Friday, March 30, 2012


For another concrete experience of Australia, we asked Didgeridoo players, Joel and Katy, to come to share the music with the children.  This was really fun and quite interesting.  Many children thought the sound was like a frog or an airplane.  You could feel air coming out of the bottom.
This Didigeridoo is from Australia and has dot painting on the outside.  We learned that players add beeswax around the mouth opening in order to make it soft.  The players use circular breathing in order to make the noise.  It seemed tiring to us but they said it is energizing.  This has been practiced by the Indigenous Australians for over 1,500 years.
The children stood up and danced to the sound.

This was a great experience for the children.  Thank you so much to Joel and Katy. 

G'day Mate- wrapping up Australia

The children had a great time investigating Australasia and the country of Australia.
We learned Koala bears who live in Australia eat Eucalyptus trees.  We smelled Eucalyptus oil.
We matched Australian animals.
We mad a book of Australian animals.
We made Australian biscuits called Anzac Biscuits.  Here is the recipe:
1 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. desiccated coconut
1 c. plain flour
1 c. sugar
4 oz butter
2 T. golden syrup (we used brown rice syrup)
1/2 t. baking soda
1 T water (may need more if too dry)
Preheat to 300.
Mix oats, flour, sugar and coconut together.
Melt syrup and butter together.
Mix soda with water and add to melted butter and syrup.
Add to dry ingredients.
Place 1 T of mixture on greased tray (allow room for spreading). Bake
for 20 minutes. Loosen while warm, cool on trays.

We enjoyed them with tea and a friend.
We had a great time visiting Australia. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A FUN visit (with various vertebrates!)- the Critter Guy!

We have finished our study of vertebrates and are now in the process of comparing these animals.  We wanted to give the children yet another concrete experience with the animals so we invited our friend Paul to come for a visit with his animals!  (Yes, he has a tree frog in his hand.) Paul is the prefect blend of fact and humor and it is at the right level!  Many children knew answers and were excited to share their knowledge of the vertebrates!  The only type Paul did not bring along was the fish- we have two in the classroom anyway.
We learned the tree frog uses suction on his or her feet to stick to things.  They can hold you!  Also, the skin was not wet as it appears.  Some children knew amphibians start in the water and once they develop lungs, may move to land.  This was our lone amphibian, the children were thrilled!

A pair of doves (Mr. and Mrs. Dove) came out to see us. The children were thrilled to see both of them and touch the soft feathers. We talked about the charactistics of birds and most children were able to recall that they laid eggs and had feathers! When put away, we could hear Mr. Dove cooing to Mrs. Dove and then what seemed like a giggle.  The children liked to listen for these noises throughout the presentation!
The Blue Tongued Skink was amazing and was one of  two reptiles to visit.  One child immediately knew what it was (as we had made our reptile book and this was one of the creatures...) and proceeded to tell us a little about it!  It was great to see this knowledge carry over!  We learned the Skink uses his tongue to smell and can go about 6-7 steps before stopping to take a break.  Many children talked about camoflauge and how it protects itself from predators.  The children were amused to feel the Skink and learn it feels like a corn cob!
The other reptile to visit us was the Corn Snake.  This snake is from Florida and hangs off of corn stalks, waiting for mice! The children remembered snakes lay eggs and have scales but not like fish! We made snake bracelets and one teacher let the snake wrap around her neck! 

Speaking of mice, we had one visit.  The children remembered this was a mammal but also pointed out to Paul that HE was a mammal too! 
We played a trick on a teacher and said we didn't know where the mouse went!  This child thought it was quite funny! 
Paul then let the children hold a bunch of seven day old mice!  They could not stop laughing!  We learned that in three more days, these mice will open their eyes.  When they are 18 days old, they no longer need "mice milk" and at 30 days they can have their own babies!  Whew!
The other mammal was a Chinchilla.  This creature was SO soft!  There is nothing quite like it which explains why it is endangered!  The Chinchillas live in the Andes mountains in South America.  All of the children touched this little guy, it was quite irresistable!
We had a wonderful morning!  Having these animals visit helped the children to understand the different types of vertebrates.  Paul also reminded them to never touch an animal in the wild or even one you don't know (such as someone else's cat or dog).  A big THANK YOU to Paul!


Planting and watering peas!

With the hot weather we decided to plant peas.  The peas can take a little cold and come up quickly!  First, all of the children had a chance to plant a few seeds in their garden.
Within a week they had popped up!  This was very satisifying to see!
The children have all requested to water the new peas.  This is another way they learn to care for their environment and it helps them to learn how food grows.  We are excited to eat the peas when they are ready!

Tying a shoe!

