Friday, December 27, 2013

Montessori for Kindergarten

Choosing an education for your young child is a daunting task and education is a very personal family choice.  Each family must do what they can for their children, to set them up for success in life.  Many folks are asking me; why keep kids in Montessori when our suburban town has terrific public (free!) Kindergarten?  Let me list our reasons:

Whole Child There's more to Montessori School than academics.  The Montessori Method of Education is a Holistic Method.  There's a lot of grace and courtesy being learned.  Every single day, for every possible event/social situation.  Many schools have a peace curriculum that would put any anti-bully campaign to rest.  Teaching children to work with different types of learners, cultures, and ages in a loving environment is training for life.  Kindness, conflict resolution, and personal reflection are experienced at Montessori School.  Kindergarten students learn to be leaders in keeping the peace.  (Here, Sarah is role-playing sharing Stone Soup with her friend)

    Consistency.  The children are together from ages 3-6  for 3 years, same teachers ideally.  A bond is formed there between peers and with teachers that is so close to family it is truly unique.  You REALLY know a child and their family in three years.  Friendships really stick when formed in this environment.  (Imagine how lucky my twins are to be together for the last few years!)

Concrete to Abstract.  All that work done in the preschool years of Montessori with concrete materials now transitions into abstraction. This year prepares for the next stage of learning.  (worksheets, homework, testing, etc) They know WHY they carry the one, from holding that exchange to the next denomination in their hands.  When it's done on paper, it's understood forward and backwards.  (Iris is adding 4 digit numbers by physically holding the quantities, then recording the equation)

    Leadership.  They are now the big kids, after watching the older children for two years- they are now role models.  Where ever a child goes next, they'll be one of the younger students at school, this is their year to be top dog.  Volumes could be spoken here just on this one tenant.  ("Let's take care of our playground, everyone!")

    Montessori is a 3 year class.  Leaving before it's done, is like leaving before it's- well....done.  The children are working towards high level work for two years before the Kindergarten year.  They look forward to those challenges, and accept them with enthusiasm and tremendous pride.  Since we know children take their school work as a way to build their sense of self, we (our family) must allow them to have this 3rd year for Kindergarten.  (During a handwriting lesson)

Individualized Learning.   The child is where she is academically, socially, and emotionally. The teachers work with them to their highest potential in all areas.   Right now is not learning for a test, there'll be time for that later in life. (Sarah wants to read and write.  Here she is with the movable alphabet.)

Intrinsic Motivation.  They do multiplication, learn to read young, help their peers with challenges, and work as peacemakers.  Why?  Because it's within them.  Not because they are handed rewards or punishments.  Children WANT to learn, to explore, to know.  Amazing, huh? (Trinomial Cube)

Freedom within Limits.  They can choose their activities.  Self-guidance, self-regulation, self-control, self-motivation are all things that come from going about their days with choices within ground rules.  There's plenty of opportunities for movement throughout the day, as Montessori Kindergartners are not expected to remain seated at all times. (Extensions with the Pink Tower and Brown Stair)

    Coordination, Concentration, Control, Order.  Montessori Kindergartners continue use of the Practical Life Materials, where they experience mastery with fine motor control.  They also learn how to concentrate on a task among other children talking and working.  Everything has its place at school, the children put their own materials away, every time- just as it was when they chose it.  (Sarah is using a scooping activity)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

History of Thanksgiving: a Trip to America's Hometown

Last weekend, we took a ride to Plymouth, MA, not too far from where I grew up.  We visited Plimoth Plantation, a trip I highly recommend for any family.  The actors there can accurately describe the life in the time of 1627, and are open to questions from everyone- especially little kids!

During Montessori Training (forever ago, it feels!) I did a unit study on a local Native American Tribe, the Wampanoag.  Below you'll see photos of recreated homes of both the English Settlers and Wampanoag.  Also, feel free to use the definition cards pasted below in your classroom or home school.  The lesson for Practical Life, Tweezing Corn is below as well.  Happy Thanksgiving from the place that started it all!!!

A rare photo of Montessori Parents (we are always behind a camera), Brian and I in the Wampanoag Village
Wampanoag Children's Toys
Wampanoag actor tells us that they only eat meals the size of their fists, 7x a day!
The girls enjoying a fire in the longhouse
Sarah testing out a Mishoon, a boat made from a tree, burned by fire, scraped into shape by shells.
An English Settler's home interior, this house had SEVEN children!
English Settler Village, Plimoth Plantation
Pulling corn off the cob
Dolls in the English village
Sarah in the museum's child room, playing Pilgrim
Pilgrim Dress Up
Cooking on the child sized Mayflower
Plimouth Rock
Experimenting with pulleys
The Mayflower II interior
The Mayflower II masts
Surveying the water from Mayflower II

Wampanoag definitions: simply print, and mount on cards and laminate.  If you are interested in more Wampanoag work, comment with your email and I'll share more.  Enjoy!

A Wetu is a Wampanoag home for one family.

Wampum is what the Wampanoag used for money.  It is made from seashells.

A Mishoon is a boat that the Wampanoag carved out of tree trunks.

During the winter, the Wampanoag lived with several other families inside a longhouse.

The Wampanoag used animal skins for clothing.

The Wampanoag used a roaster to cook their meals outside.

The Wampanoag had to cook inside the wetu to make meals when weather was bad.

NAME OF ACTIVITY:  Tweezing Corn on the Cob 

GENERAL:  Practical Life
SPECIFIC:  Physical Skills- Squeezing

MATERIALS:  Basket, Native American corn on the cob, bowl, tweezers, vase for tweezers

DIRECT:  Coordination, Concentration, Independence, Order 
INDIRECT:  To build fine motor skills and strength through squeezing.

PREPARATION:  Squeezing activities with a larger tool

AGE:  First year Montessori student

*  Grasp corn with dominant hand, and transfer to sub-dominant hand
*  Pick up tweezers with dominant hand, and squeeze them to test the difficulty of the tweezers
*  Starting with the tip of the cob, choose one piece of corn to take off
*  Tweeze the piece of corn until it comes or falls off
*  Place in jar
*  If corn falls out of tweezers, be sure that it ends up in the jar
*  Repeat process until satisfied, or the corn is all off
*  If there is some corn left, place into basket for the next friend
*  If all of the corn is gone, replace it with another full cob
*  Return tweezers to vase
*  Be sure that all pieces of corn are in jar
*  If the bowl is full, pour it into the glass collecting jar on the nature shelf
*  Return material to shelf

*  Capturing the corn with the tweezers
*  Listen to the sound of the corn falling into the ceramic jar
*  Grip on tweezers
*  Opening and closing tweezers

*  Tweezers
*  Native American Corn
*  Corn on the cob
*  Pinch

*  Attractive materials
*  Producing a jar full of corn
*  Sounds of corn
*  Tweezers

*  Tweezers gets things off/out
*  All corn comes off a cob

*  Tweezers can only hold one corn piece at a time
*  Spilled corn, or corn that isn’t coming off

*  Using a different color/type of corn on the cob

*  Using the corn they tweezed for a pouring activity
*  Sorting the different colors of the corn into different jars