Thursday, December 22, 2016

Giving Tree

I am  finally catching my breath and feeling that shift to a slower pace.  I so look forward to shifting gears this time of the year.  I took a few days to decompress and cook and deck out parts of my house.  It's been a really nice change.
Last Saturday in that crazy snow storm we loaded up the Van with the donations for the SPCA and our family that we sponsored and I delivered those gifts.  It was the last of the things I needed to do before starting my break.  Even in a storm I was happy to do it.  It felt extra Christmasy driving around in that snow.

We first dropped off all the gifts to our family.  It was anonymous so it was a relief to find them not home.  Our intention was to surprise them and I didn't want this to be awkward for them.  We left huge boxes of gifts for them and their children on their front porch and over $850.00 dollars in gift cards in their mailbox. I personally know these gifts were received as my source said the Dad was wiping away tears as he talked of the kindness they found in their mailbox and on their front porch!  Wow, that felt amazing!  Amazing to be apart of such ca fantastic community of parents and children at Maple Tree.  I asked and everyone gave and gave from the heart.  Please know it made such a difference for this family.
SPCA Donation
Lastly, I drove to the SPCA.  This was our first year for giving there and it was such a good call.  Just days prior we had heard on the news that they were overwhelmed with animals being dropped off in dire conditions and they were struggling to keep up with the needs and demands.  You can see by the photo that we delivered a lot of good!  The staff at the shelter were so overwhelmed by this large donation.  Please keep the SPCA in your thoughts through out the year.  they always have need.  You can foster such kindness and empathy in your children by even just taking the time to visit and love up and pet the kittens, cats and bunnies at the shelter.  Everything helps. Thank you to all our wonderful families!

 This past month, the children have been making non stop.  It's a good time to shift gears a little bit in the classroom as the children are a bit restless and excited about the coming holiday.  We like to highlight our giving project by making lots of ornaments with our children for the tree that then go home to their christmas tree.  We had some really great projects this year!
Snowman Ornament
 We used a combination of clay and salt dough for these ornaments.  Clay at Oxford Street and Salt dough at Quinpool.  These were the sweetest ornaments and I would go so far as to say my favourite this year.  The sensory experience lent itself to quiet focused pockets of concentration with the children from pressing out the clay/dough to painting.  We will do these again.

String Star Ornament
We also made some string stars.  I cut out alot of white stars from foam board.  It was worth it.  This project exceeded my expectations and the children loved the color.  Such a simple project of just wrapping and winding yarn around stars.

Pinecone Weaving
 We also pulled out an oldy but goodie project from our archives.  Pinecone weaving is a standard piece of work on our art shelf this time of the year.
 We also had crayon sharpening out for weeks on our practical life shelf in hopes of collecting enough crayon bits for out melted glass ball project.   There was endless amounts of sharpening going on and the children were very curious about what we would used all the shaving for!
 The children scooped crayon shavings into the glass balls and then a teacher held them while the child used the hairdryer to heat up the crayon.  They were beautiful!  There was also lots of talk about how the heat was melting the crayon and it was moving and sticking to the glass ball.
Crayon Glass Ball Ornament

Wooden Santa
We also, made these super cute Santa ornaments.  We had a parent cut the wooden disks for us and they we had the children help with drilling out the holes.  So much fun.  The children painted on the faces.  This was an easy project and quick.  Everyone was able to make one.
Popcorn and Cranberries
There was lots of cranberry stringing going on and Crayon rubbing work and Water colour Painting as well.  We did our best to tuck as much into the time we had as we could with the children.  
Snowflake Rubbings

 I love this time of the year for all the making that happens.  The children produce such beautiful pieces and take such pride in their work!
Water Colour Painting

Friday, December 9, 2016

Talking about Remembrance

Ms. Lynn's Dad

We never really know how much the children absorb when we talk about an idea or event until it presents itself to us.  This past month we had two children that Remembrance day made a big impact on.  One of our children drew pictures and the other one acted out a moment with her parents doing her own version of circle time where she told her parents ,"children, I am going to show you something very precious and special to me." She was pretending to unwrap the photo of Ms. Lynn's Dad.  This little girl then went on to talk about his medals and what he did in the war.  It was very sweet to hear about this and clearly this story made a big impression on this little girl.  

The following is from Ms. Lynn.

This past month I had a wonderful experience discussing Remembrance Day with some of the children.  I took the opportunity to share a loved one, my father, who served in WWII.  I showed them a photo of my father dressed wearing his 11 medals.  The children were so interested to hear that my father played a very important role in the medical division, and helped many injured soldiers.  It brought tears to my eyes when one of the children came to school the next day, and so proudly told me that he had drawn a picture at home of my father and his medals.  Your children are beautiful individuals, and bring joy into my heart!
Ms. Lynn's Dad

Tissue Paper Poppies

Friday, November 4, 2016

Montessori Moment

Montessori Moment
{Montessori moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

In the Garden

 It's been a busy fall season so far.  We've settle our classrooms and been doing lots of work focusing on our outside classroom.   This is a particularly love;y time of the year to teach the children about plant life cycles and seeds.  I especially love doing seed collecting with the children.  I am always really fascinated by the children and their natural curiosity with their outside world.  I've been longing to do some work outside in the garden and when we planted our garden space four years ago I dreamed about how we would use it as a natural extension of our inside classrooms.

