Language Part 2

Today we’re on part two of our Language in the Montessori Classroom series.

One of the first language tools used in a more formal lesson with the preschool students, are the sandpaper letters. The sounds are grouped together, so that eventually when the sounds are learned, the student will be able to build a word using the specific letters, such as n,e,t leading the child eventually to saying “net” “The stimulation of the tactile senses through the use of the sandpaper letters and the naming of the letter at the same time will increase the child’s ability to remember both the sound and the shape of the letter.”**

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As a child learns to recall specific letters, they then are introduced to the movable alphabet and begin to associate specific objects with its corresponding name and the student spells out the name of the object using the movable alphabet.

Copy of DSC_9711Eventually, as the student gains skills in using the alphabet, they will then be asked to write the words on a piece of paper. The progression in the Montessori classroom always starts with the most concrete representation of the sound (such as an object), and then to move to its more abstract representation (writing the name of the object on paper). Kindergarten students are immersed in reading and writing on a daily basis, and enter first grade knowing the basic parts of speech and reading books typically above grade level.

**Montessori Research and Development @2006

Join us on Friday as we continue our series on Language in the Montessori Classroom. 

Volcanoes – Part 1

For the last three months, “volcanology” has been on the minds of Upper Elementary students and their teachers. The foundation of their volcano studies began with an understanding of plate tectonics. On Earth, there are seven or eight major plates (depending on how they are defined)and many minor plates. Our students investigated 16 different plates. Where plates meet, their relative motion determines the type of boundary: convergent (move towards each other), divergent (move away from each other). Earthquakes and volcanic activity occur along these plate boundaries.

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Three different kinds of volcanoes dominate the landscape. Stratovolcanoes are tall and explosive, think Mt. Fuji. Cinder cone volcanoes are not as tall as stratovolcanoes, but are still explosive, such as Mt. St. Helens. Finally, the third variation is call the shield volcano, which is flat and not explosive, but is always putting out steam and oozing magma, like Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii.

L1080785Once the students had the big picture of why certain volcanoes form in different parts of the Earth, depending upon the plate tectonics, they began to investigate the parts of the volcano (introduced to Montessori primary age students) and started to see why the magma chamber in a stratovolcano looked so different from the magma chamber of a shield volcano. The pressure in a stratovolcano keeps building up, until there is too much force and it explodes violently.L1080908

Viscosity is another important feature of volcanic studies. It is the measurement of “the extent to which a fluid resists a tendency to flow.” Some volcanoes have high viscosity such as a shield volcano, where the magma can be observed (relatively safely) as it is oozing slowly out of the main crater of the volcano, cooling and building land as it hardens. In class, the students learned about the concept of viscosity by running a side experiment where they timed the movement of molasses, versus oil, to see which one took more time to reach the end of the board (molasses has higher viscosity).

*Join us on Wednesday as we conclude our two part series on volcanoes. 

Summer Camp 2015

Sensorial – Part 4

Today we continue our exploration of the Sensorial area of the Montessori classroom, specifically discussing the following materials – the color blocks, the ten geometric three-dimensional shapes, touch boards, and the sound cylinders . Sensorial is an area of the Primary classroom that is uniquely “Montessori.” Many of the jobs hearken directly back to Dr. Montessori when she set up her original classroom for the benefit of the young, unattended children in the housing projects of Rome in the early 1900’s.

IMG_0098There are three color boxes. The first has the three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow). The second has 12 different colors. The third box has nine colors, but in different grades from light to dark.

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Ten Geometric three-dimensional shapes made from wood and usually painted blue. The shapes are:

  • Sphere

  • Cone

  • Ovoid

  • Ellipsoid

  • Triangle-based pyramid

  • Square-based pyramid

  • Cube

  • Cylinder

  • Rectangular prism

  • Triangular prism

Touch boards groom the student’s sense of touch and enhances their ability to distinguish between the smooth and rough.

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Sound cylinders are sensitizing the child to the gradations of sound from soft to loud and at the same time, teaching the child how to match the sounds from the red box with the exact same sound in the blue box.IMG_0094

Once the basic sensorial lessons are mastered, numerous extensions can be practiced with each of the materials.  Often sensorial materials will engage the interest of the child for long periods of time because the materials are concrete and the “control of error” is so immediate.  There are also many math and language applications using the sensorial materials, such as labeling the materials, or taking a moment to count the quantity of materials used in a particular job.  Sensorial is part of the classroom that uses all five senses and draws directly from the wisdom of Dr. Montessori in a concrete, useful and vivid way.


