Our classroom has been busy exploring space through non-fiction books, puzzles, replicas and research. From what makes day and night, to the phases of the moon, the order of the planets, and the stories behind the constellations, there have been many questions answered and lots of fun had while learning about our fascinating solar system. Artwork and science experiments brought added hands-on fun as we painted galaxies and planets, explored magnetism, ferrous materials, and what it means to orbit. All this to better understand our place in this amazing universe.
“Let us give the children a vision of the universe. The universe is an imposing reality and the answers to all questions.”~ Maria Montessori
In March, we look to famous women artists, politicians, educators, athletes and scientists who have impacted our country. Since last week was Montessori Education Week, who better to start with than Dr. Maria Montessori. The Montessori method has had a lasting impact on education. Dr. Montessori demonstrated through her personality, practice and persistence that education could be an instrument of change to all in society. Her materials and philosophy of child development have seen her methods of education grow and influence mainstream education. The children in a Montessori classroom are free to move and choose from activities they have been presented in a prepared environment. As Dr. Montessori said, “One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.”
The colored bead stair is a quintessential Montessori material found on math shelves in primary classrooms through elementary. From learning one-to-one correspondence, connecting quantity to number symbol, exploring basic operations, to square roots, cubes, and more complex equations, the beads are a math must. To celebrate Montessori education week, each child made a bead bar necklace to represent their age and wore it proudly.
As we celebrate Black History Month, we focus on African American artists, politicians, scientists, athletes and peacemakers who have contributed to our community!
P/K 1 children have explored Black History Month through biographies and art. We have been reading excerpts from "Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” and "Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History” both by Vashti Harrison. Each week, our art lessons focused on a different African American artist. We read their life story, looked at their artwork, and recreated our own pieces inspired by their style or process. Throughout the month, we have learned about Alma Thomas, Lois Mailou Jones, Gordon Parks and Augusta Savage.
In addition to exploring art, our daily chapter books dove deeper into learning about the life and accomplishments of Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first female, African American, self-made millionaire and Dr. Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. All of these people had impressive lives, important contributions, and brought us inspiration and conversation.
The kindergarten year at The Walden School is the time when many of the earlier lessons come together and become a permanent part of the young child’s understanding. Through the Montessori method children start as a novice, grow to an apprentice, and then in their Kindergarten year, they become a leader. The final year of the three (or four) year cycle is, for many children, the final tool leading to success. Children flourish with the gift of this final year in the Montessori classroom, where all the knowledge, facts and abilities they’ve been gathering for the past few years come together to help the child be intellectually independent, love learning, understand appropriate social behavior, and be in control of and accountable for their own words and actions. These kindergartners are shown working on their journaling, reading and counting skills- all key components of the kindergarten year and their daily work plan.
Young children are eager to help and enjoy doing so. To spread love and kindness in an act of service, our preschool and kindergarten children made cards for the residents of a local nursing home. We hope the thoughtful messages and drawings brought smiles to many faces. As we talk about Dr. King's legacy, we discuss how everyone deserves to be shown respect and how we should always treat others with kindness. Martin Luther King, Jr. studied and greatly respected another peacemaker, Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy of nonviolent resistance. Gandhi leads us to other peacemakers such as Nelson Mandela, Thích Nhất Hạnh, Mother Teresa, Johnny Appleseed, Malala Yousafzai, Dr. Maria Montessori and of course our own Mary LeFever.
A Montessori Child is a Leader: Children who have been allowed to take responsibility for their work and have developed an essential level of self-discipline and responsibility experience high self-esteem and are prepared for life. They have the requisite skills to go on to higher education, to be successful at what they attempt, and to step forth into the world with the leadership and problem solving skills that they will need to successfully face the tasks that await them. Our Kindergartners naturally serve as leaders in our mixed-age classroom. After much practice learning how to learn, they are able to dive deeper into their interests. As seen in these pictures, this often involves research, writing, and of course, the beautiful bead chains.
A Montessori Child is a Collaborator: Montessori students work cooperatively and collaboratively on a number of tasks. Older students are role models and teachers for the younger students in the classroom. The youngest students look to these leaders for guidance and help. These photos show various ways this occurs in the classroom. From reading to a friend, to researching animals together, matching letters, or taking on the 45 layout with a partner, there are many opportunities for collaborative learning.
A Montessori Child is Self-Motivated: Children are self-motivated when they are allowed to make choices and have some sense of control over what they elect to do. Our classrooms are carefully prepared environments, that include math, language, science, culture and more! The materials are designed to stimulate learning, promote freedom of choice and allow children to follow their interests. This child's love of horses was all the motivation she needed to do the farm work with the moveable alphabet.
A Montessori Child is Organized. Montessori children are exposed to the concept of “time-management” at an early age. It is a skill, which is essential for success in the complex society in which we find ourselves. Organization gives the child a sense of security and power for they know what to do and how to do it.
A Montessori Child is Independent. In order for children to become independent they must acquire skills, intellectual, social, and physical. When we aid them in the acquisition of what they need, we help them develop independence. We guide them in their growth as we prepare a learning and social environment in which they are able to make their way toward independence. It is by experiencing independence in an appropriate environment that they come to acquire their necessary skills.