Friday, September 30, 2011

This week.....

 This week,  we have learned more about apples and used them as a tool for counting.

 Worked with friends to collect seeds for our own gardens at home.

 Used seeds and legumes to make the most beautiful flowers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oh My Apple Pie

 The day started off like any other day with me getting refreshment ready.  I opened the fridge and apples fell out!  I decided that we need to make another apple something today.  Yesterday we made apple/pear sauce that we served in the afternoon for refreshment.  So I thought Apple Turn overs or mini pie as I called it today was in order.
 As you can see, we started by making the pastry.  Making good pastry is a gift and this is one of those times I don't mind saying, "I have the gift".  Really how could I not with such great help all around me. The trick I told the children today was to handle the dough very little so as not to over work the gluten and really, really cold ingredients.  Butter, Lard (YES LARD because it makes the best most flakey pastry ever), Ice water, flour and a tiny bit of salt.  We mixed it all up with our hands quickly and after it had rested in the fridge for an hour we rolled it out and cut it into triangles and half moon shapes.
 I showed the children how to use their finger to moisten the edge of the dough with water for sealing the edges.
 While the dough rested we had many helpers cutting up tiny apples.  I find it interesting how children will come and go and work out who needs the next turn at the round table and in the end everyone got a turn to make the apple filling.  Once the filling was ready we used a big spoon to put apples into the middle of the dough.  We folded over the dough and used a fork to seal the edges.  
 Lastly we brushed the pastry with milk and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
 VoilĂ !  This took all morning but it was so worth it.
 Fresh from the oven!  The smell at lunch was amazing....just like home.
Just because.....I wanted you to see what lunch looks like at the school.  Today it was Spaghetti with homemade sauce and garden salad, Apple pie  and milk.  I wish I had video taped the silence as the children ate and ate today.  Oh, happy day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Collecting Seeds

 The start of this week has us looking at more seed collecting.  I've created a space in our Sensorial section to feature more seed collection work.  Along with this work is a an even greater opportunity to talk not only about harvesting seeds, but all parts of the life cycle of a plant.  Along with this new and exciting work I have the children using a collection of cards in a matching game to learn more about the life cycle of a plant.  I find this work not only timely for us but important as the garden slowly dies away and we are left with a bit of nature that isn't so flowery and beautiful.  It is important to appreciate nature in all it's stages.
 Today when I was showing this work to a child, he commented how soft and silvery the seed pods were.  I felt this was a moment to express how beautiful I found the remnants of the plant to be.  I loved showing this work today and I found the child completely engrossed and quiet taking it all in.  With this work we used our finger to split the seed pod open and collect the seeds in our bowl.  When we collected enough seeds we put them in a small seed pouch and labeled it with a picture of the lupin seeds.
Here we are collecting coriander seeds.  The smell was incredible.  Again, we used our fingers to pinch the seeds off and into the small bowl.  Next we used the scoop to pour the seeds into the seed pouch and we labeled it with a picture.

So this is what you have coming home this week and I have told the children that they may wish to keep the seeds for the spring and plant them in the garden at home.  The coriander seeds may be used to for cooking right away.  You may want to crush them a bit first.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mentoring and Math

Over the last few days, I have had the privilege of watching the most beautiful mentoring unfold in the classroom.  I am watching as the young children are taking out their new work and are practicing it and then I watch as they show it to the older children.  What has been cool is that the older children are watching and listening and then offer to show it back to the child.  That is exactly what was happening with the sandpaper letters.  When we teach the children their numbers, we do it by touch and sound.  One of the first things we do is ask them to wash their hands to sensitize their fingers for the touch experience.  We then introduce the numbers, one at a time, in groups of three and show the child how to trace the letter.  The act of tracing the letter is about helping them make that mental experience with the number.  So, while we are tracing the number, we are also saying, "this is five."  This is what I saw unfolding at this table on this particular morning.  In the above picture, the child in pink is the older student and the child in purple is the new child.  That is one of the most beautiful things about a Montessori classroom.  It's the mentoring and how those relationships carry through that make it all worth it.  

