Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On the Shelves: December

Either I have way too many Christmas and holiday things or I just love this time of year, because I've spent a very long time in the classroom getting these (and other) shelves ready!  It is sure to be a festive month:
Jingle Bell Necklace tray.

Practical Life:  Dry Transferring 
One of my all-time favorites (which is impossible to see in the photo, top left) is spooning Balsam Fir.  The other trays contain various items such as small and large jingle bells, red and green pom-poms, colored rice, and tiny Christmas tree-shaped beads. 

Even our Handwashing Table is ready - the Santa soap dispenser is sure to be a major point of interest! :)
I would share with you a photo of the Wet Transferring activities, however, the picture came out too blurry.  But you can only imagine the fun I had with all the Christmas trays and items I've accumulated over the years! :)  Instead, I'll share with you some super fun Practical Life extension materials I made:

Braiding Board
For this material, I simply tied three pieces of ribbon together and clamped them under the clip of the clipboard.  I found this wooden clipboard at the craft store and I like it because the clamp is tight enough so the ribbon stays in place. 
The small clothes pin at the top will be used...
...to clip the end of the braid.
Putting on a Pair of Gloves 
I am confident I'll be thanking myself for introducing this lesson to my students everytime we get dressed to go outside!
Matching Socks and...
...folding them, too!
Christmas Bow-Tying 
I re-used part of an old Pink Tower I had in my storage closet to make this material.  To do the activity, the child will take the cubes from the shelf, just like in the Pink Tower lesson. Then, they will be able to practice tying bows as they did with the Bow-Tying Frame.  I predict a bow-tying frenzy in my classroom!  :)
Here are the three lessons on a top shelf:  Putting on Gloves, Christmas Bow-Tying, and Matching/Folding Socks.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

"The Seasons Come and Go"

I have noticed over the years how much my students enjoy watching the seasons change.  I too, appreciate the opportunities these observations of the passing of time allow me to integrate specific materials in the classroom.  Recently, with the help of my intern, I put together a lesson which highlights each season while giving a visual impression of the passing of time.    Just as in our 'Thanksgiving' poem when, "The seasons come and go," this activity highlights the coming and going of each time of year.

While going through some materials at home, I came across a set of Seasons pictures from Montessori For Everyone (I think!) which had been in my files for years.  I still cannot remember my original plan for this set, but when I found them, the idea to make a timeline came to fruition.  The set includes five photos representing each of the four seasons.  Also, each set has a heading card for the season with the word - for example, the card says, "Winter".  One of the reasons I have held on to this material for so long is because the photos are so beautiful! 

To demonstrate the idea of a timeline, four pieces of colored ribbon were sewn together to form a line.  Each color is representative of  a season:  red - autumn; white - winter; green - spring; yellow - summer.  Then, each card was cut out, mounted onto corresponding colored card stock, and laminated.

To do the work, the child lays out the colored ribbon and matches the heading cards with each color of the ribbon in the timeline.  Next, the child examines each card and determines which season it represents and places it underneath the appropriate color in the timeline.  The control of error is within the material with the color coordination of the cards and ribbon.  Here is a photo of the completed lesson:

Seasons Timeline

Fall pictures.

Winter pictures.

Spring pictures.

Summer pictures.
As you can see from the photos, this lesson is ideally suited not only for a cultural/science perspective, but also for a language enrichment opportunity!  I am very much looking forward to introducing my students to this material.

The materials ready for the shelf:  Heading cards and ribbon which is clipped with clothespin in smaller basket; and pictures for each season (which are not grouped by color) underneath...

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

I try my hardest to instill a sense of gratitude within my students as they navigate  their world.  This is a concept that is present in our classroom all the time and not just during Thanksgiving!  One of the first songs we learn together as a class is one of gratitude:

Gratitude Song
(tune: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)

Thank you, thank you very much
For everything that I can touch.
Thanks for all of nature's food,
And for when I'm feeling good.
Thank you, thank you very much
For my family, friends, and such!

I share the following photos from this week with my own sense of gratitude for the opportunity to work with such a talented, intelligent, and unique group of children!  Thank YOU, my students and their parents, my readers and followers of this blog, and mostly my dear family for giving me their understanding and encouragement while I set out to do what I love each and everyday!  :)

Understanding Geography concepts with the Land and Water FormsPeninsula and Gulf

This child has combined the Sound Box objects with the Sandpaper Letters, allowing him to make meaningful connections to the letter sound and symbol.  While I typically do not present this as a formal lesson to my students, I encourage this association if it is child-initiated.

Three-Part Cards of the Continents.  Here, the child is in the process of making his own set of cards, an idea he came up with completely on his own! :)

And here is the the self-made material after one and half morning sessions of hard work!

Elements of the Earth:  Land, Air, and Water
(Click on caption above to read more about it.)

Art Appreciation with Child-Sized Masterpieces: Matching identical paintings.

