Friday, March 30, 2018

Montessori Classroom News March 28, 2018

There was a lot happening in this very short week of school!

 On Wednesday we prepared egg dyes and each child dyed an egg in the color of their choice.

A new science material - sorting natural & human-made materials

Enthusiastic samplers for dragon fruit!

A new collage work choice on the art shelf - adding cherry blossoms to the tree branches

We’ve watched the daffodils in front of the school progress over the past few weeks and were excited to see the first few flowers open last week. We have read books about daffodils (“That’s not a Daffodil!” by Elizabeth Honey & “The Bulb: See How it Grows by Pamela Nash) and examined the bulbs of onion, garlic, and flowers. This week the children helped plant some flower bulbs in the park.

The children enjoy this silly poem where we imagine that the daffodil is a person.

by A.A. Milne
She wore her yellow sunbonnet;
She wore her greenest gown
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down

She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head
And whispered to her neighbor,
“Winter is dead!”

Lent & Easter
We have heard several bible stories during lent. We often tell a simple version of the story, focusing on the most important details and the aspects that children can relate to. Children readily understand emotions, so we sometimes pause to discuss what the characters might be feeling.
         In past weeks we heard about Jesus healing Bartimaeus of blindness and Zaccheus of greed & loneliness.

This week began with Jesus riding into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey. Many people welcomed him with palm branches, hoping Jesus would become their new king and throw out their mean, unfair rulers. Instead of a big, fancy horse like a king would ride, Jesus chose a donkey. We looked at a photo comparing a donkey and horse, and then had our own processional with palm branches.
We retold the story of Jesus' last meal with his disciples, when he told them to remember him as they shared bread together, and then we each received a piece of bread (tortilla) to eat. We also heard the sad part of the Easter story, when Jesus died. We assured them that the next day we would hear the exciting ending to the story, about how God's love is stronger than everything, even death.

Pennies for Peace
We have a jar of coins in the classroom. You can continue collecting at home and bring in the coins after Easter. Let us know if you need a replacement penny collector! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Sensorial Curriculum - Visual Perception

In the Sensorial curriculum of a Montessori classroom, we develop children's perceptiveness with each of their senses. Our goal is to increase their awareness of what they perceive through their senses and help them develop a mental framework for organizing and understanding these perceptions. The Sensorial curriculum provides a cognitive foundation for math and science.

Within the Sensorial curriculum, we have materials and activities to cultivate each of the senses. This post will only include the Visual perception materials - more to come later!


Cylinder blocks (or knobbed cylinders) - each of the 4 blocks contains 10 cylinders that vary by different dimensions. A child begins working with one block at a time and progresses to being able to do all four blocks (40 cylinders) together.
The cylinder blocks are an example of a self-correcting Montessori material - the child can tell if there is an error because not all the cylinders will fit in!
 Most children are not able to see the small differences between the ten cubes of the Pink Tower when they are first introduced to it. Through repetition and exploration, they gradually become aware and learn to sequence the cubes by size - and feel very proud when they do! The opportunity to develop problem-solving skills is built into all these materials. A child may visually notice that they have a piece out of order, but it is additional challenge to figure out how to fix it. 

The Brown Stair (or Broad Stairs) provides the next level of challenge - the prisms vary in two dimensions instead of all three. After a child can sequence the brown stairs, they enjoy rolling a small wood marble down the steps, hearing the pitch change as it descends.  

The Red Rods come next - 10 rods ranging from 10cm to 1m.

There are additional activities that the children can do with each of these materials, alone or in combination.

A few examples of the many possibilities:

This child has built the Pink Tower with two sides flush,  creating a 1cm ledge on each level. The smallest (1cm) cube can be carefully slid along the step on each cube. 


The first color box has only the three primary colors (red, yellow, blue), with two tablets of each color. Color box II adds secondary colors (orange, green, purple) as well as pink, brown, black, gray, and white.

After matching the color tablets, a child can walk around the room with a basket, looing for an object that is the same color as one of the tablet pairs. They bring the object back to the mat, then go in search of another color. This activity expands their conceptualization of color and exercised their working memory. (The tablets stay on the mat, which adds the challenge of needing to store the color in their mind as they go around the room.)

The Box of 32 pairs provides an increased challenge - matching pairs in four shades of each color. When we introduce the material, we take just one color out of the box at a time and match the four pairs before moving onto the next color. This child has chosen a different approach. She is purposefully engaged so we observe with interest to see what we can learn about her thought process and do not intervene or disrupt her focus.

Color Box 3 has seven shades of each color that can be graded from darkest to lightest


Children learn the names and forms of geometric shapes with the Geometry Cabinet

Friday, March 16, 2018

Montessori Classroom News March 14, 2018

Spring begins on Tuesday, March 20. We are ready!
We have been watching the trees for signs of spring and observing the daffodils growing in front of the school. We also have a potted daffodil plant that we are watching progress in our classroom.

Counting in “math language”
With good instruction and hard work, every child can understand math!

One of the ways we can help children understand the value and organization of numbers is by teaching them to name numbers in “math language”. Instead of saying thirty-four we will say “3-ten 4.” Similarly the numbers 11 to 19 will be called “ten 1, ten 2, . . . ten 9, and the twenties will be called 2-ten, 2-ten 1, . . . , 2-ten 9.

Saying numbers this way may feel strange to an adult, but it is a huge help to children in learning what each number represents. One of the reasons children in Asian countries tend to have higher math performance is because they use this kind of number naming. We will later teach the traditional number names (i.e. “eleven,” “twenty,” etc.), The children will have a clearer understanding of what values those words mean when they have also learned the number names in “math language.”

Read it Again!

 You have probably noticed that children love repetition! Good books are no exception. Although you may find yourself reciting their favorite books from memory and finding the storyline a little stale, muster up the patience to read that beloved book yet again. Reading the same story many times is great for your child’s development. The repetition allows the child to build off the familiar story, and s/he learns something new each time.
Dr. Seuss books have been favorites in the classroom recently. After reading Green Eggs and Ham a couple times as a group, many of the children will retell the whole story on their own
A house is a house for me
By Mary Anne Hoberman
A hill is a house for an ant, an ant
A hive is a house for a bee
A hole is a house for a mole or a mouse
And a house is a house for me!