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Simple machines and a civil engineer


We have been thinking about simple machines lately.

The children lifted this stack of books and then used the inclined plane to pull them up.

Which one was easier?

The inclined plane of course!


Tommy’s dad Eric, who is a civil engineer, came in to talk about simple machines and how we use them when building roads or parking garages.

He said the first thing to do is start with a plan.

Eric told us about asphalt that is made of tar, sand and gravel.


Tommy helped show pictures from a book to help us understand this process.

First, dump trucks put asphalt on the roads.  A dump truck is an inclined plane.


The roller truck then flattens out the asphalt and makes it flat.

The drum rolls out the asphalt.  This is also a simple machine.


Next we had an activity.  The children were able to make their own roads with a simple machine.


We made our own “asphalt” with sand and some water.


Water was added but this “road” looked way too bumpy to drive on!


Eric told us how a roller works and we could see it in action.



We could see that after using a roller, the “road” was flat and ready to use.


Eric also used a block to stomp down the sand.  This was not as effective because it used up more energy and the road was not as level as when flattened by the roller!

We learned simple machines are easier to use and require less energy.

The children then took turns rolling over the sand to make smooth roads.

Big thank you to Eric and Tommy for teaching us about simple machines!



Happy Diwali

One way to introduce children in the classroom about different cultures is to celebrate different holidays that the other children have.  Last week we celebrated Diwali which is the Festival of Lights in India.  This festival signifies the triumph of good over evil but also signifies hope. One of our students helped us celebrate.

She wore her special clothes


and brought a sweet called “sheera” or “halwa” to share.




They also brought in special lamps to light


and a rangoli!


We learned that Diwali is all about colors and lights (and sweet treats!)

Thank you to Sahana and her family!


Helping in the Classroom

The children enjoy helping others and taking care of their environment.  In a Montessori classroom, we teach the children how to take care of themselves and others.  They learn how to clean up a spill and where things are stored.  They take such pride when they can help a younger child tie their apron.  All of these tasks give them confidence!  Here are some children being helpful in our classroom:


Folding cloths


A stack of cloths that have just been folded.


The cupboard where the cloths and other supplies are kept.  The children have learned that once they have cut paper, they can get a new piece out for the next person.  They also have polishing cloths and other supplies in this cabinet.


One Kindergarten child has had some experience baking bread in the bread machine.  Here she guides two other Kindergartners along this process.


A vase with a flower and water was knocked over.  Several children get a blue cloth and help to wipe up the spill.  When it is dry, they place the wet cloth in the dirty clothes hamper.


Here a child is taking care of the rug he used.  He is being very careful when he rolls it up, making sure the sides are just so.


Here a second year child helps tie the apron of a first year child who wants to do a food prep work.


This first year (3 year old) child wanted to wash cloths.  He really enjoyed washing and hanging them up to dry!


This second year child enjoyed washing a chair.


More cloth folding with a friend.


This second year child enjoys wood polishing.


Even if you are the youngest child in a classroom you can help clean too!  This child notices very tiny paint spots on the art table and doesn’t want to stop washing until they are all gone!  She is in a sensitive period to notice small tiny things and order.


This child saw someone drop a moveable alphabet on the floor.  He stopped what he was doing so he could help her pick it up.  He made piles and then later helped place the letters in the correct spot.


Here a third year (Kindergartner) helps a first year child get a snack.  She is explaining what the choice are and is showing her how to use the tongs.


This first year child enjoys feeding the animals each morning.  Once he changes into his indoor shoes, he heads to the classroom to see if the food is out for the animals.

We see these spontaneous acts happen all day long.  The children are not usually asked to help another child out, they just do.




A community Halloween party

A Halloween party in a Montessori classroom may look different from parties at other schools.  We believe that the classroom belongs to the children and it is their community.  We allow and encourage the children to be a part of the planning and preparation.


This child’s mother brought in cider to share with the group.  Here she is using her pouring skills to pour cider for her classmates.


We decided to have a little sweet treat and candy corn has been a big lunch hit lately.  Here two Kindergartners use their math skills to divide up the candy corns between the cups.


This Kindergartner wanted to do more to help so he made sure to count out the correct number of napkins for everyone.


The afternoon children baked pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins the day before.


The teachers did help by carving out two jack o’lanterns.


We also provided small pumpkins for the children to take home as a treat.


He chooses one from the bowl to put in his backpack.


During the celebration, we had our snacks and cider.


We also played games.  Some children took turns drumming to a Halloween song.


A teacher plays the ukulele while the children sing.

Overall it was a lovely Halloween celebration that was enjoyed by all!


The children have been learning about leaves.  It is a great time to learn as they are falling from the trees and are so beautiful!

In our classroom, as with many traditional Montessori classrooms, we have the botany (leaf) cabinet.  This is a cabinet that holds three drawers of leaf shaped inserts.  Many of the children enjoyed watching this lesson.



They heard the names of many of the leaf shapes.  (We have to review these ourselves each year!)


They then matched up real leave to the pieces found in the cabinet.


