Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A Fraction-a-licious Lesson! ~ The Fraction Insets

The lessons on fractions are highly anticipated at our little yellow school.  They are introduced to children in their third year of the Montessori casa (preschool) program.  All of the children in the classroom are drawn to and fascinated by the two trays of red circles divided into many parts.

Parents who visit our school often marvel at the fact that we are teaching the children fractions.  For the children, it is just a natural progression of the Arithmetic materials.  The aim of the Fraction Insets materials is to introduce the child to the idea of fractions as the division of a whole into equal parts.

The children are introduced to the Fraction Insets and are invited to freely handle and explore them.  This includes taking out the sections, counting them, comparing them, etc.

Explain to the children that each circle represents a fraction, which is taking a whole (the circle) and breaking it into equal parts that are all exactly the same.

The children are then introduced to the names for the parts of each circle - whole, halves, thirds, etc.

Children are then able to go further by exploring numerators and denominators.

So why is this lesson so anticipated and so memorable?  Well, the lesson is introduced with food!  This year it was blueberry muffins that we cut into halves and then quarters to illustrate that fractions are part of our daily lives.  After eating his piece of blueberry muffin a child declared 'Fractions are fraction-a-licious!"

Our Study of the Universe and the Planets

In April we began our study of the Universe and the planets.  As is the way in Montessori education, we began with the large (the universe) and moved to the small (the planets). 

The children were fascinated to learn that we are part of the Milky Way Galaxy.  All the stars that our eyes can see in the sky are part of the Milky Way Galaxy.  Our Earth and all the planets are also part of this galaxy.  The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. 

We each made a spiral galaxy using sequins for the many stars and planets.

Our galaxies were so beautiful and sparkly!  We were finding sequins in our classrooms for weeks!

We then moved on to our Solar System.  We had a model of the Solar System in the classroom, along with individual planets to be manipulated and individual books on each planet.  These materials provided the children with many different options to explore the planets.  We read the individual planet books to discover more about each planet. The children were very sad to hear that Pluto used to be a planet but is now considered a dwarf planet.  They felt that now poor Pluto couldn't have any fun with the rest of the planets.  We were quite sad for days about this.

Some of the four, five and six year olds decided to make Planet Books.  Here are a few pages from a book made by a child who recently turned six.

A three year old in the classroom wanted to make a book too.  The beauty of the Montessori classroom is that each child moves at their own pace.  Our little three year old joined the older group and here is part of his Planet Book.  This little three year old was so proud to have printed all of the names and drawn the planets all by himself!

More Blog Posts to Come

Thank you to the parents at our school who enjoy visiting this site and to those of you around the world who visit regularly.  New blog posts are on their way!  So much has happened at our little yellow school over the past few months but there has been no time to share our good times with you.  I am currently writing blog posts about fractions, life cycles and the universe among others.  I should have some up later today or tomorrow. 
Thank you all once again.  Happy reading to come!