Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mammals! (Lots of them!)

We began our study of our 4th vertebrate last week- mammals!  We begin this by reading the book: Animals Born Alive and Well by Ruth Heller. 
We discussed various features of mammals and asked questions each time one came to visit.  Do they have hair or fur?  Were they born alive (except for the platypus and spiny anteater)?  Did they drink their mother's milk?  We asked the owners these questions and other ones like what do they eat and where do they take baths!  Murphy here is so big, they have to go to a dog wash!   Thanks to Amy R for bringing sweet Murphy in for a visit! 
The children matched mammal cards.  They colored in parts of a dog booklet and we learned words like brisket and stop.  We also made books that describe mammals. 
Thanks to A and T (and dad Scott) for bringing in another mammal!  Mr. Elliot was a really good sport!  The children thought it was funny when he walked around and checked out our classroom!  We asked Scott many questions and decided that Elliot was a mammal.
On Friday, we had yet another mammal visit!  Sweet Squeak the guinea pig!  He came for the morning and visited with us.  Thanks to Lira for letting us take care of him!  He ate some clementines and carrots! 
We asked a lot of questions about Squeak.  Guess what?  He is also a mammal! 
Our fourth mammal visits each day.  We have many in our classroom, some young and some old(er)....
You may have guessed it!  Those mammals are us! 

Five Geometric Solids

This week we introduced two more geometric solids.  The children can work with these anytime they wish but we introduce a few at a time to help remember the names.  Last week we learned: cone, cube and cylinder.  Most of the children remembered the names.  This week we introduced sphere and pyramid.  After given a lesson on the vocabulary, we have the children pick a solid and try to find on in our environment.  We were successful in finding a match for each one except that pyramid!
To take this concept a little further, the children can play a matching game with cards.  Here they place cards into columns matching the solid.  This gave us a chance to learn more about real pyramids! 

Light and Shadow

 As part of science this past week, we studied light and shadow.  We have a small wooden shelf that the children place various objects upon.  They shine a flashlight to see the shadow of the object on the wall.  It is fun to explore how the shadows can change when the light is pulled back and forth. 
In the afternoons, we brought in a big light and put paper on the wall.  The children turned out the overhead lights and then took turns tracing each other's shadow on the paper.  This child traced the pink tower's shadow and then colored it in. 


To teach children the skill of tying, we begin with the bow frame.  We break it down into many steps and it can take a while (!) to learn.  Tying can be tricky but with the bow frame, the children can see what ribbon goes where.  Several children are quite interested in this skill and we now have one child who can tie!  She is quite proud of herself and now other children ask her to tie their aprons for food prep or polishing work. 
 This little shoe was purchased using points from the Scholastic Book Orders.  Once the children have worked with the bow frame, they can tie using this pretend shoe.  The next step is to tie real shoes!  This is quite an accomplishment! The children feel very independent and proud!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Third Vertebrate- Birds!

This past week we studied birds, our third vertebrate.  As always, we like to give the children a concrete example of what we are thinking about!  Lucky us, thanks to R and J (and Mom, of course!) we had a Partridge Cochin named "Chicken" visit us for the morning!  She belong to two of our students who were VERY proud!

We had discussed the various characteristics of birds and this beauty had feathers on her feet!  She was very animated and even jumped up on the side of the bin a few times!  This was exciting!  She also made a few noises and the children were able to hear her sounds! 

The children enjoyed making a "parts of " booklet about birds! 

We also matched various bird cards and learned the names of many more birds.  Other activities included listening to bird sounds in a special book, making a life cycle of the bird booklet and making bird feeders. 
Again, a BIG THANK YOU to Sarah!!

Layers of the Earth

This week in Physical Geography, we presented the Layers of the Earth!  We have a model of the Earth that opens up to reveal the four layers. 

The children gathered around and with a very dull knife we cut into a dough model to show these layers.  We compared with our other model and discussed the layers. 

 We also showed the children the specific science cards  that tells about each layer and the children learned just how hot it was in the middle of the Earth! 

Many of the children chose to make a layers of the Earth booklet to take home. 

Sewing buttons on burlap

This past week we introduced sewing buttons on burlap. 
This child enjoys sewing and always picks the sewing works on the shelves.  Here she sews on many buttons and decided to make a "book" (as we do with many science or language work).  After deciding that stapling the side might not work, she sewed one side of the burlap together to make her button sewing work! 

