Themes of the Week (in addition to Individual Montessori Work time)
08/25: Grace and Courtesy / Ground Rules
Learning Control of Movement-Rolling A Rug, Carrying A Tray, and Carrying A Chair.
Learning Grace And Courtesy- How to Introduce Yourself, How To Say Please And Thank You, How To Interrupt Another.
Learning classroom rules.
Discussing what it means to be kind to others and what are “kind words”.
Making a “Kind Words Chain” in pre-school lesson.
9/1: Grace And Courtesy/Ground Rules
Reading the book, “The Bear That Was Chicken” and discussing with the children how they felt before coming to school and how they feel now about school.
Lessons on saying “Excuse Me”, “I’m Sorry”, and “Thank You”.
Singing songs and playing game to review what we’ve learned about classroom rules and manners.
Having the children write our classroom rules and display them in the classroom.
Read the book “There’s A Bird On Your Head”. Discuss how to speak to someone when we’re frustrated.
9/8: All About Me
“ Who’s Baby Picture Is This?” guessing game. (Be sure to send in a baby picture of your child with them this week.)
Discussing what makes each of us special: hair color, eye color, likes and dislikes, our birthdays, our names, our emotions, etc.
Graphing our differences such as hair and eye color.
Practicing saying our full names.
Learning our birth dates.
9/15 All About Apples
Read the story “Little Bear’s Star”- Story about an apple.
Sorting apples by size and color.
Learning the fractions of one whole and one half using an apple.
Taste testing different color apples and making a graph, as a class, of our favorites.
Learning the Apple Life Cycle.
9/22 All About Fall
Discuss differences between Summer and Fall.
Go on a nature walk outside to find leaves.
Painting with leaves.
Learning the parts of the leaf.
Learning Robert Frost poem about Fall.
Letters of the Week: Try to find objects that begin with each letter wherever you go with your child.
9/25: Review Of All Four Letters
Sight Words of the Week: Try to find each word in books as you read to your child.
9/25: Review All Four Sight Words
Things to do at Home this Month to reinforce our themes:
While reading a book have your child point to all of the letter of the week she/he can find. Have them do this with the sight words as well. Play I-Spy using things that only start with the letter of the week.
Go on a walk as a family. As Fall comes, point out the differences you see in nature, now that the weather is changing.
While reading to your child, point out the sight words they are learning this month.
Find a fun apple recipe to try as a family. Let your child practicing measuring the ingredients, assemble the ingredients, etc. Discuss with your child the other things that can be made with apples
This last month of school was busy and productive in our classroom! During the first week, we learned about fish and other creatures of the ocean. We started off the week by learning the parts of the fish during morning circle time. We then discussed the characteristics of fish. We learned that fish breathe through their gills and breathe oxygen from the water. We also learned that fish have scales, and fins to help them swim. During preschool lesson, Ms. Kim continued the discussion by teaching the children the names of all five oceans. The children also enjoyed learning about sharks, turtles, and octopuses. We learned that a shark’s entire body is made up of cartilage, just like the cartilage that is in our ears! The children also made a fun jellyfish craft with Ms. Kim during preschool! In week two, we learned about Community Helpers. We learned that a Community Helper is someone who has a job helping others, such as a doctor, a fireman, a police man, a teacher, or a mailman. We also learned that our moms and dads are community helpers in our homes because they love and take care of us. We also learned ways we can be a community helper in our homes and communities as well. We learned that by simply helping mom and dad with household chores, keeping our rooms clean, helping little brothers or sisters, etc. can help our family in a big way! Students also enjoyed making a fireman’s hat craft, and police badge craft, and a doctor bag craft with Ms. Kim in preschool. We also had fun singing songs about firemen and policemen during circle time. It was so much fun! During the third week, we studied mammals. We discussed the characteristics of mammals. We discovered that mammals have hair or fur on their bodies, that they breathe oxygen from the air around them, that they give birth to their young, that they feed their young with milk from their body, and that they are warm blooded. The children also enjoyed learning the parts of the horse, and reading the book, “It Could Sill Be A Mammal” during circle time. We also learned about Lions and Grizzly Bears. We learned that Grizzly Bears live in dens, and that the female Lion is actually in charge of hunting for food. The children also enjoyed making a Lion and Grizzly Bear craft with Ms. Kim during preschool! In week four, we learned about reptiles and amphibians. We learned that a reptile has scales or scutes on their body, they lay eggs, and they leave their young once they are born. The children