Thursday, 31 October 2013

Can You Feel Halloween in the Air?

Halloween has finally arrived at our little yellow school!  The excitement and anticipation have been in the air for at least two weeks.

In the full day class one of this year's graduates has been giving us the 'sleeps' countdown during our calendar time. 

This was the countdown on October 30.

She began last Thursday by telling us "Now, today it is seven more sleeps until Halloween.  Tomorrow it will be six.  After the weekend it will be three."  Everyone looked forward to Z.'s daily updates.

Halloween stories have been written.

A beautiful Halloween craft has been made.

Pumpkins have been carved.

Last, but not least, a great time was had by all at our annual Halloween party!

Happy Halloween from all of us at the little yellow school!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Montessori Printed (Story) Alphabet

Here at our little yellow school, our classrooms are filled with the hustle and bustle of wonderful children who have found the joy in learning.  Each day we watch with pleasure as they run up the walkway from the parking lot to the entrance door, smiling and eager to begin their day at school.

Learning is taking place in all areas of the classrooms and at all levels.  One of the materials that is worked with each day is the Montessori Printed Alphabet.  (In my training, we also called it the Story Alphabet.)   

The Montessori Printed Alphabet

This material is used by children in their second and third years of the three year Montessori preschool curriculum (age 4+) and continues to be used in the Montessori early elementary.  The material consists of a box filled with the letters of the alphabet printed in lower case on one side and upper case on the other. The box also contains punctuation symbols.  This material is used for writing words, sentences and creative writing.

(Note:  Classrooms will usually have two boxes of the Printed Alphabet in different colours.  The two boxes are used together for spelling words and to illustrate compound words, suffixes and prefixes.) 

When a child is using this material to write a story, they usually have an idea in mind.  They begin to take the letters they will need for a word out of the box, being careful to leave spaces between words.  The proper use of punctuation and capital letters is introduced as it occurs in their story.

A child beginning to write a story.

The children are very excited about story writing as they have so much to say and share.  Most of the stories are factual and reflect what is going on in their lives.  Here are some of the stories that they have written.  (You can click on the images to enlarge them.) 

A Halloween Story

This story is about a sad tiger.

This story is about a trip to Ottawa.

The author of this story, like Spike, really wanted to play hockey.

This is a story about penguins.

This is a story about why you should test your fire alarms.

This story is about a birthday.

Once the child has finished writing their story with the Printed Alphabet, s/he will write it on story paper or in their story book.  

This story was written by a 4 year old.

This story was written by a five year old.  Note that the blue-lined paper is narrower than the pink lined paper.

So much thought and effort goes into each story.  It is always fascinating to witness the child in the process and we delight in reading the completed stories.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

What is a Graduate?

Recently, a mom and dad of two children at our school told us about a conversation they overheard between their daughters.  A. has been with us for two years and M. just joined us in September.  A. was explaining what a graduate is to younger sister M.

M. with Big Sister A.

A.:  M. do you know what a graduate is?

M.:  No.

A.:  A graduate is someone who has their shoes on the top

We thought this was so cute!  A. is absolutely right, graduates's shoes are on the top shelves of our shoe shelves. We have little traditions at our school and the placement of shoes on the shoe shelves is one of them.  When you begin at our school, your shoes are on the bottom shelves.  Each year you are with us, your shoes move up until they are on the top shelves.  That is the year that you are a graduate.  It is your final year before you begin grade one.

Inspired by A., we asked this year's graduates to tell us what a graduate is.

Half Day Graduate A.

A. says that as a graduate "We need to listen more than the younger ones."

Full Day Graduates Z. and A.

This is what Z. (on the left) and A. (on the right) had to say.

Z.:   A graduate is someone who helps little kids.  If they get          hurt we help them.

A.:  Yeah.  They zip up little kid's jackets too.

Z.:  Yeah.  That's what a graduate does.

Half Day Graduate D.

D. says "A graduate is a big person who helps the small person."

Full Day Graduate E.

E. says "A graduate does really hard stuff and they do the things the little kids don't do.  They do the really hard work."

Full Day Graduate R.

R. says "A graduate helps people do things.  When someone is sad a graduate helps you feel better."

Half Day Graduate S.

S. says "A graduate is a big person who does big work!"

It was such fun to speak individually with each child.  It is always very interesting to see how the children are perceiving their world.  As a whole, they captured what a graduate in a Montessori classroom is.  This year's graduates are doing hard work, helping and comforting their younger classmates and setting a wonderful example for all of us.  We are looking forward to being a part of all the fascinating things that their final year at our little yellow school holds for them.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Our Trip to the Apple Orchard

During the last week of September, the children, parents and teachers at our little yellow school visited the apple orchard. We couldn't have asked for a nicer day for our visit.

The morning started off with a bus ride to the orchard.

Boarding the Bus

 Once at the orchard, we all walked down to the barn.

Walking to the Barn
Inside the barn our instructors taught us so much about apples!  We learned about the different kinds of apples, how an apple tree is grafted and the many different foods that are made with apples.

Listening to Our Instructor

Little apple decorations hanging from the ceiling.

Different Kinds of Apples

We had lots of fun in the hayloft!

Back in the barn, we learned about life inside a beehive. The children were very excited to act out the roles of the bees.

Each group had a Queen Bee.  The Queen Bee's role is to stay inside the hive, mate and lay eggs.

A. was the Queen Bee for the full day group.

A. was the Queen Bee for the half day group.

A beehive also consists of worker bees.  Worker bees are female.  They have many jobs.  They tend to the Queen, keep the beehive cool, gather nectar and pollen, supply food for the Queen and the babies and make and produce beeswax.

The worker bees going out to gather nectar and pollen.
The hive also has drones.  Drones are males.  Their job is to mate with the Queen.  They don't collect nectar or pollen. They can't defend the hive because they don't have stingers. 

Here come the drones!

This is part of a real beehive.

Then we boarded the wagon for the trip to the apple orchard.

Next stop, the apple orchard!

Here we are on the wagon.

Once at the apple orchard, we got to pick our own apple. 

An Apple Tree

This is the one.

Three friends enjoying their time in the orchard.

I picked this one!

After the orchard, it was time to board the bus back to our school.  Thank you to all the parents and grandparents who joined us for our trip.  It was a perfect day!