This spring we planted alot of things that would go to seed.  I wanted to be able to teach the children about what happens to the plant at the end of it's life cycle and why things are yellow and going to seed.  I talked about how our garden is getting ready to go to sleep for the winter and what we can do to help that along.  
Sunflower Seed heads 
 Before the tropical storm I went out and harvested the Sunflower seed heads to dry on my dehydrator.  We will be taking these apart at a work station with tweezers as part of our seed collecting work.
 Melanie was able to just pop outside with her group and explore the garden and my group hopped on the bus to visit the garden at our Quinpool Campus.  Both groups were able to harvest some of the last veggies and flowers from the garden.  we picked alot of tiny yummy carrots and looked at the seeds inside a bean pod and tomato plant.

 We also looked at flowers in the garden and how some of them have left seeds behind to grow new flowers for next year like the day lilies.
Lily Seed pod with tiny black seeds in Michelle's hand.

Harvesting Carrots 

We tasted nasturtiums and talked about how some people really enjoy those in their salad as they have a peppery taste.

All through our garden walk and exploration we also collected.  not just seeds and seed pods but different clippings of plants and leaves so that we could do some comparing with the botany cabinet.

Both Melanie and I took this opportunity to do some nature journaling with our second year children.  Her children worked in their project books to record their work and my group are making nature journals. I want to have a space where children can continue to draw and record their observations of their natural environment.

Nature Journaling (Tomato plant)

Nature Table Collection
 We have worked really hard this year to inspire the children by keeping a nature table in our classrooms.  The children are able to spend quiet time at these tables exploring what is there with a magnify glass and their hands.  I love how this space works in our classrooms and how drawn the children are to it.  I know it will be a quieter space come winter and that is ok.  But for right now, it is a lush space with all that is left of our growing season and for that I feel immensely happy and grateful for all that Mother Nature gives us.
Classroom Nature Table

Parts of the Leaf

Parts of the Leaf

Parts of an Apple

Friday, September 9, 2016

Why You Choose Montessori

Before the leaves begin their transition to vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. Before the morning air gets fresh and crisp. Before the urban gardeners are shuttling potted Borghese Plum, Sungold, and Brandywine tomato plants from patio to porch to avoid the frost, the sounds of eager and excited children can be heard as they head back to school.

For some parents, the hugs, kisses, and tears of their child’s first day at elementary school is still a couple of years away. Some of these parents may be dealing with the separation anxiety (their children’s and their own) of the first day of pre-school.

The scene at Maple Tree Montessori, the first week of September is equal parts calm and angst-ridden. There’s excitement and trepidation, reticence and effusiveness, shock and comfort.

Transitions to new situations are always tricky, especially for developmentally-sensitive pre-schoolers but a Montessori school is a warm, inviting, and a natural environment that allows space for children to acclimate rather quickly.

Upon entering Maple Tree Montessori, the first thing most people notice is the natural wood – not just the shelving, but the tables, chairs, and learning materials. You won’t find much in the way of plastic or other synthetic materials in a Montessori school.

Montessori schools are named after Dr. Maria Montessori, the first female doctor in Italy. She was a physician, philosopher, educator, feminist, and humanitarian. She was a deeply spiritual person. Dr. Montessori was also nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Her method, based on years of observation and research, led her to develop a child-centered, alternative educational philosophy that aims to tailor the children’s environment to their developmental levels. The goal is develop a child that is a “complete human being, oriented to the environment, and adapted to his or her time, place and culture.”

The children are introduced to self-correcting Montessori-specific materials that present learning concepts and develop skills in a number of areas, including practical life, sensorial, language, math and so on. Teachers in a Montessori school observe children and watch for signs that new material can be introduced.

The key to the Montessori method is that the children’s learning is self-directed. They choose their work from a well-structured and well-stocked classroom. Montessori students learn on their own, and are encouraged to help and teach each other.

Each day at Maple Tree Montessori, you’ll find several children setting the tables for lunch. The plates, glasses, and cutlery are set on top of tablecloths and napkins that have been recycled from thrift-store bed linens and men’s dress shirts. A few children will arrange some flowers in small vases and place them on each table. A few other children will help serve lunch, which is made fresh in the Maple Tree kitchen every day. After the mid-day meal, more children will help clear and wash the dishes in the sink custom-made at the children’s height.

A Montessori classroom is the children’s house – literally. Dr. Montessori called her pre-school the Casa dei Bambini. Everything in a Montessori classroom is child-sized to promote competence and confidence – to create a small children’s world that they can negotiate with self-assurance.

