Thursday, September 27, 2012

Finger Paint and the Sand Paper Numbers

 It appears I am not only thinking of the Sand Paper Letters right now but also the Sand Paper Numbers!  This week in my classroom I set up a work station for the children to finger paint numbers. ( Don't worry I've shared this with the other campus and it will be out on their shelf next week)!!

I must confess, this was not my idea. My daughter actually brought this home from school a week earlier and it got me to thinking about numbers and sensory experiences.  It is so important that children learn good habits with letter and number printing.  In my early days of teaching (gee I sound old) I use to keep a small box with sand in it so the children could make the letter or number I presented when I presented the sandpaper letters or numbers.  Do you know how amazing it is to just sit and feel sand run through your fingers?  Finch seed is like that also.  It as an incredible silky feel.  I have had that out at a table just so the children can sit and pour it through their hands.  I have watched a few do it for long periods of time.  Sensory experiences are so very important.  Many things happen to children in those moments.  The settle, they figure out a few things, and they feel quiet.  
 Anyway, back to the numbers...I wanted the children to learn how to trace or make their numbers properly by touch.  So I set up pages of numbers, a small bowl for dipping your finger, paper towel for dabbing and a pencil to record their name.
 I set out an example that I actually made in front of the children.  It was very cool having them so quiet and watching my every move as I made my own set of numbers.  It really is amazing what they take in and how keen they are to make their own version.  The best part of this project was that you used your fingers to do the painting.  I was amazed at how respectful the children were with the paints.  They were so careful not to muddle them all up and to clean their finger each time they changed the colour.

Wouldn't it be fun if we could go through life signing our pay checks this way?!

~Ms. Michelle

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

For the Love of Language

I love the sandpaper letters.  I love introducing them to new children and there is such excitement in the air when the children know it is their turn.  In my early days of teaching, I wasn't such a big fan of the sand paper letters.  I never found them exciting and it bothered me.  I once worked with a teacher who said (who was not trained in montessori), "I don't believe in the sandpaper letters".  That comment stayed with me for a long time.  It really bothered me probably because I had my own doubts in those early days.

It's funny how you evolve as a teacher and how your teaching style evolves and changes.  I have come to realized that children really love to touch and talk about things they see.  So this got me to do we make the sand paper letters more interesting.
When the sandpaper letters are first introduced they are done so in a grouping of three and you trace your fingers over them and give the child the sound.  Then you invite the child to take their turn to do this.  I wanted to extend this lesson by adding tiny phonetic objects to our three sound groupings to sort.  We've also made pink sound books and have the children make a rubbing in their sound book as a way of marking or recording that work.  We then practice those sounds and match the objects each time until they are mastered.  Once mastered we move on to another three sounds.

I've even been known to keep a small dinky car in my teacher apron and have had the child drive the car to the sound for "p".  We have noticed that since we have implemented this extension to our sound work that more children are seeking us out for sound work and they are grasping the sounds quicker.  I think it has a lot to do with that tiny little object that needs to find a home under the right sound.

At the bottom, I've attached a small clip of a child working with the sand paper letters so you can see what we are doing and what we mean when we talk with you about this work.  You will also have a better understanding about it when your child just starts sounding out all kinds of words they happen upon.  Oh, and I do love when that happens because it is so empowering for children to realize that they can read on their own.  ~Ms. Michelle

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How are we feeling today?

 Every day at Circle time as part of our opening routine I lay out some cards with different facial expressions on them and invite the children one at a time choose a card and tell us how they are feeling today.  The first few times we did the activity the children generally picked either the happy or sad cards.  Now some of them are starting to say things like “I'm happy because I have a little sister.” or “I'm sad because I miss my mom.”  My objective is to encourage the children to become comfortable talking about how they are feeling and I want them to know that it is normal not to feel happy all the time and that it is OK to feel sad or angry or frustrated.  I have found that not only are the children interested in sharing how they are feeling, they are also interested in how others are feeling.  I am always touched when after we talk about our feelings a child asks “How are you feeling today Miss Melanie?”

As an extension to this activity this week the art table was set up with paper plates, mouths of different expressions, eyes of different expressions and hair.  The children built wonderful expressive faces. 
~Ms. Melanie

Monday, September 10, 2012

Thinking and Drawing

 I am so glad school has started again because I miss not writing in this space about our adventures.  Last week we had a chance to travel to a place where letters dominated the forest and so we read, talked and drew our own version of Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom.  I can't tell you how much I love this book.  It is rhythmic and soft and powerful and well just very satisfying as a teacher and reader to read to young children.  It has long been a favourite in our house and our copy is well loved and used.

I got particularly excited when a parent donated some sticky letters to us (THANK YOU)!  I knew I would use them to have our children make their own version of Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom.

Dr. Montessori talked of how the mind and hand are connected.  I believe she once said, "hand is the extension of mans intelligence".  It is so important to spend time with your children not only reading, but drawing also.  Life is so fast today and children seem overwhelmed when you ask them to draw anything.  We will spend a lot of time putting pencil to hand in our work and art projects.   I encourage you to keep some and to file some;)!  But notice how your child's work and art evolves not only with their hand but with reading and language also.  You would be amazed how much things change and how fast language starts to take off.  ~Ms. Michelle