Bugs, bugs, bugs, bugs…

Wow, have we been lucky lately!  We have found a praying mantis, a huge grasshopper (thanks to my oldest-the bug and small animal hunter), a caterpillar and Saturday night- an awesome walking stick!  The children love to see bugs and are fascinated to see them moving around in our bug viewing container.  At the end of the morning, we usually thank them and set them free back into the grass!  Montessori (The Discovery of the Child, 1967, pg. 71) felt the years between 3-6 was an age when “Children have an anxious concern for living beings, and the satisfaction of this instinct fills them with delight.”  She also wrote, “The metamorphoses of insects… are objects of patient observation on the part of children, and they often give rise to an interest that surprises us.”  We have seen this interest lately!!!

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An interested child! The walking stick moved around quite a bit!

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You can see why this was so interesting!

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Thank you walking stick and goodbye!

More Independence

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Thank you to our friends at Stepping Stones Montessori in East Lansing!!  We obtained this wonderful table this weekend and quickly made it a place for our children to wash their dishes!  They can pour their own drinks then wash their cups in our new dishwashing table.  It was very popular this morning and of course, helped the children feel independent!

Independence

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One of the many goals we hope to achieve when working with these amazing children is to develop independence.  If you have lived with a toddler, one of their favorite things to say is “I do it myself!”  Dr. Montessori felt children need to be independent and are mostly so by the age of three.  Without independence, we cannot feel dignity.  In The Discovery of the Child (1967, pg. 67), Dr. Montessori wrote, “If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence.  It must initiate them into those kids of activities which they can perform themselves…  We must help them to learn how to walk without assistance, to run, to go up and down stairs, to pick up fallen objects, to dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express their needs in a way that is clearly understood, and to attempt to satisify their desires through their own efforts.  All this is part of an education to independence.”

If you have extra time, try to let your child zip their own coat, put on their own shoes (even if on the wrong feet!), carry their own bag etc… In our busy lives it is often difficult to do this but try to give yourself 5, or okay, maybe 10 extra minutes.  If your child spills something on the floor, show them how to clean it up, and let them do it.  They could even help make lunch!  The child will feel such a sense of pride and dignity!

Sorting!

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Sorting is a popular activity for all children in the classroom.  Montessori spoke of children having access to small objects to sort.  This activity not only strengthens fine motor skills but also problem solving by organizing, discriminating, comparing and contrasting.

If you have small objects that vary in color or size, make your own sorting work for your child.  We do this work on a rug on the floor.  Also important is having the child put the work away by themselves including rolling up the rug.  This helps the child develop a sense of order.

Picnic!

We had a great time at our school picnic today! Thank you to all the wonderful families for coming and spending time with us today. We hope you were able to meet each other and see why our community is so special! How did we get so lucky with the weather? It rained just before and just after!

Here are some pictures… enjoy!

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Notable Montessorians!

Anne FrankAnne Frank

Anne Frank is remembered around the world for her diary Het Achterhuis which speaks about her adolescence in German occupied Amsterdam in World War Two. The diary describes the impact of Nazi anti-Semitism on Jewish and Dutch communities. Anne was born to an upper class Jewish family in Frankfurt before moving to Amsterdam. Her family selected a small Montessori School for Anne to attend where she was remembered as an ordinary student but with the ability to draw more from her experiences than the average student – a typical Montessorian characteristic.

Jeff BezosJeff Bezos

Jeffrey Preston Bezos (born January 12, 1964) is the founder, president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board of Amazon.com.

Tana RamsayTana Ramsay

Tana Ramsay is the author of three best-selling family cook books and busy Mum to four young children. She is also a qualified Montessori teacher. Montessori is a cause close to Tana’s heart.
“In the UK Montessori is relatively well-known but little understood. The Montessori method sounds like it might be something unusual, but in fact its a straightforward and sensible way to support children in their learning.”
“My own family has benefited massively from Montessori and I want to raise awareness of what I consider to be the most encouraging and nurturing form of education there is.”

larry-page-sergey-brin_newLarry Page and Sergey Brin

Google, the Internet search engine, was co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They had been friends since childhood but when asked if it was the fact that their parents were both college professors being the reason for their success they said no, that it was their going to a Montessori school where they learned to be self directed and self starters. They said that Montessori education allowed them to learn to think for themselves and gave them freedom to pursue their own interests.

