Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Look Who Likes Montessori!

Last week the following picture of President Obama had the Montessori community buzzing.  

President Obama visiting the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Georgia

I shared the picture with the children at our school during circle time.  I began by asking the children if they knew who President Obama is.  Many children said yes.  One of our five year olds needed further clarification.

J:               Excuse me Mrs. P.  Do you mean Barack Obama?

Mrs. P.:     Yes.  President Barack Obama.

J:               Oh I know him.  Barack Obama is the boss of the
                  United States.

The rest of the children seemed to understand this.  Now that we all knew exactly who we were talking about,  I went around the circle showing each child the picture.  I asked them to pay special attention to what President Obama was doing but not to say anything until everyone had had a chance to see the picture.   Their expressions changed as they looked at the picture and saw something they recognized.  Once everyone had seen the picture I asked, "What is President Obama doing?"  They enthusiastically responded in unison "The Pink Tower and the Brown Stair!". 

The Pink Tower and the Brown Stair (also referred to as the Broad Stair) are Montessori materials found in the Sensorial area of the classroom.  The Sensorial materials were designed by Maria Montessori to offer young children concrete experiences in classifying and comparing their environment.  The Sensorial materials isolate particular qualities such as colour, texture, shape, sound and weight.  The Pink Tower and the Brown Stair are two separate activities.  Once the child has mastered the early presentations, the materials can be combined.  The President is working with an extension of these materials.

While President Obama was working with these materials, so were some of the students at our school.

When the President and the children finished their work, their collective joy at a job well done was clearly evident.  

Note:  President Obama and his administration are currently in the process of expanding the USA's Early Childhood Education programs as mentioned in his State of the Union address earlier in February.  Although the actual program and curriculum have not been finalized, it may draw from many different philosophies of education.  In 2010, President Obama nominated Dr. Margaret McLeod to join the National Board of Education.  Dr. McLeod is a former Montessori teacher.  The preschool shown in the pictures does not identify itself as Montessori, yet there are Montessori materials throughout the classroom.  

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Scenes from a Valentine's Day Party

On February 14th, we celebrated Valentine's Day at our little yellow school.   It was a busy week as we celebrated both Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day.

We began our celebrations by decorating Valentine hearts.

Once all of our classmates had arrived, we took turns handing out our Valentine's cards and treats.

Here is a cute idea for a Valentine.

Glad we're in the same school!

Once we had done this, both classes of children joined together in the downstairs classroom for the Valentine's Day feast. 

There were so many yummy things to eat.  We even had heart shaped donuts!

We all wore red, pink or white for the party and hearts were everywhere!

There were hearts on our clothes.

There were hearts in our hair.

One little girl even had hearts on her nails.


Here is a photograph of our sweet group.

We received a special Valentine from one of our lovely students.  It is a painting of our school.  It is now on the wall in our full day classroom.

All in all we had a fantastic Valentine's Day.  We hope yours was just as great.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Math ~ The Unit Division Board

Our oldest students (those who will begin grade one in September) have been doing a lot of work with the Mathematics exercises which focus on the memorization of the four operations - Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division.  They have a firm grasp of their addition and subtraction facts and are now focussing on the memorization of their multiplication and division facts.  One of the materials used for the introduction and eventual memorization of division facts is The Unit Division Board.

This is a picture of the Unit Division Board material.  It consists of a board with eighty-one little indentations, eighty-one green unit beads, nine green skittles and a green cup.

As with all Montessori lessons, the language used is very specific.  In the simpliest terms, division is sharing a quantity evenly.  Keeping this in mind, the green unit beads seen in the above photograph represent the dividend, the quantity we will attempt to share evenly.  The green skittles seen in the above photograph represent the divisor, the number of people we will share our dividend with.  Our answer is the quotient.  The quotient is what one person gets.  The remainder is any amount that cannot be shared equally.  Note that the remainder cannot be larger than the divisor.

To illustrate how the board is used, we have opened our Division booklet to a dividend of 49. 

With a dividend of 49, the child would place 49 green unit beads into the green cup.  The child would begin with a divisor of 9.  The child would place 9 green skittles across the top of the board. 

The child would begin sharing the dividend moving from left to right.  Each skittle (divisor) will receive the same amount of beads.

After the child has shared the beads 5 times, s/he realizes that there are only 4 remaning in the green cup.  This is not enough to share evenly with 9 skittles.  In his/her Division booklet the child writes a quotient of 5 with a remainder of 4.

The next question in the Division booklet is 49 divided by 8.  The child would remove one of the green skittles and share the 49 unit beads. 

When the child has shared the beads 6 times, s/he is unable to continue as only 1 bead remains in the green cup.  In his/her Division booklet, the child writes a quotient of 6 with a remainder of 1. 

When the child shares 49 beads with 7 skittles, the beads are shared evenly with no remainder. 

In his/her Division booklet the child writes a quotient of 7 with a remainder of 0.

The Division booklet enables the child to explore dividends from 1 to 81 and is done over a period of time.

Here are some photographs of a child working with this material.  He is working with a dividend of 4.

The purpose of this material is to make the child familiar with the ways in which numbers may be divided.  Not every number is evenly divisible and some are divisible by only a few numbers.  The exercise described above is the first exercise with this material.  In later exercises, the child uses this material to explore the relationship between multiplication and division.  It is quite a fascinating piece of material and one the children enjoy working with.