enjoyed learning about lizards and snakes, and even about Komodo dragons! We learned that the Komodo dragons bite is poisonous, and that Komodo dragon will even eat people! Luckily they live in Indonesia! The children also enjoyed learning about frogs and their characteristics and life cycle. They also enjoyed making a frog craft with Ms. Kim during preschool. During week five, we learned about summer safety. We learned about safety when riding in our car, safety in our home, when riding our bikes, at the pool, etc. We also learned how to dial 911 if there is ever an emergency. Ms. Kim also used the story of Little Red Riding Hood to illustrate to the children why we should not talk to strangers. I would encourage you this summer to take time with your child and practice their letter sounds with them. Even playing simple games such as “I Spy” will help with this. I also encourage you to make a trip to the library to find books on subjects that interest your child. Reading with your child will instill in them a love for reading as well! I have enjoyed this year immensely! I hope your children did as well! It is my privilege and honor to be their teacher!
The month of April was very busy in our classroom! The children have been working hard and learning so much. With practicing for the International Festival, Dads and Doughnuts, and all the other fun activities we had this month, time just flew by! During the first week, we traveled to Africa. We also discussed how the people in Africa dress. Ms. Kim had the children make beautiful African necklaces from pasta. We also made African tribal masks! We learned about the pyramids of Egypt, the African Savannah and all the animals that live there. Students loved learning to play a children’s game from the country of Kenya called Mancala! During the second week of April, we explored the continent of Europe. The children enjoyed learning about how the Germans invented pretzels, about how the Leaning Tower of Pisa is in Italy, how Ireland is called the Emerald Isle, and Norway is famous for the Bryggen in Bergen. I especially enjoyed sharing pictures of my trip to Bergen, Norway with the children and sharing about the people and the culture there! Students also enjoyed many visitors that came in to share about their experiences or heritage in different countries this month. Thank you to those who came and spent time teaching our students; we loved it! In the third week of April, we explored Asia! The children enjoyed listening to a CD of my choir singing Russian music, learning how people in India celebrate Diwali (which is similar to New Years), and learning how to say “hello” and “goodbye” in Japanese. (Also, did you know Russia is part of two continents? Europe and Asia!) During the fourth week of April, we traveled to Australia! We learned about all the different animals that are native to Australia. We learned that kangaroos, wombats, and koalas are classified as marsupials, which means the mothers carry their young in pouches. We then traveled to Antarctica. We learned the continent of Antarctica is not claimed by any one country, but is used by many scientists around the world for research. Since no country governs Antarctica, it does not have a flag or any ruler. We also discussed how many of the animals in Antarctica can stay warm because they have a layer of blubber underneath their skin! The children very much enjoyed their trip around the globe and learning about the seven continents. For each country they learned about, the children also had the opportunity to color a flag of that country during work time. The children also enjoyed learning how to work on the Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia map puzzles. The map puzzles have become very popular in our classroom. It is wonderful to see their knowledge of the world around them growing! Take time with your child over the next few weeks and discuss with them which country was their favorite. Which continent might they want to visit someday? Which food that they tried at the International Festival was their favorite? I consider it an honor and a privilege to work with each of your children. They teach me new things every day!
This month was a busy month in our classroom! We have been learning a lot (myself included) and the children are working very hard!
We started off the month of March by learning about Dr. Seuss and his life. We learned that his real name was Theodore Seuss Giesel. We also learned that he became good at rhyming because he and his mother played rhyming games and made up silly words together when he was a child. We also read some of his famous stories such as “The Cat In The Hat”, “And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street”, “The Lorax”, and “The Sneeches”. We even had fun in class making our own “Dr. Seuss” book. Ms. Kim brought in some “rhyming words” cards with different pictures on them. I then asked the children one by one to come up and find two cards with pictures of objects that rhymed. Next, the children came up with a rhyming sentence using those two words. We then turned those sentences into a book and drew pictures to illustrate the sentences. The children had so much fun making their own book!
