Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Signs of Winter

Living in Maine gives ample opportunities for our little ones to practice suiting up for the snow.  In the classroom setting, as any teacher can attest, getting ready to go outside during the winter takes time, patience, and practice!  While my older students are well versed in getting themselves dressed and helping the younger ones, I have seen how the entire process can be quite overwhelming for some children.  To address this issue, I've made some (hopefully) eye catching signs to be posted by the cubbies where the children get ready to play outside:

Before hanging these mini-posters on the wall, I talked to the children about them at circle time.  We discussed the importance of the sequence of how to get dressed for outside and how it impossible to put one's snow pants on after they have already booted up!  The children also appreciated how it is much easier to zip up a coat without wearing mittens or gloves.  These concepts, seemingly simple to an adult, are easily overlooked by the young child.  This can lead to frustration and upset while attempting to do something they otherwise could accomplish independently.  So, this is how I decided the little signs can come in handy.  As the children are getting themselves ready, they now have a visual reference which they can check themselves! 
The signs hang at the children's eye level near their hooks for snow pants. 
If interested, you can read more about the hook labels here.
Happy Snow Days!

Montessori Monday Link-Up

Montessori Monday

Monday, December 26, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

A few days ago, I was surprised to find an unexpected gift awaiting me - Lisa, from Criss-Cross Applesauce, had awarded me the Liebster Blog Award!  I am both humbled and honored to be considered for this award with the recognition for my contributions to the field of early childhood education.   Thank you Lisa!  If you are in need of some creative and fun learning ideas, be sure to check out Lisa's blog for inspiration!

The rules of this award are as follows:

1. Show your thanks to the blogger who nominated you by linking back to their blog.
2. Nominate five other happy little blogs (200 followers or less) by posting a comment on their blogs.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Check out what these other blogs have to offer!
And this award now goes to...
(in no particular order)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to All...

...and to all a good break!  Here are some photos to share of our classroom from the last week of school prior to our Christmas vacation - I'll be honest and tell you that I did not take as many pictures as I usually do...we were just busy getting our gifts made and wrapped while enjoying some fun activities together.  And despite the extra "busy-ness" of the classroom, I found myself giving new lessons to many children! 
Lots of Sandpaper Letter practice!
Offering our friends slices of bananas during worktime.  The children love this and it is a wonderful Grace and Courtesy lesson.
Table-top Number Rods and Cards.  I pulled this material from my storage closet because several of my students could benefit from the extra practice.  I observed that some of the kids have been avoiding the (large) Number Rods, for reasons I still do not know...  In any case, this smaller version of the same material has brought renewed interest to the Math area.  I only introduce these table-top Number Rods to students who have already worked with the large ones.
Exploring combinations of ten with the table-top Number Rods.
Number writing practice on the grid chalkboard.

Caring for plants.

Decorating gift bags for our ornaments...

...and here are some of them lined up on the counter ready for home delivery!
Playing carols on the Melody Harp - Really, there is no better background music than this! :)
Creative exploration with the Constructive Triangles.

Coloring nutcrackers while listening to The Nutcracker ballet music.

Here, two children are working with the 'Christmas Wreath' poetry basket.

Parts of a Bird Puzzle and collage...

...with labels.

Months of the Year:  Here, the student has placed the Earth ball on his birthday month.  Next, he held the ball and walked around the mat singing, "The Earth goes 'round the sun, the Earth goes 'round the sun, it takes a whole year for the Earth to go around the sun!"

And, it finally snowed - just in time for Christmas vacation! 


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Milkweed for Christmas?

Oh, just wait until you see what the children have made with the milkweed my assistant and I plucked from the sides of the road!

As my assistant informed me, milkweed is the only plant that monarch butterflies eat.  Have you ever noticed its beautiful sheen or the way it floats like a cloud?  While brainstorming ideas for ornament making with the kids, we decided to give this one a go... 

