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!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We've Gone Around the World

One characteristic of a Montessori setting is the mixed age group,  which gives the opportunity for students to remain in the classroom for up to three years.  This allows for increased continuity throughout the years both for the child and the teacher.  It has been two years since we first started our continent studies with North America.  That same year, we also learned about Europe and Asia.  This school year, we continued these units with Africa, Antarctica, South America, and Australia.  Many of the lessons from these units of study can be found under the  label Geography in the sidebar on the left of the page.  Recently, I decided to purchase the following book for our classroom as I knew it would be a fitting culmination to our continent themes (and when I discovered the book promotes the use of cursive writing I just couldn't resist!):

Around the World from A to Z by Christina Cheung and Han Tran; Illustrated by Tong Wu
The illustrations are dynamic, engaging, and appealing to adults and children alike.  Of course, the cursive component is outstanding and I very much appreciate the explanation in the front cover:

"The book approaches language learning as a holistic process that combines letter formation and pronunciation with cultural awareness and mindful thought.  Careful penmanship and cursive writing not only refine motor skill from shoulder to fingertips, they also help to sharpen thought formation and brain development.  More specifically, cursive writing has been shown to stimulate brain synchronicity: the physical act of fluidly connecting letters coordinates the visual right wide of the brain and the verbal left side."

To read more of this explanation, see close-ups of the illustrations, and get a sense of the meaningful text in the book, please look HERE.

Needless to say, this is the perfect book to end our year together (and to have in our classroom for years to come)!  For a culminating lesson, I put together the following booklet making activity:

The materials at a table:  The labels are to make cover for the booklet - My Book of Continents and a place to write a name.

Each page has an outline of a continent...

…to color and label.

The last page with a map of the whole world.

(I can't seem to remember the source for the booklet - if anyone knows please let me know so I can include it in the post.  Thanks!)

UPDATE:  Please find a link to the source of the booklet pages HERE.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Nearing the End of the Year

Here is a collection of two weeks worth of photos from our classroom.  We have have been preparing an event for Father's Day and enjoying the general activity that happens at the end of the year.  The growth of the children always amazes me and their progress in our classroom motivates me as I begin planning for next school year.  I am looking forward to our last week together in the classroom as we prepare for the end of another fruitful year.

Child-Sized Masterpieces - matching artists by similar painting.

Writing practice:  tracing with chalk.

An extension activity with the Geometric Cabinet shapes:  matching shapes with their corresponding cards.

Practicing buckles with the Buckle Frame.

Reading practice - matching CVC words to pictures.

Caring for indoor plants.

Visual discrimination of size with the Knobless Cylinders.

Labeling odd and even numbers with the Cards and Counters activity.

Puzzle Map of Oceania and learning the names of Australian territories.

Writing a story with the Small Moveable Alphabet.

Squares of numbers:  Chain of Seven

Addition with the Stamp Game.

Number writing practice on the squared chalkboard.

June calendar work.

Carefully sewing a house.

Animals of the World sorting.

Numbers 1-25 with the Math Step Board.

Writing practice with Marker Paper.

Exploring and creating shapes with the Constructive Triangles.

Building and making patterns with the Pink Tower and Brown Stair.

Lupine art work.

Teen numbers with the Teen Beads and Boards.

Multiplication with Bead Bars.

Writing 'ar' words with the Small Moveable Alphabet and recording on paper.

Exploration of size and dimension with the Sensorial materials.

Addition facts with using the Addition Strip Board.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lupines, Lupines, Lupines!

June is a lovely month in our area with the blossoming of a coastal Maine symbol - the beautiful lupine plant.  We always take the time to read a favorite story which enchants the children each year,  Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney:

To go along with the same theme, the children were introduced to an art activity to make their own thumbprint lupines.

White paper cut lengthwise; green paper folded with cutting lines for leaves; tray with green crayon, jar containing pencil, scissors, gluestick; small tin which contains dampened sponged with purple paint.

The child gathers materials and brings them to a table.  Next, a green line is drawn on the white paper and the leaves are cut out.  

The leaves are then glued to the bottom...

and thumbprints are added.

Of course we have to have lupines for flower arranging too!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Montessori Mornings

This time of year is so exciting because the children have made such progress in their lessons and activities.  As I observed throughout this week, there were several mornings when every single work mat was in use and all the open floor space was covered - what a joy to see!

Making a booklet of Australian animals.

Writing with the Moveable Alphabet:  'my dad opened up the sop.  my mom is baking pies.'

Retrieving quantities with golden beads.

Making a collage with foam shapes.

Numbers 1-25 with the Math Step Board.

Subtraction practice with the Math Drawers.

Adding with Short Bead Stair beads.

I just LOVE this picture - caring for plants in the foreground, tracing shapes in the back…  How delicately the hands are being used!

From the other side - just as stunning. :-)

Tracing various triangles from the Geometry Cabinet.

Carefully studying size and dimension with the Pink Tower and Brown Stair.

Counting by tens after completing the Hundred Board.

Dot art with markers.

Linear and skip counting with the Hundred Chain.

Static addition with the golden beads.

Introduction to the decimal system - counting 'one ten' with 'one unit.'

Reading practice and recording words with pictures on paper.

Fine motor control - transferring small flowers with tweezers.

Handwriting practice - this child copied and illustrated a poem. 

Clapping out and sorting words by syllable - another wonderful lesson by Trillium Montessori.

These students declared today is "Sewing Friday!"

Reading practice with the Vowel Tree.

Exploring the Fraction Circles.

Linear and skip counting by sixes using the Short Chain of 6.