General

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

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

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They also brought in special lamps to light

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and a rangoli!

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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:

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Folding cloths

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A stack of cloths that have just been folded.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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This second year child enjoyed washing a chair.

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More cloth folding with a friend.

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This second year child enjoys wood polishing.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Leaves

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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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: http://visualmelt.com/Andy-Goldsworthy

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

 

The Great State of Michigan!

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

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

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

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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!

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

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

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

Butterflies

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In the spring we like to learn about butterflies.  We learn about symmetry and metamorphosis.  The children enjoy watching these guys change!
We receive a shipment of caterpillars.  We spend a few days watching them eat, poop and grow!

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After a while they attach to the paper at the top of the jar.

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They form into chrysalides and we transfer them into their habitat.

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We wait!

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In the meantime, we provide a plastic toy model of the butterfly life cycle.  This is one the children can touch and order in the stages of development.

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We also have an art project.  Butterfly painting.

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We paint one side of the paper.

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Then fold over.

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If the paint has not already dried a bit… there will be a symmetrical butterfly.

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And we wait….

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and voila!  In a second, the butterfly emerges! Usually you can tell which one will hatch next as the chrysalis becomes very dark.

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We feed the butterflies sugar water for a day and make sure their wings are dried out and ready to be set free.

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We bring the habitat outside and open the top.  Usually the butterflies need a bit of help getting out.

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They fly around for a bit before leaving us for good.  This is especially thrilling for the children.

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And one three year old was so inspired, he made his own butterfly out of blocks!

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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!

The uses of plants

Spring is in the air!  With that we are planting, watering, growing and looking at the roots of plants.  We thought about exploring some of the varied uses of plants by dyeing yarn with onion skins.

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The children spent some time crunching up onion skins into a large pot.

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We added water to the pot which allows the color of the onion skins to come out.

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After a while we drained the water out so we could use it as the dye.  We used white wool yarn and soaked it overnight.

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The natural onion skin dye turned the white yarn into the orange yarn as seen below.

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Culture- India and Australia

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Two of our wonderful families are from India and helped teach us about Indian culture!  They brought in beautiful clothes! (and a baby sister!)

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They brought scarves and bindi for our children to wear. We also had a little dancing game to Indian music.

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Special food was eaten.

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They passed around different lentils to observe.

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During the week we also made rangoli with colored sand as well as lentils!

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When we studied Australia this year, we brought out objects that a former student brought from her trip.  The children always enjoy looking at money and other cultural objects.  We also look at pictures of animals from Australia.

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We enjoy Australian dot painting every year.

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Our friend Joel came to play his didgeridoo again for us this year.  The children had SO many questions for him!

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You can listen to the sound here:

A HUGE thank you to our parents and to our friend Joel for helping us to learn about different cultures!

Penguins!

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(Penguin matching)

We love to study penguins each year.  It usually happens when it is cold outside!  This year the children liked to measure themselves and compare how tall they were to the various penguins.  The children were also able to make a different kind of penguin during the week.

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We discovered that the rockhopper penguin is only about 20″ tall.

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Slightly taller are the macaroni penguins at 28″.  We love the yellow crest on top of their heads!

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The Gentoo penguin is the third largest at 20-35″ and some live in Antarctica.

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The chinstrap penguins who make circular nests of rocks, are about 27″ tall.

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The last penguin we made was the emperor penguin.  We were really surprised to find out that none of our children are taller than an emperor penguin at 48″.

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We sang a song and played a game about penguins.  Here you see the children carrying “penguin eggs” on their feet.

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One child brought in her penguin mobile from home.  She liked showing us which one was her favorite.

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One clever parent made penguin olives as part of a lunch treat!

 

VISIT US AT THE PRESCHOOL EXPO

Stop by and visit us at the 6th Annual Preschool Expo

It will be held on Sunday, January 25th from 1-4 pm. 

This event is sponsored by the Ann Arbor Library and is held at Palmer Commons,

100 Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor.  Located inside the Community Center at the U of M’s Life Sciences Complex.

We hope to see you there!