Montessori21stCentury’s Weblog

Montessori Lessons, Ideas and More…

Learning is a Picnic! Part Two-Adventures and Activities

“The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.”  Plato

A picnic is a wonderful opportunity for both children and adults to observe and enjoy nature.  While you eat, as well as before and after your meal, it is fun to keep your eyes and ears open for wildlife, insects, changing sky conditions, and more. 

If you are new to birdwatching, or want some kid-friendly tips, please refer to Sanford R. Wilbur’s “Birdwatching with Kids” interview. http://www.amonco.org/spring1/montessori_spring1.pdf

Birdcage Press also offers a fun card game and book set, Backyard Birds, which you could use in conjunction with your birdwatching adventures. http://www.amonco.org/summer5/montessori_summer5.pdf  

For younger kids and hands-on explorers, botany might be a more rewarding pursuit than bird or wildlife watching.  You need almost no equipment, you don’t need to stay quiet, and your subjects will not fly or scamper away while you are studying them! Make sure you are familiar with poison oak, poison ivy, stinging nettle or any other plants in your area which students should not handle.  Then, get more study ideas from Sara L. Ambarian in her article, “Nurturing Budding Botanists”. http://www.amonco.org/Botanists.pdf

“Whole body learners” (for more, see http://www.amonco.org/summer5/montessori_summer5.pdf ) might really “dig” geologic explorations. Examining soil and rock formations often requires a lot of walking around and getting your hands dirty. Don’t think that you need to have a location with really dramatic geologic features like boulders or cliff faces in order to have a rewarding geology adventure. You can learn a lot from looking at variations in the color and texture of soil or gravel areas, the sizes and composition of rocks along a river bed, the shapes of surrounding hills or mountains, etc. Visit the following website from Rochester, New York, for some fun ideas to get kids started enjoying rocks and minerals. http://rochester.kidsoutandabout.com/content/getting-kids-rockhounding  

Geology enthusiasts will also enjoy the Hobby Lobby story found here: http://www.amonco.org/summer2/montessori_summer2.pdf .

Another great way to enjoy a day outside is to immortalize it in art. Before going, you might invest some time preparing with an art study program like that found in Coyote Creek’s video series “Drawing Nature”. http://www.coycreek.com/drawingnaturevol2drawinglessonsforbeginners.aspx

Other fun outdoor activities that give children an opportunity to move around and might be appropriate for your picnic location are kite-flying and beachcombing. Find lots of ideas and resources on these subjects in “Up, Up and Away—The Art and Fun of Kite Flying” and “Classified Seashell Activities and Resources”. http://www.amonco.org/summer/montessori_summer1.pdf

For learning opportunities involving weather and sky conditions, check out these informative links from the National Weather Service. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc/?n=teacher

When you’re done eating and exploring, you may want to make a memento to remember the outing. This site has some fun outdoor crafts listed in their sections for “backyard”, “beach craft”, “camping and picnic”, etc. http://familycrafts.about.com/od/summercrafts/a/summermn.htm

Here are a few other selected outdoor craft ideas for students young and old: 

Tree Rubbings Collage http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/Tree-Rubbings-Collage.html

Pretty pencil pinwheel http://crafts.kaboose.com/pretty-pencil-pinwheel.html ,

Fun Floral Straws http://www.marthastewart.com/355464/fun-floral-straws?czone=holiday/sixty-days-of-summer/party-ideas&center=276964&gallery=275330&slide=355464

Families or other groups can extend the outdoor fun, and help a good cause, too, by joining the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout.  Find out more about the program at: http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Great-American-Backyard-Campout.aspx

1 Comment »

Learning is a Picnic!

Part One– Preparation, Refreshments, and Safety

“The first duty of an education is to stir up life, but leave it free to develop.” Maria Montessori

With warm weather and summer holidays from the traditional school year approaching, many of us start looking for ways to enjoy ourselves outdoors.  A perennial favorite summer pastime is picnicking; and with some forethought, you can plan an outing that is both recreational and educational!

Planning and preparation–

Children of all ages can help with both planning and preparations for a picnic. These activities help children practice important daily life activities, and they also give them a sense of involvement in and anticipation of the event.

