Friday, 23 December 2011

Happy Holidays!

So often, the most important things in a child's life are not the big events but the accumulation of small details.

Here are some of the small details that brought joy to our December days.

G.'s & L.'s dad came in to school to speak to us about Christmas.

K. brought in Christmas cookies for the whole school to decorate.

Here are some of the decorated cookies. 

M.'s and E.'s mom came in to speak to us about Hanukkah.  Here M. is showing us her personal menorah.

M.'s and E.'s mom shared many Hanukkah songs with us. The children are singing the Dreidel song and spinning like dreidels.

We hear Santa's jingle bells!  Santa has parked his sleigh and reindeer in the forest.  The children are looking out the window and are able to catch a glimpse of the reindeer!  The teachers were not quite as fortunate.

We are so grateful that Santa was able to visit us during our holiday party.  Here the children are asking Santa questions.  Santa was so happy to hear all the songs we sung to him.

From our little corner of the world to yours, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a very happy holiday season!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Catching Up With Our Three Year Olds and Our Youngest Students ~ Part 2

Here is Part 2 of our blog about the Montessori work our youngest students are doing.

Sandpaper Numbers

The Sandpaper Numbers are similar to the Sandpaper Letters described in Part 1 of our blog about the work of our youngest students.  The Sandpaper Numbers consist of ten thin boards on each of which is glued a number from '0' to '9' cut from smooth sandpaper.  The purpose of this material is to introduce the symbols for the quantities '0' to '9'.

In the photograph below, L. has been introduced to the numbers '3', '4' and '5'. 

L. is feeling each number using a light and continuous touch while saying the name of each number.

The Spindle Box

The Spindle Box is a tray divided into sections labelled '0' through '9'.  A separate box contains forty-five wooden spindles.

The purpose of this material is to show that numbers can represent a collection of single objects,  to experience the quantity of 'zero' and to show the child that '0' to '9' are all the symbols needed for arithmetic.  In order to work with this material the child must be able to identify all of the Sandpaper Numbers.

In the photograph below, E. is setting out all of the spindles below the Spindle Box.

In the following photographs E. is counting the spindles and placing them in the appropriate partitioned space.

Weekly Craft

Each week the children participate in our weekly craft.  In the following photographs, N. and L. are making a reindeer.


Printing in the Montessori Classroom

The indirect preparation for printing begins with the early Practical Life and Sensorial exercises.  The early exercises refine and strengthen the child's fine motor skills and the three finger grip necessary for holding a pencil.

Cutting strips with scissors is an example of a Practical Life exercise which focuses on manipulative skills and prepares the child's hand for printing.  In the following photographs A. is so engrossed in her work with the scissors that she is oblivious to everything around her.  

A.'s work with the Practical Life activities has refined her fine motor skills and has led to tracing work and practicing letters on the unlined chalkboard.

Printing Individual Letters on The Unlined Chalkboard

The unlined chalkboard is used with the Sandpaper Letters and the Sandpaper Numbers.  The purposed of this material is to assist the child with the proper formation of letters and numbers.  When a child is able to form their letters correctly on the unlined chalkboard, they are introduced to printing their letters using a pencil and unlined paper.

In the following photographs, O. is practicing printing her name.

Printing On Lined Paper

 When a child is able to form their letters correctly on unlined paper, they are then introduced to printing their letters on lined paper.

In the following photographs, R. is practicing her letters in her printing book.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Catching Up With Our Three Year Olds and Our Youngest Students ~ Part 1

Over the past few weeks our blog posts have been 'Catching Up' with our four and five year old students.  Our next two blogs will focus on the work being done by our three year olds and our youngest students.

These photographs were taken during the last week of November and the first two weeks of December.

The Sandpaper Letters

The Sandpaper Letters are thin wooden boards on each of which are glued one lower-case letter cut from sandpaper.  The wooden box on the table in the photographs below consists of all of the letters of the alphabet.  The consonants are pink and the vowels are blue.  There are two 'y' boards as 'y' can be both a vowel and a consonant.

The purpose of this material is to help the child associate the sounds of speech with their written symbols.  This material is preparation for writing and reading.

The Sandpaper Letters are in daily use in our Montessori classrooms.  The letters are introduced to an individual child by his/her teacher.  Each child progresses at their own pace.  The letters introduced to the child should be of contrasting shape and sound.

E. has been introduced to the letters shown by his teachers.  E. is not yet three years old and is one our youngest students.

In the following photographs, E. is lightly feeling each letter while saying the sound that it makes.

The letter 'm' says 'm' as in 'mom'.  

The letter 'e' says 'e' as in 'egg'.

The letter 'h' says 'h' as in 'hammer'.

The Large Movable Alphabet

The purpose of the Large Movable Alphabet is to introduce the child to written self-expression.  The children using this material know all of the first sounds the letters of the alphabet represent through their work with the Sandpaper Letters.

This material consists of two large shallow boxes with compartments containing wooden letters of the alphabet.  Vowels are in blue and consonants are in pink.

This material is also in use daily in our classrooms.  Our students are so enthusiastic about this work! 

K. has just started his work with the Movable Alphabet.  He has set out the objects in one of the Pink Object Boxes and is finding the first sound of each object.

In these photographs K. has found the first sounds for top, nut, jug, bud and bat.

The children in the following photographs are now spelling the words found in the Pink Object Boxes and the Blue Object Boxes.

