Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dreamland

A few days ago, I found the Montessori factory store in St. Petersburg - it was like walking in a dreamland!  Other than visiting vendors at various national Montessori conferences, I have never experienced a 'commercial' Montessori store - it was like being in the proverbial candy shop!

Imagine walking down the street and seeing this in a window!  Geometric Solids, the Pink Tower (at least part of it…), Knobless Cylinders, Sandpaper Letters…

Shelves full of glorious materials.

I couldn't resist purchasing some aprons and this small wash board - I have visions of a new  polish cloth/laundry lesson...

These Montessori-themed magnets will make lovely souvenirs.

These divided trays and metal inset papers box will make nice additions to my classroom.

This mesmerizing 'singing cup' will be a welcome addition in our music area.

I am so glad to have found the store - and it turns out that it is walking distance from our apartment in St. Petersburg.  I have a feeling it won't be the last visit, and wouldn't it be spectacular to visit the actual factory?!  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Montessori Maslenitsa

Brightly colored scarves, long dresses, the sound of accordions playing traditional Russian tunes, children singing…  all against the backdrop of a Montessori school!  What a gift to be given opportunities that combine two of my major interests in life - all things Montessori and all things Russian.  Many of my readers might not be aware, but my undergraduate degree is in Russian Studies while my master's is in Montessori education.  Our time in St. Petersburg has afforded me chances to seamlessly weave these interests, creating unique experiences that are personally meaningful.

Last weekend, my family and I were invited to Mikailova Montessori School to help ring in the traditional celebration of Maslenitsa.  I can still hardly believe that I was able to take part of this type of cultural event at a Montessori school!  It was evident that this school has built a strong community, full of committed families, teachers, and students.  The children were friendly, inquisitive, and clearly had put forth a lot of effort in preparing for this event.

Several classes participated in plays depicting traditional Russian folk tales and stories.

Tea was served from several traditional samovars.

Children and adults enjoyed various games.  Here the children are practicing flipping blinis (Russian pancakes).

Part of the Maslenitsa celebration includes symbolically parting with Winter by burning a scarecrow and welcoming Spring.

What would it be with out dancing?!
 
The students prepared a vast array of handiworks ranging from knitted bracelets to pottery which were sold during the event.  Proceeds went directly to the school - what a fantastic way to include the children in fundraising!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

More on St. Isaac's Cathedral

Some of my readers may recall the post about our visit to St. Isaac's Cathedral last week.  Imagine my delight to find a beautiful set of matching three-part cards of churches and cathedrals in the classroom:

Matching cards each with a labels including the name of the cathedral its architect.
My daughter saw this and exclaimed, "Oh, I've been there!"
Each set has the control of error on the back of the cards.
I have a feeling that I will be scouring the book stores and buying postcards in sets of two for lots of material making!  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Montessori in St. Petersburg

My daughter and I have had the privilege to begin spending our mornings at the beautiful International American Montessori School in St. Petersburg.  After the hustle and bustle of getting school on the metro and city life in general, what a sense of peace it brings me to be in an authentic Montessori environment!

There is nothing quite like seeing the Pink Tower to bring a sense of normalcy and belonging - especially for a child.  The night before our first day of school, my daughter asked me if her new Montessori school would have one.  It was not surprising that this became her mission - to find that Pink Tower!

Mission accomplished!

Now, for revisiting a favorite extension.

And of course, her favorite, the maze with the Red Rods!
I am sure these Sensorial activities brought my daughter (and me!) a needed sense of normalcy amidst this new life experience overseas.  For this, I am very grateful and remain in awe of the range and scope of the Montessori method of education.  

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hands On Learning: St. Isaac's Cathedral

My oldest son is interested in architecture, and being that we are in St. Petersburg, what better way is there to promote this interest than to bring it to life?

Working on a 3D puzzle of St. Isaac's Cathedral.

Visiting the cathedral, the largest in St. Petersburg and fourth largest in the world.  

The dove at the top of the dome - to give some perspective, the wingspan measures 1.6m!

Climbing our way to the top...

…and enjoying the view of the city - Admiralty and Winter Palace.

A memory to last a lifetime.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

In St. Petersburg

We have made it to our destination and are having a grand time settling in.  Our first night in the city was Orthodox Christmas Eve, so we took the opportunity to visit Kazan Cathedral.

Christmas Eve at Kazan Cathedral.
Nevsky Prospect and the entire city is illuminated with exquisite holiday lights for Christmas and New Year's.  What a special time of year to arrive in this city!


My boys in front of Dom Knigi, 'House of Books', glittering with lights.
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Spas na Krovi, just across the way.
We are enjoying exploring our new surroundings and look forward to more excursions.  More photos to come!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

On Our Way

It is hard to believe that the New Year is upon us - what a superb start to the school year we have a had!  Each day, I am continually amazed at the growth and progress my students have made.  During my daily observations in the classroom, I find myself thinking, "Wow, these kids have come so far!" as they push in their chairs, put away their lessons, find new ones, and even fold (yes, fold!) various towel and carefully roll mats…  I can see how much the children care about their environment and take pride in their own achievements.  It brings me much joy to spend my days with them- which is why it is with mixed emotions that the time has come for my departure from the classroom.

As you may be aware, my family is to embarking on a temporary overseas move to St. Petersburg, Russia and we are set to depart in a few short days.   While I am filled with excitement and gratitude for this opportunity for my family, I will truly miss my students, our classroom, and the comfort of our growing trust with each other.  I am confident, however, that the foundation we have started to build during the last few months will continue to grow and the children will flourish with this strong beginning in place.  Also, it brings me much peace of mind to know that most of my students will be returning next year!  Based on the projected enrollment for next year, we will have a seasoned classroom with a majority of returning students.  Needless to say, I will be looking forward to returning to a full classroom filled with familiar faces! :-)

Even though I know everything is "in good hands," at school, it is still very difficult to leave!  During my family's stay in Russia, however, I will be a visiting teacher at the International American Montessori School in St. Petersburg.  I am looking forward not only to gaining new insights into the Montessori method of education, but also to bringing new ideas and a fresh, global perspective back to my own classroom.  While I plan to continue posting on this blog, time will tell which direction it will take - hopefully it will present a balance of both school and family experiences while abroad.  

Despite predictions of snow and ice on this end and major flood warnings on the other, we are on on our way!  Next stop:  St. Petersburg, Russia!