I had the pleasure of visiting Riverview Montessori last month with my youngest two children. As it was ‘bring someone you love to school’ day we felt particularly honoured to be joining friends and excited to play/work Montessori for an hour.
The individualized learning process particularly appealed to Rose.
She was very excited to choose her activities and after watching how the other children were selecting their resources and finding a place to sit, either on the floor or at a table she did the same.
She worked at a table to begin with, counting and sorting.
Sorting and matching keys.
Rose then moved to the carpet and unrolled her mat with the help of a friend to begin a letter puzzle. Yes, that is Freddy trying to ‘help’.
Dancing and singing with friends was wonderful fun.
Rose did not need guidance with activities and she was immersed in her learning for the full hour. Getting her to leave was a challenge!
We all thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Thank you Riverview Montessori.
She did however ask in the car on the drive home “How come nobody played with me, Mama?’ which I considered quite insightful. I explained that her friend’s school works a little bit differently to her nursery program, friends tend to choose their activities and do them independently. It is more about free choice. She seemed fully satisfied with this answer.
Have a look at Quality Classrooms’ selection of resources suitable for Montessori here.
A second post exploring more of what Maria Montessori’s theory of teaching is about and what it can look like in a classroom, will follow.
So much has happened in these two busy months. Sitting developed into commando crawling and then crawling on all fours. The sensory ball was still a hit and the way it rolled away and needed to be chased caused squeals of excitement!
Whittle world provided constant play amusement for all three children. Freddy liked to open the door on the bus, use the crane on the fire truck and put the people into the vehicles. Supervision is needed as the people are still quite small for babies.
The excersaucer was still entertaining and a safe place while lego was being played with nearby or cooking undertaken.
The dreaded noisy toys (we have few) are a good entertainer for a short time and the cause and effect exploration is a great developmental opportunity. Here is a Sound Puzzle Box, one of the few ‘noisy’ toys sold at Quality Classrooms.
Duplo is again one of those wonderful toys all three can play with safely. Freddy seems happy to be included in the play while the flowers can continue their dramatic play.
A high chair has a clear vantage point to watch cooking or kitchen clean up whilst playing with some soft toys. This bowling set features 6 different soft pins with sounds and animal faces.
Watching Freddy’s delighted discoveries and exploration is fascinating for this elementary school teacher!
Rose loves playing with these paint pipettes:
Coloured water play, as well as paint is a hit. We used them last to create Moon Salt Art and the children who participated loved the squeeze action of the pipettes.
Here is the invitation:
The messy paint trays are a perfect fit for a 9 x 12″ piece of paper so we used one as a blank canvas.
The paint we used was a little thick as it had been sitting unused for many months. Adding a little water would have made the process easier for little fingers.
This is a great strengthening action for the pincer grip.
A skinny craft stick was used to mix paints. This is not necessary, but fun and prepared Rose for the colour mixing which is about to occur.
Adding paper and firmly patting.
Revealing the print.
We managed to get two prints from the paint. Beautiful!
Freddy is now 6 months and so entertaining! He is having a great time exploring, mostly with his mouth but also now with his hands and feet. My aim is to share what he is enjoying most, each month.
At the moment most of his toys are in a huge play yard. This keeps the toys contained and in a few months when he starts moving, it will also keep Freddy contained and safe. With a busy household the play yard is must for us. Making it a fun environment now will hopefully result in it being a comfortable spot for him to hang out in a few months time.
He loves rattles and this is one of his favourites:
It is easy to grasp and the beads are also of great interest. Everything goes into the mouth and therefore needs to be safe. At Grannies house this Abacus rattle is his favourite:
Freddy has learned to roll a sensory ball backwards and forwards beside him. He also explores the soft spikes of the ball. Proud of himself:
Jumping is also a delight whether it is in his jolly jumpy or an excersaucer.
Freddy also gets to explore toys with his sisters who climb into his playpen to play with him.
A trip on a wheely bug was also an adventure!
These are 2 skills which are so important for children to learn. They are also the most challenging. A friend sent this letter to a grade 3 student, knowing I would appreciate the sentiment and raw emotion behind it.
I cried, then decided to share it with Daisy as she prepares to enter Grade 2. I replaced the names in the letter and printed it out ready to read the day before school starts.
It got me thinking about compassion and empathy, skills I hope I am building in my children, as surely as they are constantly developing in myself. I firmly believe it is our responsibility as educators to help build compassion and empathy in our children and students.
The Fill a Bucket Series is a great way to introduce a class or even school wide initiative to promote kindness and compassion on a daily basis.
Choices of age appropriate books are now available, thanks to the author Carol McCloud, and we even offer a ready made pocket chart for the classroom.
Appreciating what makes us different is also important to building compassion and empathy.
Our Multicultural World Series of books introduce children to the major world religions and cultures and help to build appreciation and respect for other’s beliefs and customs.
Addressing some of the issues raised in the letter I talk about in the first paragraph, is The Juice Box Bully.
Bullying and the job of bystanders to act are addressed in this text. As always, using story to introduce the issue gives more children an opportunity to empathize without feeling threatened.
There are so many opportunities to encourage our children and students to develop their compassion. We just need to take them!
How do you help to develop compassion?
This art activity is inspired by two books ‘The Tear Thief’ and ‘I Took the Moon for a Walk’.
After reading and discussing these beautiful books we talked about the moon. How it has creators and often looks like it has a face.
Using oil pastels the children drew a moon and stars, some even included comets.
They added glue to their moon and stars. The craft cups I used for the glue were great and I didn’t worry about washing glue down the drain.
Here you can see the importance of a good demonstration. I partially coloured my moon and added glue and salt to only a part of the outline. The children followed and outlined rather than filled in their moons. Or is this a developmental concept like outlining the sun in paintings?
The eagerness to move on to the more messy parts of the process may have resulted in semi completed moons!
Messy trays did a great job of containing the salt.
Next came the process of adding tears to the moon. This is inspired by ‘The Tear Thief’. The tears were Liquid Watercolours and they were added using pipettes.
This process seemed to be the highlight for most of the 14 children taking part.
A set of pipettes for $3.45 is a super investment.
Watching the salt absorb the paint was a thrilling experience!