Monday, October 31, 2011


This week we begin studying Living/Non-Living.  We study this by discussing what is alive (trees, people, deer - we saw 2 today!- plants, fish etc...) and what is not alive (houses, clothes, rubber bands...).  Today we gave a small group lesson where after discussing the principles of what is alive or not alive, they placed necklaces or labels on people/plants/objects in the classroom. 
Although this is difficult to see, the fish had a LIVING card placed near the tank.

The children also gave necklaces to people and plants who were living too.  They gave themselves necklaces as they realized, "I am living!!"
Tomorrow we will also be presenting the children with living/non-living picture cards to classify.  Ask you child if they know what is living or not living in your home. 

More sorting!

Today we put out a new work for the children to try.  It is another sorting work and they really enjoyed sorting the different beans.  This is a fun activity to do at home as well.  You could try it with different color buttons, pasta types, shells, rocks... the possibilities are endless.  Just make sure they don't go in the mouth! 
This is also a great fine motor activity. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Afternooner's Lunch

We had read "Pancakes, Pancakes!" by Eric Carle on Tuesday afternoon and thought that sounded pretty good.  So, today our extended day children, aka "afternooners" along with a child staying for lunch made pancakes! 
First we made the batter!
We set the table together which included a plate, fork, knife, napkin and glass.  The children were able to serve themselves apples, cheese, water and pour their own syrup. 
We then gave a lesson on cutting food with a fork and knife! 

This was a very fun day, the children and adults seemed to enjoy all of the food! 

We also made very funny masks to surprise the morning children with tomorrow.  No scary Halloween masks here!  We used pictures from magazines to make various eyes and mouth masks.  We then pasted on poster board and put on a popsicle stick.  We were all laughing pretty hard at some of the silly masks! 

The afternooners also made cinnamon-squash muffins for snack tomorrow, it was a very busy day!

Continuation of the Pumpkins!

We have had many pumpkin activities this week as pumpkins are all around us.  Late last week we roasted pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin we had carved.  We have been offering these to children all week and have a very mild response.  Today we once again opened up another pumpkin to look inside (we are going to have a jack-o-lantern when we walk on the line tomorrow!) and found many seeds.  It was suggested to the child to once again taste a roasted pumpkin seed.  Pretty soon there was a line and asking for more!  Ask your child if they had some roasted pumpkin seeds today!  One adventurous child wanted to eat the raw seeds from inside the pumpkin! 
Scooping seeds out again!
"More pumpkin seeds please!"

We took this theme into art this week as well and offered pumpkin painting!
These little pumpkins were from the farmers market downtown Ann Arbor. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Bring Me Game

To aid comprehension of various letters and numerals, Dr. Montessori would play a game with children called the "Bring Me" game.  This involves setting up the material in a separate location and then telling the children to "bring me the _____ ."  The child then retrieves the object.  The children are requesting this game on a daily basis lately.  We have given many lessons with our sandpaper numerals so they are familiar with the names.  Because we have played this so much, we decided to let them have a turn being the one who asks for the numerals and the one who brings them back. 
Here the child is playing with two other children.  She has asked for a specific numeral from one child and the other is waiting.
"A seven!"

This is a fun activity to try at home. It can be used with colors, numbers, sounds etc... Just make sure you have told them the name first so it is not frustrating!


We put a new work out yesterday that seems quite popular!  It is called Whisking!  The children take a tray with a pitcher, a bowl and a small whisk to a table.  They fill up the pitcher to the line and pour it into the bowl.  The child then uses three drops of dishsoap from a tiny bottle with a dropper and begins to whisk.  The result is a bowl of bubbles! 
This is an activity you could try at home.  Just try to have a child sized whisk available!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Given the season, we have decided to investigate pumpkins!  After washing a pumpkin on Monday, we decided to hammer little nails into the pumpkin (safely, with a tiny wooden hammer).  At the end of the day today, we decided to cut open the pumpkin (the teacher) and everyone had a chance to scoop out seeds!  The children all guessed what may be inside the pumpkin once opened up.  Very interesting ideas! :)
We will continue our study of pumpkins by studying the life cycle of pumpkins, tasting pumpkin seeds and a variety of other activities! 

