Japan and Setsubun

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Two of our wonderful parents came in today to talk about a Japanese holiday called Setsubun.  In our Montessori classroom, we try to expose our children to different cultures and give them an idea or create an impression of people from other parts of the world.  This helps them to become a citizen of the world!

Setsubun is celebrated on February third and Japanese people celebrate it to help bring in the spring.  Several hundred years ago the Japanese believed that around Setsubun monsters or Ogres in the mountains came down to town.  These monsters were called Oni.

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People threw “Mame” or soybeans to drive the Oni away.

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At school children wear Oni masks that they make and chase away pretend Oni who come to visit by throwing soybeans at them.

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At the shrine, some people dress up like Oni and come out so all the people can throw soybeans at them.  People also throw beans at shrines and temples after a special ceremony.

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They brought Oni masks for all of the children to wear.

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After the children throw the beans, they are supposed to eat the number of beans equal to their ages plus one.  In Japan, they believe they can be happy and healthy if they eat the beans.

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When throwing the beans, there is a chant they must do:

Oni wa soto!  (Get out, Monsters!)  Fuku wa uchi!  (Come in, happiness!)

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It was a very fun presentation and day!  Thank you to Kana and Yoshiko for exposing us to this Japanese holiday!

We have been learning a bit about Japan this week at school as part of our Asia study.

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Here is an art project involving making our own cherry tree blossoms.

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We also had nori cutting as a food prep activity.

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The afternoon children made furikake which is a Japanese seasoning to go on rice balls or Onigiri.

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The children enjoyed eating the rice balls!

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone

Every year we spend the week leading up to Valentine’s Day doing all sorts of things such as cutting out hearts (great fine motor work), pouring beans with a heart scoop and making valentines to give to our parents and loved ones.  Hope you all enjoyed your Valentine’s Day!

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heart marbling

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making a special card

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making valentine’s bags

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putting valentines in the bags

 

Poetry

The afternoon children have had fun helping to write group poems this year.  About once a week, the afternoon children gather around the blackboard and think of something to say when given a prompt.  This helps inspire creativity and increase language skills.   The teacher writes and says the prompt and then asks for children to add their thoughts.  Some children begin by saying something similar to another child but eventually begin to think of things to say on their own.

See below each photo for the responses.

“I wish”

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that I could go swimming

I had a horse

I could be a horse rider

I could have all the candy in the world

I could drive a big flat bed truck

I could take a nap

I had a fuzzy blanket

I had a wish for Penelope

I could be at school forever

 

“I wonder”  (2 photos)

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how far space goes

how far Florida is from Michigan

how (far) Hawaii is from Michigan

how many dinosaurs there are

if dinosaurs flew

how cold ice cream is

how warm summer is

how warm July is

what mom will bring for a surprise on the plane

how much candy is in the world

 

“I used to think but now I know”

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that Earth was solid- that part is liquid

that my pet fish would not die – and now I know my fish died

Penelope was a toddler- that she is a baby

my fish wouldn’t die but then it died in the night

that Cleo was a baby dog- that she is not

that Archie would not go see Hector- that he will

 

“If I were a leaf I would”

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crinkle

bend

blow to the North pole

sleep

blow on Santa

be a maple leaf and eat all the syrup

float on the breeze

 

“My favorite color is”

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blue because I have always liked it

purple because I have always liked it

black because it is all the colors combined

orange because there are so many things that are orange

yellow because Noah is wearing a yellow shirt

silver because it is sparkling

pink because if I paint and mix it up it turns pink

red because it is a little dark

blue because it reminds me of the pool

 

“Snow is”  

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fluffy and white

something that makes me feel like making snow angels

made of dirt and ice

marshmallows

something that makes me think of ice skating

something that makes me think of drinking hot cocoa

something that makes me think of making snowmen

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Happy Birthday President Lincoln!

Each year we enjoy learning about Abe Lincoln on his birthday of February 12th!  This year we thought we would highlight that President Lincoln is on the face of a penny by making a necklace.  On some older pennies, you can also use a microscope to view his tiny body in the Lincoln memorial on the back of the penny.  We enjoy reading books and learning some things about his life.

