Children's House January 2012

"If the idea of the universe is presented to the child in the right way, it will do more for him than to arouse his interest, for it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying" –Maria Montessori

In January we talked about the Earth as part of the solar system.

We started with a Polynesian folktale about five brothers who wanted to catch the sun; the children were quick to point that "nobody can catch the sun" and were delighted to put on their scientists' hats and analyze what was true and what was fantasy in the story. Then we moved to science books that explained how people learned that the Earth is round, spins around itself, and moves on an orbit around the sun. Balls of different sizes helped us learn the names of the planets in the solar system, which of them are larger or smaller, farther or closer to the sun (photo).

Magnets were another popular subject. The children had different sets of magnets available to experiment with on their own after a short demonstration and discussion. We learned that the Earth behaves like a huge magnet.

From the animal kingdom we looked at amphibians and their adaptations to live in water and on land. “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” filled the classroom for many days.

We looked into Africa’s rich and diverse habitats, cultures, colors, and music.

We revisited materials in the classrooms related to the topics of the months:

  • Lessons at different levels on geometric cabinet and geometric solids.
  • Looked for spheres and cylinders throughout the classroom.
  • Compared the size and the weight of different balls used to represent planets.
  • Sound games: Changing the beginning sound to make another word (family  words).
  • Connected the names of the planets with the names for the days of the week.

Group discussions about true facts versus fiction in the stories from "When the World Was Young" by Margaret Mayo and Louse Brierley , "When Stories Fell Like Shooting Stars" by Valiska Gregory and Stefano Vitale.

Art & Crafts

  • Draw/paint planets, and made "orbits" with marbles rolled through paint.
  • Splashes of paint on black paper for the whole universe (photo)
  • Build “African style” instruments using recycled materials.


We tried several African instruments, listened to songs from Africa and selections   from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst.

Coming up...

In February we will come down the earth and continue to explore our planet as geologists to learn about minerals, rocks, fossils, and reptiles. We will visit Europe.

For Valentine’s day we will help children exchange cards. Please do not send attached candies and do not write names for the addressee. We encourage the children to spend their time and creativity in making the cards themselves and practice writing their names.

Thank you to Mei-Ling and Justin Mother who brought the Chinese New Year’s celebrations to our classroom with crafts, artifacts, books and delicious snacks.

Parent’s Night – Monday, February 20, 6 p.m. – Math in Montessori classroom


We used the planets and Africa to extend the math and language work.

  • Writing and illustrating a story prompted by pictures of people from Africa or imagining a new planet they might discover in the future (photos: Story 1-3)
  • Find the best title for a story. What makes a good title?
  • Identifying nouns, adjectives and verbs.
  • The Numbers’ Pyramid, a fun approach to multiplication.
  • Work with decimal system.

The maps of the continents remain a favorite work. More countries are recognized / memorized. The repeated coloring after the puzzle maps trains the spatial orientation and improves penmanship. It is also a preferred activity because it provides opportunity for cooperation and social interaction.

Photos this month