The second week in March, we began discussing our world. Going from biggest to smallest, we discussed how we all live on the planet Earth, on the continent of North America, and how we all live in the United States. Next, we all live in Ohio, and then many of us live in Cuyahoga Falls (or in the surrounding cities), and how all of us go to Absorbent Minds Montessori School! We then learned about the continent of North America. I started the week off by introducing the North American puzzle map to the children during our morning line time. We put each country back in place one at a time and went over the names of the countries. We also discussed that English and Spanish are the main languages spoken in North America, the exceptions being Haiti, where they speak Creole, and parts of Canada, where they speak French. Also, in learning about North America, we learned about Ohio and that it is the state where we live. We learned that the Cardinal is our state bird. Ms. Kim also did a fun craft with the children where we made Cardinals out of paper plates. Next, we learned there are many people who farm or who work in factories in Ohio as well. We also learned that the Buckeye Tree is our state tree. We also found out that there is also a famous astronaut from Ohio, John Glenn! We then “traveled” to Mexico. We learned that people in Mexico speak Spanish and often eat rice and beans and beef and vegetables. We also learned that flour tortillas are often place on the table at meal times in Mexico. Students enjoyed eating tortilla chips and salsa while listening to authentic Mariachi music! We also enjoyed reading about the ancient Aztec and Mayan peoples, who were the ancient native people of Mexico. We also learned that they built pyramids in Mexico. Students were taught a pyramid is a square based triangle.
During the third week of March, we focused on the continent of South America. We learned about the countries of Peru and Brazil. We discussed how Brazilians speak Portuguese, which is a language similar to Spanish and how they celebrate “Carnival.” This is where the Brazilian people wear brightly colored costumes and decorate beautiful, colorful parade floats. We also learned about the Amazon Rainforest and the different kinds of animals that live there, such as the tapirs, the jaguar, and the spider monkey. We also learned that the Llama lives in the Andes Mountains in Peru, and people in Peru often raise them as livestock!
I encourage you as parents to take time with your child this month and ask them about what they have learned about the countries and continents. Maybe take time and cook a traditional Mexican dish as a family. Go to the library and find books to read with your child about animals that live in the Amazon, or go to the Zoo now that the weather is becoming warmer and find animals from the continents we have learned about.
As always, it is a pleasure and a joy teaching your children! We have fun every day learning from each other in our classroom!
The month of February was a busy month in our classroom. The children worked very hard, and we learned a lot in just a month!During the first week of February, we talked about Groundhog Day! The children enjoyed learning about groundhogs and making their own groundhog puppet to take home. The children also enjoyed watching the video coverage from the previous day to see if the groundhog saw his shadow. We were sad to learn that he did see his shadow, but we know spring will be here soon enough!
We also talked about dental health in our classroom since it was National Children’s Dental Health Month. We discussed the different ways we can take care of our teeth by brushing, flossing, and eating healthy food. The children also had fun brushing pretend teeth!
We also talked about our pets and how to best care for specific pets. The children loved Ms. Kim’s guessing game where she described a pet and the children had to guess which animal she was referring to. We also graphed how many of the children had dogs, cats, and fish.
A big topic of conversation this month in our classroom was the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The children enjoyed discussing the different sports they watched with their families on television. Many of the children expressed that they would love to learn to ice skate or ski so they could one day go to the Olympics. We also kept track of many gold, silver, and bronze medals the United States won. In total, we won nine gold medals, seven silver medals, and twelve bronze medals! We even watched a video of a medal ceremony and talked about how important that moment is for an athlete.
During the second week, we learned all about Abraham Lincoln and his life. We explained that Abraham Lincoln was our president and that he wanted everyone to be free. We discussed that because Abraham Lincoln was such a wonderful president, his picture is on our penny and the Lincoln Memorial was built in his honor.