President Woodrow WilsonPresident Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson, President of The United States of America had a Montessori classroom installed in the basement of the Whitehouse during his term of office for staff to send their children to and his daughter trained as a Montessori teacher. Margaret Wilson was on the committee that brought Dr Montessori to the USA in 1915.

Julia ChildJulia Child

The movie Julie and Julia brings us a fresh awareness of the life of the famous chef, Julia Child. Julia Child was sent to a local Montessori school aged 4 run by May and Augusta Davies who had studied with Maria Montessori. In her book, Julia Child & Company, she credits her Montessori experience with her love of working with her hands. Julia child exemplifies creativity, inititiative and self confidence.

Gabriel Garcia MarquezGabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the columbian author who won a Nobel Prize for literature was sent to a Montessori school and is an avid supporter of the philosophy. He stated, ” I do not believe there is a method better than Montessori for making children sensitive to the beauties of the world and awakening their curiosity regarding the secrets of life.”
His book, ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ has been named as the book that has most shaped world literature of the last 25 years.

Jacqueline_OnasisJacqueline OnassisJacqueline Onassis (1929-1994), the wife of the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, attended a Montessori school in her early years. She was later married to the Greek Shipping Magnate, Aristotle Onassis and achieved a sucessful career as a book editor.

Yo Yo MaYo Yo Ma

One of the most sought after cellists of our times, he has appeared with eminent conductors and orchestras all over the world. Ma, was born in Paris in 1955, and gave his first public recital by age 5. By 19 he was compared to such masters as Rostroparich and Casals. He went onto graduate from Harvard and currently resides in Boston with his wife and two children. As a pre-schooler, his daughter Emily attended the Lexington Montessori School. He said in an interview with Montessori Life magazine that “Structure is an absolutely important part of the creative life, and Emily

From: http://www.montessori.org.uk/what_is_montessori/famous_montessorians

Others Include:
Sean ‘P.Diddy’ (formerly known as Puffy) Combs, RAP mega-star

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Prize winner for Literature

Prince William and Prince Harry, English royal family

T. Berry Brazelton, noted pediatrician and author

Others with a Montessori Connection:
Alexander Graham Bell (dec.), noted inventor, and his wife Mabel founded the Montessori Education Assocation in 1913. They also provided financial support directly to Dr. Montessori and helped establish the first Montessori class in Canada and one of the first in the United States.

Mister Rogers, children’s TV personality, strong supporter of Montessori education

Thomas Edison, noted scientist and inventor, helped found a Montessori school

Erik Erikson, noted anthropologist/author, had a Montessori teaching certificate.

Willie Nelson, musician, opened a Montessori school on his ranch, which was recently relocated due to growth and demand.

President Wilson’s daughter trained as a Montessori teacher. There was a Montessori classroom in the basement of the White House during Wilson’s presidency

Jean Piaget (dec.), noted Swiss psychologist, made his first observations of children in a Montessori school. He was also head of the Swiss Montessori Society for many years.

Adapted from: http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/337920/famous-montessorians

Sensitive Periods

In our first post we talked about the “sensitive periods” and promised “more on that later.”  It is later now so we will discuss what sensitive periods are and why it is important for you to know about them!  The term sensitive period was first used by Dutch biologist Hugo De Vries to describe some animal behaviors.  When Dr. Maria Montessori was observing the behaviors of children, she realized that all children seem to go through certain times when they are very sensitive to a new skill.  It is marked by an attraction to whatever they can find in their environment to develop that particular skill.  As Montessori wrote, “A sensitive period refers to the special sensibility which a creature acquires in its infantile state, while it is still in the process of evolution.  It is a transient disposition and limited to the acquisition of a particular trait.  Once this trait, or characteristic, has been acquired the special sensibility disappears.”  In other words, a child goes through a limited period of time where they are trying to develop a specific skill.  During this time they are really drawn to something that will help develop that skill.  When the skill is achieved, they are no longer in need of the attraction to that particular something.  IF what is needed can be found, the child will learn easily and without effort.  Sensitive periods do pass and if we can give the child what he/she needs during this time, the skill will be learned.  If the child does not get to interact with the necessary environment during this time, they will have to learn later when it is more difficult.