The Continents

This week we introduced the children to our Continent Globe.  They had already learned the Earth is made of land and water and have now been introduced to the idea that the Earth is divided into seven continents.  This materials is specific to Montessori schools and the continents are all assigned a color which helps make identification easier.  We also use a song to help teach the names of the continents and several students sang this song merrily for a long while today.  Don't be surprised if you hear this song:
North America
South America
Africa and
What about Antarctica
Don't forget Australia..
North America
South America
Africa and Asia!
Here two children are coloring a map of the continents using the Montessori colors.  Next week we will expand this lesson and bring out our puzzle map of the continents.  This is slightly more abstract as it is flat but we give them a presentation with clay to demonstrate the transition from the spherical shape to the flat shape.

The study of the continents begins our cultural curriculum.  This combines many subjects which connect the child to their place in the universe.  Dr. Montessori believed that children become interested in concepts when they see the relationship between things.  "...the mind of the child is capable of acquiring culture at a period of life when nobody would have thought it possible, but can only take it by his own activity.  Culture cannot be received from another, but only through the work and increased realization of oneself.  Nowadays, when we are aware of the powers of the absorbent mind during the period from three to six years, we know this possibility to take in culture at a very early age."  (The Absorbent Mind, 2007, pg. 151)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Beginning Reading

All Montessori schools have different ways of teaching children how to read.  This was one area that has been developed over time as Dr. Montessori herself was Italian and the language is primarily phonetic.  English has some phonetic components but of course has many influences.  Many Montessori schools begin in a similar way, with the metal insets (preparing the hand for writing- Dr. Montessori felt writing often came before reading) and the sandpaper letters.  We also use other phonemic awareness activities to make sure the child understands the sounds of some letter before beginning to work with the Moveable Alphabet (another Montessori material).  In our school, we follow a specific sequence to ensure there are no "holes" in the child's knowledge.  As my trainer in England used to say, "a scarf is a scarf but would you rather have one with lots of holes or no holes!"  We prefer no holes.  One of our children has moved on to the beginning of their reading sequence with our specially prepared materials.  Here she is using a box with small 3 letter phonetic objects (c-v-c) and "building" words with the Moveable Alphabet.  She would sound out the word and place the letters next to the objects.  (All of the words in this box have the short /a/ vowel.  I am a speech pathologist as well and have noticed some vowel confusion in the past so I prepared these materials with 5 boxes, one for each short vowel.) 
After building all six words, this child then wrote them down on a piece of paper, she was very proud! We will move on to the other boxes with the other vowels and then continue on. 

Leaf Dissection

This week we investigated leaves by collecting, matching and watching them fall from the trees as if it were raining leaves!  We also presented parts of a leaf cards to the children.  The "afternooners" or extended day children were able to complete a work which would further expand their knowledge of leaf parts.  This was a leaf dissection with leaves collected from the ground. 
After collecting, they cut out (dissected) the various parts of the leaf with scissors and placed them next to the cards. Parts of a leaf:  leaf, petiole, veins, apex, stipule, margin and blade.  After this the children were able to create their own parts of a leaf book.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Marble painting!

On of the choices in art the week was painting with marbles.  The children really enjoyed dropping the marbles in the pan and moving it around. Each day we presented two new colors to try.

