The children learn how to take care of plants which includes dusting off leaves. The child dusts of the leaves with a brush. (This plant is a good specimen as you can see the dust build up on each leaf.)
A cotton ball is dipped into water and then the leaf is washed off.
This type of work is very satisifying to the child. They can see how the leaves shine when they are finished.
In our food prep area this week, we introduced orange squeezing to make juice! This was a very delicious food prep work and enjoyed by most children. To begin, the child brings the tray to the table, puts on an apron and heads off to wash hands. The child gets two orange halves and proceeds to squeeze out the juice by pushing, squeezing and turning. Many motor skills are practiced!
The child then pours the juice into a small pitcher.
As we are so lucky to have a variety of cultures represented in our school, we asked a mom and her father who is visiting from Japan to come and help with origami.
They were able to make a variety of animals, paper airplanes, a ball but one of the most loved was the tiny doll! (Thank you to Junko and GiGi!)
Several of the children also brought in traditional clothes from Japan and India. It was wonderful to see and they also allowed other children to try on the clothes.
Some of the older children wanted to make their own "Flags of Asia" books. They are able to draw the flags and color them in by themselves. This is a work in progress as there are SO many countries in Asia!
Dr. Montessori felt the ages between 3-6 is the time of the "conscious absorbent mind." In a prepared environment such as ours, the children are exposed to hands on learning that will stay with them for a lifetime. Montessori often said, "Impressions do not merely enter his mind: they form it" (Absorbent Mind, 1995). After the first level where the absorbent mind prepares the unconscious (from 0-3 years), the mind then slowly awakens to the conscious level, establishing memory, and the power to understand and reason. The knowledge that the child is internally seeking is then absorbed.
How to make light without a battery! A while ago we used batteries to show how a circuit works. The children all enjoyed interacting with the circuits. We decided to show them how to use a hand crank (Thank you Harry!) to make this circuit board light up!
Last week we put out the water pump for the children to use. The first step was to put on a waterproof art smock! This can be a very wet work! Filling up the basin takes multiple trips to the sink. Then, put the pump in and see how the water fills up and comes out the spout!
The children seem quite satisfied when the water comes out. They enjoy watching it fill up the space in the pump and it usually takes a minute to come out of the spout.
We experimented with mirrors last week. The children use a mirror to make longer worms, full moons, many boats etc. I had this book as a child and found it in a used thrift shop. I was thrilled to see it again.
“Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.” - Maria Montessori
Last week the children were able to experience how to sift flour. We always have a food prep activity on the shelves and this was one of two. (The other was mashing a potato and eating it!)
We really feel multi-step activities such as this are great for developing concentration and organizational skills. The child puts on an apron and takes the tray to the table. He then opens the flour container and scoops out some flour into the sifter. He then squeezes the handle on the sifter and watches it come out of the bottom. This child completed this activity for quite a while, demonstrating those concentration skills. He was absorbed.
The last part of an activity like this is to clean up. This child knows how to use a table brush and removed all of the flour so the table was ready for the next child.
Last week we invited a local musician Joel Robbins to come and play the didgeridoo for us so we could hear a bit of Australia. Joel explained that the didgeridoo is made from a piece of Eucalyptus tree that has been hollowed out by termites!
Aboriginal people often decorated the instruments with paintings of mythological stories. The children got up and danced around, it was a lot of fun! Thanks Joel!
This week we continued working with simple machines. We used materials to demonstrate a simple wedge, lever and pulley. One afternoon, the children made their own pulleys to take home.
We sorted pictures that showed examples of these types of machines. For example, a doorstop, a pair of pliers and some sailboat rigging. It was fun discussing if pliers were a wedge or a lever. Some machines are both! One card showed a crane that was being used to lift material for constructing a building.
If you have extra time this weekend, you may want to go see the enormous cranes that are being used to build an apartment building downtown on First and Washington Street. Talk about strong pulleys!
In our food prep area this week, we introduced "graham cracker crushing." Here the child takes the tray to their work area, puts on an apron, washes hands and places a banana and a graham cracker on the tray. They put the graham cracker in the mortar and pestle and grind it up. Then, they peel the banana and slice it with the knife. Using a toothpick, they dip a banana slice into the disposable bowl and eat! Having multiple steps within activities helps the child learn how to follow directions and organize thoughts! What a yummy way to do so!
The multiplication board was a hit with our older children this week. They were first introduced to the idea of multiplication ("fast adding") with the golden beads. Here we show them how to add quickly. "Two times three is just two, three times!" and we place the golden beads down on the mat in three groups of two. We bring them down to the bottom and add. Voila. They absorbed this idea so quickly, so the multiplication board was introduced. Here it is the same idea set up in a different way. Shown above, this child is working on "2 x 9" He fills in the beads as he goes along and is able to count to get the answer. This is an example of using the concrete Montessori materials to facilitate easy absorption of a more complex idea. These children will have a solid base of multiplication tables since they have worked with this material. They will not be afraid of math as they have so many experiences using concrete apparatus. One of the goals in our classroom is to help facilitate internal motivation to learn. The two children who worked with this material both told the teachers how much fun it was and requested it on their own. Learning can be a joyful experience!
Learning how to use a knife can be tricky! Even those of us with 11 year olds may find ourselves teaching them again at the dinner table. To help the children in our classsroom learn how to use a knife, we decided to make a pancake lunch!
Our daily lunch routine consists of getting the lunch box, setting the table with a plate, fork, knife, spoon and napkin, emptying the contents of the lunch on our plate and eating. One utensil that is barely used is the knife. So, on Tuesday, the children had a chance to 1. spread butter and 2. cut with that knife.
First, the child must hold the knife in the dominant hand with the three outside fingers wrapped around, the pointer on top and the thumb wrapped around to meet the other fingers. This is the same grip as the fork and is very strong. The child is shown how to steady the pancake with the fork and then use the knife to make a sawing motion.
The childen enjoyed their pancake lunch and now know the basics for using that knife. A little extra practice at home and they will be on their way to cutting their own food!
This week we began studying simple machines. We began by exploring wheels. First, we compared pulling someone on a wagon turned upside down (using no wheels) to pulling someone on a wagon using the wheels. All of the children found that it was much easier to use the wheels! We thought of many machines that utilize wheels and some children made a list of those machines.
We also demonstrated how the wheel concept works as a table top activity.
The next simple machine we explored was the inclined plane. Here we lifted a stack of heavy books by pulling them up with a rope. This proved to be a difficult task!
We then asked the children to pull the books up using an inclined plane. A smooth piece of wood was used. This was much easier!
We then used table top works to continue this experimentation.
These types of activities gives the children a concrete experience of the definition of what a machine is: things which make work easier.
Both of these experiments are from the wonderful book, "Nuturing the Young Scientist: Experiences in Physics for Children" by Meg Murphy Fedorowicz.