Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How do you get to One Hundred?

An important way that teachers in a Montessori environment support their students is by making careful observations. When a teacher observes and takes note of a child's interests and abilities she is better able to design a program that meets that particular child's needs. When it comes to early learning one size does not fit all.

Today, I invited a child “F” to practice the Spindle Boxes. This is a math activity where the child counts out quantities to nine. “F” said to me “I don't want to do this because I know how to count to one hundred! I count to a hundred with my Mom and Dad all the time.” I said “Alright why don't I show you the “Hundred Board?” This is a board squared off and numbered from one to one hundred and the child places the corresponding number tiles on the squares. First the child matches the number on the tiles with the number on the board and than when she becomes proficient she can place the tiles on a blank hundred board. “F” happily completed this activity which required patience and time. She pointed to the 40 tile and said “My Dad is 40!” I did point out to her that I am closer to 100 in age than her Dad.

Posted by the other Ms. M

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Should You or Shouldn't You

Ok, so I often get this question from my parents, "My child is always wearing their shoes on the wrong feet. What should I do about this? Should I correct them?" The answer is NO (unless you are walking a long distance some where or they are planning to do some climbing in the playground or your backyard leave it alone. I know this is hard to do as a parent believe me when I say I know this is hard. I remember having to cancel school once because we were at Emergency all night with out then three year old son who had a concussion (bad luck climbing the stairs). Look at it this way, we see children when they first start at mt really struggle with putting their own shoes on and then one glorious day they "get it". I can't tell you how we feel when we see that look on their face. That sense of accomplishment and pride in knowing they just did something so hard. So please fight the temptation and let it be. You should ask if their feet feel ok in their shoes and if they say yes then leave it be. If they so no then gently offer some guidance. Oh, and we really HATE CROCS for playground!! Don't you just love my picture?


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Classroom Outside

Playground time is an important part of our day here at Maple tree Montessori. It is a time when the children get to burn their energy and hone gross motor skills. It is also a time where social relationships among peers can really start to develop.

I observed a wonderful example of these blossoming relationships when a boy “M” discovered a huge tree branch courtesy of Hurricane Earl. He quickly enlisted three other boys: LB, LW and F and together they moved this branch (which was the size of a small tree) to the middle of the playground. M then said “Lets lean it up against the fence”. The four of them cheerfully lugged the thing back across the playground to the fence. They leaned it against the fence and when I walked over to look at their handiwork M proudly said, “This is a fortress!” LB sat on it and said “Its a horse” and F crawled under it and said “Its a tunnel!” Mildred Parten described this type of play as cooperative play where children work towards a common goal. This is an important milestone in a child's social development.

It was truly magical to watch. We all have broken tree branches in our lives. I hope that we can see the possibilities in ours that these boys saw in theirs.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Can you hear the music?

These past two weeks we began music classes with Ms. Susanne. Our days for music are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The children were a bright and cheerful group, and responded enthusiastically to finger rhythms with vocal play, creative movement and tapping with rhythm sticks. We established the format of each class by introducing the welcome and farewell songs, to give the children a familiar ritual to begin and end the lessons. The children explored playing the sticks loudly and softly, fast and slowly, and freezing, following cues within the music. We did a focused listening exercise in which they distinguished between sound and silence with their eyes closed. It was a wonderful start to music this year, with many interesting and fun activities to come.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Smells like Apple Pie

Just this past week I made some apple pie spiced playdough in a deep red for the sensory table in the classroom. It has been very popular and I thought I would share it. We have a lot of apple work happening in the classroom right now that we have been using with math, art and language. Have some fun with it!

Homemade Playdough

1 c. flour

1/2 cup salt

1 T. cooking oil

1 T. cream of tartar

1 c. water

Food coloring of your choice

Add-ins of your choice (i.e. spices, extracts, glitter, etc.)

Stir ingredients together well. Just measure them into the saucepan you will be using to cook the dough, but mix them well before heating up the pan. Over medium heat cook the dough, stirring constantly until it forms a ball. (NOTE: When it starts to pull away from the sides somewhat and clump together and most of the "wet-looking" parts look dry, it's ready to remove from the pan.) Turn dough onto a board (or the countertop) and knead until very smooth. (NOTE: It will be pretty warm to the touch, but try to knead it until it becomes a nice, smooth ball. If it feels sticky, you can work a little more flour into it and it will be fine.) Cool. Store in a covered plastic container OR in a sealed ziploc bag. (ANOTHER NOTE: This dough does seem to always stick in the saucepan somewhat. I have tried spraying the pan first, but I still have a crusty residue on the pan when I'm finished. I am used to this now and just plan on soaking the pan after I make a batch. I just wanted you to know about that though so you wouldn't think you had goofed something up if that happens.)

When I add spices, I usually start with about a teaspoon (though I never actually use a spoon). I just shake a bunch in until I think it's going to produce the desired level of scent. (I like a LOT of scent.) If you are adding an extract like vanilla or peppermint, for example, probably just a teaspoon will be enough, but you can experiment with a little more than that. Also add gradually if you are doing glitter. I would still start with only about a teaspoon and go from there.