Children’s House March 2011

“If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on their own way to independence.”

Maria Montessori – “The Discovery of the Child”

Daily Living

Activities are added in coordination with the unit studies (scooping, pouring, and transferring with tweezers pearls and tiny shells, sorting and grading shells by size), or the arising needs (zippers, buttons, folding).

Mixing colors with an eyedropper has gained a new meaning when used to replicate a rainbow. The well known and loved purple revealed its inner sides of violet and indigo, depending on the dosage of red or blue. Concentration, coordination and refined hand-control skills were challenged as children tried different combinations of primary colors to obtain secondary colors.

Sensorial

· Rainbow colors seen through a diffraction prism.

· The color tablets received renewed attention as we talked about shades within the same color.

· Some string and percussion instruments were available as an application for the science lessons on air vibrations and their importance in propagating sounds.

Language

The youngest children are constantly asking to work with the sandpaper letters and writing them in the sand box. The interest for the movable alphabet, for the metal insets, or for reading, also seems to peak at times for one child or another. Watching them, we see why Maria Montessori describes the sensitive periods as: “transitory states in which a child becomes sensitive to some things from the environment, while remaining indifferent to others. The sensitive periods enable the child to pick from the environment what he/she needs the most at that moment for his/her growth”. We just need to recognize and understand when these windows are open, and to be ready to provide the right materials at the optimal time.

Story time gets longer and it is hard to keep up with the requests between the science related books, the fiction ones or the many combinations in between.

Math work continues according to each child interest and tenacity. Sometimes we see older children taking an apprentice from the younger ones. It works wonderfully both ways: the older children consolidate their knowledge of the math concepts and become more confident, the younger children have more time of one on one instruction, and enjoy the special attention of an older buddy.

Science

To understand how changes in weather occur as a result of heat, wind, pressure and moisture, we started with simple experiments with air and water. A balloon, an empty plastic bottle, a piece of paper, can perform magic tricks that capture attention and are intriguing enough to make someone wonder: Why?

We talk about the water cycle, how the sun is the source of all the changes in the atmosphere, clouds, the weather forecast and severe weather events. The nature played along with our lessons: rapid changes in temperature, snow flurries and sun at the same time, strong winds and the ice melting happened right under our feet.

Cultural

We finished our trip through Europe in Romania: With folk costumes, pictures, music, books, and colaci (a braided bread) for snack I tried to bring to the children some of the Romanian traditions.

Toward the end of the month we moved to Asia, touching down on Ukraine, Russia, Japan, China, Pakistan and India,. Faced with the great diversity that Asia offers in landforms, animals and cultures, we had to pick just a few spectacular snap shots and will continue in April with, Nepal, Mongolia, and Korea.

Children tried folk costumes from Romania and India. (Photos bellow)

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Arts & Crafts

Clouds with cotton balls, sea urchins with clay and toothpicks, rainbows, and monochromatic shades of blue.

Aquarelles using the water as medium to transport colors through diffusion.

We looked at Monet’s paintings of water and sky.

With origami we reviewed the lines of symmetry, and fine tuned on accuracy and patience, learning that folding paper is an art in Japan, where it was said “to take away the sickness at winter month” – how becoming for us too!

Music

“On the Steppes of Central Asia” and “Polovtsian Dances” by Alexander Borodin

Folk music from Romania, Ukraine, India and Japan.

In April we will look at aquatic vertebrates and will continue with countries from south Asian Archipelagos.

Welcome to Troy Williams who joined us in March.

Thank you:

For taking your time to come for parent’s night.

To Igor, Natalie’s father for bringing Ukraine to our classroom.

To Alison Ryckman, Daniel’s sister for talking to us about the Chinese language,

Reminders:

Father’s Night is now offered for April 13th and 14th, since we had a split response. Please look for a green envelope coming home in the next couple of days. Inside is an invitation crafted by your child and a RSVP paper slip to be returned to school. Your children are eager to show you what they do in the classroom. It is your time with them. I hope to see you all in one of these evenings (6:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.)

Kindergartners

Getting older at this age it is an everyday celebration of the brain’s conquests. We see children making more complex connections and getting enthusiastic about their self-discoveries. The topics of the morning class are extended, or new ones are developed on the spot, following the children’s interest.

As some children occasionally write letters or words backwards, we looked for words that have a meaning either way. With p,q,b,d, still in the process of being stabilized in the children’s visual memory, we played with words and found one that can be turned upside-down and still retain the same meaning (guesses?)

French knitting is a much coveted activity that brings patience, concentration, and refined hand movement to a new level.

Discussions about daily happenings in our classroom or around the world reveal a shift from egocentrism to thinking about others, from “this is what I want” to what others might need. “What is more important?” we hear children thinking out loud, trying to decide on an ethical question. It is a new stage in one’s development. Your children listen to your discussions. Include them when possible and appropriate and ask for their opinions. You’ll be surprised!

Dorina Nimigean