When the leaves do change colour and cover the sidewalk with their abounding tapestry in autumnal hues, the young pre-school students from Maple Tree Montessori may be found walking outdoors gathering this natural harvest, along with a recently vacated bird’s nest, and a nearly-hollowed tree branch. These will join some seashells, fossils, and feathers on the science and nature tray in the classroom, where the children will peruse and inspect their treasures with a magnifying glass and their naked eye.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Science is Everywhere

 I initially found the thought of science camp to be  intimidating.  I do not consider myself to have a particularly scientific mind.  I did not have anything to worry about however because the children certainly do have scientific minds.  It seems that children are natural scientists.  They make their guesses, they test it and then draw their own conclusions.

We enjoyed looking through the microscope and seeing what everyday objects look like up close.
 We explored the way force starts, stops, speeds up movement and changes5 directions.

We experimented with levers and fulcrums.  We learned that the distance traveled is different depending on where the fulcrum is placed
What happens when you mix vinegar, paint and baking
soda?  A great big scientific mess!  That's what happens!

Inspired by Rosie Revere, Engineer we made inventions from loose parts.
 Making shadow puppets helped us explore the science of light and shadow.

Posted By Ms. Melanie

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Crazy for Art

I think I've gone a little crazy importing the pictures from the last two weeks!  I just find it hard not to share everything your children have done.  We had a very full two weeks of Art Camp at Maple Tree.  I have loved every single project and I gave a lot of thought when I chose the projects thinking about all the different abilities of my children.  Not every child loves art or getting messy.  I really wanted my children to have sensory experiences with their art and I think we accomplished that with great success.

From tracing around bodies and feeling tickled to experiencing the size of ones body and just how much paint it takes to paint it.  The children really loved being traced and then painting themselves.  Such a simple project really and yet so very rewarding especially when you stand back and look at everyone.
 We used simple materials for this project.  Recycled drafting paper, markers, and tempera paint.

 We also looked at Monet.  I've done other projects on Monet with the children and this one was different in that we used real flower for stamping our impressions.  I set up two stations for this project.  We had a table with water colours and the children were really applying the paint very quickly.  The idea was to watch the colours bleed together.  There was so much discussion about what happens when blue and yellow mix to make green and red and blue to make purple.  After the water colour was applied we move to the next painting station.

The children applied acrylic paints with flowers.  They absolutely loved pressing the flowers into the paint and then stamping their water colour painting.  the effect was really quite stunning.
 We talked about Monet and his many famous paintings and his style of painting.


 We also experimented with small canvases and rubber bands.  Turns out that was so much easier for the children to use than string.  We had the children wrap the canvases with rubber bands and then we stamped water colour paint on the canvases.  When the stamping was done we threw salt on the painting to see if it would create an interesting effect.


 Another project we did was inspired by our love of metal insets!  I pulled out all kinds of circles for tracing. Rolls of tape of varying sizes and lids from containers and of course our circle metal inset for tracing.  After all the tracing the children were invited to colour in their circles with either marker or water colour paints.  This project was so simple and so very beautiful.  Each child's creation was so very different and beautiful.

 We did a lot of outtings.  We went to water parks, play grounds and to see a puppet show.


 We made marble art with shaving cream and liquid water colour.  I really love liquid water colour.  The colour is so very intense that I've been using it when I make play dough as well. It's so much more vibrant than food colouring.
 For this project the children sprayed shaving cream into a large tray and then we used droppers to apply the liquid water colour.  Then the children mixed the colours with tooth picks and popsicle sticks.  We used special water colour paper and pressed it into the shaving cream.  You MUST use water colour paper for this project.  The water colour paper really absorbs the paint and the marbling.  When you lift off the paper you use a scraper to scrape the shaving cream away to reveal a most beautiful marble painting.

 We tried Bubble painting.  Using water colours again and straws and soap to create colourful bubbles.  Once the bubbles were big enough the children pressed their water colour paper on to the bubbles to collect their bubble impression.  This was fun.  It was fun to make the bubbles and then see them appear on the paper like magic!

 We made rainbow fish.  Based on the story Rainbow Fish.  I've had metallic paints for a while that I've been waiting to use.  We used celery to stamp the scales out on the fish and when the paint was dry we had the children go over the fish with orange and blue water colour paints.


 Our last project was painting with water balloons.  This was slippery and fun and the children really loved getting their hands messy.  Again, lots of colour choice and colour mixing for the children.  we really encouraged mixing and stamping.  The glossy yellow paper was donated a few years ago and I had been saving it for this kind of project.  We used Acrylic paints which really hold up beautifully on the glossy paper.
So, that is a wrap on art camp.  I really love doing art and I feel it is so important for children to make art.  To many early learning environments don't do enough of this.  Children need artful experiences like they need love.  Art is love.