We also discussed penguins and penguin facts with the children. We discussed how penguins are black and white in order to protect them from predators in the ocean, such as whales and seals. We also learned that not all penguins live in cold climates and that some actually live where it is hot! The children also had lots of fun making a penguin craft with Ms. Kim!
During the third week, we discussed the job of the President of The United States and where he lives, and he is only able to be elected president twice. The children were amazed to find out that the White House has one-hundred and thirty-two rooms! We also learned that our current president’s name is Barack Obama.
We also learned what it means to be patriotic and reviewed some of our national symbols, such as the bald eagle, the Statue of Liberty, etc. We then learned about the Pledge of Allegiance and what the words in the pledge mean.
Our classroom was busy this month after returning from Christmas Break! It was wonderful to see the children pick up where they left off and work so well in the classroom this month! During the first week of January, we learned about the planets, outer space, and about being an astronaut! We learned the order of the planets and played a matching game in the afternoon to help us remember the names of these planets. The children also enjoyed learning about famous astronauts such as Neil Armstrong and John Glenn. We also enjoyed watching a video of the Space shuttle launching! The children we fascinated! Together we graphed which of the planets we studied was the children’s favorite. The winner, by quite some margin, was Neptune! The majority of the children said they picked Neptune because it’s blue and “lays on its side”.
During the second week, we learned how to take care of our bodies. We discussed how we need to take care of our bodies by brushing our teeth, taking a bath, eating healthy food, drinking plenty of water, and exercising. We also discussed the food pyramid. We learned which foods are healthy to eat, and which foods are “sometimes” foods. The children enjoyed separating pretend food into grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy, and oils. We also enjoyed learning about different ways we can exercise, such as dance, yoga, riding a bike, etc.
Next we explored our five senses as well. To further investigate our sense of taste we tested something sweet (a sugar cube), something sour (lemon juice), something salty (a cheese-it), and something bitter (a piece of baking chocolate). To explore our sense of touch, Ms. Kim brought in several items and had the children categorize the items by how they felt and separated them into piles ( soft items in one pile, bumpy items in another, etc.). We also talked about how our ears help us to hear. To further explore their sense of hearing, the children played a game where one child would close their eyes, and another child would say, “Hello Friend”, and the child with their eyes closed guesses whose voice they heard.
To further investigate our five senses, we celebrated National Popcorn Day. Ms. Kim popped popcorn in an air popper, and we were able to hear the popcorn pop, smell the popcorn, touch the popcorn, see the popcorn change from seeds to fluffy popcorn, and we were also able to taste the popcorn. So much fun!
We also learned about our skeletal system during the final week of January. We read a book entitled “Dem Bones.” This help teach us how all our bones work together to help us move and to help protect our organs.
During morning circle time, we also reviewed our orange sandpaper letter packet. We learned the sounds “l”, “u”, “f”, and “d”. The children enjoyed coming up with words that started with those sounds.
We also have a new addition to our classroom! A male Beta fish! The children have enjoyed watching him swim and observing him during their work time.
It’s truly a joy teaching your children and I am amazed by them everyday!
First, and foremost, I would like to sincerely thank you for entrusting and sharing your children with us. They bring us such great joy. All of them are kind, bright, and funny (not to mention the cuteness factor). Everyday, when I drive to and from work, I find myself feeling very thankful for each and every one of them. We are very vocal about our feelings in the classroom, so our students are very aware of this (and vice versa). It was so nice to meet for conferences, and I hope you enjoyed and found it informative as well.
The children love listening to stories, learning new facts, and receiving new presentations. But most of all, they love learning and singing new songs. Their faces truly beam bright, when I say it is time to learn or sing a new song(s)!
Here are a few you can enjoy as a family at home:
Indians and Pilgrims (tune: “Row,Row,Row Your Boat.”)
Beat, beat, beat the drum;
Beat it loud and clear,
To tell brave Indians everywhere
That hunting time is near.
Cut, cut, cut the logs,
Make them long and short.
To help the pilgrims build a house,
Turkey Dinner (tune: “Are You Sleeping?”)
