Thursday, April 29, 2010


I've been thinking that most children's playgrounds are quite uninspired.  It would be lovely if we could incorporate more natural elements into the playgrounds, echoing each area's unique history and beautiful topography.  San Francisco's Bay Area Children's Museum does a beautiful job of building an interactive playground, with artist's contributions and integrated structures.  They have a fish that "swims" when the children turn a crank (created by artist Ben Trautmann).  Check it out!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Best Aprons

My fabulous assistant Wendy has a new website:  She at this time has a collection of aprons for practical life and will be adding more items as time passes.  We always get comments from visitors on the beauty of our aprons and practical life area.  Wendy is doing this as more of a service to Montessorians and parents as she is selling these at such a low price.  She is the quilter who helped the children make our quilt for our silent auction.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

All in a Day's Work

What a week!  I was sick the first two days of the week and slowly recovering the rest of the week.  I lost my voice but the children took it in stride.  On Friday, I decided (or rather, my body demanded) to sit back and observe.  Here is what I saw:

 Fun with spoons

Counting and Observing

Marley and the bunny whisperer

Writing and Apples
Good Conversation

All in all, a pretty good day.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Here Comes The Sun

Yesterday we had a staff meeting where we move a few shelves in Casa II and set up the chairs and tables for all the adults because we don't have a conference room.  When we were putting things back in order, I moved a shelf 6 inches and everything came tumbling off with a huge crash!  Almost everything broke:  all the pieces for tea, pineapple slicing and apple cutting.  If you are a Montessori guide you know how devastating this is--all the special little things you collect for years and years:  the perfect teapot, the apple-shaped bowl, the beautiful cup and saucer, the ideal tiny dish.  Then, on top of that, I lost my voice!  Anyway, I was looking through photos and came upon this one.  Usually this material is on a table, but this child found the perfect place to do his work.  I can replace the china, but could never do my work without the materials that the genius of Montessori developed.  A moment of illumination and humility.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Eliminating the Achievement Gap
In the StarTribune today there was an editorial concerning early childhood education, budget cuts, and the Federal Reserve.  Evidently, there was an early childhood "experiment" where 90 low-income, children of color  were exposed to a quality preschool program.  When third-graders, these children were tested in a pool of chldren in reading.  Those that attended the preschool program tested at levels equal to all third grade children.  Those low-income, children of color who did not attend the preschool program tested significantly below the average.  Unfortunately, our governor is looking to cut funding to the types of programs that aid our at-risk preschoolers.  If, as a state, and a nation, we truly want to cut the "achievement gap" that occurs between white, middle-class students, and minority, low-income students, we have seen persuasive evidence that preschool is the place to do it.  If we are not convinced that we should spend the money simply to help these children, there is also persuasive evidence that preschool funding leads to cost-savings for the government down the line, in excess of the cost of funding at-risk preschool-age children (see:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"The Global Achievement Gap"

I've been reading Tony Wagner's book The Global Achievement Gap and see a strong correlation between the skills he is advocating and Montessori education.  He posits that the skills schools now teach are hopelessly outdated in light of our global economy, and that our traditional schools do not produce the skills needed for success in college, work, and life in general.  He has developed "seven survival skills" necessary for success in the "new world of work," which he developed through interviews with corporate and educational leaders.  He also convincingly presents evidence of how our test-based educational system fails to produce these skills, and his evidence is obtained through real, hands-on research.  While Montessori education is also over 100 years old (as is our traditional method in the U.S.), it works to produce the skills Wagner advocates.  These skills are obtained by Montessori students mainly because of the global view Montessori possessed, and the scientific rigor she brought to the observation that she used to mold her approach.  Her goal was to help the individual become the best whole person he or she could be:  mind, body and spirit, not the best at short-term memorization.  Even though the video is close to 30 minutes, the first five minutes or so state the case.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Old and Young

Here we are at Auburn Manor again, the assisted-living facility we visit.  We told a story that required the children and elders to do actions, and then drew a picture that related to the story.  It was one of our more successful visits, because those that wanted to participate could, and those that simply watched had a good time watching and listening to the story.  Also, the children have grown more comfortable with the elders.  One woman started braiding a child's hair and the elders insisted on singing "Happy Birthday" to our twins with a birthday.  The children elicit such good responses from the elderly, perhaps because of their frankness, and total acceptance of physical and mental issues.  They don't seem to mind being asked the same question multiple times, and enjoy helping with scissors, crayons and the like.  One girl said to me, "Remember when I used to be scared?" in a tone of disbelief that she would ever have felt that way.  I wonder what it would be like if they resided more permanently together, such as a school within the facility.