Geometric Solids

This week we began the study of our Geometric Solids which is another Montessori material.  This is part of the Sensorial training.  The particular sense trained with these materials is the stereognostic sense.  About this sense, Montessori stated (Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook, 2005, pp. 104-105), "Many psychologists have spoken of the stereognostic sense, that is the capacity of recognising forms by the movement of the muscles of the hand as it follows the outlines of solid objects.  The sense does not only consist of the sense of touch, because the tactile sensation is only that by which we perceive the differences in quality of surfaces, rough or smooth.  Perception of form comes from the combination of two sensations, tactile and muscular."  She went on to develop these geometric solids as a way for a child to get this muscular impression.   We began with three solids:  cone, cylinder and cube.  Even our youngest could remember the names after we presented the solids. 
"Little children, in fact, touch everything they see, thus obtaining a double image (visual and muscular) of the countless different objects which they encounter in their environment."  - Dr. Montessori (Discovery of the Child, 1988 pg. 119)

To increase comprehension, the children colored a small paper with the objects to take home.
The children were then able to match objects in the environment to pictures of the solids. 

If you see objects in the environment with the shape of a cylinder, cone or cube, point it out to your child.  They will enjoy transferring their knowledge learned in school to their own world. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Afternooners" (aka Extended Day Children)

This past week was glorious and so our "afternooners" or extended day children decided to work outside in the afternoon.  The children helped to carry tables and chairs outside in the shade.  They decided what work they wanted to do and brought that outside too.  While working we were able to hear and see chipmunks, squirrels and various birds and watch leaves and walnuts fall from the trees.  We were also able to do a more in-depth experiment based on "sink and float" which we did in the morning session a few weeks ago. 

First, we filled up a basin with water.  We then read our book about sinking and floating.  Objects were already prepared.   We then predicted if they would sink or float and dropped items into the water. 
We then recorded under the appropriate columns. 

After the children completed this work, they collected various objects, predicted and dropped in the water to see what happened. 

Muffin Recipe

We made muffins again, this time with carrots.  The children love to help measure and pour the ingredients, mix and eat!  One thing that is challenging at times is getting the paper off of the outside (and of course waiting for the muffins to finish baking)!  Thank you to all of the parents who have brought us baking ingredients!
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 c. canola oil
1 t. vanilla
1 c. carrot puree or any other fruit or vegetable puree

Mix all ingredients until moistened.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cooked through. 

Many children love to help in the kitchen, pull up a sturdy stool (away from the stove) and let them pour the ingredients, turn on the mixer and work your way up to measuring.  One very helpful tip is if they are stirring, I will tell my boys to keep the top of the spoon on the bottom of the bowl, this prevents various ingredients from popping out...  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Caterpillar update!! Metamorphosis continues...

Very exciting news!  Our Black Swallowtail caterpillar has entered the early pupa stage!  This happened overnight and the children were able to see the transformation! 

The caterpillar as a full grown caterpillar, getting ready for the pre-pupa stage.  It formed the "girdle" which looks like two very thin strings and attached itself to the parsley stalk. 

Here is the early pupa stage which we discovered this morning.  It is amazing to see! 

Below is a website which provides some interesting information about the life cycle of a Black Swallowtail Butterfly.  We are hoping the butterfly emerges when the children are here and NOT on the weekend!  It looks like we will be able to tell if it is a male or female by the pattern on the wings.  Only 10-14 more days to go...

Hands on Art!

The first week we started out with play dough, crayons, chalk on a chalkboard and stamping which many of you have seen come home with your child. We then went on to use finger paint, painted at the easel, painted with blue watercolor to make land and water, and made some apple and potato prints. We have strung noodles on yarn to make necklaces. This week children began gluing scraps of paper onto other paper.  They have also applied paint onto paper through a stencil.
When designing art activities we feel it is very important that children are able to manipulate the material; paintbrushes are easy and satisfying to hold. A small container of glue is given with a brush that easily fits into it.  Art activities are available at all times and it is wonderful to see children enjoying them! 
“The hand is the delicate and structurally complicated organ that allows the mind not only to manifest itself but to enter into special relations with its environment.”  From The Secret of Childhood by Dr. Maria Montessori

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bird Feeders

Today we made our own birdfeeders!  We strung O's on pipecleaners which was very fun for the children.  Some even made 5 birdfeeders!  Very lucky birds indeed!