Today was our first day back to school! Toddlers came for an open house and about half of the Primary children phased-in.
It was exciting to finally see children working in this space. After our summer of renovation, I think we all felt at home.
The children enjoyed getting to use our new courtyard garden space. There was a bird bath to scrub, plants to water, a bird feeder to fill and discoveries to be made. One of the children discovered a camouflaged praying mantis hiding in the lily plant.
This year marks the 20th year for our school of growing in the spirit and intellect. We can't wait to see the year unfold!
Today at camp we learned all about Ladybugs! We started off with reading a very interesting book called Are You a Ladybug? The kids loved it! It explains the life cycle of the ladybug (much like the ant and caterpillar, it also goes through metamorphosis) and what ladybugs like to eat the most (aphids). The primary children were fascinated to know that a female ladybug could eat 70 aphids a day while a male ladybug may only eat 40. They were also glad to know that ladybugs are especially helpful for the garden plants. The toddlers read 'Five Little Ladybugs' and laughed at the silly rhymes.
Examining a ladybug we found in the garden.
After reading it was time for art projects. The little ones made a lady bug out of stickers and paper plates.
In the garden we had fun experimenting with bubbles. We tried a new mixture today. The recipe was: 6 cups of water, 2 cups of dishwashing detergent and 1 cup of corn syrup. The bubbles were very 'sturdy' and the children were delighted they could catch the bubbles in their hands.
We also did something I have been wanting to try for a while. We made a giant waterbed out of a tarp and duct tape! This idea came from the awesome blog 'Play at Home Mom' I highly recommend checking it out for fun ideas to do at home this summer.
More outdoor fun...
A great time was had by all, and we are looking forward to learning about insect camouflage tomorrow!
Toddler Community (ages 15 months - 3 years)
Primary Casa (ages 3-6)
Our parent education night on February 19th will give you the opportunity to use and handle many of the classroom materials. RSVP here.
The child's first encounter with music is usually the mother singing, which he can even hear before birth. Even in the womb the child absorbs all the music he hears around him. In virtually all cultures, the mothers and caregivers sing lullabies to the baby. This is the beginning of the child absorbing his musical heritage.
Rhythm is vitally connected with the child's earliest life. The beat gives the music structure. The child's first exposure to rhythm is the mother's heartbeat while in the womb. He will also experience other rhythms, including breathing, walking, speech, and singing. This is why babies are calmed by soothing rhythms of walking, patting or rocking. The children pictured above on the left are experiencing rhythm by using the 'shakers'.
As children get older they absorb the joy of music in daily life. In both our Primary Casa and Toddler Community, children enjoy singing and making music daily. As the child develops musically, he goes through the same stages as language development, with the first stage being a listening stage. Just as the child's first verbal attempts are nurtured, we must nurture the child's first musical attempts.
Refining motor skills is an important part of the Toddler Curriculum. Part of what we do during music includes teaching children to move consciously - one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children. Being in control of one’s physical self is the key to success in all future social and educational settings. Simple games, where we name and explore a specific body part and how it moves, are the first step for our children as they work to gain control of their bodies.
The chants or songs that are often associated with these activities are appealing to the children because they usually contain multiple repetitions, such as “arm, arm, arm, arm” or “head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes”. Children enjoy the repetition of the speech as well as the movement as they strive to gain control and finally mastery of their body movements.
Body Awareness activities that focus on the child’s hands are commonly known as Finger Plays. Children delight in the rhythmic speech that usually accompanies touching and manipulating each individual finger, making the finger play beneficial to your children in terms of both their movement and listening development, and they have the added benefit of increasing your child’s vocabulary.
Here is an easy one to use anytime and anywhere:
· Touch each finger on one hand starting with the pinky
· As you touch it, say the child’s name
· When you get to the pointer finger, slide down to the thumb (as if your tracing) with your finger while you say a very exaggerated ”Whoops”. As you land on the thumb say their name again – then just wait for their smile and go in reverse!
"Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny…Whoooops, Johnny
Whoops, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny!"
Music in the Primary Casa
Above, the girls are working with Language Cards to learn the names of the instruments in the orchestra. This is an exercise in vocabulary for the younger child; for the older child it is also a reading exercise. The photo on the right illustrates a Cultural Folder. This material is part of the Primary curriculum and serves as a jumping off point for stories and information about people from all over the world. The folder pictured shows examples of music from all over North America.
In offering music to the Primary class, we use the principle of 'isolation of difficulty'. This means that we introduce different elements of music in isolation. Some of these elements include: pitch, rhythm, intensity, timbre (the quality of sounds from different instruments), melody, harmony, and music related to cultural subjects - nature study, geography, and art. The names of the instruments of the orchestra are another element, as well as exposure to names of classical music and composers.