After the dressing frame (tying frame) was demonstrated, we decided to tie a new pair of shoes! 
It is always easier to practice with the shoes off first.  Cross the laces.
Make a loop and hold at the bottom.  Make sure to leave enough lace. 
Wrap the other loop around, pull through the small hole and voila!
This is a lot harder than it seems and can be quite frustrating, especially if the child is not ready.  In this case, the child was really ready and asking for help.  In this day, most children have slip on shoes but at some point they will need to have a pair of gym shoes which are almost always tie shoes.  This is a important practical life skill to learn.  If the child is ready and has the fine motor skills, a new pair of shoes can be really motivating! 

There is an old song about tying shoes. 

Tying Shoes
(Sung to Splish Splash I was taking a Bath)

Criss Cross and go under the bridge
Then you got to pull it tight.
Make a loop but keep a long tail
That is how to do it right
Then you take the other string
and you wrap it 'round the loop
Pull it through the hole
Now you got the scoop

Friday, March 23, 2012

Vertebrate Classification

We have now completed the study of the five types of vertebrates.  The children have explored the different types and were able to have a concrete experience with an animal in each category.  For the mammal we had a gentle therapy dog come in for a visit.  For the fish category we have a fish in our classroom (and now a new BIG one!) and we also purchased one from the fish market so the children could see the laterals line/gills etc up close.  We had a gecko visit for the reptiles and African water frogs for the amphibians.  The owl visit from the science center was a wonderful way to see a bird up close.  (Please see previous posts!)

We wanted to compare these five types of vertebrates.  The children were able to use small figures and categorize them into the different types.

It is slightly confusing to understand that all of these creatures have some common features.  They ALL have backbones.  So to help this understanding we had an example of an invertebrate: the common garden worm! 
Right now digging up worms is a popular activity so we brought some into the classroom.
Because the children care for these creatures, they wanted to make sure they were not dried up and wanted to add water. To make sure it was not a mud bath, we let them add 5 drops of water each.  This was fun because they also were able to use the small eye dropper!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

G'day mate! Australian Dot Painting!

We have left Africa and have moved onto Australia!  The children had a chance to engage in a fun way to paint.  The paint is applied with a cotton swab in an effort to reproduce the dot painting seen in Australian art. 
We began with suns and then used black and white productions of Australian animals.
This is a very simple activity to try at home, paint with a cotton swab!

A chemical reaction- shining pennies

A chemical reaction!
We have been engaged in a scientific experiment over the last few days. 
The children have been shining pennies by using lemon juice and salt.
The children start by choosing a dull penny.  They put it on the plate and rub the mixture of lemon juice and salt on the penny with a cotton swab.  Once shiny, they rinse it off in the water and pat dry.  They then take it and put the penny in the shiny container. 

Self Help

A Montessori classroom always contains what we call "dressing frames" which were designed for children to learn how to dress themselves.  We have one for snapping, buttoning, zipping etc.  Today we had a child want to learn to tie her shoe.  We gave her a demonstration on this frame and it inspired a flurry of activity around the buttoning frame. 

Then another child decided to try buttoning...
We will be practicing tying on a real shoe tomorrow!
These skills are very important for a child to become independent in dressing.  Dr. Montessori felt that this independence helps children to feel dignified. 


Today we HAD to make popsicles!  This is mandatory on an 86 degree day when it is March 21st!
We simply poured orange juice into ice cube trays and froze them.  When we went outside, we all sat down for a treat!
All children can make these popsicles, just use the juice you would like.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tunisian soup with couscous

While studying Africa, we decided to make a soup which would involve a vegetable cutting work.  The children cut up vegetables for a few days and put them into a pot.
We then cooked the soup and made couscous. 
The children discussed where Tunisia is on the map. 
Some children did not want the soup on top but had plain couscous.  All of the children liked the couscous and a few ate the soup on top.  Yum!

Egyptian studies

As part of Africa, we have focused on Egypt and here are some of the fun things we have done!
We found Egypt on our new globe!
We looked at papyrus which the Egyptians used as paper.  On the papyrus was a scene from Egypt showing hieroglyphics.
We then stamped our names with the hieroglyphic stamps. 
In the afternoon, we read books about Egypt.  We talked about the pyramids.
Using our geometric solids, we found the pyramid and discussed the shape.  Using our equilateral triangle we used our cutting skills to make our own pyramids.
We have also had some coloring work of a pharaoh.
Egypt has been very fun!  We hope to visit Northern Africa again next year!

The progression of cutting - paper dolls!

The children have really been practicing their scissor skills and we found a love of cutting during Valentines Day week.  We realized they love to cut something when the paper is folded in half with a shape drawn, cut then unfold and voila!  A heart!  We decided to draw different shapes on the paper, it is still a hit!  During the morning these girls decided to cut and create their own paper dolls!