After what seemed to be a very short summer break it was good to get back in the classroom and start teaching. I do miss the Alumni, eager to get to know the new students, and get reacquainted with the returning students. It is amazing how students change over the summer. Some are more mature and some look as if they grew six inches!
The first two weeks we went over the ground rules of the classroom. We reviewed the “big four” rules. Walk in the classroom: because if you run, fall, and hit your head on a table, chair, or the hard ground; which would win, your head or the super hard table? That’s a no brainer, pun intended. Keeping your hands and body to yourself, use your listening ears, and be respectful in the classroom. We focus on being kind to others and respecting the materials.
We then explored the subject of healthy habits. Washing hands and our bodies, exercising, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep were needed to keep a healthy mind and body, although we can have specific training to have even a better body, as for the mind we can find resources online for example the power of your subconscious mind pdf show you the best techniques to improve your mind power. Healthy habits created a good segway to the introduction of the food pyramid. We learned what the food groups were, what foods were in each food group, and servings of each.
The next week we took a look at what was living and non living. It was pretty easy to identify what was living and non living but we went a step further and determined what characteristics were needed to be labeled living. Reproduction, growth, taking in nutrients (eating), and exchanging gases (breathing) were the four categories we reviewed. We discovered that the children were living but Mr. John’s shoe was not. A chair was non living and so were Ms. Dana and Ms. Kathleen before they get their morning coffee!
We kicked off the Kindergarten season with a dose of Geography. They learned about the seven continents, fun facts about the continents, and a few countries in each continent. They are very familiar with the cardinal directions, the equator, the prime meridian, and the hemispheres. They even know the North America is in the North Western hemisphere. We then looked at our home state of O-H-I-O and the surrounding states (their abbreviation and nickname). PA-Keystone State, WV- Mountain State, KY-Bluegrass State, IN-The Hoosier State (what in the world is a Hoosier?) and that…(sigh)… state up north MI-The Wolverine State. Ask your child all about Ohio! The cardinal is the official bird, scarlet carnation the official flower, lady bug is the official insect. I see a consistent theme of red! Even tomato juice is the official drink! We are the BUCKEYE state and for some reason they got the impression the only college football team that matters is THE Ohio State Buckeyes! The official rock and roll song is Hang on Sloopy performed by the McCoys in 1965. Hang on Sloopy, Sloopy Hang On… O-H-I-O, YA!
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
Wow the first month of the school year flew by! I would like to start off by thanking everyone who came to meet the teacher night and the ice cream social. I had a wonderful time talking to you all about the class and your children before the school year began.We kicked off our school year focusing on grace and courtesy to teach and fulfill our students innate need for order. Every student has aneed to know and to absorb the social structures in order to be more at ease in their environment. Grace and courtesy lessons give the student the vocabulary, actions, and steps required for them to build their awareness and responsiveness of those around them. We worked on walking in the classroom, using our inside voices while in the school building, using kind words to one another, using safe hands, how to clean up our area when we are done working and how to use our words to express our feelings.
The third week of school we talked and learned about community helpers. We had many of volunteer community helpers come into the classroom and talk to the children. They briefly described their occupation, by talking about where they work, what they wear, tools they use, and tasks they perform. I would like to thank all of the volunteers that came into the classroom! It was a wonderful learning experience for both the students and myself!
The fourth week of school we discussed families and the students shared their family trees with their friends. Their family trees included their name, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. The students also brought pictures of their families either on the family tree or hard copies for the children to share with their friends. The children enjoyed learning more about their friends and where they came from. It was great to see the students discover the differences and similarities in all of the families and accept every family for who they are.
We ended the month of September talking about feelings and emotions. The students brainstormed things they could do when they were angry, happy, sad, frustrated, and excited. Then they discussed with one another whether the reaction they came up with was a good choice or a bad choice. The students did a great job learning how to manage their emotions. We role played how to process, identify and appropriately express their emotions as much as possible. After a few days of talking about feeling and emotions it was great to hear the students tell their friends what they were feeling and why on their own. As many of you already know I will be taking a maternity leave of absence. My last scheduled day before the leave is Friday, October 4th. I will be popping in and out of the school the week of October 7th to help Ms. Faith and her substitute teachers in any way to make their transition smoother, but as of Monday, October 7th, Ms. Faith will take over my class. I will look forward to returning in January! I also wanted to take the time to let all of the parents and students know my husband and I really appreciate the baby gifts. Thank you! It is very generous of you and we sincerely appreciate it. I feel so blessed to have such supportive parents like you in our lives. After baby Lydia is here I am hoping to bring her by the school for the students to meet her at the Halloween party. Again thank you for your thoughtful gifts!
