Thursday, October 31, 2013

Animals of Africa Booklets

As we have been studying the continent of Africa, the children have been practicing reading and writing skills through the names of African animals.  Recently, I added the animals of Africa cards to our Animals of the World sorting activity and utilized them to make booklets.

Animals of the World:  Africa cards
The materials of the booklet making activity are set up at a table in the Language area of the classroom as this lesson promotes the skills of reading and writing along with geographical concepts:

Pre-assembled booklets; tray with a stamp of Africa, stamp pad, and colored pencils; control booklet.
First the child stamps the continent on the cover of the booklet and writes 'Africa.'
The cover page is colored and students may continue their writing practice.
Each page is ready to be colored and labeled. 
All of the animals from the set of cards are included in the booklet.
In addition to providing writing and reading practice, it is also my hope that they will provide some meaningful peer interactions as students practice reading their booklets to each other.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Too Cute Not to Share...

The children have been enjoying another fall art activity which are turning out to be completely adorable!  They complement our autumn watercolor leaves wonderfully:

Fall Tree Art (idea from HERE):  White paper with a lightly drawn circle toward the top; tray with small pieces of brown paper  for tree trunks; paint tray with q-tips and small basket holding a pencil, glue stick, and brown crayon.

To complete the activity, the child glues the trunk onto the paper and uses the crayon to draw branches in the tree.  Then, the q-tips are used to dot-paint leaves in the tree.  Of course, the children are having fun making leaves flying in the wind  and making giant leave piles under their trees...

Q-tip painting - fall trees.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Two Weeks Worth

Last week, we had a short week due to the Columbus Day holiday on Monday.  I was also out of the classroom last Friday because I was giving a presentation at the Maine Montessori Association.  The following pictures are from this past week and the (short) week before:

Carefully counting the decimal system cards while putting them away.

"This says 'elephant.'"

Language development: matching pictures.

Making a booklet of African animals - first the child draws a picture, then writes the corresponding word.  Several students have been using the pictured poster of animals of Africa for reference.

Exploring leaf shapes while strengthening handwriting muscles with the Botany Cabinet.

Creating a collage of green from lightest to darkest (using paint chips).

Tactile discrimination - matching various items by touch only (the child is wearing a blindfold to complete this activity).

Linear and skip counting with the short chain of seven.

Feeling for varying weights with the Baric Tablets.

The Addition Snake Game.

Addition with the Number Rods - sums of 10.

Learning the names of the continents with the Puzzle Map of the World.

Reading our "October" poem (notice the leaves in the window...).  :-)

Working with the Puzzle Map of Africa.

Opening/Closing practice.

Beginning sounds and reading practice with the Language Step Board.

Retrieving quantities of golden beads.

Refining the olfactory sense - Smelling Bottles.

Reading: Phonetic Object Box

"This is one hundred," with the the Golden Beads.

Coloring the flag of South Africa.  This students was so proud to have also written the name of the country.

Number writing practice with the Sandpaper Numbers.

Working with the Third Color Tablet Box - grading shades of pink.

Linear and skip counting with the Hundred Chain.  In addition to practicing counting by tens, I really appreciate how this lesson also enables the child to count by ones.  This material gives a clear impression to the student when it is time to change tens, from 29 to 30 for example.  If the child is not sure, he/she can count the number of tens in the chain and find the answer for him/herself.

Pairing various gradations of smooth/rough with the Touch Tablets.

Using the smallest Pink Tower cube to measure the Brown Stair.

Reading practice with the Phonetic Object Box labels.

Multiplication - 6x7=42.

Static addition with the Golden Beads.

A highlight of the week:  A visit from a talented musician who shared with us the sounds of Africa!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Science: Floating Letter 'S' Experiment

There is still much talk in our classroom about primary colors and color mixing.  This is a topic that the children have been learning about since the beginning of the school year.  In addition to the various art activities having to do with color-mixing, I thought my students might really enjoy the following science experiment (retrieved from HERE):

Science experiment set up at a table.
On the leaf tray:  small, white pitcher; jar with crayons and pencil; decorative box with Skittles (yes, the candy); a stack of recording/observation sheets (see below).
...Skittles inside the box.
Floating 'S' recording sheet, available HERE.