We like to have leaf matching on the shelves.  Here the children match a real leaf and one from picture cards.


Some of the children drew the other half of a leaf attached to paper.


Leaf dissection is always fun!  Here we take a leaf and cut away the parts to show the children the various parts of a leaf.




Some of the children liked to complete a leaf rubbing work.  Here they place a leaf or two under a piece of paper.

Using a sideways crayon, they rub and the leaves begin to appear.  The children are able to see the veins in the leaf and feel the bumpy paper.



Finally, in afternoon art, the children experiment with materials found outside.  This was inspired by the work of Andy Goldsworthy.

A little more on him here:





To see more about our Goldsworthy-inspired project, go to our Facebook page to see a slideshow of the creations.




The children were able to learn about magnets last week.  We had several activities on the shelves for children to explore.


In this activity, we have a collection of objects.  Some are magnetic and some are not.


The children experiment with the magnet and begin to realize characteristics of objects that may stick to the magnetic.


We try to change the objects each day so the children have more to explore.


They quickly learn how to categorize objects, even if they are not reading.


This is another activity that children can explore.  We talk about how repelling and attracting.

Some of the Kindergarten children  made a book about things in the classroom that are magnetic.  This helps them develop their writing skills while experimenting.


The above is a clip from a child playing with a car and a magnet.


It is the time of the year to study apples!

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We began the week with small groups demonstrating an apple dissection.

The children hear the names of the different parts of the apple and place the real piece on the black card.

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Once they have had a lesson, they may take this work out and match the parts whenever they choose.

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This three year old decided to paint an apple on the art table.  In the first photo he had remembered the leaf on the apple that he saw.

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Later, when he returned back to do it again, he drew the “blossom end” as seen on the bottom in the second photo.


The Kindergartner/afternoon group took a field trip to Wasem Fruit Farm.


Here they learned about a few varieties of apples, took a tour through the apple washing and storing process, had a snack of cider and donuts and then picked their own apples.  This is a wonderful way to get the children to experience how food grows and where it comes from.


We then made a fun activity of washing the apples.  Many children watched the multistep lesson on how to wash an apple and wanted to try it for themselves!

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After you put on an apron (and have someone tie it in the back), you place out all of the items and fill up the water pitcher.

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Pour the water into the washing bowl.

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Place an apple in the bowl.

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Place in colander.

After this the child walks through the classroom with a clean and sparkly apple and places it in a bowl.

Most children are very attracted to this activity and want to repeat it over and over.

We will use these clean apples to cut and make into applesauce next week.

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Another art work was apple printing.

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Here the child paints on side of an apple and pushes it on the paper to create prints of apples.

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At the end of the week, we had an apple tasting.  Dr. Montessori stressed the importance of sensorial education at this age.

Here, we educate the sense of taste.


We looked at six different types of apples:

ginger gold


red delicious (picked at the apple orchard)

honey crisp



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We looked at the differences and similarities in the exocarp, mesocarp and the endocarp. (Some of the children remembered these names from the apple dissection lesson.)


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Tasting them and deciding the favorite was the best part for many!  We look forward to our applesauce next week!

Science- solid, liquid and gas

The afternoon children had fun thinking about solids, liquids and gases this week.


First, we poured a liquid (apple cider) into popsicle molds.  These turned into a (YUMMY) solid once frozen.


We compared ice to dry ice by placing ice cubes in a plastic bowl.

We then observed what happened when warm water was poured over them. (They turned into a liquid).


Only the teacher touched the dry ice with tongs.  It was very cold (-100 degrees F which can harm the skin).  The metal tongs made a strange sound when they touched the dry ice.


The children carefully took turns touching the vapor made by the dry ice and the warm water.  The water droplets attach to the dry ice gas and form tiny droplets.  It was fun to fan the vapor.



First Days

So many things have been happening!  Here is a tiny glimpse into the first few days…

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sunflower seed tweezing


metal inset


cylinder block


counting with the short bead stair


having a lesson on watercolor painting


learning about fruits and vegetables (and tasting them too)



tweezing sunflower seeds while listening to a friend play the bells


painting at the easel


more metal insets


learning the decimal system


playing the bells


making a welcome to school picture to put in the frame outside the classroom


experimenting with knobless cylinders


learning about land, water and air


investigating items on the special interest tray


playing with the continent map


discovering the phonogram “sh”

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learning how to clean a table


Can’t wait for next week!

The Great State of Michigan!

We like to end the year with a study of where we live.  For us, that is Michigan!


We provide a sensorial activity of Michigan.  The children place paper over the sandpaper upper and lower peninsula and rub the crayon.



You can see and feel our state come through the paper.


We also learn about the Mackinac Bridge!  If you are a parent, you may have heard the song we sing by now.  The children learn that the upper and lower peninsulas are connected by this bridge that is 5 miles long!


We provided another art work of Michigan.  Here the children color the land and use watercolor paint for the Great Lakes.




This year we also baked Michigan cookies!  Here an older child helps a younger child with the baking process.





We hope you all enjoy your summer and are able to travel around Michigan a bit!
See you in the fall!!