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We made the necklaces by gluing red, white and blue stars on each other.

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We then used tacky glue to glue a penny on top.

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After they were dry, we punched a hole in the star and made it into a necklace.

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Some of the afternoon children were able to look at the back of an old penny through the microscope to see Abraham Lincoln!

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Penguins!

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(Penguin matching)

We love to study penguins each year.  It usually happens when it is cold outside!  This year the children liked to measure themselves and compare how tall they were to the various penguins.  The children were also able to make a different kind of penguin during the week.

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We discovered that the rockhopper penguin is only about 20″ tall.

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Slightly taller are the macaroni penguins at 28″.  We love the yellow crest on top of their heads!

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The Gentoo penguin is the third largest at 20-35″ and some live in Antarctica.

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The chinstrap penguins who make circular nests of rocks, are about 27″ tall.

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The last penguin we made was the emperor penguin.  We were really surprised to find out that none of our children are taller than an emperor penguin at 48″.

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We sang a song and played a game about penguins.  Here you see the children carrying “penguin eggs” on their feet.

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One child brought in her penguin mobile from home.  She liked showing us which one was her favorite.

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One clever parent made penguin olives as part of a lunch treat!

 

Winter Weaving

Weaving is always popular! It engrosses many children and they enjoy all of the work we have to offer.  The children learn about the weft (yarn or paper that goes right and left) and the warp (top to bottom).  This work allows a child to have time to sit and build concentration and fine motor skills.  Some sit with a friend and chat together and some prefer to do it alone.  Either way, weaving is enjoyed by many children!

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Paper weaving, individual weaving and a large community project.

 

VISIT US AT THE PRESCHOOL EXPO

Stop by and visit us at the 6th Annual Preschool Expo

It will be held on Sunday, January 25th from 1-4 pm. 

This event is sponsored by the Ann Arbor Library and is held at Palmer Commons,

100 Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor.  Located inside the Community Center at the U of M’s Life Sciences Complex.

We hope to see you there!

 

Visit From the Critter Guy

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This year we had a great visit from our friend Paul the “Critter Guy.”  In a typical Montessori school, children learn about the five types of vertebrates.  This is a fun way to see some examples of these creatures.  Paul usually brings a nice variety.

Representing the amphibians- the Tree Frog!

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“Where did the frog go?”

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One of the reptiles- the blue tongued Skink!

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Another fun reptile!  We had some brave children!

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Paul also let us see an example of the snake spine.

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We love our mammals!  The chinchilla!

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And the ferret.

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Paul usually brings the doves but he brought a new friend from the cockatiel.

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This one loved to sit on our heads!!

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So fun!  Thank you to Paul!!

 

VOLCANOES!

 

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Recently we studied an annual favorite- volcanoes!  The children enjoy having a chance to have hands-on interaction with the small volcano model.  Some of the afternoon children make their own models to take home.

Volcano Eruption

Click above to see the “eruption” in class.

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Some children chose to make a book about the parts of a volcano.

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The children watched a small group lesson on how to erupt the small volcano on their own.

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After learning how to do it, they could explore on their own.

First step is to add the baking soda.

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The second step is to add the vinegar.

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Watch the eruption!

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Some older children chose to learn more about the ring of fire.  It is always fun to see how the ring of fire spreads over several continents.

Germany

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One of the fathers in our classroom is from Germany so we asked him to come in and share a little bit of Germany when we were studying Europe.  Fabian showed us his lederhosen (leather pants).

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He also showed us his Advent wreath and talked to us about the tradition.

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Fabian also played and sang the wonderful song “Alle Meine Entchen” which means all my little ducklings.  He said it is the first song German children play and learn to sing.  Below is a clip.

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Finally, as a treat, we were able to taste some pretzels as a nod to the German “bretzel.”  Having lived in Germany these were not quite as good but still tasty for the children.  We really enjoyed learning about Germany!  Danke to Fabian!