I remember when my son was really into looking at very, very tiny small insects that I could barely see.  I always wondered why he was so interested in these teeny things.  Dr. Montessori defined this time as the sensitive period for Interest in Small Objects.  (Begins right around the beginning of age two.) We can understand a child’s inner life by noticing the way he immerses himself in the contemplation of minute, tiny things which we would pay no attention. This is an indicator that order and detail are coming together in the child’s mind. Children are attracted to the level of focusing on details.  SO, what is the meaning for you?  Notice what your child is looking at so steadily.  Get down on their level and take a look.  Provide a magnifying glass and look at it together.  Allow your child the time to sit and watch.

Another sensitive period is Movement which is when the child begins to move.  The absorbent mind has already taken in the environment.  As he starts to move he begins to become conscious.  The sensitive period for movement can be divided into different classifications. Acquisition of gross and fine motor (walking and the use of the hands) is from 0-2.5 years of age. The environment we prepare for this is the opportunities for the child to crawl, pull up, encourage to walk with or without assistance. A child is also given toys and materials that allow their hands to hook, bat, touch, turn, insert and grasp small items within their abilities. We have to give them toys or materials that improve the movement of the hand, and improve hand-eye coordination. These opportunities given to them need to be repeated in order for these skills to be refined.  Refinement/coordination of movement is from 2.5 to 4.5 years of age. This is when the child may start using both hands in coordination of fine movements, being able to hold small items with pincer grip and release voluntary. Gross motor can be coordination of walking, running, balancing while carrying a jug of water and jumping. The child acquires this coordination through repetition of purposeful motor activity. Regular visits to the park or outdoor environment is likely to help this sensitive period.  We also provide these activities in our Montessori environment.  We take special care to make sure the child has everything available to them to develop and attain the skills of the sensitive periods.

Elizabeth Hainstock (The Essential Montessori) talked about other sensitive periods:

Birth to three years:  Absorbent mind, sensory experiences

Eighteen months to three years:  Language development  (listening and speaking)

Two to four years:  Refinement of the senses (acting on what is observed in 0-3), concerned with truth and reality, awareness of order

Three and a half to four:  Writing

Four to four and a half years:  Tactile sense

Four and a half to five and a half:  Reading (although this can happen earlier!)

Phonemic Awareness

language, language, language
In the Montessori curriculum, we go through a specific sequence to teach reading and writing. Prior to this a lot of work happens. We need to prepare the child for reading. When we detect a child is in their sensitive period for language (more on that in another post) we will begin this process. (Only when the child is ready, never force the child to engage in a work if they are not ready.) We need to teach the child what sounds the letters make. In Montessori, we begin with the concrete then slowly move to the abstract.

Something you can do at home is to help your child learn sounds. You can use printed letters, refridgerator magnets or whatever you have on hand. (We use the Sandpaper Letters) Choose two letters that differ in sound and in form. I like to begin with b and m as these phonemes are also the first sounds a baby learns when speaking.

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Try to get 4-6 small objects that begin with these sounds and put them in a basket. This could be done on the floor or on a table. Present the first letter and make the sound that goes with it being careful to not emphasize the ‘uh’ at the end too much. Repeat with the second letter. (You are saying the sound, not the name of the letter.) Choose an object out of the basket and say it’s name. Place it in front of one letter and repeat the sound, then the name of the object, exaggerating a bit on the first sound. For example, take out the banana. Say “banana” then hold it under the ‘m’ and say ‘m’ then “banana.” Shake your head ‘no’ and place bananas under ‘b’. Say “banana” then ‘b’. Shake head yes and repeat so your child can hear the ‘b’ sound in banana.

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Continue until they are all done. Ask your child if they would like a turn.

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(Example: for M= microphone, monkey, money, marble, moon and mouse B= banana, bear, basket, bike and bird)

If so, clean up objects, carefully placing them in the basket before your child begins. If your child shows an interest in this, you could also point out things in your home that start with those sounds throughout the week. Follow your child’s lead, don’t move on from these letters too quickly but also don’t stay too long or they will lose interest.

Our New Blog!

Hi! We are excited to announce our new blog! Ann Arbor Children’s House has decided to start a blog! We hope to educate parents about our lessons and provide activities for you to do at home with your child!
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