Who will get the drumstick, yummy, yummy, yum stick
All sit down, all sit down
Corn bread muffin, chesnut stuffin’, pudding pie one foot high
I was so much thinner, before I came to dinner
Me oh my! Me oh my!
Vegetable Harvest (tune: “Are You Sleeping?”)
Vegetable garden, vegetable garden, harvest time, harvest time
Gather corn and snap the beans, dig potatoes, pick the peas
Veggies taste good, veggies taste good
Some of the other things we enjoyed learning about were, What Is the Universe, What is the Solar System, What is Planet Earth, and What Are Countries, Towns and Cities. We took this opportunity to learn the names of the cities or towns we live in. As well as, the name of our wonderful country! The children did very well indeed!! Maps, borders, island groups, and country capitals were briefly touched upon along with people, their homes, food, clothing and celebration.
We tied this into our study, songs, and crafts we did for our Thanksgiving Celebration. The children learned about what maps are, and what maps show. They loved working with the globes, and the maps of the 7 continents in our classroom. Some children are building the maps on the rugs.
The children always enjoy being read to in circle. They pay close attention, using their eyes and ears only, till the end of the book. Then comes the comments, and questions!!! The children enjoyed learning new words from our children’s’ dictionary – pie, sang, yolk and igloo. These words correspond directly to the sounds they are learning. The sounds they are learning corresponds directly to the order of how the Sandpaper Letters are or will be introduced to the group or individually to each child (tracing the letters and learning their sounds). Counting is also enjoyed by all the children, especially during roll call. The children take turns in counting how many children are present during morning circle time. Students cannot wait to see if they will be called to do the head count for the morning!
In the afternoons, Ms. Kristen has been focusing on teaching our students about families, thankfulness, yoga and building more sign language vocabulary. I hope you were able to see our “We are thankful” tree on display at our Thanksgiving Feast!
We love to read in our classroom! I hope you enjoy reading to your child at home too!
Reading to Children
Children need to be read to from infancy through elementary school. Reading to your child on a daily basis improves your child’s comprehension development, vocabulary expansion, and exposure to the world. The following are suggestions of how to read to your child and some activities to assist your child in developing thinking skills.
Start reading to your child, as early as birth or even before. As a newborn you can read your child books intended for young children, and you can also read aloud anything you are reading: the newspaper, a textbook, a piece of fiction… A newborn’s brain develops at such a fast pace that hearing the language of anything you are reading can aid their development. Risley & Hart, in their 1995 book Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Lives of American Children, compared the early language environments of children from 7-9 months until 3 years, and then correlated language exposure to achievement test scores in 3rd grade. Children who heard the greatest amount of language when they were young had the highest achievement test scores, while children who heard the least amount of language had the lowest achievement test scores.
Continue reading with your child into toddler-hood. Toddler aged children love the repetition of books. Favorites include Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, The Little Engine That Could, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr. A note about using books with toddlers: do not underestimate a toddler and their ability to handle or stick with a story. Not all toddlers require board books but few board books provide great stories. Left to their own devices you may want to stick with sturdy books, but for reading time with your child branch out past board books to stories. With a toddler (and older children) you have many options for story time. Before you begin a story you can read the title to the child and have your child guess (predict) what the story may be about. You can go on a book walk – look at the pictures in the book before you actually read the book to get an idea about the story. If the book is obviously about a topic (Brown Bear is about animals and colors) you can discuss the topic with your child beforehand. Ask your child if they remember when they went to the zoo, park, pet store… to see animals. Talking about a topic ahead of time enables the child to remember their prior knowledge on the topic. As you are reading the story you may want your child to listen as you read or you may encourage your child to participate (pointing to a picture, making an animal noise while reading Brown Bear). Think as you read about the vocabulary in the book and if a word or an expression requires an explanation; give it. Exposing your child to vocabulary outside what they use everyday is critical for their vocabulary development.
December was such a fun month! In addition to our individual work time, we focused on naming and identifying different musical instruments, learning the concept of addition and subtraction and incorporated many fun winter themed lessons in our classroom. Ms. Kristen conducted some fun experiments with ice, students made their own snow and even walked like penguins!
