Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sewing a Pillow!

As the end of the year approaches, we wanted the children to use their developing sewing skills to make a pillow.  By doing this they create something to treasure and take home.  We began with giving the children a choice of fabric.  The fabric was colorful and fun.  We also used hoops to steady the material so the children would have to do less work with the non-dominant hand. 
The children sewed in a straight line along the penciled line.  We demonstrated how to hold the hoop steady and use the dominant hand (mostly right hands for this group) to do the work.  Some had a little trouble at first not looping the thread around the hoop.  With a few demonstrations, the children were able to hold the hoop and sew along the line.  We showed them how to use the tip of the needle to find the line and poke it up.
After the child has sewn on the line they turn the pillow inside out and begin to stuff.
We had them pull the stuffing off in little bits and put into the pillow.
We then sewed the hole closed which was a little difficult as we did not use a hoop.  There was also no drawn pencil line on the fabric as this was the side that was shown. (For this fabric we sewed along one of the lines that was already there.)
A completed pillow!  This was so exciting for the children. 

Making Salad Dressing

In our food preparation area, we introduced the children to salad dressing.  They were very excited about trying to make it on their own.  Into the bowl, we shook olive oil from a bottle and then added lemon juice in equal amounts.  The children then added a bit of brown sugar and used the whisk.  They have used this tool in the past so they were able to whisk without assistance. 
After the dressing was whisked, we added home grown tender spinach leaves to the bowl and "tossed."
We used tongs (again, another tool they have used in the past and are able to use independently now) to transfer the salad to the bowl for eating. 
The children then ate the salad.  We were once again surprised to see how many children ate their own spinach salad.  It is wonderful to see these children eating healthy food!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Harvesting Peas!

In mid-March we planted peas in our garden.  This is an area protected from the cold so they grew and grew!!  Today the children were able to pick, wash and eat them! 
They used the picking basket and went outside with a teacher.  The children were shown where the peas were on the plants. 
Once they had a few, they brought them inside, washed them and then were shown how to open the pods.
Most of the children ate them off the plate, others decided to walk around and offer them to their friends.
An activity such as this helps the children to understand how food grows.  They were able to experience the whole process from planting, watering, watching the plants grow to harvesting and eating! 

Yarn Wrapping

As another fine motor activity, we decided to present yarn wrapping.  The children will experience this activity again in the Fall when we study apples and pumpkins.  The children first choose what color yarn they would like to use and also a pipe cleaner.
Then they wrapped the yarn around a small piece of cardboard.  This was challenging for some as it requires them to hold one hand steady and wrap the yarn with the other hand.  The yarn has to be easily pulled through the wrapping hand. 
When they were done wrapping we slid the pipe cleaner down through the middle and removed the cardboard. 
The children pulled up the pipecleaner and twisted it to form a little ball.
Some children loved this activity and repeated it many times.  The concentration demonstrated during this task was amazing.  Montessori practical life activities provide many opportunities for children to develop their ability to concentrate.

Field Trip to Matthaei Botanical Gardens

We had a great field trip with the afternooners to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens!  We went on one sunny, hot day.  We were so lucky to see some wildlife in the gardens.  The children saw geese with new babies, and Egret, a baby turtle and many birds flying around.  We also went inside and saw the huge Koi!  Here are some photos...


 This was a very fun trip for the children (except the part where the sunglasses fell in while looking at the turtle).  We were able to talk about characteristics of birds and reptiles (having learned about the five vertebrates earlier in the year.) 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

France and THANK YOU to Zingermans!

As we end our study of Europe, we focused on France.  This is partially because we have a French family and partially because we wanted to eat croissants from Zingermans!

First the croissants!  Zingerman's Bakehouse generously donated some beautiful croissants to our school as part of our study of France. 
The children (and teachers) sampled the croissants. 
YUM!  A big THANK YOU to Zingerman's! 
Many thumbs up!

The children have been looking at photos of France, making books about Paris, meeting French people, singing French songs and as another special treat- eating crepes.

Our French family kindly came in to show us how to make crepes.  Mother and Grand-mere came!
They had prepared the batter in advance.  Here she ladles the batter into the pan.
She cooks on one side then FLIP! 
The cooked crepe was filled with a lovely chocolate concoction!!
Finally, they are eaten and enjoyed by all!

