Monday, January 31, 2011

Serendipitous Success

We have a Parent Night every school year where the children show their parents the room and the work.  We teachers and assistants sit back and let the children take the lead.  It is sometimes necessary for me to sit on my hands as I see:  1)  Children using the material incorrectly, and 2)  Children choosing material that they have never been presented!  Imagine my delight (all you Montessorians will understand) when this girl went up to the sandpaper letters, traced them, and told her parents the sound!  I'm glad I decided to display the letters this way.  It takes up a great deal of space but gives the letters the importance they deserve.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vertebrate Floor Mat

This is a project we created for a fundraiser our school is having.  Each Casa donates a project for the live auction.  We decided to do a canvas floor mat of the five animal vertebrates.  We used primed canvas and cut a square.

We folded the canvas into a square and used a pencil attached to a string to cut our circle.  The children help cut it out and lay it down.

 Next, we paint on the background color with acrylics.

I pencil in the basic design that we devise, and the painting begins!  We use the fractions of five to draw evenly spaced lines for the five spaces by setting the fraction in the middle and extending the lines.

After the basic design is done, I pencil in the animals and the children paint them.

 We paint the outer border next.

 I add details to the animals, do the lettering, we edge with binding, and add a coat of polyurethane.  Voila!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Baby Penguins are Chicks

I forgot all about this sweet (and very short) video a parent made for me.  The children remind me of giant penguins--just hanging out and having a good time! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I went to a great workshop yesterday on Special Needs Children and Montessori.  Dr. Ann Epstein from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse was the presenter.  She is a former Children's House teacher so she had wonderful ideas for making special needs work in the Montessori environment.  One school she mentioned that has had much success with special needs and inclusion is  Topics of discussion at the workshop:  Risk Factors, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (United States), Assessing Special Needs, Cognitive Disorders and Delays, Inclusion, Learning Disabilities, Behavioral Disorders, Sensory Integrations Disorder, Autism and Asperger's, and Partnering with Families.  I hope to blog on some specific disorders and the adaptations in the Montessori environment in the future.  What a great resource:  a Montessori teacher with a doctorate in Special Education!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Who is the love?

One of my students came in at four years old knowing all her letter sounds with the manuscript letters (we generally present cursive first but I always check to see what they know when they are older).  I dictated the first phrase and then got busy with something.  She came up with the second phrase.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tests Are Not The Thing

This is an excerpt from Dan Pink's (wrote A Whole New Mind) blog at  Brian Greene is an amazing physicist whose books include The Elegant Universe and Fabric of the Cosmos (fabulous reads).  As one commenting reader says (and I paraphrase), "If Brian Greene says it, I'm going with it.

Interview exchange of the day

From Deborah Solomon’s New York Times Magazine interview with superstar physicist Brian Greene . . .
SOLOMON: Do you think SAT scores define intelligence?
GREENE: No. They define the capacity to answer questions on an SAT test.

Just another reminder that the tests are not the thing.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What Makes You a Good Parent?

In the November 2010 issue of Scientific American Mind a new study is covered that examines what makes a good parent.  Notably, the number two attribute is managing stress for yourself and your children.  The number three attribute is having good relationships with people both in and out of the home, as opposed to a more child-centered relationship model.  Take a look at the article at:  Here is the list of the top ten attributes:
1.  Love and Affection.
2.  Stress Management.
3.  Relationship Skills.
4.  Autonomy and Independence (treating your children with respect and trust).
5.  Education and Learning.
6.  Life Skills.
7.  Behavior Management.
8.  Health.
9.  Religion.
10.  Safety.
Here is a link to take Robert Epstein's (author of the article) parenting test:   For those of you who are teachers, this might be an interesting conversation on a parenting night.