Fine Motor

The art of flower arranging

Flower arranging is part of a traditional Montessori school.  On Monday we usually get a bouquet of flowers and put them out at the flower arranging table.  Children are given a lesson on how to complete this task.  It involves many steps and young children are quite attracted to the whole process.  First the put on an apron, fill the small water pitcher, get a vase and a doily and choose the flower to be “arranged.”  Usually they put one flower in a vase (after it is properly trimmed) and place that vase on a table.  They notice that the classroom looks beautiful when they are finished.

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This past week we were lucky enough to have a parent who is also a Montessori trained teacher come to give us a lesson in flower arrangements.  Melissa has been to many workshops and classes to learn this skill.

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Melissa brought in many types of flowers.

She showed the children how to choose the ones to begin with and them trim them down.

Start with the greens and begin at the bottom.

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The children were captivated by this lesson.

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Melissa demonstrated just how they should cut each flower.

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Melissa created this beautiful arrangement for our classroom.

She also graciously prepared many small mason jars for the children and left all of the flowers so they could practice this skill all week.

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Some of the children absorbed so much of this lesson.

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One three year old arranged several jars full of flowers and took them home at the end of the week.

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A huge thank you to Melissa for her generosity and time! We are so lucky to have parents that are willing to share their skills with the children!

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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.

 

First Week of School!

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It was a fun first full week of school!

The returning children went back to work right away! It is lovely to see them rediscovering old works such as mopping, cloth washing, washing a baby and doing addition and subtraction with the stamp game and small bead frame.  The new children learned many new things!  They learned some rules in the classroom (Grace and Courtesy) such as how to walk inside, how to ask someone to move, how to carry a tray, how to walk around someone’s work and how to ask for help from a teacher or older student.  The new children also had lessons in self-care such as how to wash hands, how to get a drink and how to cover your mouth (with your elbow) when you sneeze or cough.

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Here is a child washing her hands at a table.  This week she also learned how to wash her hands independently in the bathroom.

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These girls like to clean the tables.  It is such fun to use the squirt bottle!

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Hammering was a fun addition (golf tees and clay).

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This child learned to use the cylinder blocks which teach dimension.

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Watermelon cutting was fun and yummy!  This child used a dull knife to chop up the watermelon pieces.  It is a multi-step activity involving:  Carrying the tray to a table, putting on an apron, washing hands, using the tongs to put the watermelon on the cutting board, cutting, moving the pieces to a plate, eating, throwing away the plate, putting the tray on the shelf, pushing the chair in, taking off apron and washing hands again.  Many steps to remember!

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A returning child enjoyed sewing a straight stitch on burlap.  For the new children we have bead stringing as well as sewing on a piece of vinyl.  They progress to this type of work once their fine motor skills have grown.

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We talked about living things (a hamster) and non-living things (a table.) We sorted picture cards into living and non-living categories. We labeled the room with labels which read “living” and “non-living.”  Three afternoon children were inspired to make their own books that listed living and non-living things they found in the room!

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We went on a “dig!”  Children dig and then dust off dirt to discover a fossil, artifact or rock/mineral.

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The children seem very accepting of our transition to teaching cursive letters.  Some have written words with one of our three beautiful new cursive moveable alphabets and others have enjoyed writing the letters on the large chalkboard which is now lowered to their height.

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Taking the “chalk for a walk” involves holding the chalk sideways and using the whole arm.  This prepares the arm and hand for writing.  Dr. Montessori was known to talk about how the muscle memory digs the deepest groove.  More on cursive in upcoming posts.

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A child has traced the “t” and can now practice on the chalkboard.  The next work for this Kindergartner is to practice on a tabletop blank chalkboard then a lined chalkboard before moving to paper.  Writing this way becomes finer as the child gains more control.  From the whole arm (at the chalkboard) to the elbow down (table top chalkboard) to the wrist and fingers (paper).

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The Kindergartners this year are taking an active role in preparing our room for lunch. We are now using placemats along with our dishes, silverware and drinking glasses.  They are so excited when it is time for them to set the tables.  In one week they have begun to take charge of this and will be independent soon.

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We were able to play outside every day except one due to pouring rain.  We planted pansies!

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We ordered ice cream!

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We dug in the sandbox and so much more!

Also in the afternoon:

In Physical Science we explored three states of matter: solids, liquids and gasses. We read an excellent book entitled “What Is the World Made Of?  All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases”  by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfled.  We turned a liquid into a solid by making lemonade popsicles and observed (from a safe distance) a whistling tea kettle boil a liquid and turn it into a gas. When we teach science we strive to be inquiry based rather than didactic. When we observed that the cooled tea kettle no longer contained any water, instead of telling the children “the water turned from a liquid state to steam”  we asked them where they thought the water went.  It was great to hear their thoughts. “In the stove.” “In the steam.”  We also did an experiment inspired by the book where we opened a bottle of perfume on one side of the room and noticed how long it took for the smell to travel to the other side of the room.

Weaving on a Circular Loom

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Last week some of the children attempted weaving on a circular loom.

They took the prepared loom and a long piece of yarn and were required to go over and under.

It took a lot of patience and fine motor skills!

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They worked very hard and created these masterpieces!

We will continue with circular weaving as well as paper weaving.

Sewing Your Own Stuffed Animal

Many of the children have been working hard to learn various sewing stitches.

We have learned the straight stitch and the whipstitch.  We also learned how to sew on buttons.

Put all of these skills together and you can sew your own stuffed animal!

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Step one (after a teacher has cut out all of the shapes): sew wings on with a straight stitch.

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Step two:  sew on button eyes and a beak.

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Step three:  sew ear to ear with a whipstitch.

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Step four:  stuff! (Use a lot to make the stuffed animal cozy!)

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Step five:  Using a whipstitch, sew the top closed.

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Step six:  hug and love!

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The Whip Stitch

Part of the sewing curriculum at AACH involves learning the whip stitch.  We use this stitch to sew items like neck warmers over the course of the year.  First we give a lesson on sewing a whip stitch on vinyl.  Teaching on vinyl allows the child to understand how their hands are supposed to move and to feel the movements involved in  making the stitch.

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The child is also able to see how the stitch should look once completed.

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After the child has had some practice on vinyl, they can move on to sewing on felt which requires a sharper needle.  This task is more challenging as there are no pre-cut holes to follow.  We will continue to practice this skill and then move on to sewing those neck warmers, we will need them very soon!

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