The Bells are a Primary material which gives children the opportunity to train their auditory sense from an early age. The bells give the child the opportunity to focus on an isolated pitch. They also allow for manipulation of the material. The bells are set up as a diatonic C scale, which is the basic measure of music in western music. The work with bells gives the child a very valuable foundation. With this foundation, she will expand her knowledge of music with great ease as she learns to write, read, and compose music, sing, move to different rhythms, and listen to different genres of music. We want to make sure that we give every child the opportunity to have his or her life immensely enriched through a greater appreciation of music.
In addition to all the daily music work done in both the Toddler and Primary rooms, we are blessed to have Ms. Julie as part of our staff. As our Toddler Teacher, Julie recently completed her Montessori training. She holds her Bachelor and Master's degrees in Music Education from UGA School of Music. In addition, she has received the Musikgarten training for preschool age children and is a certified Suzuki cello teacher at NATE. The Suzuki philosophy has many similarities to Montessori. Once a week, Ms. Julie works with the Primary class using the Musikgarten curriculum. It is a lovely complement to the work the children are doing daily in class.
In today’s world, spoken language is not valued. Email, text messages and IMs have taken the place of phone calls and face-to-face communication. I-pods, apps, and MP3 players have taken the place of family sing-alongs on road trips. While this may lead to more effective communication and fewer tantrums in the car, there is a down-side to consider: the greatest source of energy for the brain is the sound of the live, spoken (or sung) voice.
We all want the best for our children, and often that means buying an expensive item – the fastest computer, the best quality musical instrument, the latest, most up-to-date software, etc. Isn’t it amazing to think that one of the most effective things we can do for our children is to feed their brain by engaging them in conversation and storytelling!
Written by Julie Cutcliff and Stefanie Graper
We are very proud of our garden at COLM, which acts as an important extension of our classrooms. It is also a certified Schoolyard Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. Each fall we spend a morning working together in the garden and getting it ready for winter. Thanks to the help of our dedicated parent volunteers, we got a lot of work done today!
First up was weeding and cleaning up. We found some stray summer vegetables and A LOT of weeds!
We also pulled out some really long roots. Finally, we were ready to plant. We planted mums, pansies, herbs, cabbage, radish, carrots, and kale. The grownups helped prune and do even more weeding.
It was really amazing how hard the children worked. They loved spending time outside and spent almost the whole morning gardening.
We finished the day with a lovely 'pizza picnic' in the garden. What a blessing it is to be able to share this beautiful space with our children and families! A huge thank you to everyone who donated plants and helped this morning. We couldn't do it without you!
Today we visited South America! After some time to play in the garden, we jumped into Cultural Stories about real people, places, animals and products from South America. We talked about the waddle of penguins on an iceberg at the tip of Argentina, the macaw soaring through the Amazon Rain forest, the gaucho using his lasso, and many more!
This story was a favorite! We shared a real Peruvian Tapestry and also had a lovely story about a Bolivian one (pictured at the right). The children loved making observations about each and identifying characteristics that are similar and different.
For our snack today we made Strawberry Mango smoothies and had some popcorn (corn being a main product of South America). It was delicioso!
Our art project today was to decorate mariposas (butterflies) just like the ones you would see in the Amazon Rain forest.
The Primary aged children also made Chilean rainsticks. They had a parade in the room and enjoyed shaking their rainsticks. After, they heard the story of how real rainsticks are made from dried cactus, the cactus thorns and pebbles. They also heard how the Chilean people use the rainsticks in the desert because they believe it helps to bring the rain when they need it most. We also found Chile on the globe and talked about its shape.
Soon, it was time for water play in the garden!
In addition to the water, shaving cream and a cornstarch + water mixture made for some fun sensory play in the garden.
A 'wonderful' time was had by all! We hope to see you next Wednesday, July 17, as we travel to Africa!
We have been quite busy in the Primary class. It's hard to believe that we have less than a month of school left!
We had a lovely visit from Ms. Julie, who shared her cello with us. We learned about the parts of the cello and loved listening to music played fast and slow as well as silly things that the cello can do, such as sound like a cow! After listening, we were each able to try plucking the strings on a Primary child-sized cello.
A few weeks ago, we planted a wide variety of seeds that we had been given by Harry's Farmer's Market last fall. We planted beans, corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, sage, peas, thyme and sunflowers. It's been amazing to actually see our seeds sprout and the seedlings emerge from the soil! We're hoping to see that they produce veggies this summer/fall, too!
And below, you'll see that the peas that Ms. Julie planted with the children are growing quickly! We have tied some yarn for the peas to climb so that hopefully, our bamboo teepee will be a lovely place of shade later this summer.
And, of course, we have been quite busy in the Primary casa receiving new lessons, working with favorite materials and bringing our work outside.
"Montessori isn't about academics as the end result,
If you have ever tried to explain what Montessori is to friends and family you know it can be hard to capture in words. After all, Montessori schools look and feel very different from traditional preschools. The classroom is set up to resemble a house with child sized furniture and beautiful materials to work with.
