Monday, January 30, 2012

Continuation of Asian Studies- India

We have had a great beginning to India week in our Asian studies! We are lucky enough to have a family from India in our class and they have brought in many items of clothing, scarves and bangles for the children to explore.
We have looked at beautiful objects from India (a gift from our family- thank you!), colored the map of India and the Indian flag.
We have also colored Rangoli which is a geometric design. We will be applying colored sand later in the week (using colored sand or rice is the typical way) but today we have been coloring these beautiful designs.
The children also walked on the line to special Indian sitar music by Ravi Shankar while holding special items from India.
We will have more fun tomorrow as we will have visitors teaching us more about India! Stay tuned!

The Music Box Game - Developing the Auditory Sense

Dr. Montessori strongly believed in training the senses which is why in a Montessori classroom, there is a section devoted to sensorial exercises. She developed many different materials for the enhancement of the senses, "The senses, being explorers of the world, open up the way to knowledge." (The Absorbent Mind, pg. 167)
We also present variations and extensions to the exercises Dr. Montessori developed. This one is called the Music Box game. A child sits in the middle of the group with her eyes closed. The music box is placed somewhere in the classroom. When she is told she may open her eyes, she uses her auditory sense to find the music box.
After she locates the box, she then closes the lid gently to stop the music from playing and brings it back. The children love this exercise.
If you have a music box at home, this is an easy game to play. To make it even more challenging try playing with some background noise such as people talking or even a different kind of music playing.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dissection of the Owl Pellets

If you scroll down you will see we have been studying our third vertebrate, birds. We had an owl visit and the extended day children visited the Leslie Science and Nature Center. On our visit we were given some owl pellets to examine once back at school. Although we had read about owl pellets in a book, we always try to provide concrete, hands on experiences for the children.
We all put gloves on.
We then began taking apart the pellets. We found so many bones! Several teeny jaw bones with teeny teeth. We all discussed what animal this owl could have eaten.
Today we had the mouse bones on display in a glass case with a magnified clear top so the morning children could see the bones. This was a great experience!

Paper Mache Birds

As we finished up our bird study, the extended day children finished their paper mache birds. This project took several days. Here is what we did: First roll up newspaper into a ball.
Form into a body, use masking tape.
Cut out strips of paper towel (great for cutting practice) and dip into the paper mache. Apply to the bird body. TIP= dry on waxed paper so it does not stick!
A few days later (or once dry)...
Make wings out of cardstock or cardboard and paper mache these to the body.
Let dry again. Then paint the bodies!
We made legs out of wire and then wrapped in embroidery yarn.
Voila! The birds are finished. The children loved their projects!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


As the Chinese New Year began on Monday, we decided to begin our Asian studies with the country of China. We have had many interesting activities.
We have colored Chinese New Year cards!
We have introduced a practical life transferring activity with Chinese bowls and a spoon.
Although we usually have individual snacks (not everyone is hungry at the same time!) we had a second, special group snack of sticky rice with chopsticks! The children loved using the chopsticks and seemed to enjoy the sticky rice!
We made Chinese lanterns which required coloring, cutting on the line, taping or gluing.
We created and colored the Chinese flag.
And the map of China.
We have also painted at the easel with a Chinese paint brush and tomorrow will be creating a dragon out of egg cartons as it is the Year of the Dragon!


We have moved on from Antarctica and have now begun the study of Asia. The children were excited to see the new puzzle map in our puzzle rack. There are MANY pieces in Asia so this requires a puzzle control chart to help keep track of the different countries.
The children are also coloring Asia on a map, looking at pictures of animals in Asia and different places. We will be specifically studying the countries of China, India and Japan in the upcoming weeks!

A Visit to the Nature Center

As an extension to our bird study, we decided to take a trip to the Nature Center to see the other birds of prey. Although it was chilly we walked around the outdoor enclosures and the wonderful guides at Leslie Science and Nature Center introduced us to the birds. We met many different owls such as the Great Horned Owls.
We saw a falcon, a kestral, turkey vultures, different owls but the bird that stole the show was the Eagle! She was very entertaining and wanted us to come back and see her even when we were looking at the other birds. She was voted the favorite!
When we returned to school one of the children wanted to write the names of the birds with the moveable alphabet.

Friday, January 20, 2012

An OWL visit!!

