Over the last few weeks, our class has been studying and learning about the Solar System. Some children have been exploring the different phases of the moon, while others have deepened their understanding of constellations using a light box or flashlight! Our geometry cabinet came in handy when a child traced the tray of circles to paint the planets. One child discovered that when you hold a book with a picture of the moon high over your head, you can actually imagine the moon in the sky! We have also incorporated our solar system lessons into our artwork.
“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 Sandpaper Letters are stuff of legend in the Montessori classroom and a child’s first steps towards literacy. Typically, one of the first materials a child is presented with in the language area, they bestow a sense of accomplishment and pride, “I’m learning letters!”. The children were so excited to create their own Sandpaper Letters!
In February, we dive even deeper to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Americans. We focus on artists, politicians, scientists, athletes and peacemakers who have contributed to our world community!
We have explored quilting, an aspect of African American history, and how art can be found in ordinary homes as well as famous art galleries. We worked with color, patterning and geometry. Freedom quilts and the history of their use by the Underground Railroad as a secret code for fugitive slaves relates math, literature and history and through an interdisciplinary approach to this important topic. The books we read included, The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom and Sewing Stories: Harriet Powers' Journey from Slave to Artist.
We have enjoyed reading about people’s impressive lives and important contributions. It has brought us inspiration and interesting 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 using concrete, Montessori materials as they are approaching abstract concepts like subtraction, multiplication, and squaring of numbers. The moveable alphabet is used as part of our language curriculum when starting to learn letter sounds and names but can also be used for further exploration across subject areas. These kindergartners are working on geography and botany extensions using the moveable alphabet.
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. Whether it's a child helping to keep our classroom beautiful or a child helping a friend with a work, our classroom is filled with leaders!
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. This photo shows friends working collaboratively on a map representing animals that are found in biomes around the world. Another picture shows a friend reading words for another child to spell.
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 a carefully prepared environment, that includes 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 photo shows a child choosing a preposition work from the language & grammar area. Another child has chosen to use the movable alphabet to phonetically write about the desert after we read Elf Owl.
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. The 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.