Montessori material descriptions taken from Wikipedia “Montessori Sensorial Materials”

Sensorial – Part 3

Today we continue our exploration of the Sensorial area of the Montessori classroom, specifically discussing the following materials – the binomial, trinomial cubes, and the constructive triangles . Sensorial is an area of the Primary classroom that is uniquely “Montessori.” Many of the jobs hearken directly back to Dr. Montessori when she set up her original classroom for the benefit of the young, unattended children in the housing projects of Rome in the early 1900’s.

IMG_0110The binomial  and trinomial cubes are more advanced works that not only teach specific pattern matching prisms together, there is an underlying algebraic equation that can be explored Lower Elementary classes.

IMG_0116The constructive triangles are put together to form various shapes. Shapes made with the triangles include the parallelogram, hexagon, rhombus, and trapezoid.

Join us on Wednesday as wrap up our series on Sensorial. 

Sensorial – Part 2

Today we continue our exploration of the Sensorial area of the Montessori classroom, specifically discussing the following materials – the red rods, cylinder blocks, and the knobless cylinders . Sensorial is an area of the Primary classroom that is uniquely “Montessori.” Many of the jobs hearken directly back to Dr. Montessori when she set up her original classroom for the benefit of the young, unattended children in the housing projects of Rome in the early 1900’s.

Picture 3Another set of ten pieces is the red rods.  “The red rods are rods of equal diameter, varying only in length. The smallest is 10 cm long and the largest is one meter long. Each rod is 1 square inch thick. By holding the ends of the rods with two hands, the material is designed to give the child a sense of short and long.”

Here is an example of more advance extensions of using the brown stairs, the red rods and the knobless cylinders:IMG_0017

IMG_0104“The cylinder blocks are ten wooden cylinders of various dimensions that can be removed from a fitted container block using a knobbed handle. To remove the cylinders, the child is taught to use the same three-finger grip used to hold pencils.  Several activities can be done with the cylinder blocks. The main activity involves removing the cylinders from the block and finding the right hole to replace the cylinder in. Small, tall and short, thick and thin, are the concepts being conveyed to the children as they handle the cylinder blocks.”

Also called the knobless cylinders, the colored cylinders are exactly the same dimensions as the cylinder blocks mentioned above.Picture 2

There are 4 boxes of cylinders:

  • Yellow cylinders that vary in height and width. The shortest cylinder is the thinnest and the tallest cylinder is the thickest.

  • Red cylinders that are the same height, but vary in width.

  • Blue cylinders that have the same width, but vary in height.

  • Green cylinders that vary in height and width. The shortest cylinder is the thickest and the tallest cylinder is the thinnest.


The child can do a variety of exercises with these materials, including matching them with the cylinder bloc

 

ks, stacking them on top of each other to form a tower, and arranging them in size or different patterns.

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Here, the knobless cylinders are used with the cylinders from the cylinder block.IMG_0105

Below, a student has combined the knobless cylinders and the pink tower, ordering the materials in sequence from the biggest to the smallest. IMG_0057

Join us on Monday as we continue to study Sensorial.

Sensorial – Part 1

Sensorial is an area of the Primary classroom that is uniquely “Montessori.” Many of the jobs hearken directly back to Dr. Montessori when she set up her original classroom for the benefit of the young, unattended children in the housing projects of Rome in the early 1900’s.  Dr. Montessori could see the advantage of having children develop and refine their five senses.  She also understood that if a child was presented with materials where they could check their work themselves, and know visually that the job was done correctly or incorrectly due to the precise way the materials were used, then their level of independence and self-confidence would increase.  Dr. Montessori referred to this concept as the “control of error’’ and it has great significance throughout the classroom, and especially in the sensorial area.

IMG_0084As the child begins to explore the sensorial works, one of the first jobs introduced is called the pink tower. “The pink tower has ten pinkcubes of different sizes, from 1 centimeter up to 10 cm in increments of 1 cm. The work is designed to provide the child with a concept of small and big.” The child starts with the largest cube and puts the second-largest cube on top of it. This continues until all ten cubes are stacked on top of each other. The control of error is visual. The child sees the cubes are in the wrong order and the tower becomes unstable if a larger cube is placed on top of a smaller cube.


IMG_0085Many of the sensorial materials are made with 10 components so that the students get used to counting 1-10 quite naturally.