Generally speaking, you will need to consider the date, the time, the location, your mode of transportation, the number and ages of participants, the menu, and activities in which you might participate during the outing.  You will also need to think about the equipment and supplies you will need both for transportation and service of the food and for the comfort and safety of the participants. 

Keeping a running list of items to buy and/or pack to which you can add things as you remember them can be a big help.  If your students help you pack, you can have even early readers find and check off each item on the list as they carry it out to the car, put it in the picnic basket, etc.

For ideas about picnic planning, check out “Year-End Activities: A Family Picnic” from Dale at North American Montessori Center http://www.amonco.org/summer/montessori_summer1.pdf  and these other resources.

http://www.everythingmom.com/activities/picnic-ideas-how-to-plan-a-picnic.html, http://www.eatingoutloud.com/2009/06/how-to-pack-plan-a-picnic.html, http://www.keepyourcooler.com/planning-the-perfect-picnic.html

Refreshments—

Part of the fun of a picnic is loosening up the routines of more-formal meals. Jaye from Creative Care craft kits is completely in the spirit of both picnicking and Montessori daily life exercises with her self-serve Hot Dog Buffet. She also suggests a great carry-around dessert, Grandmother’s Oatmeal Cookies. Find them both here: http://www.amonco.org/summer7/montessori_summer7.pdf

Tara from the Lord Company shares a make-ahead main dish recipe, Rollie Poultries. http://www.amonco.org/summer7/montessori_summer7.pdf These tasty treats are easy to transport and serve cold, but could also be re-heated in foil or a dutch oven, if your picnic plans will include a campfire or barbecue grill.

Another fun hands-on recipe to make before the picnic is Summer Fruit, Cheese and Meat Kabobs. http://www.amonco.org/summer2/montessori_summer2.pdf  This simple, but appealing snack from Dianne at Conceptual Learning provides an opportunity for even very young children to participate in meal preparations. (For the youngest kids, consider shorter toothpicks/skewers to suit both their shorter attention spans and their less-developed dexterity.)

Diana from Nature’s Workshop Plus! provides a sweet and nutty carry-along dessert with her Stuffed Apples recipe. http://www.amonco.org/summer7/montessori_summer7.pdf

Lois Scarbrough appeals to the chocoholics in your picnic party with Fudge Cupcakes.  http://www.amonco.org/summer4/montessori_summer4.pdf

For a backyard picnic, try Kathy O’Reilly’s Watermelon Blueberry Banana Split. This recipe wouldn’t travel well, but it includes great ideas for student involvement and expanded study and discussion for a schoolyard or backyard picnic setting. http://www.amonco.org/summer2/montessori_summer2.pdf

Getting dirty is part of the fun of picnicking, so how about bringing along some homemade cinnamon rolls with lick-your-fingers icing, like these from Larry of Farm Country General Store? http://www.amonco.org/summer7/montessori_summer7.pdf

Have an adventurous crew attending your picnic? Check out Fun Felt’s pirate-themed snack recipes. http://www.amonco.org/summer6/montessori_summer6.pdf

Need more picnic food ideas?

Check out these Independence Day recipes from Sara L. Ambarian. http://www.amonco.org/ambarian4thofjuly.html

Make finger food a learning experience! You can use this fun alphabet sandwich idea with cold sandwiches just as easily as with the suggested grilled cheese.  http://www.grandparents.com/gp/content/activitiesandevents/kids-crafts/article/grilled-cheese-alphabet.html

Here is a cute gallery of picnic food recipes great for visually-oriented picnic planners. http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/picnic-gallery-889045/view-all

You’ll find some wonderful, simple recipe ideas here, in the UK Guardian newspaper’s article, “101 Picnic Recipes: Ready in 20 minutes or less”. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/aug/17/recipe.beef  Not only are the recipe ideas interesting and inspiring, learning the British terms (like “beetroot” and “aubergine”) and spellings offer students another layer of learning.  These suggestions are especially appropriate for older students and enthusiastic, creative budding chefs, because only ingredients and basic preparation instructions are included.  No measurements are provided, which allows you and your student(s) to experiment with taking a recipe concept and designing your OWN recipe.  Exercises like these in the kitchen are invaluable to young cooks, because they tap into thought processes and creativity that following a specific recipe does not.  They also allow for additional record-keeping and analysis.

