Friday, September 28, 2012

Metal Insets

What is a metal inset???
Metal insets are 10 geometric shapes consisting of a frame and an inset.  They are placed on a sloping board and used with squares of paper, an inset tray and colored pencils.  The aim is to prepare the child for writing.  Other objectives include:  develop control and precision of movement, give the opportunity to hold a pencil correctly, give experience with anti-clockwise movements (top to bottom and also left to right) which will later be used for writing, indirect preparation for art, development of pattern, color and shading.  

The child chooses the inset he/she wishes to work with and places it on the frame.  Then paper and pencils are added and the work is taken to a table.  This child was very curious about the insets and so was given a lesson. 
After being shown how to hold the pencil, he traced around the inside of the inset again and again.  The frame is the control of error, the pencil stays inside that shape.  The other hand is helping by keeping the frame still.  Two hands are working together and this helps to increase that hand/mind connection.
This child was so happy to continue making inset after inset and only stopped because it was the end of the morning.  Dr. Montessori recognized that when children are working on a skill and deep in concentration they will be content and fulfilled.  This child was so calm and peaceful after completing these insets.  The next morning he came in and got this work out again. 
There are many exercises we do with this material and the children will be engaging in this as the year progresses. 

More Sewing!

We love to sew!  We have now moved on to sewing around shapes instead of straight lines.  The children are really enjoying this activity as you may see in their backpack today!
One child accidentally sewed two together at the same time and was very surprised at this error.  In making lemonade out of lemons she said, "I will give this to my brother and he can use it as a puppet!"  She stuck her finger in the middle and then went on to make another finger puppet!  (Very Julia Child- who was also a Montessori child!)


After snack (or lunch) the children wash their dishes.  (We wash them in a dishwasher later in the afternoon after the children leave.)  Step one is to take the dish to the sink, scrape off the uneaten food and scrub the dish with the brush.
Step two is to rinse in the rinsing sink. (One child commented today about his "experiment"- "I found if you put the dish in the rinsing sink lightly, it will float (see last year's post on Sink/Float) and if you push it down hard it sinks!"
Step three is to put it in the drying rack. 
This is a great activity for practical life as well as organizing our brain by completing multistep tasks!

Land and Water Forms- Peninsula and Gulf

                      This week we studied Peninsula and Gulf with our land and water forms. 
                The children love to work with these activities and also learn about pouring!

Solid, Liquid and Gas

This week we discussed the properties of solids, liquids and gases.  The children took part in learning how the molecules are for each of these forms. 
We then showed the children how to classify solids, liquids and gases.  They really liked looking at what was in the jars and determining what it was. 

We did some experiments.  First we turned a liquid into a gas by boiling a kettle with water and watching the steam.  At the end we looked inside to find the liquid had evaporated!
The second experiment was yummy!  We turned lemonade (a liquid) into a solid (popsicles) and ate them on the playground! 



Do you open your child's backpack on Friday afternoon and wonder why there are so many envelopes filled with little tiny snips of paper?  Well, this is cutting work!  So many children are working on this skill right now that there is hardly a time in the morning when the scissors are available!  We have scissors and cutting strips available and also different shapes for more advanced cutters.  This pair of scissors is actually a beginning pair that is really easy to use for children who have a hard time mastering the standard child-sized pair.  They are called My First Scissors by Faber-Castell.  In our lesson on cutting we show the child how to put their thumb on top and the other fingers on the bottom.  Holding the paper in the opposite hand, you place it inside the blade and push down with the thumb.  Voila!  They spring open once you let go and your cut paper falls to the table.  The children love to fill up their envelopes to take home.  Many children comment that these will be presents to their parents!  Enjoy the snips!

Shoe Polishing

We are polishing a shoe in school!
Step 1 is to get the polish from a teacher and put it on the applicator brush. Step 2 is to brush the polish in with a different brush. Step 3 is to shine it with a lambswool buffer.  
Dr. Montessori thought it was important that children do purposeful activities. She advised teachers to include in their classrooms “objects which are designed through their use to achieve some definite purpose..objects which invite the child to do something, to carry out a real piece of work having a practical goal to be aimed at.” The Discovery of the Child p. 77. 