First, the child fills the small pitcher with water and pours it into the bowl.  Then, three skittles are placed into the water.  Next, the child waits and observes what happens...

Very soon after the Skittles are placed in the water, their colors begin to spread out, swirl, and blend together.  Wow, what a show of colors!  By the end, the small letter 'S' on each Skittle appears to be floating as the color has diluted into the water.  As one can imagine, this is quite exciting for the children. 

Lastly, the child records his/her observations on the recording sheet. 
Do I even need to mention how much the children LOVE this lesson?  Surprisingly, they have not even tried eating the Skittles!   When I demonstrated the activity at circle time, I showed how to clean up the lesson as well (the Skittles go in the trash can and the bowl is cleaned at the sink).

One of my favorite parts of the activity is the opportunity it creates for each child to be still and watch with awe and wonder as the colors begin to spread and blend together.  It also has the children using new vocabulary as they discuss among themselves:  "I have a hypothesis that the colors will mix," and "Let me record my observations!"  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Touch of Autumn

The leaves have turned such beautiful shades of color and the children have taken notice of the vibrant colors of fall.  It was time to introduce a seasonal art project:

Watercolor leaves:  basket of maple leaf shapes; tray with watercolors,  pencil, jar, and brush; painting tray with small towel.
The student makes two trips to the shelf to set up the materials - once for the supply tray and once for the painting tray.  Then, the child fills the jar with water and begins filling in their leaf shape.  Once completed,  the leaf is brought to the drying rack and the child wipes the tray to prepare it for the next person.  The water is emptied and all materials are placed back on the shelf.

Autumn leaves.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"You almost fell, but we held you up!"

On an unseasonably warm Friday, the late morning autumn sun shines on us.  A group of children runs, chasing each other's shadows.  Another group gathers at the picnic table, collecting rocks, leaves, and twigs to play a game of  'store' while closely inspecting their fine specimens from nature.  I watch, quietly.  One of the children who is chasing shadows comes straight to me - arms reaching out as he gets closer.  The hug nearly knocks me over and while I steady myself, another one comes from the side... and yet another from the other side!   "Wow!" I say as I stumble along, trying not to fall.  The children shout with glee, "Everyone, hug!"  When I finally catch my balance, one of the children declares, "Ms. Sasha, you almost fell, but we held you up!"  And at that moment, all traces of self-doubt were erased.  It is so true - what would I do without those smiling faces, the hugs, or even the occasional tears?  Thank you, children for your wisdom, reassurance, and reminder that we the best we can do is keep moving forward, knowing that all is well! :-)

Some photos from this week:

Spooning teff - a traditional grain of Ethiopia, perfect for our study of Africa.

Pouring water into two containers.

More teff - this time using a small funnel.

Fine motor control with green colored water and a water dropper.

Reading practice:  three-letter phonetic reading cards.

Filling the shape of Africa with play-dough.

Counting by tens with the Tens Boards and golden beads.

Writing practice with Metal Insets.

Visual discrimination of size with the Knobless Cylinders.

Working on number recognition with the teen beads and Teen Boards.

Taking care of classroom plants.

Introduction of the Stamp Game.

Addition with the colored beads.

Static addition with the Stamp Game.

Beginning sounds and symbols with the Language Step Board.

Linear counting with the Tens Boards and beads.

Reading practice with three-part phonetic reading cards/pictures.

Writing the names of African animals with the Moveable Alphabet - 'gorilla' and 'giraffe.'

Exciting exploration of the Pink Tower and Brown Stair - "Look, it doesn't even fall!"

Sorting images of animals from different continents.

Function of Words lesson with grammar symbols.

Working with the Lacing Frame.

Filling up the compartment of the Spindle Boxes by first counting the corresponding number of spindles in the hand.  This gives a strong sensorial impression of quantity while highlighting the concept of zero.

Introduction to the Decimals System Cards.

Learning the names of countries in Africa with the Puzzle Map of Africa.

Number writing practice with the Sandpaper Numbers.

Folding napkins - what a great lesson to heighten awareness of precision of movement and coordination!

Reading practice with the Phonetic Object Box.


...having fall fun, creating outside.