First, I decided to place the milkweed pods in Ziploc bags so that we would not have the seeds floating all over the classroom.  The clear bag allowed the child to see the pod and seeds within while taking small finger-fuls.  Then, we showed them how to carefully place the seeds inside of a glass ornament.  (We made sure there were no sharp edges before letting the children use their fingers... Luckily, the ornaments I purchased from a craft store were really smooth so we didn't have to worry about it as much, but we still checked to be sure...)  Handling the milkweed seeds was a sensory delight for the children!  I appreciated how they were able to see how the seeds are stored within the pods while completing this craft.

Here, you can see how the activity was set up.  We placed the ornament in a small cup while the children worked to fill it so it wouldn't roll around so much...  Also, the black tray was the perfect contrast to the milkweed and the children could easily see what they were doing.  We let the children fill up their ornament as much as they wanted.  Really, they were so excited and intrigued by the whole process!
We finished them off with a ribbon and red bow...  Can you just imagine how beautiful these will be hanging in the glow of a Christmas tree?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'Christmas Wreaths'

We have been learning a new poem this month called, 'Christmas Wreaths.'  The following poem and pictures used in the lesson were graciously offered from My Montessori Journey.  To introduce the new poem, first I recited the poem aloud without photos - I simply let the children close their eyes and listen to the words.  We discussed vocabulary and what the words convey.  After several days of listening, I then introduced the pictures, giving the kids visual cues as they memorized the poetry.

'Christmas Wreaths'

Our Christmas wreaths are fat and round
Made of woodsy things we found.
We tied brown cones upon the green,
And stuck red berries in between.
Upon the wreath for our front door
We tied red ribbon from a store.
Once the children were comfortable with associating the words and the pictures, then I added the written words in a wall chart.  We practiced reading the poem - the red dots under each word assist the child while using a pointer or "reading stick" as they point to each word.

Classroom poetry chart.
Lastly, I introduced the children to the poetry basket.  Inside is a (small) copy of the poem with a reading stick along with the necessary objects to dramatize the poem.

Poetry basket copy of the poem with a reading stick...

...and the objects needed to "act" it out.

Here are the components of the poetry altogether in our poetry basket, ready for the shelf.  The children love to complete this lesson in pairs - one child reads while the other one acts it out, then they switch!
Every once in a while, we will have a volunteer who will want to recite the poem for our class during circle time.  This elicits a warm applause from classmates and usually, others will want to recite the poem as well!  Also, we discovered that the poem can be sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," and we have been listening to its steady beat.  This prompted me to get our our jingle-sticks out and tap out the beat while 'singing' the poem.  Jingle bells and Christmas wreaths....can it get any more festive around here?!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December Days

I am excited about these December days in the classroom!  The children are working well, both individually and as a group.  Of course, we have our moments (you know, those ones when you think, "Where did I do wrong?" as several pairs of feet are galloping across the floor, or in those moments of 'false fatigue' in the classroom when it appears as if no one is doing anything....).  My experience tells me however, that allowing the children to work through exactly these moments is what makes our Montessori classroom truly authentic.  I am proud of the children's progress and observe their accomplishments with sincere reverence.

Geography with the Land and Water Forms:  Learning 'System of Lakes' and 'Archipelago.'

Understanding dimensions with the Pink Tower.

Creating a pattern while making a jingle-bell necklace.

Another child received the Hundred Chain lesson this week!
Cards and Counters which prompted...

...these Bells and Jingles to be used!

A new "discovery."  This child found out on his own that the green Knobbed Cylinders fit exactly on top of the red ones.

Making wreaths and...

...ornaments which we...

...tied with ribbon and hung in the hallway.

Listening to the music of The Nutcracker and reading labels for the decorative nutcrackers.
(Click on caption to read more about this activity.)

Exciting extension work with the Knobbed Cylinders.

Working with the Constructive Triangles
Hexagonal Box.

Puzzle Map of Africa.
Extension work with the Pink Tower and Brown Stair.

A colorful array with the Third Color Tablet Box.

Matching seasonal pictures.
And, we got started on something special, but shhh!  It's a secret!  You only get this little clue:

A sneak peak!
Stay tuned for more next week... :)