The Christmas Show was such a success! All the hard work paid off! The children sounded and looked beautiful. I am ever grateful for Ms. Kristen’s expertise in the Music field, as I have none! I thank all of you for your support, also Ms. Kelly and Ms. Brandy’s of course. We all hope those of you who attended Breakfast with Santa had as mush fun as we did. I wish you a very happy New Year!
The children are adapting very well to their classroom!! All of us are truly enjoying being at school. Here are a few things we are working on in the classroom. In language and vocabulary, we are learning about autumn’s changes, weather, nature, and activities. My students enjoyed observing the changing season this month and I loved talking with them about it! We are also discussed fire prevention and fire safety. While we were learning about fire prevention, children enjoyed trying new “routes” around the school, walking up the different stairways in the building to explore our safe exits. We also talked about “stop, drop and roll” and practiced putting action to those words! Students loved singing, “The Wheels on the Fire Truck.” Ask them about it I’m sure they will sing it for you!
We also talked about Halloween safety, and the concepts of real and pretend. We also enjoyed new colors in our classroom for the Month of October which gave special attention to black and orange. I also enjoyed hearing the beautiful voices of our students as we sang together a few fun filled Halloween themed songs at circle time. We also focused on the directional and positional concepts of IN and OUT. We put objects in a variety of containers, and then took them out to demonstrate the concepts of IN and OUT. We also used a variety of the Sensorial materials to reinforce the concepts of big and little.
Students were able to work on refining their fine motor skills this month while practicing with lacing, cutting, coloring, drawing, play dough manipulation making circles and path tracing. The children were also able to enhance their perception skills by learning about same and different, puzzles, sorting, and copying block and peg patterns. Gross motor activities such as organized games like musical chairs, tossing and catching and moving to the music is also enjoyed many afternoons! Students focused on where they live, learning their phone numbers, new ASL signs and also baked some very tasty items this month with Ms. Kristen in the afternoons.
Students learned and sang their own phone numbers and worked hard to memorize their address, city, county and state they live in. Together they also enjoyed the tastes of the season by making a very tasty pumpkin dip, baked pumpkin seeds and even home made butter! Students also enjoy their yoga time with Ms. Kristen. The music and the moves truly help our students relax after a hard day at work!
The Montessori materials help a child to distinguish, to categorize, and to relate new information to what they already know. Dr. Montessori believed that this process is the beginning of conscious knowledge: Knowledge that is brought about by the intelligence working in a concentrated way on the impressions given by the senses. The Directress assists the child in developing their learning techniques by creating a prepared environment and presenting exercises with deliberate, exact and slow movements that the child can follow. The Sensorial area can be further divided into sub-categories:
Visual: pink tower, brown stair, red rods, knobbed cylinders
An additional sub-category includes geometry. Geometry is introduced at the toddler level with shapes (circle, square, triangle, sphere, cube, prism) and further developed in the 3-6 environment and the elementary classrooms. The children are introduced to what they know first, plane figures. We begin with the triangle, square and circle. Once a child masters these basic plane figures, additional ones are introduced. Then a child can find different plane figures in the environment. Once solids are introduced, a child can match a solid figure with its base. The sensorial area of the environment is one that naturally draws children to it so each child can explore and further develop their potential through the senses.
As I was reading the Ohio Department of Education standards for preschool learning and what is expected in grade K, I was amazed to find that the Sensorial area helps the child meet and exceed their ma thematic requirements, such as number, number sense and operations, measurement, geometry and spatial sense, patterns, functions and algebra, as well as, data analysis and probability!
