Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The First Snow!

The children were so excited to come to school today as we had our first snowfall last night!  They couldn't wait to get outside and run around in the snow. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mystery Bags

A while back we talked about the stereognostic sense. (See previous post titled: Geometric Solids) This is when we can recognize something by the movement of the muscles in our hand.  We use this sense when feeling the geometric solids and many of the other Montessori works.  The Mystery Bags is another way for children (and adults when working with the children) to increase this sense. 
Two people sit at at table.  Both have bags full of matching solid objects. 
One person pulls out an object and shows it to the other person.  That person then has to reach in their bag and pull out the matching object.  NO PEEKING! 
It can take a while to feel for the object but they usually find it without assistance. 
The children love to play this game with a friend. 

You can do this at home with matching objects, even using items such as: spoons, erasers, keys etc...  Just make sure the items match in each bag and the child cannot see through the bags.  This activity is for the hands only. 

Transferring water with a ladle

As we had our soup last week for our Thanksgiving lunch, we adults were the ones scooping out the soup with the ladle.  This week we wanted to give the children the opportunity to practice this skill with water.  After taking their work to the table, they used our child sized ladle and transferred the water in the big bowl to a smaller bowl.  This work has been repeated many times with such concentration and attention.

Again, another practical life activity.  In a few short months, the children can do so many real life activities such as pouring themselves a glass of water.  Very satisifying for them to be able to do these activites on their own without adult assistance!  Try this activity at home, they will love it!  (We also add a little food coloring to the water to make it a little more exciting!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We are thankful!

We are thankful for all of these wonderful children and their families!  To celebrate Thanksgiving, we decided to make vegetable soup and bread to share together.  The children participated in the chopping of the vegetables and helped to make the bread.  When it was time, they helped to bring the tables and chairs together.  Our previous napkin folding activity worked out well as we used them while having our soup.

YUM!  Some children really enjoyed the soup, some didn't and that is okay.  We encouraged them to have a taste before deciding if they did not like it.  We also showed them how to dunk the bread in the soup for a yummy bite. 
Again, THANK YOU and have a great Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Folding Napkins!

We learned how to do a simple napkin fold. We started with a square shaped napkin. Then we folded one corner to the opposite corner. It made a triangle!

Then we took it to the new napkin holder on our snack table and placed it in there.
We are going to have a lesson tomorrow on how to use a napkin when we eat. This will come in handy for our special Thanksgiving snack that we’ll enjoy as a group.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Art, art, art

As you know we have an area of the classroom dedicated to "free art."  Here the children can complete a variety of art activities.  They are free to choose what they would like to work with and for how long.  Some repeat the same activity several times and some choose a variety. 

We also have times when we introduce a specialized art activity requiring more adult assistance. This is what we did on Friday, it was really fun!  The children enjoyed painting their hands and creating a turkey!

Not only do art activities allow for creativity, they also help strengthen fine motor skills and connect the hand with the mind.  Dr. Montessori felt the hand/mind connection was very important.  We are always presenting work to help this connection.


We have been investigating magnets in our school lately.  The children were introduced to a large horseshoe magnet and various objects to pick up. 
After this, we put out a small magnetic car with a smaller magnet.  They really enjoyed making the car "go" with the force of the magnet. 
After a few days of playing with the magnet and the car, we then put out Magnetic Match Rings.  Here the children can just explore with the magnets or follow a card and match the magnets.  Using the rules of magnetism, to make the rings float, you must use like or the same poles.  Opposite poles attract.  Each ring has a positive and negative pole, it was really fun experimenting with these magnets. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vertebrates and Invertebrates

This week we have been talking and thinking about animals with backbones and those without.  The children sorted cards into the two categories.  They had fun feeling their own backbone to see if they were a vertebrate.  Lucky us, we have had a few mammals outside our windows to look at:  squirrels, chipmunks, a few female deer and the other day our first buck walked by the window. 


The extended day children then extended this activity by making models of vertebrates and invertebrates.

Here we have the invertebrates:  pinworms and butterflies.
The vertebrates chosen were:  lion, crocodile and a bird. 

Monday, November 14, 2011


If you are wondering why your child is coming home with puffs of white in their hair it is due to sifting!  We have a small, child sized sifter and have shown the children the process of sifting flour. 

The child puts on a small apron to cover their clothes and takes the work to a table.  They then take the lid off the flour tin and put a few scoops of flour into the sifter. 
They sift and sift and sift, sometimes tapping on the side of the sifter to get the flour off the sides.  If they run out, they may put more in the sifter. 
They sift for as long as they wish and then carry the small bowl with the newly sifted flour and carefully pour it into the large bowl stationed on the bottom of the shelf. 
This is an activity that provides many opportunities to sweep the floor, wipe up the table etc.  We will be baking something yummy with the sifted flour soon! 