D. is spelling the words in a Pink Object Box which contains two and three letter phonetic words.

O. has completed spelling all the words in her Pink Object Box.

R. is spelling words found in a Blue Object Box (containing phonetic words of four letters or greater including syllables and blends).

Friday, 9 December 2011

Catching Up With Our Four Year Olds ~ Part 2

Here is part two of our post highlighting some of the Montessori work activities our four year olds are doing in our classrooms.

The Hundred Board

A. and E. are working with the Hundred Board.  Both girls can count and write their numbers to one hundred.  They are also working with the Golden Bead Material (see Catching Up With Our Four Year Olds ~ Part 1) to form complex numbers up to 9,999.

The Hundred Board challenges the child to order individual numbers from one to one hundred.

A. & E. have spread out one hundred wooden tiles numbered 1 to 100 on their mat.  The blue board in the photograph is the Hundred Board.  It is a square divided into ten rows with ten small squares in each row. 

A. and E. are sorting the tiles into piles of ten beginning with the units, then the teens, twenties, thirties. etc.

A. & E. take turns finding the individual tiles and setting them out on the Hundred Board in order.  In these photographs the girls are setting out the number tiles in the thirties.

This is a photograph of their finished work.

The Teens Board ~ An Introduction to Numbers 11 to 19

C. and L. are working with the Teens Board.  The purpose of this material is to associate the names 'eleven' to 'nineteen' with their quantities and symbols, and to combine their symbols.

C. and L. have already worked individually with quantities and symbols and are now combining them.  The Teens Boards are two boards divided into five compartments each.  Nine of these compartments have a large ten printed in black.  There are nine tablets with the numbers 1 to 9 printed on them.  The short bead stair consisting of numbers 1 to 9 and nine ten bead bars are also part of this material.

In this photograph, C. and L. have placed the two boards in a vertical line.  They have set out a ten bead bar running left and right, to the right of each number ten.  

The following photographs show the boys forming numbers 11 to 15.  To form 11, a unit bead is placed to the right of the ten bead bar.  The number one tablet is slid across the number ten to rest on the zero, forming 11.  This is done in the same way down through 19.


Our four year olds and many of our three year olds are dilligently working on the proper formation of lowercase and uppercase letters.  This work begins with the Sandpaper Letters and the unlined chalkboard and eventually progresses to lined paper.  More of this process will be explained in  'Catching Up With Our Three Year Olds'.

In the following photographs, S. is practicing the letter o on unlined paper.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Catching Up With Our Four Year Olds ~ Part 1

Our two previous blog posts have been about the Montessori work activities that our five year olds are doing in our classrooms.

Continuing along, this blog post is about some of the Montessori work our four year olds are doing in the classrooms.  These photographs were taken during the last few weeks of November.  Please note that the children in these photographs are in their second year of a three year Montessori Casa (preschool) program.

The Clock ~ Teaching Time in the Classroom

E. is using the clock to learn how to tell time.

E. is removing the loose numerals for numbers 1 to 12.  The blue numerals still in the box represent the numerals needed for the 24 hour clock (13 to 24).

E. is placing the numerals around the clock in the correct order.

E.'s teacher is asking her to move the clock hands to form various times.  Here she has formed three o'clock.  E. can also work with the clock cards to form various times. 

Blue Object Boxes

The Object Boxes are materials used to introduce the child to reading.  When the child begins to read words in the Montessori environment or can spell and read back words with the Moveable Alphabet, the child is able to work with the Object Boxes.  (In our next blog - Catching Up with Our Three Year Olds - the Moveable Alphabet will be explained.)

The Object Boxes consist of Pink Object Boxes (two and three letter phonetic words), Blue Object Boxes (four letter or greater phonetic words with consonant blends and short vowels) and Green Phonogram Boxes (boxes which isolate double symbols such as 'ee', 'ow' etc.). 

S. is working with a Blue Object Box on the table.  He has set out the objects in the box - frog, lock, button, rabbit, infant, milk.

S. is reading the words and matching the words to the object.  When S. matched each object with the appropriate word card, he wrote the words in his printing book and drew a picture for each.  S. is also working with the Blue Object Boxes and the Moveable Alphabet to spell the names of the objects found within the box. 

The Golden Bead Material ~ Introduction to the Decimal System

In our classrooms, the Golden Bead materials are in constant use.  The children are attracted to them and feel that they are doing very big, important work.  As a Montessori teacher, the Arithmetic materials are some of my very favourite.   As someone who struggled with Arithmetic concepts in school, I finally felt that I understood Arithmetic once I had been introduced to the casa (preschool) and elementary Montessori math materials during my Montessori training.

The beauty of the Montessori Arithmetic materials is that they build sequentially on previous learning, are self-correcting, isolate the concept being learned and introduce the concrete before the abstract.

The children in these photographs have been introduced to the Golden Bead Materials and are now forming complex numbers with the Golden Beads and Large Number Cards.

Formation of Complex Numbers

E. and J. are setting out the Large Number Cards on the mat.  The cards go up to 9,000 yet we are only using the 1,000 card for this exercise.

E. and J. are placing the corresponding Golden Bead materials next to each number card.

These children are working at forming and reading numbers in three categories - units, tens and hundreds.  J. brings me his tray and tells me what he has on it - six units, nine tens and two hundreds.  

J. then slides the individual number cards together to reveal the number of Golden Beads he has on his tray - "Two hundred ninety six".

Once the children are able to form and read large numbers into the thousands, the Golden Bead material is used to solve addition, multiplication, subtraction and division sums in all four categories of numbers.