Safety—

Introduce some kitchen science concepts for older students by reviewing these picnic food safety guidelines. These are both great overviews from university food departments—the first short and fairly simple, the second more in-depth for your more scientifically-minded students. http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsafety/consumers/index.cfm?articleid=153&parent=1 http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/foodsci/ext/pubs/picnic.html

If your picnic plan includes a campfire, be sure to review some basic fire safety guidelines with your students before you go.  This list of rules from a Canadian Girl Guides leader is excellent (and she has some other great outdoor fun ideas, as well)! http://dragon.sleepdeprived.ca/songbook/firerules.htm

Check back to this blog next week, to read the second part of this two part article.

However, before you point your browser to another website,  glance to the right of this page, to check out some of the current top posts on the Montessori for the 21st Century blog..  🙂

1 Comment »

Take a Tour of Italy – Montessori K-6 Unit Study

The AMC Montessori Italy Unit Study has just been updated for 2012. Visit Montessori Italy Unit Study to access the links listed below.

These PreK and K-8 links will lead you to articles, hands-on activities and other exercises that are compatible with the Montessori classified reading cards, phonics, grammar, creative writing, science, social studies and other extensive lesson plans found in Montessori at Home, Modern Montessori at Home and Modern Montessori at Home II books.

Links for Learning the Italian Language

Beginning French Lessons (Use the Materials for Lesson Presentations in English, Spanish and Italian)
Beginning Italian – Learn the Parts of a House
Beginning Italian – Colors
Teaching Children Italian: Parts of the House
The Alphabet: Teaching Children Italian Part 2
Numbers: Teaching Children Italian Part 3
Parts of the Body: Teaching Children Italian
AMC Montessori Grammar Game (Customize to Present Grammar in Italian – Free Game Templates Included)
Download a Free Italian Song

Links to Italian Art, Art History and Renaissance Fashion

Art Projects for Elementary Students on Da Vinci Leonardo da Vinci Drawings
Art Appreciation for Preschool and Elementary Children
Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
Hands On Michelangelo Projects
Italian Renaissance Costume Construction (for Older Children and Teens)
An Easy Italian Renaissance Gown
History of Italian Art
Italian Art & Italian Craft
Montessori Renaissance Art Presentations
Renaissance Art of Italy
Classroom Drawing and Painting Supplies for Your Art Prsentations

Links to Music of Italy

Oh How I Love Italy – Music, Art, Food Seasoned with History and Geography
Vivaldi’s Musical Activities and Lessons for The Four Season
Italian Music Terms
Music Unit Study (William Tell Overture Finale by Gioachino Rossini) Ages 5 – 7
Music Unit Study (William Tell Overture: Finale by Gioachino Rossini)Ages 8 – 10
ITALIA – Musical Instruments Museums in Italy
Montessori Renaissance Music Presentations
A Brief History of Italian Opera – Listen to the Audio

Geography and Social Studies Links

Free Blank Outline Map of Italy
Maps of Italy (for Classification and Matching Exercises)
Italy: Monuments Past and Present
Italy, Rome & Roman Culture Educational Posters
Italy Timeline
Rome – The Late Republic
Italy: History, Geography, Government and Culture
Great Italians in History
A History of Italy
History of the Italian Language
A Maria Montessori Worth Watching

Italian Recipes

Apple’s Manicotti (Watch as Apple leads children through the recipe process)
Sara’s Antipasto Salad Recipe
The Italian Chef
Easy Italian Recipes
Giada De Laurentiis Recipes

Let’s Write and Discuss

Italy Around the World
Roman Food- History for Kids!
Androcles and the Lion Fable
Androcles and the Lion Felt Board Story
WebQuest for Kids
Visiting Rome with Your Kids
Visiting Italy with Children
Write Your Own Books – For K – 3rd Grade(Part I) – Create a booklet about Italy)
Write Your Own Books – For K – 3rd Grade (Part II) – Create a booklet about Italy

To access this unit study please visit Montessori Unit Study

Enjoy!
Heidi Anne Spietz
http://www.amonco.org

1 Comment »