This title is just a little bit of cheekiness and a lame attempt at political satire on my part. HEHE. If you follow me on Facebook you’ll notice I stay clear of the subject of politics. Actually, this babbling will have nothing to do with politics but thoughts about the Montessori classroom and my belief in HOW GREAT it is!
When I first was introduced to the Montessori philosophy I thought to myself… The students will run a muck. There is no organization. There will be no discipline. In my head were thoughts of a wild chaotic classroom where the children are CRAZY!
As I quickly discovered the students almost immediately start to choose work on their own, work well with others, and work well by themselves. The teachers have a detailed plan of what the students are to be presented, or need extra work on. So, there is a method to the Montessori madness! No other learning environment will you get children at 3 years of age having the freedom to choose their own works or the older children taking on leadership roles. The great Montessori environment is an amazing thing.
My Breakfast Club taking over my seat
Classroom News: We all returned to school after a well rested winter break. Due to the long break we did a refresher week covering the classroom ground rules. We went over the four basic rules of: 1) No running in the classroom. We do not run because we can get hurt or hurt someone else. 2) Use our listening ears. The students pay attention to the teachers during line time and before cleaning the room with the special vacuums, read more about what we use here. Important robot vacuum comparison are made and information is shared during line time and listening is a sign of respect and courtesy. 3) Keep our hands to ourselves. We do this to honor other student’s personal space. In addition, we do not hit, punch, push or do anything to physically hurt other students. 4) Respect others. This is basically being nice to your fellow students. Use nice words, smile instead of giving mean faces, sharing, and helping those in need.
Handsome guys Cheesecake smile
We also talked about family (since we spent so much time with them over the holidays). We talked about our mom and dad and what we call them (Mommy, mama, daddy, and papa). We also have grandparents that we call yaya, papu, oma, papa to name a few. We told stories about our aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course our brothers and sisters. We determined that pets are part of our family even though they are not human.
Elephant exercise My Snack Pack
To honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we learned a bit about his life and his accomplishments. The students became actresses and actors as they recreated Rosa Parks making her stand on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The students enjoyed playing the part of the bus driver, Rosa Parks, “the mean guy”, a police officer, Martin Luther King Jr., and passengers on the bus. We discussed our differences such as skin color, eye color, hair color, and gender. Then we discussed how we are similar. We talked about our differences. We talked about if someone with red hair wouldn’t be allowed to do art “just because” they have red hair or if anyone who had blue eyes would have to go to a different classroom with less materials, broken crayons, or no books “just because” they have blue eyes. To illustrate this, I had only boys fetch the chairs for the skit and brought that to the attention of the class. We had some very sad girls…. I did let the girls take the chairs back after the skit.
Anyone can sit anywhere. Thank you Rosa Parks
We started to learn about our body and how it works. We learned about our five senses (touch, hearing, sight, smell, and taste). Did you know you can “feel” with any part of your body? We hear loud noises, quiet noises, high and low noises. We need light to see and if we close our eyes we can’t see. There are good smells like cinnamon, vanilla and bad smells like a dirty diaper and vinegar. My favorite was the taste test where we tasted sweet (sugar water), salty (potato chips), sour (pure lemon juice), and bitter (unsweetened baking chocolate). The children enjoyed “most” of the tastes.
Taste test (dark, unsweetened baking chocolate)
We ended the month about learning more about our body. We looked at the skeletal system and if we didn’t have a skeleton we would be one messy blob on the ground.. We learned the skull protects our brain, the rib cage protects our lungs, and the spine keeps us sitting and standing straight. We learned technical terms for our arms, leg and our digits which is a funny name called phalanges. We brought our life sized foam puzzle into our room. His name is Elvis because we learned about the pelvis and it was a cool rhyming name.
Learning about the skeletal system
We had a former student, Anna F. read to our classroom her favorite book with seventeen stories about pirates.
During line time lesson we can count to 10 in twenty three different languages (English, Latin, Spanish, Sign Language, German, French, Greek, Japanese, Arabic w/Lebanese dialect, Italian, Russian, Romanian, Swedish, Tagolog, Hebrew, Korean, Hungarian, Polish, Irish, Kiswahili, Welsh, Dutch/Flemmish, and Serbo-Croation).
BFF’s working together
Academic Enrichment Group Time | Kindergarten -with Mr. John
This month we started our section in Math. We learned about the unit (ones), ten, hundred, and thousand columns. The kindergartners composed numbers, and were introduced to addition with and without carry overs.
