Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Fruits of Our Labor....Our Maple Syrup Store

Just had to share and follow up on our earlier posts. This spring we tapped the six maple trees that live in the front yard of our school (check out previous entries). After weeks of watching, waiting, boiling, and filtering we bottled our precious syrup. The children designed signage and bottle labels. They researched market prices and calculated our production costs. After much discussion we set a product price and planned for our sale. We used the bead materials to add totals and calculate change. We set up tables just outside our classroom doors and sold to families as they arrived to pick up at the end of the day. Everyone in our class has definitely caught the entrepreneurial bug!

Spelling, sorting, and mapping...just a few new activities that are popular right now

I found a big bag of letter beads on sale at the craft store and I am trying to find creative uses for them. Here's a simple language work where children build words by sliding the letter beads onto a piece of pipe cleaner. It's sort of a variation on the movable alphabet, matching, and a fine motor beading activity. We have some first year students moving up from our toddler room this summer. Here is a simple sorting activity with dinosaur counters. They can be sorted by color or type of dinosaur.
This sorting activity is a little more challenging. Children place the objects on the chart sorting by color and type of vehicle. We have it out in our math area but it could just as easily find a home in the practical life area or language area.

Here's a simple map drawn on card stock, some command cards (recycled plastic pill containers), and some counter vehicles. Lot's of fun and incorporates so many different skills.

A Taste of Summer

It been a cold, wet start to summer here in upstate New York. The gardens are flourishing becuase of the rain and despite the coolness it's beginning to taste like summer (even if we are still wearing sweatshirts!).

Here is a simple green bean food prep activity. Children cut the ends of the beans off and compost them; they slice the beans into smaller pieces and skewer them with a tooth pick before serving to their classmates.

Nothing sings summer like watermelon. Here is a watermelon balling activity. Children scoop balls of the melon, insert a toothpick, and serve to their classmates. Yum.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Passion For Wildflowers...

Our children are discovering wildflowers on walks around our school property, through the nearby fields and up by the pond.

We incorporated this passion for wildflowers inot a variety of works throughout our classroom. Flower arranging in the practical life area, still life drawing in the art area, identification of wildflowers and wildflower bingo in the language area, parts of a flower and leaf identification in the science area, plus lots of books to do our research.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy

Our class continues to enthusiastically study artist Andy Goldsworthy.

Casey, one of our primary classroom teachers put together this simple but wonderful work on our shelf. A dish bin filled with three bowls -- one bowl of green colored stones, one bowl of black, white and gray stones, one bowl of small twigs and a blue work mat. With these simple supplies our children create thier own sculptures.

This sun-like sculpture was created by one of our five year old students.

Here are two students working cooperatively on a sculpture.

Check out our previous post on April 5th for more Andy Goldsworthy inspired activities.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back from Break ...

I spent most of our spring vacation as unplugged as possible. I am slowly easing back into a regular routine. Here are some activity pictures snapped just before break.

Collage materials with the last remnants of winter...


Phenomes and spelling work.

The sound /n/ is typically spelled in two ways n or kn.

The drawer is filled with samples of words with the sound /n/ spelled both ways.
No and Know, Not and Knot, Now and Knit, etc.

So far I've put out:


/n/ --n or kn

/c/ --k, c, or ck

/f/-- f or ph

/sh/ --sh, ti, ci

/g/ or /j/-- g

/n/ or /ng/ --ng

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Moment To Relax

This year we have quite a few children in our classroom with special sensory needs. We recently put a basket of massage tools out on our shelves and presented the tools with a very brief introductory lesson. What a hit! All of the children love taking a break from their work to sit quietly on a mat for a moment of relaxation. I've also been spotted on occasion using this material to work out some stressful kinks in my neck after a long day of paperwork or paying bills.