As we are studying birds in our current vertebrate study, we decided to try to find a real bird. This gives the children a concrete experience with the animal and is so much richer than looking at a picture. We had Leslie Science and Nature Center bring an owl to the classroom today. This owl was a female Eastern Screech Owl. She has a broken wing and is being cared for at the center.
Sara, our guide led us through many features of owls and the children had many questions. Here are some things we learned...
Owls have big eyes, if they had a head our size, the eyes would be as big as tennis balls.
They are brown because they want to blend into their environment, this is called camouflage.
They cannot move their eyes, instead they move their head. Luckily, she turned her head backwards at that moment!
The little tufts that look like ears are not actually ears. Instead the dark line that runs around the side of their face is where their ears are.
The wings of an owl make no sound. This is so the critters they are hunting cannot hear them. To demonstrate this idea, our guide had us close our eyes as she waved an owl wing then one single turkey feather. The owl wing made no noise. The turkey feather did! She then passed these around so the children could feel them. The owl wing was very light and soft. Luckily, we just gave a lesson on how to hold something fragile. The children were very careful.
Owls don't usually build nests. They find a hole in a tree or somewhere safe with a lot of food available.
This type of owl lays up to five eggs at a time, they are very small and are off white with brownish spots.

Yesterday afternoon we read "Owls" by Gail Gibbons to the afternoon children. They had a few questions and many comments about owls!
This was a wonderful experience for all of us. We learned so much and the owl was very cute!

Nest Building

No, we are not birds but we are studying them! (Please see earlier post about our third veretbrate- birds) After discussing how some birds build nests, we decided to try building some of our own. The afternooners or extended day children decided to build big ones for eggs we would be making. First we went outside and collected natural items that birds could use in a nest.
We then headed inside with baskets full of sticks, pine needles etc. We added paper, yarn and other items. Using a paper bowl wrapped in a plastic bag, we layered watered down glue, sticks, paper and the other items over and over.
For the morning children, we used smaller bowls wrapped in a sandwich bag and shredded paper.
After we built our nests, we left them to dry.

Today, we sent home the big and smaller nests. The children placed eggs we made and painted inside their nests.

This was a project that took several days and some drying time. It is pretty easy to build a nest. Just make sure to use watered down glue and some plastic bags so the glue will not stick. This experience gave the children a hands on experience of nests, they really seemed to enjoy the process.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reading - matching pictures to words

Now that this child has built words with the Moveable Alphabet by sounding out various c-v-c objects (pan, bug, box etc...) she is able to read words and match them to the photos. This is slightly more abstract as she is now given pictures (instead of concrete objects) and words (instead of the individual letters). We will continue this way through various words and then will introduce the basic sight words. She will then begin reading phrases containing c-v-c words.

Map of South America

Although we have been studying Antarctica, children are always able to work with the puzzle maps we have used in the past. They are located on a special rack. One of the afternoon children decided to 'pin' out each country in South America and assemble a map of her own. She used our special pin punching work to punch around a line representing each country.

This was a big accomplishment for her! She worked very hard and was proud of her work. She now understands where all of the countries in South America are located! This type of work can be done for all of the puzzle maps.

Handling something fragile

One of the lessons we wanted to give is how to hold something fragile. We have fragile items in the classroom and all children can benefit from being shown how to handle such items. As we have been studying birds and have made our own nests, we decided to bring out one of our real nests and demonstrate how to hold something fragile.
We took the nest out, showed the children how to hold their hands and then transferred the nest to their hands.
Today we used a special bell from India. This gave us a chance to not only hold the bell carefully but to also ring it carefully. The children all wanted a turn and were in fact, very careful.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Erasing Work

In the Montessori practical life curriculum we have specific activities that are out for children to work with to increase their skills in many areas. We also must 'follow the child.' This is a crucial part of the Montessori philosophy. There is no erasing work set out for us but we created one as we saw children interested in erasing! We created this work by placing papers with pencil marks, a big eraser on a tray and a big paint brush. The children take the paper, place it on the tray and use the eraser. Once the paper is erased, they take the tray to the trash can and brush the remains away. They can then take the paper home or recycle it. While we have specific skills we focus on in our class, we also feel it is important to comply with what Dr. Montessori said - "always follow the child."

Pumping Water

On our science table this week we put out a simple water pump in a bowl of water. The children were immediately drawn to this and began to experiment. They quickly learned how to move the lever up and down to create water flow.

We discussed how the water is pumped and comes out of the spout. They will be able to interact with this all week.