Friday, January 24, 2014

This Moment

A Friday ritual. photos - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
~Ms. Catriona

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Time to Reflect

Solar system sensory bin
This is an opportunity for sensory and pretend play.

 This snowstorm has provided me with some time to reflect on what has been happening in our classroom since returning from the holiday break.  The children seem very eager to dive into activities and experiences that interest them.  Be it math, language or the solar system the children have been absorbed with their chosen activities.  It is fascinating to watch children identify what interests them and independently choose how to spend their time in the classroom.  Choosing how to spend your time is an important skill to learn and it involves trust.  The teachers and parents need to trust that the child knows what they want and need to learn and the child must trust him or herself to know what they want and need to learn. 

Maria Montessori called children “scientists” and that is exactly what they are.  They are actively figuring out how the world works and not just relying on us as parents and teachers to tell them.
~Ms. Melanie

The Addition Strip Board
For three days after having a presentation in this activity this child chose this activity and worked on it from the time he arrived until we gathered for circle and then he would pick it up again after we finished afternoon snack.

The Solar System
Many children in the classroom can tell you that the sun is a “Hot star made of fire” and that it takes the earth one whole year to go around the sun. One child is quite fascinated by the fact that “When Ms. Melanie was a little girl Pluto was still a planet!”

The Moveable alphabet
This child has spent a great deal of time building three letter phonetic words with the moveable alphabet.

Nothing like gathering around a “campfire” on a cold day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Learning about Ted Harrison

As part of our work on the Arctic, we have been looking at and learning about Canadian artist Ted Harrison.  To know me is to know I have a soft spot for Canadian Art.  Many do not know this but, during my undergraduate time at Mount Saint Vincent University I did a directed study on 20th Century Canadian Landscape Artists.  
I love Canadian art and I love showing it to children and teaching them about the artists.  We work very hard at Maple Tree to balance the crafty side of things with lots of artful experiences for our children.  It truly boggles my mind when I see children not being exposed to such opportunities.   It really doesn't take any more time to show children what to do and to set up the space to provide that experience.

 Each and everyone of the paintings that came out of our Quinpool class this last week was unique and stunning.  They were all done on canvases.  In the grand scheme of things it really doesn't cost that much extra to make the proper materials available.  Although, if you asked my accountant she might disagree ;-)!  I have been know to spend a lot on art materials and it's just one of those things I am unwilling to compromise on.  Again, it's all about balance.  Remember all those egg cartons I wanted before Christmas?
 So, a few things are coming to me as I look at all these incredibly beautiful paintings.  We need to do more art and we need to have an Art Show!  Perhaps late Spring?  Thoughts?
 When Melanie and I came back from our Conference at Countryside Montessori School in Chicago this summer we knew we wanted to expand on our art activities and work presentations at Maple Tree. We observed so many work trays set up to introduce art to children that we had never considered before nor was it part of our learning as teachers back in the day.  It definitely left us feeling inspired though.
 After we came home I started searching out more on the internet about Montessori and Art for children and that is when I happened upon Julie Karlonas.  So, I quickly ordered Julie's art Manuals and Art Cards.  The Art Manuals are brilliantly done from a Montessori perspective and the presentation trays so tailored for young children.  Julie herself is a Montessori Teacher and an Artist.  Fortunately, I was able to connect with Julie directly over the phone and we had a long conversation about art for young children and how important it is.  Julie knew what I was saying and how passionate I was feeling about artful experiences for children.  We both agreed more opportunities need to be available to children and real materials need to be in our children's hands.
 As a Early Childhood Educator and parent, I feel it is important to encourage drawing, painting, sewing, felting and sculpting at home.  Our home is nearing (I hope) the end of its renovation and I am thinking about spaces to set up in our new kitchen and dinning area that house paints, charcoal, pencils, wool and clay.  I not only want to make this available for my youngest but my older boys as well.  Not only are the children connecting with their heart, head and hand but they are talking to me and as my boys get bigger I see how important that is.  When I am cooking or working on something often my girl is drawing or painting.  The kitchen/dining seems to be the heart of our home and the best place to set up this space for our family.  In a time when technology is so big and our children are so drawn to it, it's equally important to balance that out with quiet time at the table drawing, painting and sewing.  ~michelle

Maple Tree Montessori CLOSED today

Environment Canada has issued a blizzard warning for the Halifax region. In anticipation of deteriorating conditions, Maple Tree Montessori will be CLOSED today, Wednesday, January 22nd.

Friday, January 17, 2014

This Moment

A moment  from the week we want to pause and savour.  ~Ms. Catriona

Monday, January 13, 2014


Happy 2014 Everyone!  I hope you are all well and you had a lovely rest with your children 
over the holidays.  I sure felt last week when I had to get moaning children up for school and it was soooo cold!

Speaking of cold we are looking at the Arctic this next little while at Quinpool while the children at Cork Study Space.  Melanie and I came to this agreement so that I didn't have to make double materials or split up any of our collections.  So we will be back and forth over the next little while on the blogging front between Space and the Arctic.

Last week, we made some beautiful borax snowflakes.   It was really fun to watch the reaction of the hot water and the borax and see the crystals form.  The borax snowflakes are something I have been wanting to do for a long time.  We may need to make them for our giving tree next year.  Wouldn't they be beautiful on that tree?  I found the idea for the Borax Snowflakes here.

They are super easy to make but it is becoming harder to find borax in the laundry isle at the grocery store these days.  I have been to three and have not been able to find it again.  I may have to ask the store to special order it in.  
This is our process.  Bend pipe cleaners into snowflake shapes and we used butcher twine to tie them around the middle and a pencil to support the string so it stayed centred and didn't get wet.  
 Once the crystals were formed I pored out the borax water and gently pried the snowflakes out from the jars.  Because they are made with pipe cleaners  it was super easy.  This was a great project and really it required very little.  ~m