Cultural Subjects: We can count to 10 in twenty four different languages (English, Latin, Sign Language, Spanish, German, French, Greek, Japanese, Arabic w/Lebanese dialect, Italian, Russian, Romanian, Swedish, Tagolog, Hebrew, Korean, Hungarian, Polish, Irish, Kiswahili, and Welsh Dutch/Flemish, Serbo-Croatian, Cebuano, and Malay).
Handwriting Enrichment -with Ms. Kristen
During the month of January, the Kindergarten students learned the proper formation of I-T. They also began to work on copying sentences in cursive. Some of the journal questions we answered were, “ Who is our new president?” , “ What city do you live in?”, and “ What is your middle name?”. These simple questions gave the children a chance to practice their letter formation that they have been learning since the beginning of the year! I am so proud of the progress our young writers have made!
Reading Group | Kindergarten -with Ms. Kate
For the month of January the children read two stories called Lion At School, and Coyote Rides The sun. After we read both stories we went over any vocabulary the children weren’t certain of or they have never heard of. The children them completed an assigned drawing that allows them to record their early responses to the selection. When the children choose their illustration , they are visualizing the characters and setting of the story. Throughout our readings we lead our at home discussions, and created a song that was based on the story Coyote Rides The Sun. The class brainstormed together about why they might wake up before dawn. Is it because they are going on a trip? Is it a special holiday? Below is the class song they created together. Enjoy!!
Early Morning Song
Awake in the hour before dawn,
Awake in the hour before dawn,
So I can get to school on time,
So I can open presents on Christmas day,
So I can look for Easter eggs,
So I can go downstairs and have some peace and quiet,
So I can watch t.v.
So I can catch a plane to Disney World,
So I can pack up for the beach
Awake in the hour before dawn.
Science Enrichment by Ms. Kathleen
Leak Proof Baggy: What happens when we poke holes with a pencil in a baggy filled with water? Plastic bags like these are made out of our favorite materials, polymers! Polymers are long chains of individual molecules, called monomers. when you puncture the bag with a sharp pencil, you’re separating polymer chains without breaking them. The long chains of molecules than squeeze in tight around the surface of the pencil, preventing any sort of leak. The Children really enjoyed pencil after pencil being poked through the ziploc plastic bag without any leaks.
Biodegradable Packing Peanuts: What happens when you put them in a pitcher of water? These packing peanuts are made from Starch, with a lot of air pockets. The Starch peanuts once wet dissolve in water just like sugar does. the children loved saying Abracadabra as Mr. John put the peanuts in water and they disappeared.
Absorption, Wet Paper Towel Verses Wet Diaper which will hold more water? Mr John poured water all over a paper towel and a baby diaper and hung them both over his head, the wet paper towel dripped all over him and the diaper filled with water did not. This is because inside the baby diaper there are molecules called polymers inside, They are the small crystal like substance inside the diaper. A polymer that hold a large amount of water is called a gel, gel absorbs a solvent or water. This why the paper towel did not hold the water but the diaper did. All the children squealed with delight as Mr. John’s head got all wet from the soggy paper towel.
“Willing Volunteer” 😉
“Unwilling volunteer” 🙂
Music Enrichment by Ms. Sabrina
Peter and The Wolf are back! We are learning the characters of the story, as well as the instruments involved. The children are internalizing the story well. They can tell what characters and what instruments are entering the story. The children have such great listening skills! Another listening game was also played is called Cat and Mouse! The children listened well to directions, and did what was asked skillfully. They loved performing an emotion in the song with the maracas as an instrument! Music is always so much fun with Ms. Lisa!
Art Enrichment by Ms. Ame
January has been cold but Miss Michele’s imagination has been on fire! Miss Michele has started one of her most creative projects of the year! Miss Michele was able to search for and acquire some extra art supplies from wordtree.io, where students learned many different things, including the importance of marketing art, which can be done in different kind of advertising, from TV ads, billboards, or even online that people do online using resources from companies as The Indexer online. They even went on a field trip! The first week the students learned about mythical creatures and took 3 different animals(one mammal, one reptile and one with wings) and created their own animal on paper! The students first sketched their animal with a pencil and then colored it in! The next week, the students used their drawings and used foil to create a base for a model of the creature! This was a little tricky for some of the younger students but all the students worked hard! After they had made the base, they then covered the foil with a white clay. They added small details like legs, eyes, mouths and wings. Miss Michele is going to bake these creations and then next month the students will decorate them! Thanks Michele for another great start to the year!