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For instance, the brown stairs is made up of 10 sets of wooden prisms and introduces the concept of thin to thick. “Each stair is 20 cm in length and varies in thickness from 1 to 10 cm. When put together from thickest to thinnest, they make an even staircase.”  After the initial pink tower and brown stair lessons are mastered, both materials can be used together forming interesting combinations.

 

Join us next week as we continue looking at the Sensorial part of a Montessori classroom. 

Parent Education: Practical Life – Part 1

Today we are looking back at a series that we posted back in the summer, Practical Life. 

In a Montessori classroom, the Practical Life area is one of the first areas that a child explores. This section of the classroom provides the child with real-life materials that help to develop coordination, concentration, independence, and order.

Through the exercises of Practical Life, the child learns the skills that enable him to become an independent being. From birth, the child is striving for independence and concerned adults, parents, and teachers should help him on his path by showing him the skills he needs to achieve this end. Having been shown a skill, the child then needs freedom to practice and perfect.

In a Montessori classroom, preschool children learn basic motor skills in the Practical Life areas by teaching themselves and learning from other children rather than by specific adult instruction. As the child becomes absorbed in an interesting activity, he develops concentration. If the activity is appropriate and meets a need, it will be interesting for the child. The longer the child is absorbed by an activity the  better for the development of concentration.

Through activity, the child learns to control his movements. The idea that the path to intellectual development occurs through the hands is a major theme in the Montessori Method. The exercises of Practical Life provide opportunities for the development of both gross motor and fine motor movements. In addition, the child learns to keep the environment in a clean and ordered way, putting everything away in its right place. He is taught to approach each new task in an ordered way, to carry it out carefully, to complete the activity, and finally, how to clean up and put the materials away. Engaging in this complete process encourages logical thinking.

Another great post on Practical Life can be found here as well.

The Two Pillars of Effective Classroom Management

During a recent Friday at school, the students were at home and the teachers were in class. We were learning about “Bringing out the Best in Students and Teachers” from Grace Dearborn, a Mentor Teacher/Consultant. With over 15 years of teaching students ranging in age from kindergarten through high school aged children, Grace was a master storyteller, easily conveying tried and useful information to the FMS teaching staff.

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Starting with some of the basics, like “The two pillars of effective classroom management are structure and safety.” The more clearly the structure of the classroom is laid out for the students the easier it is for them to follow the procedures in the classroom. For example, in the primary classrooms, we show students how to roll up a mat so that it is evenly rolled up and tightly done. In the course of the day, if a child haphazardly rolls up a mat and then puts it away, they have not internalized the structure of “how to roll up a mat.” Hopefully, a teacher will see this and gently ask the child to try again, thus giving them a pattern of rolling up a mat that is in compliance with the structure of the classroom.

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In an elementary classroom, students might be shown how to do a word sort where they are handed a list of words and are asked to divide up the list according to the specific categories. If the student follows the procedure and separates the list according to the categories, then the child begins to learn the words effectively and this process reinforces their knowledge. On the other hand, if they don’t sort correctly, a teacher would see the opportunity to reteach the process and reinforce the structure of sorting according to an effective standard.

 

 

As each child is able to move and operate in the classroom, successfully navigating the rules and expectations within the room, the smoother the classroom runs. Children naturally test the boundaries laid out by teachers (and parents) and most of the time, they are just testing to see how trustworthy the teacher is. The first time they push a limit and a teacher is able to meet the child with “positive love and regard” while redirecting the student to making a better choice, the student’s sense of safety is reinforced. They begin to relax because they know that the teacher is directing the room from a position of strength and awareness.

Naturally teachers are motivated to convey content to their students; the “important information”, like facts and concepts. Yet, an equally important component of teaching is modeling appropriate behavior. In fact, as was reinforced in our training; children come into a classroom wanting to learn appropriate behavior. It is the teacher’s duty to clearly lay out the procedures for appropriate behavior, redirecting a child to better choices when they are testing the limits, and to implement clear consequences for the choices being offered. As children learn to conduct themselves within the framework of the classroom, they begin to develop the skills to effectively be in groups. Since most of our lives are spent working in groups, this is a fundamental skill that requires the attention it deserves.

101 Things Parents Can Do to Help Children

We’re pulling from our blog archives today to talk about 101 think parents can do to help children.

Parents often wonder what they can do to reinforce Montessori principles in their home and daily routines. This list, 101 Things Parents Can Do To Help Children, was written by Early Childhood Montessori Guide Barbara Hacker, and is full of practical tips for all facets of life.

101 Things Parents Can Do To Help Children