There are no bright posters on the wall, there are no 'centers' where children are directed to play for 30 minutes at a time, group instruction is very limited, and there are no special subjects taught by adults coming in and out of the class. Hmmm, one might ask, 'Well, what do they DO?'
Instead of teacher centered education, the Montessori classroom is completely child centered. We allow children to become self directed and confident decision makers by giving them long periods of time to work independently or one on one with the teacher.
Time. Time is something that can be hard to come across, especially for a toddler who is always trying to keep up with adult demands.
As moms and dads we know that keeping a schedule is necessary to meet the needs of everyone in the family. Does this sound familiar? "Come on, hurry up, we're going to be late" "Stop wasting time" "We don't have much time" "It's time to go". I know these phrases are all too common in my house.
When children enter a Montessori classroom they do not have to follow the schedule of an adult. Instead, they instruct themselves through materials that allow them to make their own discoveries about how things work.
Of course, the materials are presented one on one by the teacher (who keeps very specific lesson plans and records for each child) but once they have been presented the child is free to work with that material for as long as he or she wishes. The child gains knowledge through concrete experience and concentration.
When the child is not waiting for the next person to come through the door, he can stop looking for what is next and enjoy being present in the moment. There is no feeling of 'Hurry up, put your work away, it's time to do ______________." We have the luxury of working at the child's pace in the Montessori classroom, and when children are given time and space what they can do is truly amazing!
Dr. Maria Montessori felt that children, even one hundred years ago, were confronted with so much stimuli that they needed help. To a child, overwhelming stimuli feels like chaos. Dr. Montessori included the Sensorial area — along with Practical Life, Language and Math — to help the child make sense out of that chaos.
E.M. Standing wrote about the Sensorial area of the Primary environment sharing that, "the function of the sensorial materials is not to present the child with new impressions (of size, shape, color and so forth) but to bring order and system into the myriad of impressions he has already received and is still receiving." Within the Sensorial area, we offer materials that aid the child in refining the visual, auditory, olfactory (smell) and tactile senses and also include in this area cultural aspects of the world.
Dr. Montessori also wrote of how the child's mind receives impressions, referring to it as the Absorbent Mind. This Absorbent Mind takes in everything, without a filter, just like the viewfinder in a camera. It is our goal to aid the child through the work with the materials in ordering and classifying these impressions, enlarging the field of perception, learning to abstract from concrete experiences, offering "keys to the world" and providing a foundation for further learning.
Ordering and Classifying Impressions
Our senses are the ready-made filing system for creating order from the impressions being received. The Sensorial Area provides materials to aid in the refinement of each of these senses. Through ordering and classifying the impressions the child is receiving, he is able to extract the essential qualities of the information and start to make sense of it all. The human tendencies for order, exactness and exploration aid the child in creating internal order through the chaos. Through work with the materials, the new information integrates with the old and begins to have meaning for the child.
Enlarging the Field of Perception
By working with the Sensorial materials and refining each of the five senses, the child's awareness of the greater environment becomes more heightened and attuned. The child becomes more conscious and able to identify specific sounds, colors, smells, textures, etc. A bird's song isn't just a song anymore, it's a chickadee or cardinal. A bell's sound isn't just a sound anymore, it's the A note. A shape isn't just a shape anymore, it's a rhombus or decagon. She is developing an entire mental capacity which appreciates the finest details.
Abstracting From Concrete Experiences
The child develops through the use of the hand aided by incessant curiosity and the desire to explore the environment and its qualities through direct manipulation in order to understand shape, size and form. Through the use of the hand with the materials, the child repeats experiences until finally the idea exists as a separate entity from the experience, as a mental, remembered image — a memory. Through this image, the child can abstract using memory as part of the experience. After having a variety of concrete experiences, the child learns to abstract color, pitch, temperature, smells, sounds and shapes.
Keys to the World
The child opens the door for more experiences through refinement of the senses. This is the beginning of exploration and we begin by simply offering the child a limited experience (isolating one sense per lesson) to enable the child to enhance the field. These concrete experiences give the child a tangible purpose for observing in the environment. We unlock this door so that discoveries can be made and then applied to the greater world. The Sensorial materials are like a window to that world. The child explores the world with greater joy, discovery and focus. When the child is given just enough, the result is profound.
Foundation for Further Learning
Since the images in the mind of the child are gradually becoming more organized, the child becomes incessantly fascinated with certain objects and qualities. The mental development of the child grows through this classification of impressions and prepares the child to receive more information in a more orderly fashion. The child is also indirectly prepared for other areas of the environment, like math and language and also areas outside the classroom environment.
"The senses are organs for the apprehension of images of the external world
We are an AMI accredited Montessori school growing daily in spirit & intellect!