Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Practical Life in Practice

One favorite activity in our Casa is window cleaning.  We have been using the cake cleanser from www.montessoriservices.com and the children enjoy using it.  It leaves a residue that takes a bit of elbow grease to remove, so we use paper towels to polish the windows, and it works well.  We often need to direct the children back to the work, with a comment such as, "I think you missed a small area, here, let me help you," or some such thing to help them really remove all the polish the first few times they do the activity.  I have also included a photo of our cookie baking.  We are making tortillas from scratch right now for a baking activity but we also added cookie baking.  We have the children make a huge batch of gluten-free cookie dough (we have celiac disease in our Casa), and then they separate it into small amounts to be used for individual baking, wrapping them in cling wrap and storing them in the refrigerator.  The children roll out the sugar cookies and then use cookie cutters.  I love seeing them in the bakers hat, apron, and oven mitts that my assistant makes.  You can find them at www.threadcreationsbywendy.com.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sponges for Practical Life

This a sample of the sponges we've been making.  On the premise that you never know what is going to excite a child's interest, we cut the sponges to fit the containers and relate to the activity.  I purchased these flat sponge sheets through http://www.ellisoneducation.com/catalog?w=sponge&submit.x=0&submit.y=0&per_page=24.  Although they were a bit expensive (I believe $15 a package), I bought a package of assorted colors that I suspect will last two to three years.  Our school is on break right now, and we are having a fabulously snowy winter, so it is back to material making for me!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Peace on Earth

I couldn't resist taking this photo today while these girls were completing the third color box with the globe as the center.  As another year ends, I look forward to a new year, and the chance for peace on earth.  I believe that within the hearts and minds of all our Montessori children lies the best chance for a peaceful world. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Animal Class

This presentation took an unexpected turn.  I gathered a group to review the classes of the vertebrates.  This led to the children wanting to do research:  drawing a picture of an animal and writing a sentence or two about the animal.  This particular child decided to write about the horse and took a different direction than the rest.  You never know what will lead to inspiration!  The translation of the text is:  "I love you Rock Pony."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Going Back to Move Forward

It is interesting to see the older children go back to material they used when they were younger and manipulate it in a different way.  Here, one of the children decided she wanted to know which tower of cylinders was the tallest.  She persevered in stacking the blue cylinders, which is difficult because they all have the same diameter.  She has since went back to this work several times, and added measuring items around the room and writing the measurements down.  The other photo shows one of the children going back to the puzzle that illustrates the parts of the horse.  He spent a long time looking at the bones under the puzzle pieces before replacing this puzzle and going through the other vertebrate puzzles.  I asked him what he was doing (when he was in transition) and he said "just looking at the puzzle."  I wonder what connections he made.  I'm glad we have the time to "just look."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Praise Junkies

At our third Parent Partnership meeting we discussed Chapters 2 and 3 of Alfie Kohn's, Unconditional Parenting.  One difficult aspect of this book is all the "bad" stuff (mistakes parents make), is put before all of the "good" stuff (practical advice on better parenting).
One idea that stood out for us was that the words "good job" can be powerful.  Do these simple words give the impression to our children that we love them more when they are doing what we deem as "good" and love them less when they are doing what we see as "bad?"  It is hard to know, but we do run the risk of turning our children into "praise junkies," or people that perform only for some sort of reward.  The intriguing part of this is that by continually praising our children, they can become afraid to take risks.  They do not want to fail and lose the praise, so instead they do what comes easily to them so that they can win approval, or grades, or whatever the reward is. It is easy to see what a death knell that could be for innovation and creativity. We also talked a bit about food.  Most research agrees, children eat what they need over a period of days, as long as what is in front of them is healthy.  Adults often feel the need to control a child's intake, but the result can be a pattern of struggles over food, leading to eating disorders.  When young children are not given the opportunity to self-regulate, they often lose their innate ability to do so, and  become obese.  That young children have an innate ability to self-regulate is another marvelous example of how nature has provided for the development of humans.  We decided to work through Chapters 4,5,6, and 7 for next time so that we can get to the good stuff!  We are looking forward to some positivity!