Afternoon Sculpture Work

As one of our teachers has a Masters in Education with a focus on using the creative arts in learning, we decided to spend some time learning about sculpture today.  We had previously discussed the Lincoln Monument while using our microscope (see previous post) and had talked about it being a sculpture.  Today the afternoon children were read 3-D ABC, A Sculptural Alphabet by Bob Raczka.  This helped them to see many different types of sculptures.  (We also read had a book about the Lincoln Memorial and were able to see how big this was - much different from the back of a penny!)
We had been saving lots of items that would have been recycled and also went to the Scrap Box to obtain the rest of the parts to create our own sculptures.

                         They chose what items they would like to incorporate into their work.

Here are some masterpieces. 
This was a lot of hard work!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Glimpse of "afternooner" work...

We are busy in the afternoons!  After lunch we clean up the classroom and start working!  Besides more in-depth math and language, we have been looking in mircoscopes....
and conducting experiments!!
By the way, if you have a microscope, put a penny under the light and try to see Abraham Lincoln.  We tried this with seven pennies before we saw it!  As we "follow the child" in Montessori, we ended up studying Abraham Lincoln and discussing erosion (as on the pennies that were worn away.)  We also branched off and decided to clean some of the pennies and conducted an experiment to see what the best cleaner would be! 

Sewing has begun!

We have now begun our sewing curriculum!  The children used a very blunt needle to sew through holes in cardstock.  We progress through activities increasing in complexity and will hopefully be sewing pillows by the end of the year!

Land and Water Forms- Island and Lake

The children began studying islands and lakes in geography this week.  Using our models, we gave them lessons on an island - land surrounded by water- and lake- area of water surrounded by land. 
The children were shown how to fill up a pitcher with water and pour it into the model to increase their understanding of these concepts.  We also discussed their own experiences on islands and different lakes they had visited. 
As an extension of this work, some children chose to color pages showing island and lake.

Vertebrates and Invertebrates

This week we began studying vertebrates and invertebrates.  Thanks to one of our parents we had an amazing model of the spine! (THANK YOU!)
We discussed animals that had backbones and those that do not have backbones.
We classified animal pictures into two columns, ones with backbones and ones without.
The children wanted to make books to take home.  Please look for these tomorrow in your child's backpack. 

Folding- Care of the Environment

Some of the children have been busy learning how to care for the environment.  One example of this is folding the blue cloths we use to mop up various water spills.  In the mornings, we bring the clean laundry and put it on a table.  Several of the children have noticed it when they arrive and once given a lesson on how to fold a cloth, they are off. 
Several children are now looking for this as soon as they enter the classroom.  We do not mention that they need to be folded.  The cloths sit on a table and the children notice them on their own. 
The children were heard this morning talking to each other saying, "Did you see those cloths!  We can fold!!"
They create piles of blue cloths and then take turns placing them in the classroom on the shelves and then in the cabinet where they are stored.  It is a delight to see the children caring for their environment in this way.
If you have laundry that needs to be folded, take a week to show your child how to fold shirts.  The next week can be towels etc..  After they are done folding, they may want to help put the clean clothes away. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

First Week of School

We had an amazing but busy first week of school!  Everyone should sleep well this weekend! We really enjoyed getting to know the new children and seeing our returning students again!  The children all learned so many new things.  We had many grace & courtesy lessons on how the classroom works, painted many pictures, poured, transferred, poured drinks of water, matched colors, learned some phonemic sounds of letters, watered plants, washed tables, learned the Earth is made of land and water and many, many more things!  Here are a few pictures!
walking through the maze

 moveable alphabet
having a snack

 living & non-living

watermelon slicing

brass polishing
addition with short bead stairs