At our school the children engage in many “works” that do not produce a product. The Montessori philosophy is one of process over product. Most of what we do does not go home in a backpack but does go home in other ways. Children at this age learn through experience. They absorb so much throughout the day while working and socializing with others. We call our activities “work” and each one is thoroughly thought out before it is presented to the children. As the children grow older, they begin to gain control over fine motor skills (with the help of interaction with many of our “works”) and may begin to bring home more “product.”
Here are some examples of non-product work:
Learning the decimal system (unit, ten, hundred and thousand) by playing the “Bring Me” game.
In this game the teacher asks the child (based on their abilities) to “bring me” a specific number using the golden beads. Depending on the student, this may sound like: “bring me five units,” or “bring me forty two,” or “bring me three hundreds, seven tens and six units.” The children carry their trays over to the shelf (the “bank”) and collect the corresponding number of beads then returns to the teacher. They are often seen helping each other. The teacher will then count the beads out loud to reinforce the amount that the child brought back. This can also be played when the child is ready for “Bring Me” with the symbol or numbers.
Once the children have worked on learning the values of the golden beads and understand the symbol, they are able to work on addition as a group game.
This child works with the “Snake Game.” Here she learns base ten with the golden beads. She is understanding the ten addition tables.
She starts counting the beads and stops at ten. She then removes what she can, marks where she left off and replaces these beads with a ten bar creating a long, golden snake.
This Kindergartner practices abstracting addition with the “Addition Blind Chart.” He uses folded slips that contain written addition combinations and can find the answer by running his finger down from the top and over from the left side. Where they meet is the sum. Sometimes this can create a product if the child chooses to write down the equations.
Here is a child engaging in our magnetic/non-magnetic work this week.
This magnet work pulls or pushes this tiny car.
This magnet work uses iron filings and sand.
Learning to tie using the bow frame.
Cutting the washed apples from last week.
Pouring into a pan.
Making applesauce for snack.
This child has gone through a process of getting out the work, putting on an apron, washing hands and returning. He is engaged in our food prep work of making a caprese salad on a toothpick. He has just turned three and can do these things by himself now.
He then gets to eat the yummy treat.
This child uses a sensorial work, Color Box 3, to enhance her visual skills by grading from light to dark in a single shade.
This is only a very small sample of what happens every day at AACH. There is so much happening and most of it does not result in a product to send home in a backpack at the end of the week.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Last week we studied the country of Ireland. We learned about where Ireland is in Europe, Irish music, shamrocks, Irish dancing, potatoes and many more things.
We used our sewing skills to make shamrocks!
We had green smoothies with crackers for snack.
We cut and ate potatoes for food prep work.
Today we made crowns for St. Patrick’s day.
One of our students takes Irish dancing classes. Here she is demonstrating:
For the past few weeks we have been thinking about the continent of South America. The children have studied many pictures of animals and plants in South America, we have tested some food (Thanks Paula for the bocadillos!) and completed the South America puzzle! One of the favorite things to do when we study this continent is to grind coffee beans! Not only does it make our school smell good, it is really fun! This is another multi-step activity. First, the children put the beans into the grinder. (Our grinder is clamped to the table! After having a few of these break we decided we must clamp them down to prevent them from sliding around.)
Close the lid on the grinder. (The whole beans are kept in the smaller tin along with a small scoop.)
Grind until the handle loosens and you do not hear the sound anymore.
Take out the drawer with the grinds.
Dump the grinds into the bigger container.
On Thursday morning we offered our parents the chance to come in and have a cup of coffee! The children were excited to think that their parents were able to have coffee with the beans they ground up! (Thanks for coming!)
This is our Spanish teacher Paula’s home in Colombia, South America, at 10,000 feet. They grow cacao to make into chocolate, coffee beans, avocado and oranges. Paula has sent us a few videos so we may see the harvesting and drying of the coffee beans. Click on the links below to see. Thanks for sharing! We wish we could all take a field trip and spend a few weeks there!
coffee bean picking
coffee bean drying
We really enjoyed studying South America!
This past week we thought about fruits and vegetables. We were able to experience real fruits and vegetables in a sensorial way. The children were able to take a basket to a rug to feel and smell the various items.
This type of task is beneficial for a variety of reasons. Children gain a stereognostic impression of the fruit or vegetable. For those non-native speakers, they learn all of the names.
We offered a variety of items for tasting on our science shelf. Monday we offered pears. Tuesday was green beans and Wednesday we offered cherry tomatoes. Thursday we offered cooked beets and Friday grapes and chard. Many children tried the cherry tomatoes and enjoyed them so much they asked for extras!
We planted cherry tomatoes in our garden bed. Dr. Montessori felt that children should be in contact with nature and felt it was an essential part of the child’s development. We make a point to include the study of nature in our day. “A child, who more than anyone else is a spontaneous observer of nature, certainly needs to have at his disposal material upon which he can work.” – Dr. Montessori
The week before last we studied parts of a plant and showed the children various types of plants. This past we week we focused on tomatoes. We dissected a tomato and looked at the various parts. Many children were moved to make a parts of the tomato book to take home.
A wonderful and tasty practical life (food prep) activity is strawberry hulling. Here the child learns how to place their fingers in the special tool. (First they put on an apron, carry the tray to a table and wash their hands.)
The child then takes off the green part by pushing down the tip of the huller and twisting.
After she is done hulling she places the green part in a small bowl (to be throw away or composted later) and eats the yummy strawberry!
In our food prep area this week, we introduced orange squeezing to make juice! This was a very delicious food prep work and enjoyed by most children. To begin, the child brings the tray to the table, puts on an apron and heads off to wash hands. The child gets two orange halves and proceeds to squeeze out the juice by pushing, squeezing and turning. Many motor skills are practiced!
The child then pours the juice into a small pitcher.
The juice is poured into a small cup.
In our food prep area this week, we introduced “graham cracker crushing.” Here the child takes the tray to their work area, puts on an apron, washes hands and places a banana and a graham cracker on the tray. They put the graham cracker in the mortar and pestle and grind it up. Then, they peel the banana and slice it with the knife. Using a toothpick, they dip a banana slice into the disposable bowl and eat! Having multiple steps within activities helps the child learn how to follow directions and organize thoughts! What a yummy way to do so!
This week we offered egg slicing as our food preparation work. The children took a hard-boiled egg to and lightly tapped it on the tray to make a crack so they could begin peeling. Once they peeled, they placed the egg in the slicer and pushed down.
Some children enjoyed the egg and others liked to complete this work to see how the slicer worked.
Once again we put coffee grinding out on a table. This was very popular last year as the children love to use the grinder and everyone likes the smell of the coffee. To help with the independence aspect, we decided to clamp the grinder on the table instead of having to hold it for each child. The child uses a small scoop and puts the whole beans into the top of the grinder. They grind the beans and can hear when there are no more beans left to grind.
The drawer is opened and the grinds are then dumped into a large canister. Last year we made coffee for the parents to enjoy at drop off. We working out the logistics for this again this year. We will keep you posted!
This week in the food preparation area, the children were able to learn how to spread jam on bread. For each child, we used a new bowl of jam, a clean knife and new paper plate.
The first step is to put on an apron and then wash their hands. They ask a teacher for the jam and bread and carry it back to the tray. They dip their (child sized) knife into the jam and put it on the bread.
Then, they spread the jam on the bread. Of course, the last step is to eat and enjoy!
Activities such as these help the child to become more independent and increases their fine motor skills.