Tuesday, 15 April 2014

In The Classrooms With...Our Four Year Olds ~ Part 1

Here is Part 1 in a continuing series about what our four year olds are currently working with in our Montessori classrooms.  We previously discussed the work our five year olds were doing. These photographs were taken during the months of January - April.  Please note that the children in these photographs are in their second year of the Montessori three year preschool curriculum.  These children will all turn five in this calendar year and are of Junior Kindergarten age. 

Skip Counting with the Bead Chains

The Bead Chains were described in detail in the post titled In The Classrooms With...Our Four Year Olds - Part 2.  At the simplest level, the chains are a counting exercise to practice the order of numbers.  That after 42 comes 43 etc.  At the next level, this material illustrates skip counting, counting by ones, twos, threes etc. all the way up to counting by tens. Towards the end of the casa program and in the lower elementary, this material is indirect preparation for the memorization of the multiplication tables.

In the following photographs, recently turned five year old S. is working with the cube chain of 5 (5 x 5 x 5 = 125).  

First, the chain is counted and the number arrows are laid out. In the case of the five chain, the numbers on the arrows will correspond to every fifth bead counted (5, 10, 15, 20 etc. to 125).

The chain has been counted.  S. is setting out the squares of five.  There are five of them and one cube of five.

A close up of the chain.  The square above the 25 represents one square of five.

As an extension, S. was invited to make his own paper five chain. He went to the files and took out the five chain paper. He then wrote all of the numbers of the cube chain of 5 (numbers 5 to 125) and coloured the beads.

S. is writing the numbers of the cube chain of 5.

S. is holding the completed paper chain.

A close up of the completed paper chain.

This work took a good deal of time, yet S. never lost interest. His mom told us that this work is so precious to him and that he keeps it in a special place at home so his little sister won't touch it.

(Ontario Curriculum Note:  Counting beyond 100 is part of the overall expectations by the end of Grade 3.)

Montessori Blue Reading Scheme

Reading in the Montessori classroom begins with learning the primary sounds made by the letters of the alphabet.  This is done with the Sandpaper Letters.  (These will be described in the upcoming posts about our three year olds.)  Children in their second year of the Montessori program are reading and spelling words.

There are three reading schemes - pink, blue and green.  The pink scheme focuses on two and three letter phonetic words such as ax, web, and ant.  The blue scheme consists of words of four or more letters.  Blends such as tr (trunk), bl (blanket) and dr (drum) are introduced along with double letters such as ck (truck) and tt (button).  The green scheme introduces phonograms, two letters that come together to form a totally different sound such as sh (shell) and oy (boy).  Each of these reading schemes consist of object boxes and various reading exercises.

The child in the photographs has worked with the blue object boxes and is able to read, write and spell words of four letters or greater.  He has a reading book which he takes home from school each day.  In the photographs, he is working with the Blue Reading Comprehension Cards.

Recently turned five year old L. takes the reading comprehension cards and the basket of objects.  He sets the objects out on the mat and reads a sentence card.  He then finds the objects and does what the card says.

Sentence Cards and Objects

Acting out "The hog drinks from the pan."

(Ontario Curriculum Note:  By the end of Grade 1 children are expected to use their knowledge and experience to understand what they read.)

The Montessori Printed (Story) Alphabet

The Montessori Printed (Story) Alphabet is a material that is in constant use in our classrooms by children in their second and third years of the Montessori preschool program.  In October 2013 a blog post was written about it.  It can be accessed through the blog archive.

This 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.

In the photographs, recently turned five year old E. has written a story with the Printed Alphabet.

E.'s story about flowers.

She has written it in her storybook and is now making an illustration to go along with her story.

E. has written her story and is drawing a picture to go with it.

E.'s Story
 (Ontario Curriculum Note:  By the end of Grade 1 children are expected to write simple but complete sentences using capitals to begin sentences and a period at the end of a statement.)

The Puzzle Maps ~ Map of the Continents

The study of Geography begins with the introduction of the Land and Water globe. This globe is introduced to our youngest students ( 2 1/2+).

The Land and Water Globe is on the left.  The Continents Globe is on the right.

The Land and Water Globe represents the surface of the Earth and shows land (the sandpaper surface) and water (the smooth, blue surface). 

Once the child is familiar with this globe, they are introduced to the Continents Globe.  The continents globe has a smooth, blue surface for water.  Each continent has a raised, smooth painted surface - yellow for Asia, green for Africa, orange for North America, pink for South America, white for Antarctica, brown for Australasia and red for Europe. When the child is familiar with the Continents Globe, they are introduced to the Map of the Continents.

The children in these photographs have worked with the Map of the Continents and would like to make their own paper map of the continents.  Although each of the children in the photographs can read, one of our graduates, Z. (on the far left) is helping them to read the continents labels.  In a Montessori classroom, older children help the younger ones. The two girls on the right are of JK age while the girl sitting beside Z. is a preschooler, illustrating that age is not a restriction in the Montessori classroom. 

Labeling the Continents
The girls then coloured their maps and wrote the names of each of the continents.

Writing the names of the continents.

The completed map of a JK aged child.

The completed map of a preschooler.

Recently turned five year old L. also wanted to make his own map of the continents.  L. can read and decided to use the atlas to help him label his map.

Five year old L. hard at work.

L.'s completed map.

(Ontario Curriculum Note:  By the end of Grade 2, children are expected to identify the earth as a sphere and demonstrate an understanding that the globe is a model of the earth.  Continents are also introduced at this time.)

In The Classrooms With...Our Four Year Olds ~ Part 2 coming soon.

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