Afternoon Work

A visit to the Food Pantry


Around Thanksgiving time we had a food drive and a visit to the Back Door Food Pantry.  About the BDFP here:


The children were asked to donate lentils and beans.  The Kindergarten children crafted a letter and sent it to all of the parents.

They received the donations and sorted them into bags.


They then took the bags to the BDFP one day and met with two volunteers.




The children then received a thank you letter.

Please thank all of the 13 pupils who brought bags of donations to the BDFP last week. We received 30 assorted bags of dried beans, including at least 8 different varieties, and some raisin snack packs.On Thursday all of the beans  were put out on the protein distribution shelves and were eagerly selected by patrons . The raisins were selected by a  family with several youngsters who love raisins. 
We are really delighted that you were able to bring a group of the older pupils to the pantry twice this month with other teachers helping as well. The children  seemed excited to have the experience of visiting the BDFP and learning about how to help contribute to the  food we distribute to our patrons.  
Thanks go also to the parents who responded to their children’s request to purchase some food to donate. Feel free to contact us about scheduling  other classes for a tour in the future.


writing, writing, writing

In Montessori, writing comes before reading.  Children learn through their senses and begin by tracing sandpaper letters.  This helps them to learn how to form the letters as well as what phonetic sound goes with each letter.


A child practicing the K in his name. We are also child driven.  Although we teach cursive, most children learn how to spell their name with printed letters.


After children learn the sounds of many letters, they begin to sound out words on their own but also can sound out three letter phonetic words.


As they become more proficient writers, they begin to write in their journal.  They can write whatever they would like.  Some kids liked to write real stories like what they had for dinner, some professed their love for their parents and some liked to look at cards and make up a fairy tale.


As the children enter their third year (Kindergarten year) we often see spontaneous writing.  Here a child is asking for what is in the smoothies we made.  She wanted to write the ingredients down for her mom.


This child made a list “Eyes only” for the chrysalids so their development would not be disturbed and they could finish the process of metamorphosis.


This child wanted to make a list of what the teachers liked.


This year a few of our Kindergartners wrote their own books.  (Really, wrote and illustrated!)






Some of the afternoon children wrote postcards home.  Hopefully they were received in the mail this week!

We provide many opportunities for writing in our classroom!  It is great fun to watch these skills develop!

Color mixing and Rainbows

The children have been learning about mixing colors, the color wheel and rainbows.

We have also been having fun mixing colors!


We use the three primary colors.  The board shows the children to what colors to drop on each circle.


The children squeeze the droplets of colored water.  Some children need a lesson on how to use the eye dropper or pipette.


After all of the droplets are on the circles, the child uses a toothpick and mixes the colors.


This allows the child to see how these colors combine to create different colors and shades of colors.


Next, the child places a paper towel on top of the colors.


The towel absorbs the colors.


Sometimes the child pushes down the towel to be sure the colors show up.


Pick up and you have a color wheel!


The children also wanted to make a large rainbow for the classroom.


They cut out various shades of different colors from magazine photos.


The children spent time gluing the pieces to a large poster board.



Africa and Ancient Egypt



We continued our cultural studies by investigating Africa and Ancient Egypt.  The afternoon children took a field trip to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology to learn more about Ancient Egypt.  This was extra fun and exciting because we took the bus there!  A docent met our group and took us around the museum.



We saw real mummies and tombs.




We saw toys children used back then.


We looked at shoes, jewelry and oil lamps.



We looked a different types of pottery.


We had a great time at the Kelsey museum.


In the classroom we continued to explore and learn about Africa.  We borrowed a “Civilization in a Crate” so the younger children could also be exposed to Ancient Egypt.

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We also had many other African items to investigate.


Another way to learn about other cultures is to taste some of the food. The children helped to make couscous one day.  They first chopped the veggies and added them to the couscous for a treat one day.



Finally, Lori from Drummunity came to see us again!


She showed us many different types of clothing and instruments.  The children were able to explore and Lori helped explain what these instruments were made of and how to play them.







Here are links to us jamming out with Lori:

Drumming Video 2015 3

Drumming Video 2015 1

Drumming Video 2014 2

Here is a link to Lori’s website:

Thanks to Lori for coming out, to Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and to all the parents who went with us on the field trip!



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!












Paper weaving, individual weaving and a large community project.



Better late than never!  A few short weeks ago it was Halloween.

We have a low-key celebration as it can be overwhelming for many children.


Some of the Kindergartners and the afternooners decorated the classroom.


We scooped out a pumpkin to make pumpkin muffins for the classroom celebration.  We also carved a friendly jack-o-lantern.


We also hammered nails into a pumpkin.



Heat energy experiment

The afternoon children did several experiments where we observed heat energy. We observed what happened when a short birthday cake candle was snuffed with a small glass.


We also observed the same birthday candle burn until the wax was all gone. While carefully observing we talked about what made the candle burn and stop burning.


The kids enjoyed examining the cooled (we put it in the freezer) remains of the completely burned candle in the tinfoil which held it.

We took advantage of the sunny warm afternoon and  observed two thermometers first inside the classroom and outside. We then placed them in a black mug and a white mug. We also felt the sides of the mugs and observed that the black mug felt much warmer than the white mug.


We rubbed our hands together and talked about friction and heat production.


Process & Product: Math, Magnets and More

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.

First Week of School!


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.


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


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



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


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


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!


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.


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!


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


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.


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.


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.

Planets & Journey Through the Solar System


The children have had a great time learning about our solar system.  We have many hands-on models, books and activities.  We sing songs and alter our birthday song (“The Earth orbits the sun, the Earth orbits the sun, it takes 365 days, the Earth orbits the sun.”) to include the other planets to learn how long their orbits were around the sun.


Some children chose to make their own book to take home.


Some children used liquid starch to make a Jupiter with the 300 year old storm.


Some colored the planets with their moons on paper.


In Friday afternoon art, the children looked at the planets.


Using a coffee filter, markers and drops of water, the children create their own planets.




The children also took turns being different planets orbiting the sun.  Our dear friends Kathy and Cesar, astronomers from Venezuela, made these models for us two years ago when their daughter attended AACH.  At that time we stretched out across a grassy area to have an understanding of how far away the planets were from each other and also their size.  We are so fortunate to hear of a project here in Ann Arbor this weekend.  This will stretch several miles so if you go, be prepared to travel the distance.  This will be an amazing exhibit.  Information is below:

Journey Through The Solar System!

Bring your bike, scooter or walking shoes and traverse the solar system from the Sun to Neptune! This exhibit features a model of the solar system, scaled to size and distance, along with awesome images and information at each station.

The amazing voyage begins at Mitchell Field and stops near Dixboro Dam, but does not end. A cosmic perspective will be gained along the way and further exploration is inevitable. This is a great opportunity to truly appreciate and understand the incredible distances of our tiny corner of the Universe. Exhibit is open at Gallup Park from 9:00am to 7:00pm, May 31 – June 1. Rain dates are June 7-8.

Continue the journey: Check out the Planetarium page on the website of the U-M Museum of Natural History for solar system-related programming coming in June!


Map Gallup Park, 3000 Fuller Road, Ann Arbor, United States

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