The Sensorial area builds up the child’s Mathematical Mind, as Dr. Montessori discovered. Just imagine what the Math area of our classroom can do for our children in meeting those same standards. Therefore, next time when you hear that your child builds with the Pink Tower and the Brown Stair, or worked with the Red Rods among others, rejoice! The website of the Ohio Department of Education is www.OhioAcademicStandards.com
Activities for the Home:
Keep your child moving to help them develop their senses. It is through movement that babies first learn to crawl, walk, and then run! Allow your child to walk (safely) on the flower bed wall. This encourages your child to develop a sense of balance and to become aware of them self. Let them jump, hop, skip… while playing games or outside. Take walks often – whether you live in an urban, suburban or other environment there are always things to see and do. Go on a sensory walk – listen for sounds or smells in your environment and point out smells and sounds that change with the different seasons. Your goal is to help heighten your child’s awareness and it is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your child. A walk can be around the block or a long hike. Let your child be the guide in terms of when they are finished or how long they want to continue. Keep sensory activities active. Video and computer games can be very sensory (especially visual and auditory) in nature, but limit the amount of time your child spends on this type of activity. Video and computer games tend to be very sedentary. Visit a new playground in your area. Find out where your community has handicap accessible playgrounds. Often, these playgrounds have equipment for blind or otherwise special needs children. These playgrounds provide a great opportunity for your child to learn about other children and their needs and the opportunity to play with something that might be new.
To begin our school year we focused on grace and courtesy, love and respect, self-control and self-government. We develop these skills through purposeful work, beginning in the Practical Life area of the classroom. Practical Life is an essential component of the Montessori curriculum. Children learn skills that promote order, concentration, coordination, and independence. Therefore, many of the Practical Life activities are a preparation for math and language acquisition.
The materials in Practical Life are set up in a very orderly manner. The easiest work is located on the top left of the shelf. The child progresses through various levels of difficulty as the work becomes more involved or complex. For example, the first pouring work is two cups or containers that have no handles and no spouts. Usually one container has a dry ingredient such as beans. More difficult pouring work may include using a funnel to pour a liquid from one container to another.
Concentration is developed when the child is able to freely choose what she/he works on and for how long. As long as the child is not damaging the work nor is being disruptive to the other children and is not “hiding behind the work,” the child is free to develop his/her self-government skills through this independent work. The child can repeat the exercises as many times as he/she desires. Choice and repetition helps the child develop concentration.
Another component of Practical Life is movement. The materials in a Montessori environment are set up on shelves, in baskets or on trays so that the child can use a work at will after being given a presentation on it. The environment is purposefully designed so that the child can coordinate his/her movements and independently carry her/his basket or tray to a table. This freedom of movement allows children to develop courtesy; saying “excuse me” when passing another student.
“Walking on the line” is another aspect of movement. As a child learns to control his/her body movements, he/she becomes more confident. After our line walk each day we discussed what is means to be courteous of others, respectful of others and kind to one another. All students agreed that when we say “please,” “excuse me” and “thank you” we are being kind and respectful. We can show each other respect by the words we use and by how we help one another. We played The Silence Game, where the children sit quietly and listen to the sounds around them. We invite Hoot, our classroom owl to join us, and we light a candle in the center of our circle. Everyone sits quietly for about one minute listening, and then we discuss the sounds we heard during our game. This is becoming a favorite group activity.
Children also learn social skills through Practical Life lessons. Children learn how to greet someone, how to appropriately interrupt, how to watch a friend work…Through direct instruction on some of these social skills, children learn early on how to handle a variety of situations. We do not assume that the child knows how to handle situations. Instead, we break down a task into step- by- step directions so the child can successfully learn social skills. Children also practice how to greet a visitor to the classroom, or give a guided tour. These and other skills are shown and practiced first and then implemented into daily living.
Ms. Kristen has been working with the students and planning wonderful lessons in the afternoons. The children have been singing, composing songs, learning sign language as well as cooking! She has also reinforced the ground rules that we have been working on. The consistency she provides for the classroom is a big part of why the beginning of the school year has been so successful!
We hope you are seeing some of the courteous and respectful behaviors we have been practicing in the classroom modeled at home. We have enjoyed our focus on practical life during the month of September it is the foundation of the Montessori curriculum that helps your child grow and mature in many ways as well as to become life long learners.
Here are some Practical Life activities to practice at home:
Putting on / taking off all types of clothing: mittens, gloves, scarves, ear muffs, and caps