Thank You

As some of you know, I am still new to the blogging world. I can't even put into words how blessed and empowered I feel when I able able to connect with fellow Montessorians around the world. Thank you for your support, your inspiration, and your patience. I so easily loose track of time when reading some of my favorite blogs and then, when my husband makes me turn off the computer and go to bed, I can't sleep because I'm so inspired by what I've read. On those days when my "bucket" feels empty I turn to fellow bloggers for perspective and to be refilled with hope, passion, and commitment for this Montessori journey I am on, we are on. Thank you for walking beside me for a little way on this path.
A special thank you to Montessori Mum for the Kreativ blogger award.

It's incredibly powerful to be connected to so many creative Montessorians around the world.

I am passing on this award to the following blogs who inspire me along my journey:

Montessori Mama

Sew Liberated

Maya Made

My Montessori Journey

The Moveable Alphabet



Sunday, April 5, 2009

Inch by Inch, Row by Row, Come and Watch Our Garden Grow

Wow, March certainly came in like a lion for us, roaring in more ways than just weather. For the last few weeks our children and teachers have been struggling with bouts of colds and viruses making it hard for me to find time to post to our blog. Fortunately March left like a lamb and hopefully left us all strong and healthy.

We welcomed April with the groundbreaking of our new school garden. How exciting!

Our ultimate goal is to connect children with the earth creating a 'seed to plate experience'. Since we are a year round Montessori School we can enjoy our garden throughout it's most productive time through the summer. More details on the garden will be posted on a separate blog soon.

In the classroom we are preparing work related to the season and our garden.
We have garden themed three part cards, matching, and science activities.
Just a personal note on making activities: Technology is wonderful. Downloading images, printing, and lamination are tools that were not available when I first started teaching so I really appreciated having these resources available to me now when I make my own materials. That said, I feel very strongly about balancing modern computer created plastic coated materials with hand made materials. There is a texture, a quality, a depth, and an energy to a hand made material that cannot be captured in something mass produced. I realize a card that is not laminated may only last one season, but that is part of the beauty of a hand made material. I also allow the children watch me make the materials. It includes them in the process and helps them value the effort that is invested in making an activity.
Here are two activities I recently put out on our shelves. The first is the life cycle of a pumpkin, a three part card activity I downloaded. The second activity is the parts of a seed sequencing work that I hand painted with acrylics on a parchment-like card stock. FYI the hand painted cards only took about 20 minutes to make and the printed cards took about the same amount of time to print and laminate.

Here is our seed sprouting experiment. We have eight trays. Each with a different combination of seed, soil, water, and light (we choose to keep air as a constant for this experiment).

As an art history and cultural studies unit we are studying the work of Andy Goldsworthy. We have photographs of his work, matching cards, and sequencing cards. We have been making our own sculptures using natural found materials from the grounds around our school. We will also be taking a field trip to visit Cornell's Lab of Ornithology's Sapsucker Woods. Andy Goldsworthy created a sculpture in the woods.

Our language area has been quite popular since we refreshed our initial sound activities with new objects and pictures.
I am always searching for interesting and appealing objects for the more challenging sounds like Q, U, Y, X, Z. Any suggestions?

Our metal inset area has also been quite popular.
TIP: I found these shoe storage racks work great as shelves for the insets. They are the perfect size and height. I think they are sold in home improvement stores as part of closet storage systems.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Land Forms

Our children are fascinated by geography. They really enjoy learning the terminology of land forms...lake, island, gulf, peninsula, strait, isthmus, cape, bay.

I used oven baked clay to shape the land forms in small bread pans.

A vinyl mat for work, laminated cards for labels, a pitcher for water, eye dropper of blue food coloring to color water, a sponge and rag for clean up.

A Couple Of Quick Art Projects For Spring

Tracing, cutting, gluing...Butterfly Puppets! Gluing circles on a line to make an inchworm...

Bought some photo coasters on sale and used impressionist stickers to make a matching work...

Updating The Practical Life Area For Spring

Embroidery...Sewing with yarn on mesh...

Clipping small clothespins on small buckets...

Cracking pistachios for snack...

Egg matching and sorting...

Sorting and opening a jar with lid...


Smaller tonging...


Flower arranging...