Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dissection of a flower

We brought tulips into the classroom this week as we have been studying Holland.  We then decided to dissect the flower and look at all of it's parts. 

After we dissected the tulip and discussed the various parts, the children were able to match the real parts to the cards.

Some children wanted to make their own Parts of a Flower books.

Moving to Europe

Our final continent of the school year is Europe.  We decided to study the country of Holland or the Netherlands as our first country within Europe.  We were lucky enough to find wooden shoes for the children to try on and walk around a rug. 
We also had many small objects representing Holland such as a tiny ceramic white and blue windmill and figurines of Dutch children. 
We wanted the children to try some of the food associated with Holland.  We always take an opportunity like this to practice a practical life skill. 
Using the cheese cutter they are so familiar with, the children cut Gouda cheese and ate it with crackers.
We then offered a waffle cutting work.  We made waffles and did what the Dutch do, apply whipped cream!
The children were able to practice their cutting skills with a knife and fork.
They ate the waffles!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

growing wheat grass

We decided to grow wheat grass with the children as we have been studying seeds and talking a little about the environment.  Wheat grass grows quickly and shows us how we can actually help to grow green plants on our Earth.
We prepare the work in advance.   We have a bowl of potting soil, wheat grass seeds (purchased at Whole Foods), a little pitcher of water, egg containers and a small flag with each child's name.
Two scoops of dirt in each egg cup, put the seeds ON TOP (very important for wheat grass) and then water.
Put flags in. 
Each day the children watered the plants, it is important to soak until they sprout which is in about 3 days. 
By day 5, grass is growing! 

The Environment - Making our own paper and recycled sculptures

As it is Earth Day tomorrow, we introduced the children to a variety of activities which links us to the environment and the natural world.   As children in this period of development (3-6) think more concretely, our environmentalism is shown in real life activities we can do.  Besides putting things in the recycle bin so it won't go into the trash cans, we added new activities this week to show how to reuse materials. 
                                                       Paper making was very popular!
We had extra construction paper (bought from a thrift shop) that was used in another activity.  We had the children rip it into pieces and use those pieces for paper making.  They begin by taking a few pieces of paper and putting them into a bowl.
Add water and blend.  It forms a 'slurry.'
Place two pieces of mesh over a coffee can.  Place another can that has no top or bottom over the top. 
Pour the slurry through the top can and let the water drain through.
Take off the top can.
Take the bottom coffee can away and put on the table.
Place big sponge on top, soak up and then squeeze out (several times) excess water in coffee can.
Put on paper plate to dry.
The result: beautiful paper they made themselves! 

The afternooners decided to make recycled art sculptures.
Things, glue and imagination.
Some of the results- amazing sculptures!


Spring has sprung and plants are growing and changing.  In our classroom we feel it is important to allow children to have experiences with the natural world.  Through her observations, Dr. Montessori understood children were drawn to plants.  They have " anxious concern for living beings and the satisfaction of this instinct fills them with delight."  (Discovery of the Child, 1967, pg. 71) Our children independently water the living plants each day in our environment.  We decided to show them how these plants come to be, how they grow. 
We decided to sprout beans so the children could see the root and learn the different parts of a seed.

Each child prepared their own seed (a lima bean) and had left them in a plastic bag in the sun for a few days.  One day, they sprouted.
We dissected one seed and showed them the different parts.

After a few more days, we can see the root develop.
Some of the children were interested in the parts of the seed and made their own book. 

Praying Mantises! A life cycle in action - the wonder of metamorphosis!

Dr. Montessori observed children observing and taking care of insects and small animals.  She believed in introducing  biology (the scientific study of living things) to children as they are fascinated and so interested in the metamorphosis and the care of other living things.  Just as Dr. Montessori's philosophy was based on careful and patient observation of children, she believed young children should be directed in a way to discover for themselves the joys of just observing plants and animals.  She also believed that imagination was fundamental to humanity, "Consciousness comes into being as a flaming ball of imagination," and felt observing the wonders of the natural world facilitates this process. 