I have also included a bit of work here as I am sure your children are coming home with beautiful handmade bracelets everyday.  It is actually their math work and this is how we have it set up.  The yellow cards are called "recipe cards" and have the order in which the children are to choose their ingredients to make their bracelet.  I have it set up so that three children at a time may make one.  They gather their items in the small wooden bowl. Along with their recipe card, they take their bowl and "ingredients" and proceed to a table to make their bracelet.  So much fun to set this up for the children -- and even more fun to watch them count and make!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Light and Action

It is amazing to me what Ms. Melanie comes into work with!  Sunday evening while I was prepping sunflower seed heads she was putting a basket of tiny coloured shot glasses together.  I thought at first we might be mixing some drinks, but than I realized it was for the light table (kidding about the drinks).  I love how the light reflects through the coloured glasses and so do the children.  There has been much exploration going on at the light table and I am glad for it.  We have this beautiful table and I often seem at a loss for how to use it or what to put on it.  I am open to suggestions for sure.  We do have some cool x-rays that we will be getting out soon but for now it is all about colour and building.      Have any ideas about using the light table?  I would love to hear them!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Everything is coming up Sunflowers

What a way to kick start the week.  Yesterday, my family went to the valley to net our grape vines and I noticed the largest Sunflowers I have ever seen in the garden.  I asked if I may help myself to the seed heads and was given the go ahead.  What a score!  It was a moment of brilliance for sure. 

Last night I went into the school and dried the seed heads in the oven for a while at a low temperature.  Mostly I was wanting to make sure there were no creepy crawlies.  After I was certain they were bug free I set one up on a independent working station with a set of small tweezers and a bowl for collection.  I can not tell you how much fun this work is and how soothing it is to pick away at something.  This work is so popular I am kicking myself for not bring back eight seed heads.  I smell another trip to the vineyard this weekend to collect more.  The second seed head went to rest at the nature table until I noticed it was being picked at and so I put it away.  I need to make sure everyone gets to have a turn with this work.  

I simply love this work for so many reasons.  The first is that the children are getting a serious workout with their hand and tweezing which is great for the ones with a weaker pincer grip.  Secondly, we are learning about the life cycle and and the collection of seeds for the next growing cycle.  I will put some of these away to dry out and plant in our garden out front. 

I had the children empty the full seed bowl into the bowl at the art table so that we can continue to make our Sunflowers.  If I had only known I would never have bought sunflower seeds last week for this art project!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Artful Experiences

Today I was cleaning out and sorting through the work in basket and I noticed the beautiful paintings waiting to be wrapped up.  I also noticed how the paintings were a refection of the art table activity this week.  Normally,  we do not see the children painting specific things at the easel until much later in the year.  Mostly,  the children are painting with an idea and blending colors.  It is hard at this age to actually painting an object or paint what is in your mind.  So imagine my surprise when I happened upon these beautiful paintings of rainbows.  I love how very different each of these paintings are and how each child used such care with their brush and painted their version of a rainbow.  Paint is an amazing meduim for which children can be so expressive.  I say, bring on the paint!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The First Day

The day was simply lovely today!  I really hope that you are able to get that feel from these pictures I am posting this evening.  I walked around when I was aloud to and snapped quickly and quietly.  I felt special when I was asked repeatedly, "Can I work with you Ms. Michelle." 
The new children found their work with ease and seemed very content.

The returning children seemed blissed out and so happy to be back in their groove.
Today was an exceptional start to the school year.  All this makes me feel like we did a great job with orientation.  Working with the tears and calming fears and being extra tender.  The tricky ones were not tricky today and seemed to blossom with each transition and new thing.

Even puppy got cast aside because my friend was too busy with water , sponges and a garlic press.  So much work and so little time!

Some just needed to pour water and play in bubbles and reconnect with old friends at the sensory table today.

Some really enjoyed washing up after refreshment.  I love that I never have to wash these dishes anymore!

Binomial cube made it's way out and into some little hands for a long time.

and sorting rubber bands by length was super important to this little friend.  I watched and watched, so amazed by your children.  Great first day!  -m