We feel it is necessary to provide hands on experiences for the children when studying a specific topic.  The children absorb these sights, sounds and of course tastes!  They get to meet people from other cultures and hear languages and accents.  They ABSORB it all! 
Thank you again to Zingerman's and to our French family for taking the time to help us make this happen!

Playing with shaving cream

There are always children (and adults!) who don't like to get their hands messy!  As a fun sensory activity, we had out playing with shaving cream in the art area.  Children are very interested in this activity as they get to drive a small toy car through the shaving cream.  Even the most reluctant children will take a turn driving the car.  This is a good activity to do at home if your child does not like to fingerpaint or touch sticky things. 

We put a piece of plexiglass down on the table to make it smooth.  The plexiglass can be used on an easel for fingerpainting as well.


The progression of sewing continues.  This week we put out sewing on a line on fabric.  The child takes the threaded needle and begins to sew along a line.  The fabric is folded so at the end they see how they have attached two pieces of material. 

We plan on sewing a pillow by the end of the year which should be quite exciting!


The children have done a lot of baking this year and really enjoyed putting the ingredients into the mixing bowl.  We decided to have measuring on the shelf as a way to practice leveling off the dry ingredient. 
The children scooped a measuring spoon into the flour.  They almost always ended up with an overflowing spoon.  We gave a lesson on how to use the flat end of a small dull knife to "level" off the spoon.  We plan on adding more spoons with cards so the children can practice specific amounts.

Carrot peeling

In the food preparation area this week we had carrot peeling.  The children chose a carrot from the bowl and took the tray to a table.  They peeled the carrot away from their body.  Once the carrot was peeled, they cut off the ends with a dull knife.  This was interesting as the ends tend to pop off and may land on the ground.  We have had many enthusiastic carrot eaters and some who prefer to ask others, "Would you like a carrot?" and share with their friends. 

Another practical life skill!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Gazing at the clouds

              During outside time I noticed two children laying on the ground pointing at the clouds. 
Here is what I heard... "That one looks like South America!"  "That one is Australia!!"  and on and on!
                                                         These absorbent minds!  Wow!

Mother's Day Gifts

Happy Mother's Day!
To all of our wonderful mothers!  Hopefully you have unwrapped your gift that your child made for you!

We decided to use our previous knowlege of paper making to make brooches for our Mother's Day gift.
We first made paper. (see previous blog on how to make paper)  We used two small molds to pour the paper pulp through, on in the shape of a flower and one a leaf.  These then dried overnight.
The next day the children glued the pieces together then added small "jewels."
A teacher then hot glued the fastener to the back.
The children wrapped them the next day!
Thank you to all of our amazing mothers!!

The Butterflies Emerge

The butterflies hatched! 
One day we saw the upper part of the chrysalis become very light in color.  We said good morning to the children and looked at the chrysalids again... there was a butterfly!  This was very exciting for the children to see! 

We prepared some sugar solution.  3 teaspoons of sugar mixed with one cup of water.  We added this to some cut flowers so the butterfly could have something to eat.
That afternoon another butterfly emerged.
We made sure to feed the butterflies!

The following day we decided to let the two be free in their "natural habitat." Some of the children were sad but others thought it was a good idea for them to be in their own home!
The children waved goodbye!! 
Now we notice all of the butterflies when we go outside!

The children were able to witness the entire metamorphosis except the egg stage. They know so much about this process from observing, creating their own life cycle crafts and books and listening to us read them many fact based books on the life cycle of a butterfly.
                                                      Dr. Montessori would be proud!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Metamorphosis of a caterpillar

Several weeks ago we received 5 caterpillars or larvae to hatch in our butterfly habitat.  The children did not see them as eggs but were able to see them as tiny caterpillars.
 They watched them grow into really big caterpillars by eating the special food at the bottom of the container.
 Once they grew really big, they make their way to the top of the container and attach themselves by their 'girdle' in preparation for becoming a chrysalis. 
Overnight, they changed. 
The children could not believe their eyes.  If you do this at home or with your class, make sure no one touches the container during this process.  Three of five seemed to make it into a chrysalis.  The other ones were incomplete with only a part of their bodies changing. 
The afternoon children then helped to remove the chrysalids from the container and pin them to the inside of the habitat.
Now, we wait!  Once they emerge, we feed them with sugar water and let them go!
This has inspired many children to make a life cycle of a butterfly book.

We also had an activity where the children are able to create the life cycle with glue and pasta (and a few other things too.)

We can't wait to see the completion of this metamorphosis!