Moving around the classroom, the opportunity presents itself to watch our students engage in numerous problem solving activities. Whether it be puzzles that reinforce our weekly topics and areas of study, working on replicating geometric patterns or the advanced trinomial cube, the peaceful hum of learning challenges each child in various unique ways.
We extend a sincere thank you to our parents who shared their knowledge during our study of Asia:
China -the presentation focused on Chinese culture, history, and Chinese New Year. The students also tasted dumplings. A few quick facts we learned included the year 2020 is the year of the Rat, a feast that begins Chinese New Year's Eve lasts for numerous hours and is shared together by generations of families while the color red is worn and seen throughout the Chinese New Year season. The Children's House classes had previously shared books about the "Great Race", which is the story of how the order of animals were determined that are associated with the Chinese calendar. Our art projects included Chinese language symbols and Chinese lanterns.
India - dressed in saris, the ladies told our students about Indian culture, animals, and traditions which included The Taj Mahal, Bollywood, tigers and peacocks (the national bird of India). Following the presentation, the kiddos created their own unique version of a Rangoli, a decoration used in Indian homes on the floor often during Diwali. Each child also had the opportunity to taste an Indian desert (similar to fudge) and complete a peacock coloring sheet.
Russia - our parent included videos of Russian dancers, pictures of scenery and, our favorite, a song Russian children use to learn their alphabet, something similar to our ABC song. Along with Russian nesting dolls she also showed a Russian Sarafan (dress), a hat trimmed in rabbit fur and the proper scarf wrap technique used to keep heads warm in cold temperatures. Some interesting facts about Russia:
Russia is large enough to equal two United States in land mass
Grandfather Frost and Snow Girl bring gifts on New Year's Day (they do not celebrate Christmas)
Borscht, a favorite Russian dish made with beets and sour creme on top, is often eaten for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner.
Cooler temperatures and familiar signs tell us autumn has arrived!
Our classrooms hint of apple, pumpkin and colorful leaves projects.
Seeing the annual favorite apple graph in addition to our
nocturnal and mammal animal topics confirms our
academic year is fully underway. The creativeness of the
kiddos is also in full swing – pin punching, drawing, and
even combining several projects to produce uniquely
one-of-a-kind art piece.
One of the unique features of our Toddler classroom is the abundance
of art and sensory opportunities available to the students. One activity
I enjoy watching is the progressive art. As the children move from one activity to another, they occasionally stop by the easel to add some color to the art paper that is refreshed each day. Of course, the pictures never look the same as each child adds his/her own unique stamp to the evolving picture and as the color choices and art mediums change daily.
Classroom collaboration at its best!
A few of our boys gathered to do what they often gravitate to,
building and creating with various blocks. I noticed they were
configuring disks to create some unique designs. However,
their focus shifted to a very concentrated design of a round
object and then the object moved toward a disk that would spin.
Days of trial and error had brought them to a basic design of
interconnected blocks with one on the bottom. With just the
correct flick of the wrist, the disk would spin like a top.
They couldn’t wait to share their discovery. An epidemic occurred as numerous other students wanted to try their hand at creating a spinning disk.
But the story does not end there. A few days later, calling on previous learned knowledge of combining colors, the boys assembled disks of combined primary colors, and when spinned, a secondary color would appear! From there they continued to create a variety of awesome color combinations.
This had been no instant creation, rather weeks of experimentation and purposeful design. In this fast-paced world I loved watching these young engineers take the time to unfold this amazing discovery.
I can’t wait to see if this evolves further or if a new idea is going to bloom…
After presenting a basic lesson of numbers and counters to one of our students, I recalled giving the same lesson to a child at our sister school in Uganda a few months ago. How instinctual is every child's quest for knowledge! It transcends race, language and location.
Following taking these pictures, I took a moment to reflect on this Montessori tradition of “Walking the Red Rods.” I couldn’t help but think of the countless Montessori students through the years that have shared the enjoyment of this activity by first assembling the rods in the correct order then walking the “path” between them from the outside to the inside and back. Secondly, as I looked at the younger students taking part in the activity, I was sure I had never given them a lesson on how to lay out the rods from longest to shortest on the rug. Through another unique aspect of a Montessori classroom, these younger children were taught how to do this activity from the older students in our school, right down to removing their shoes, embracing the Montessori philosophy how younger students learn from the older. And, yes, after snapping the photos, I, too, took off my shoes and joined our students in “Walking the Red Rods!”
Passing by the Toddler classroom, my attention was drawn to their group time. How was it possible for these active youngsters to be so still? The students were attentive and immersed in the lesson as Ms. Stacey used a flannel board along with a song to teach colors, problem solving and positional language. Hiding a felt pumpkin under various leaves, she then took turns asking a student to guess which leaf covered the pumpkin beneath. Using her quiet voice to establish a calm learning environment, Ms. Stacey's additional use of a visual teaching tool added tremendous interest for the children. All learning experiences should be this fun and engaging!
It is so amazing to watch the focus and concentration of even our youngest students when engaged in an activity. As each child can stay with and explore a work as long as wanted, he/she is able to fully experience each learning opportunity.