Coffee Morning

A big thank you for stopping by to have a cup of coffee on Friday morning.  We felt it was important for the children to understand why someone would grind coffee.  We used it as a motor activity and one that also involved concentration but we wanted them to see the practical application of this activity.  This is the reason we call that area of the classroom "Practical Life."  Although the activities have many aims such as increasing concentration, increasing fine motor skills, preparing the hand for writing or the mind for reading, the activites help the child become more independent.  So, thank you for having coffee on Friday!!  We enjoyed serving you! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Making Pizza!

Today the afternooners made pizza for lunch! We had to begin the process during the morning work time so they could be done baking by lunch time.  First we mixed up the pizza dough. 
Pizza Dough
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1 package of yeast
3 T. oil
1 c. warm water
Mix it together, you will have to use your hands! 
Let it rise for a while (even half a day). 
Bake at 425 until it is done.

After mixing and rising, the children then came back later to add sauce and grated cheese (which one of our afternooners grated) to the top.
We then baked them in the oven and ate them!  YUM!!
Because the morning children were soooo interested and the aroma was so nice in the school, we decided to make them one to warm up for snack tomorrow.  It is a surprise for them!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Plants and Animals

From living and non-living we launched into plants and animals.  We discussed how living creatures can be plants or animals.  After discussing this, we looked around the school and pointed out real plants or animals in our environment.  (They think it is pretty funny we are animals!)  From there, the children were able to use small models to categorize into plants or animals.
After this experience, the children who were interested were able to do the same type of activity with picture cards.
The afternooners extended this activity by making their own collages of plants and animals.  They looked through magazines and decided what would fit in each category.  The only tricky one was coral.  Looks like a plant but really an animal! 
They really enjoyed seeing all of the pictures of the animals and plants.  Their awareness of living creatures seemed to expand, and, they were able to practice their scissor skills!

Ask your child to identify various living creatures around you, then, take it one step further and ask if it a plant or animal! 

Monday, November 7, 2011


A Montessori classroom allows a child free choice of activities.  Our goal is that children concentrate on the activity they are doing.
One indication that a child is concentrating is when a child repeats an activity. Dr. Maria Montessori observed this phenomenon and over the years it has become seen as something desirable in a classroom. “Though such instances of a concentration reaching insensibility to the outer world were not usual, I noticed a peculiar behavior that was common to all, and practically the rule in all they did – the special characteristic of child work, which I later called “repetition of the exercise.” She goes on to write that after repeating works, children appear “as if rested, full of life, with the look of those who have experienced some great joy.”  (The Secret of Childhood, 1986, p. 127)
We are beginning to see repetition in the classroom! This is very exciting because it suggests that children are beginning to concentrate at a deep level.  

Sensorial Education and the Smelling Bottles

The purpose of Sensorial Education is in the education and refinement of the senses.  Through this, Montessori felt the intellect would grow.  "The training and sharpening of the senses has the obvious advantage of enlarging the the field of perception and of offering an ever more solid foundation for intellectual growth.  The intellect builds up its store of practical ideas through contact with, and exploration of, its environment."  (Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook, 1999, pg. 101)  Dr. Montessori felt children learn most effectively by using their senses during the sensitive periods and the period of the conscious absorbent mind (3-6 years of age). 

Here we have an example of the Smelling Bottles (part of the Sensorial training).  There are two sets of identical aromas and the child smells one and attempts to match it via smell only.  This strengthens the child's olfactory sense and also increases interest and awareness in their environment. 
The key is to make sure there is no other way to detect the material other than smell.  We use a cotton ball as a way to prevent the child from seeing the coffee, cloves etc..

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Introduction of Instruments

You may have heard your child singing a variety of songs since they began school.  We sing everyday right before outside time.  All of the children seem to love singing and they really like to know a song!  It is the sweetest thing when they sing very high, like "...won't you blow your hooo-ooOOO-OOOORN!"  They also like to learn new songs and are getting to experience a variety of instruments that they can play.  The first one was the train whistle.  One child was able to blow the whistle at the end of the song.  (Then it was cleaned for a different child to use the next day.)  The second instrument we have been using are the spoons.  This one was slightly more difficult than blowing in the train whistle.  They enjoy keeping the beat with the spoons.  Today we introduced the triangle.  Before we sang the song, each child was able to take a turn playing the triangle.  They all handled it very carefully and took turns making the sound.  We will continue to introduce instruments in this way. 

Coffee Grinding

Yum, the smell of coffee permeates the school!  Coffee grinding (the old fashioned way)was a big hit today.  This activity required multiple steps.  Once at the table, the child scooped 1 scoop of coffee beans and put it into the grinder.  Then, holding the grinder with the non-dominant hand, they turned the grind.  After they were finished grinding, they opened the drawer and poured the coffee beans into a tin. 

This work can be challenging and needs adult help at times.  It does go nicely with our smelling bottles that are out now.  This is where the children match pairs of bottles by scent.  Coffee is one of the scents in the bottles and they all know the name!  Maybe we will have to make our parents coffee one day soon...