Montessori21stCentury’s Weblog

Montessori Lessons, Ideas and More…

Time to Tune Up on Math

Although most of us believe in learning through day-to-day life year-round, the start of a new school year, is a great time to refocus on core academic subjects and explore new skills. Many parents and educators worry about loss of math proficiency over the summer months, and some students feel a little intimidated when it is time to return to more-traditional math studies. Whether your students are a little rusty, they need a little fun motivation to get in the swing again, or you merely want to evaluate their current skills, we hope you will benefit from the following mathematics resources.

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Dianne Knesek of Conceptual Learning Materials, Inc. has shared some useful free math exercises and ideas at http://www.amonco.org/creative/montessori_fall2.pdf and http://www.amonco.org/creative7/montessori_fall7.pdf.  At her website, http://www.conceptuallearning.com, you can find many more math products which focus on mastering incremental concepts rather than repetitive drills. The products span kindergarten through 8th grade, and cover subjects such as place value, sequencing, time, money, decimals, percent and pre-algebra.

For free algebra exercises, check out Dr. Borenson and Associates’ submissions from Hands-On Equations at http://www.amonco.org/creative3/montessori_fall3.pdf and http://www.amonco.org/creative6/montessori_fall6.pdf. The Hands-on Equations system for “demystifying” algebra can be used for students as young as 3rd grade.  Find out more about the research behind Dr. Borenson’s system and how you can implement it with your students at http://www.borenson.com.

Younger mathematicians can benefit from the Math Board program from Insta-Learn.  Students can work their way through different levels of self-paced and self-checked exercises, which teach numbers, sums, money counting, and more. See more details at http://www.insta-learn.com/html/math.html. Insta-Learn also offers similar programs for perception and language skills.

Excellence in Education offers a wide variety of educational materials, including a wide variety of mathematics curriculum offerings. Find respected names like Saxon in levels from early elementary to calculus, as well as many interesting products that relate math to other academic subjects, use humor to teach, and/or give students a hands-on experience.  Also, don’t miss their interesting Game Curriculum, which uses fun board games to help hone student skills. http://www.excellenceineducation.com

Another great hands-on learning method for math and other academic and social lessons is Story Time Felt. This classic learning toy offers children a quiet play/lesson time that can be stimulating without over-stimulating. Perhaps you remember felt board activities from your own educational, Sunday school, and other home-play past. If not, we predict a few minutes’ worth of play will have you hooked on this open-ended, creative learning product. Find counting and other number-oriented sets here– http://www.funfelt.com/math.html — but don’t miss their felt boards on other subjects, their “quiet books”, and other old-fashioned, low-tech, American-made products.

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Starting the School Year Right: Back-to-School Ideas for the Montessori School and Home Classrooms

Most of us—teachers, parents, and students alike—want to start each school year off as pleasantly and productively as possible.  If you are reading this, you are obviously taking extra steps to make the most of the educational opportunities available, which is wonderful both for you and for the children with whom you come into contact.  We hope that some of the following ideas will help get you in the spirit as you start the new school year.

Remembering why we’re here

Since Maria Montessori’s philosophy is child-centered and prioritizes an orderly, inspirational atmosphere, your mindset and focus as a facilitator are crucial. Perhaps you could benefit from a little inspiration “from the source”, in the form of the following Maria Montessori information:

http://www.essortment.com/maria-montessori-biography-20482.html

http://thinkexist.com/quotes/maria_montessori

You can also read more about Maria Montessori and other famous people with Montessori education connections at The Creative Process: http://www.amonco.org/creative01/montessori_fall1.pdf

Meeting new classmates and working as a group

Dale Gausman, from North American Montessori Center, shares a simple “Getting to Know  Each Other” activity, which  focuses on listening and speaking skills while helping students relate to one another.

Rita, also from North American Montessori Center, provides instructions for making a “Friendship Tree” with personalized, hand-printed paper leaves for each student.  This fun project will also make an attractive classroom decoration.

Find both of these classroom ideas at http://www.amonco.org/creative3/montessori_fall3.pdf

Hands-on gardening projects

Another way to get students working together right from the start, and to celebrate the start of a new class community is to plant a tree. Rae, from The Creative Process, provides lesson ideas and resources for this class project here:  http://www.amonco.org/creative/montessori_fall4.pdf

More information and educational ideas are also available from the Arbor Day Foundation:

http://www.arborday.org/arborday

Continuing with botanical/gardening themes, Rae also encourages you to use autumn to plan for your classroom spring garden. This makes good sense for gardeners young and old. Many autumn garden chores can make spring planting easier, fall is when seed catalogs become available to plan your order, and off-season planning can increase interest when spring arrives. Also, looking at the photos and descriptions of beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables is very cheering as the weather starts to turn cool and gloomy.  See Rae’s tips here: http://www.amonco.org/creative01/montessori_fall1.pdf

Why not kick your garden plans into high gear with new resource material to study over the fall and winter?  Farm Country General Store has a number of interesting gardening books, like All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew, on sale now at http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com/product_info.php/products_id/929617

For more fall garden planning/chores, check out these interesting sites:

http://www.the-landscape-design-site.com/blog/2008/10/fall-gardening-checklist-preparing-the-fall-garden-for-spring

http://accomplishedwoman.blogspot.com/2009/09/gardening-fall-plan-for-spring.html

http://www.hgtv.com/landscaping/plan-your-spring-garden/index.html

Staying calm and focused

Many children (and adults) find the start of school stressful, with re-adjusting to a more structured environment, spending more time away from family, meeting new classmates, etc.  To help, Georgette Baker of Cantemos bilingual music and books suggests simple “Relaxation Exercises for the Classroom”. These techniques are basic enough to use with very young children, but can also benefit all of us – in or out of the classroom or homeschool environment. Why not take a moment to find out more at: http://www.amonco.org/creative01/montessori_fall1.pdf

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For more miscellaneous ideas, here’s a round-up of back-to-school ideas for both classroom and homeschool environments:

http://homeschoolparent.blogspot.com/2011/07/homeschool-organization-inspiration.html

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8164433/tips_for_incorporating_a_back_to_school.html?cat=2

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http://www.flylady.net/pages/FlyBacktoSchool4.asp

http://www.lmma.net/montessori-education/beat-those-back-to-school-blues

http://tips.atozteacherstuff.com/back-to-school-tips

http://backtoschool.about.com/od/forteachers/Preparing_for_the_First_Day_of_Class.htm

For all of your year round lesson planning, visit
http://www.amonco.org and
http://www.amonco.org/directory.html

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