see how carefully they roll the ribbon afterwards!)  

Transferring with a small spoon.

Beginning sound work.

Building '-at' words with the Moveable Alphabet.

A pre-writing lesson.

Tactile discrimination with the Touch Boards.  As most of our students are new to the classroom, they have been very intrigued with this material.  

Folding Cloths.  A seemingly simple activity to the untrained eye, but I am here to let you know that this is quite the challenge for many of these young hands.

Letter sounds and symbols with the Language Step Board.

Carefully lining up the boxes for Opening/Closing practice.

More work with Sandpaper Letters.

Initial lesson with the Metal Insets.

We are witnessing a huge benefit of finger knitting -  the building of concentration!

Sponging activity - this child is saying, "Squeeze to the last drop…"

A math lesson with the Short Bead Stair.

This has been a popular activity - hanging small clothes items on the line.  The fine motor practice and concentration necessary for this activity has been wonderful to see!

Language work with Animal Matching Cards.

Pre-writing lesson:  Rock Painting.

Transferring water with a  ladle.

Pouring dry items - notice the careful placement of the hands and fingers.

Using the Parts of a Flower botany puzzle...

…and the Parts of a Bird animal puzzle.  These puzzles have been in active use this week!

Matching farm items to their cards (object to picture matching).

More Metal Inset work, concentrating on proper  hand placement and pencil grasp.

Rolling up a 'table-top mat,' which we use for smaller activities at the tables.

The Pink Tower debuted in our classroom this week!

Introducing language (color words) with the First Color Tablet Box.

Refining visual discrimination of length with the Red Rods.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Print Making

This past year, I have very much been enjoying the discovery of loom knitting.  As a result, my stash of yarn leftover has exponentially increased!  What better way to use some of it than to make an art activity for the classroom?

Print making art activity at a table:  I used a hot glue gun to attach thick yarn around wooden blocks.  We chose to use the red paint to correspond with our color/number theme with the Short Bead Stair.

Imagine the open-ended creative possibilities!  
Such activities in the classroom not only allow children to enhance fine motor development, but they also provide opportunities for them to practice decision making and following sequences of lessons/activities.    

There is still a lot more yarn left - I am sure we will be using it for more art activities in the future!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

First Steps

We have had a week filled with many 'firsts' as most of our students are brand new to our classroom.  To give my readers some perspective, 76% of all recored lessons in our classroom this week were under categories of 'Basic Classroom Skills,' 'Control of Movement,' or 'Grace and Courtesy' in the Practical Life curriculum!  We are taking our 'first steps' together and I am looking forward watching the children learn and grow in their independence while realizing their full potential.
Working with kinetic sand - this has proven to be a very popular activity!

Sorting stones/gems by color.

Rolling a mat.

Using a Cylinder Block - this material was very popular with this particular group!

A language activity with opposites puzzles.

Transferring water with a baster.

A basic transferring activity with a spoon and small red bells.

Opening and closing boxes.

Bears in a Line - this activity helps to show how to properly form a line.

September calendar work.

Scissor practice.

Learning to snap with the Snap Frame.

Early language work - matching pictures.

Writing practice with the Sandpaper Letters.

Pouring colored water.

Transferring pom poms.

Enjoying the nature mandala art.

A fine motor activity using just the fingers - placing gems into the spaces to form the number 'one'.

Pre-reading language work - matching pictures.

Building concentration with another fine motor activity - placing rubber bands over the box and then removing them.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ready to Start!

Where did the summer go?  I usually have the to opportunity to post periodically throughout the summer, but in all honestly, the time just got away from me…  I have been spending a great deal of time and attention getting our classroom ready for the new school year - we are ready to start another year in just a few days!

So far, this year is turning out to be quite different from years past.  Some of my readers may recall that my family is getting ready for an extended period of international travel beginning in January of 2015.  Preparation for this endeavor has enabled me to hire another Montessori teacher beginning at the start of this school year.   For the first time, I will have another Montessori trained teacher working with me.  This is something I very much look forward to as sharing ideas and learning new information from one another will be invaluable both for  our own professional growth as well as for the children in our care. Our four months together in the classroom prior to my departure will allow for a smoother transition in the classroom come January when I will be leaving.

Another difference this school year is the fact that our incoming class is very young and new.  For a variety of reasons, we do not have the regular proportion of new students and returning students and I have been mentally preparing myself for a what will seem to be an entirely brand new class.  While we will not have as many returning students this year, I am pleased that we have a very full class and we will focus on establishing strong foundational beginnings - both in practice in the classroom as well as with parent education.

Most years, I have an overarching (general) theme which is carried throughout the school year and throughout the curriculum areas.  The last couple of years, this theme has had to do with geography and the continents of the world.  Beginning this year, we will be highlighting a Montessori math material called the Short Bead Stair.
Numbers 1-9 with the Short Bead Stair.   Click HERE for an example of how this lesson is used in the Montessori classroom.
Our plan is to focus on the color and number correspondence to guide us in creating lessons in the other areas of the classroom.  For example, as we prepared the classroom for the beginning of this year, we have chosen the color red (and the number one) for our Practical Life shelves and some of the art materials.

Here are some examples from around the classroom:

Practical Life shelves:  basic transferring lessons on the left (spooning, tonging, dry pouring);  basic water transferring lessons on the right (we will be using colored water - there is no water in the vessels in the photo).  Also, the large vase on the top shelf is filled with red carnations - right now they are for decoration as the Flower Arranging lesson is not out yet.

The corresponding number with Sandpaper Letters...

…and the Sandpaper Number (next to a print of one of our group art projects last year).
I feel it is important to have these items on display throughout the environment as the children are getting to know our classroom and the Montessori materials.  Also, because the class will be very new, we are only planning to change the shelves ever other month or so.  If all goes according to plan, we will only get through number five (light blue) by the end of this year.  So, this is really a two year plan which is especially critical given that I will not be here for part of this year…  (There is also a part of me that does not want to miss out when we get to the number ten whose corresponding color is gold!!!).  In any case, this general theme allows us to have a plan in place even when I will be out of the classroom this year.

There are many other activities that have been prepared and I will be sure to share them with you as we get our school year started, so stayed posted!