Writing words with the Moveable Alphabet.

Using our November poetry basket to read and dramatize our 'Thanksgiving' poem.

Practicing the preliminary Practical Life exercise of Sponging, this month with the help of leaf bowls!  :)
Refinement of the thermic sense with the Thermic Tablets.
Learning the countries of South America with the Puzzle Map.  This child came to school with a book about Pink River Dolphins of the Amazon.  So, we got out the map and later...
...wrote about them with the Moveable Alphabet:  'Pink river dolphins.  Their ears are inside their heads.  They live in the Amazon river.'
Fun sensorial work with the Smelling Bottles.
(Click on the caption above to learn more.)
Seasonal Practical LifeTonging Acorns
Grading and pairing the Touch Tablets from 'rough' to 'smoothest.'  This exercise is not only beneficial for training the tactile sense, but also in preparing the hand for writing by practicing lightness of touch.
Practicing threading a needle.
(Click caption to read more.)

Preparing our 'Thanksgiving Gratitude Snack'.
(Click on caption if you missed that post!)
 I'll be taking a little break from blogging during our vacation, but am looking forward to sharing with you all that I have planned for December upon my return.  Wishing you all a wonderful time with your families and a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"The Best Snack, EVER!"

Our 'Thanksgiving Gratitude Snack', AKA "Cornucopia Snack!"
According the my students...!  The children shared a special 'Thanksgiving Gratitude Snack' today.  This was a special event, not only because we sat altogether to enjoy each other's company over food, but also because we took the time to think about the things we are thankful for.  To mark this special holiday, the kids prepared their own cornucopias, which were sugar cones, and filled them with fruit salad.  We have been discussing how the cornucopia is a symbol of abundance and serves as a reminder of everything for which we are thankful.  In addition to assembling a cornucopia, each child was able to frost a pumpkin cookie.  As you can imagine, this was met with much enthusiasm and glee!  The following is a picture of how I set up the snack preparation table with the materials necessary for the cornucopia and cookie icing.

First, the child takes a plate and one "cornucopia."  Then, they fill it with the fruit salad.  Next, they take a cookie and spread on some yummy icing - they did really well with this and resisted temptation to use too much icing! :)

'Thanksgiving Gratitude Snack' in the making, and next to the table for some inspiration...

...our Thanksgiving poetry basket along with a pilgrim lady decoration.  She has been aptly named by the kids, "Cornucopia Girl."  :)

Giving thanks together at the first set of tables...
...and at a larger table.  Notice the wheat stalks for centerpieces?  They are representative of the "yellow fields of grain" from our "Thanksgiving" poem.
In my perfect Montessori world, I would have had the children cut and prepare the fruit salad themselves.  These days however, have been passing much too quickly, and with the upcoming week long vacation, I found myself without enough time to have the kids do that part!  So, I am writing with much gratitude and thanks to the parents who graciously sent in the fruit salad and festive plates and napkins. The kids declared, "This is the best snack, EVER!"

Throughout their time eating together, the following cheerful words were heard from the children:  "I am thankful for the whole wide world."  "I'm thankful for my whole family!"  "I'm thankful for my food."  "I'm thankful for this classroom."  "I'm thankful for everything!"  :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Poem

The children have been learning a new poem this month called, "Thanksgiving."  It brings me so much joy to hear the children take pride in memorizing and reciting poetry - what better way foster appreciation for language than to experience poetry?!  The following is a video of my daughter (2 years, 9 months) reciting our "Thanksgiving" poem at school.  If you are a parent of one of my students, your child knows this poem too - I hope they will be able to share it with your during this Thanksgiving season!

Our 'Thanksgiving' Poetry Basket.

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest is all gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields their yellow grain.
So open wide the doorway,
Thanksgiving comes again!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011


Photo credit:  nelszchow.blogspot.com
As you may have noticed, I've been having fun rearranging the design of this blog!  It all started when I changed the title picture...  Really, there were no intentions other than to switch the photo, but now you can see what happens when one thing leads to the next.  Let this be a lesson of how good things happen when you least expect it!  I hope you enjoy the "new look!"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Whole World of Photos

You'll understand the title of this post at the end of the following collection of photos from this (short) week in our classroom: 

Setting up the Short Bead Stair for some teen number work.
Working with the First Color Tablet Box.
Gluing lesson with smalls bits of crepe paper.

Solid Cylinder Blocks:  Two at a time.  This lesson allows the child to practice visual discrimination of size while helping to prepare the hand for writing through the use of the pincer grasp.

Matching Geometric Solids onto their bases and onto each other!

Playing our Melody Harp to understand scale.  We have been singing a song about leaves to go along with playing this instrument.  What a peaceful sound it makes during our mornings... :)

Practicing the Lacing Frame.

Combining the Golden Beads with the Decimal System Cards.

The beginnings of a Map of the World...

...with each continent meticulously pin pushed...

...and labeled...

A complete Map of the World!