Large Number Rods- Associating quantity with the symbol

When we talk about associating the quantity with the symbol in mathematics, this is what we mean!  A child can often count by rote memory but may not understand how many are in eight or five.  We use the larget number rods to help the child first understand one to one correspondence.  When they count the rods, they are to touch each red or blue area.  This demonstrates each is one.  Usually when beginning this task they count and skip over an area or two so they end up at 5 when it is the 8 rod.  We give the child a lesson with a few rods at first and then increase the number.  Once they understand this concept, we introduce the symbol which is the number.  Once the child has learned all of the numbers, we put it together.  Here the child has placed the rods randomly on the rug.  He counts slowly, "one, two, three, four!" He then finds the symbol or the number and places it on the rod.  Now he understands symbol and quantity! 

Pennies in a Bank

Children develop their fine motor skills in many ways!  Here we offered a work on our practical life shelves that is fun and functional!  The child takes the basket to a table and places the pennies into the slot on top of the piggy bank.  This repeated motor action develops muscle memory and helps with hand-eye coordination.  When all of the pennies are gone, they turn over the bank, pull out the cork, empty the pennies and repeat if desired. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Afternoon Work

 As an extension of reptile work the afternoon children began a study of dinosaurs.  We have many, many books about dinosaurs and also have a 5 year old dinosaur expert in the class!  After reading a book introducing dinosaurs, we showed the children these x-rays of dinosaur skeletons.  This proved they were vertebrates as well as we could see the backbone.  The children really enjoyed turning the light out and turning on the flashlight to see the skeleton. 
 We introduced two dinosaurs a day with a small model and a paper to color.
 We used the Dinopedia to read about the specific dinosaur we were talking about.  We learned about herbivores and carnivores as well!

As another extension of reptile study, we took a field trip to the Great Lakes Zoological Society to see many examples of real reptiles!

 Feeling a shedded snake skin!
 Blue tongued skink!
Another Gecko.  This one is just hanging around!
Afternoon children are usually ages 4 and 5 who are ready for more intensive study of the topics we are talking about in the morning.  We also learn more math, language and science in the afternoons!

Reptiles!! Another vertebrate!

 This week we moved on from amphibians to our second vertebrate- reptiles!  We have a 3-D reptile book to look at!!
 Titi the Gecko came to visit again! (THANK YOU!)
 The children looked at various model reptiles.
Parts of a lizard book!
Matching types of reptile cards.

necklace making with names!

As necklace making has become quite popular (a great fine motor stringing activity), we decided to add names to the work.  Here the child take the basket with everyone's names written on paper to the table.  They take the necklace making work to a table and the match up the beads with their name paper.  String on and add other colorful beads if desired.  They were very excited about this work and proud of their names!

"Following the Child" An example

In order to maintain interest in a task such as using the moveable alphabet and writing, sometimes a teacher has to find ways to motivate the child.  (Especially children who are very capable and do not like to make a mistake!)  This can be done by finding something they are interested in such as sewing and making it into something that also involves a "work" they should begin to do as well.  We have several children interested in sewing and decided to have them sew a "stuffed animal" as long a they wrote a story about it at the end. 
 First up was drawing the creation on paper. 
 The child then cut out the animal and we traced onto material.  We used a hoop to make the fabric stable while the child sewed their animal.  While doing this the child is thinking about their character, title, story line, etc for their book.
Here is a photo of the first stuffed animal!  This child wrote a story by telling me the words to write but has now been using the moveable alphabet!  We have three other stuffed animal creations and stories going.  They may be done by the end of this month!  Exciting!!

Brass Polishing- something from home

This child has experienced the multiple step brass polishing work at school since September.  She asked if she could bring something from home to polish!  YES!!  It is amazing when it all comes together!!

Short Bead Frame

The blend of ages in a Montessori classroom is amazing.  We have 2 1/2 to five year olds this year and it is such a lovely mix.  Since we have Kindergarten aged children, it is important to keep them challenged and progressing along the learning path!  Here this child is doing static (without change) addition in the thousands with the help of the small bead frame.  This child has progressed through many of the brilliant Montessori math materials and is now ready to add numbers in the thousands.  This apparatus helps the child add in a concrete way.  Soon he will begin to add in the thousands abstractly but for now this helps him to complete many equations without stress and the demands of jumping to abstraction.  This helps the child to truly understand how he is coming up with the sum of the two addends.  He will complete dynamic addition soon which is when he has to borrow.  The same materials will be used.