As always, we prepare the environment for the child. 
We had ordered the Praying Mantis egg case and had been waiting for the nymphs to hatch. 
We were rewarded on Sunday evening and again Wednesday morning with many, many praying mantisis coming out of the hardened egg case. 
We were all fascinated!
The children then became aware of how to sustain these little creatures, they hunted down little insects and helped to put them in the enclosure. 
After a few days we decided to let some go (we had many- many more than expected!) out in the gardens.
We thanked them and sang a little song to say goodbye. 
The next day, more hatched from the egg case, what a surprise!
The goal is to grow one or two into adulthood so the children can observe the metamorphosis (except for being able to watch the live egg case being formed). 

"The metamorphoses of insects and the care which mothers bestow upon their offspring are objects of patient observation on the part of children, and they often give rise to an interest that surprises us."  They become like... "a miniature scientist."  (The Discovery of the Child, pg. 71, 1967)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

color wheel and color mixing

This week in science we have introduced the color wheel.  The children were able to make a color wheel independently by following visual cues.  We used paper plates divided into six separate spaces with the three primary colors (red, blue and yellow) and secondary colors (orange, green and purple) written in that color on the plate.  This allows non-readers to understand what color goes in that spot. 
We had prepared clippings from newspaper ads in the six colors in separate bowls and placed them on the table.  One the table was a glue stick and a pencil.  The children wrote their names on the back, applied the glue stick and then picked out a paper to glue on.
Here is a finished product.  The child then is able to see the different colors of the color wheel. This is a great work for younger children.

As an extension of the color wheel, we presented color mixing to the extended day children.  Here the child is able to mix drops of the three primary colors to make their own wheel.
The child first applies the drops of red to the wheel.  This can be a tricky process and requires more developed fine motor skills.  The children have practiced using a dropper with other works in the classroom.   The child proceeds to use the other colors and drop the colored water right on the little dot.  Another skill is taking the top on and putting it back on the bottle. 
Once the drops are on, a toothpick is used to mix up the colors.  This way they make the desired secondary colors.  After each mix, the child wipes it on the sponge to get rid of the color before mixing a new one.
After this process is completed, the child places their paper towel down on the colored water.  They gasp as they see what happens!
A beautiful color wheel!  (It is even better once it has dried.)
One child did two in a row and said she wants to do this in her house! 

Sewing a bracelet!

Sewing continues.... Last week we sewed buttons on burlap.  While this was a a wonderful way to prepare for future sewing and strengthen fine motor skills and coordination, it really had nothing on sewing your own bracelet!  Boys and girls alike have requested this work and it has been in constant use during the morning.
The children first pick a strip of felt - the color of their choice- and put the needle through the black spot on the felt. 
With a little assistance the child begins to sew the button on. 
Taking a pair of scissors, they cut on a small line at the opposite end.
They then practice their buttoning skills and have a bracelet!! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Our state- the study of Michigan

In geography, we took a week to study our state- Michigan! This was a fun week as the children made a really cute Michigan book to take home. 
During the week, the children learned about and colored pictures of our state flower, mammal, reptile, fish, bird, flag and tree. 
We made covers for the book by tracing their hands. 
We put the pages in and stapled.

This week we talked about the Native Americans in Michigan and danced on the circle to songs of the Great Lakes Indians - Honor the Earth Powwow.  The children loved this dancing, we did this as a group.
The afternooners had a pancake lunch one day.
We made Michigan cookies today!  YUM!  The children love to roll out the dough and press the cookie cutter down.  They really love to eat the cookies!

pancake cutting

As we have been studying Michigan this week, we decided to have pancake cutting as a food preparation work in the practical life area.  The child takes a warm pancake to the table on the tray and pours a little maple syrup on top. 
We then give a lesson on how to cut a pancake.  This comes in handy when cutting any type of food. 
Place the fork down into the pancake with the non-dominant hand.  Holding the knife in the other hand, move it back and forth. 
Of course, the best part! Enjoy!