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Montessori Lessons, Ideas and More…

Hello, World! Foreign Language and Culture Studies

“The world is so full of a number of things,

I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Montessori education encourages exploration and tries to open up a child’s horizons by encouraging a positive and curious spirit. The world around us contains wonders for students to explore at many levels, from the microscopic to the universal. 

Foreign languages and cultures can provide rich and varied experiences for young people through new words, new places, new traditions, new food, new music, new art, new fashion, and many other cultural components. So, whether your students will start by learning more about their own family heritage or will be introduced to a completely new culture, there is literally a whole world of potential adventures for students studying other languages and cultures.

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For almost 40 years, François Thibaut has been teaching young children to speak new languages, using immersion, visual cues, and humor. His highly-acclaimed Professor Toto programs are designed for children from ages 2 to 8, and they are available in French, Spanish, Chinese, Italian and German. Visit the Professor Toto website to view excerpts from the instructional videos, read reviews of the program, and find out more about their 30-day risk-free guarantee. http://www.professortoto.com

You can also read the personal impressions of a teacher and grandmother when she tested out the Professor Toto system with her 27-month-old English speaking Chinese granddaughter. https://montessori21stcentury.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/adventures-in-chinese-for-children

Reading, Writing and Spelling in Spanish helps you build customized, creative Spanish lessons for students 3-11 years old, with grammar, vocabulary, number, time, geography and many more resources. http://www.amonco.org/montessori_spanish.html

Foreign countries can provide an interesting basis for unit studies.  Most of us have worked with unit studies before; but if you are not familiar with them, you will find a good overview here:  http://www.examiner.com/homeschooling-in-albuquerque/benefits-of-homeschool-unit-studies

This unit study guide for Italy provides many ideas and resources, and might also inspire you to design your own unit study for a country or region that you feel would engage your students. http://www.amonco.org/montessori_italy.html

For more great Italian unit studies ideas, be sure to peruse “Oh, How I Love Italy” from Marjorie Kiel Persons at Classical Magic, Inc. http://www.amonco.org/summer4/montessori_summer4.pdf

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For more on the benefits to children of learning a foreign language, read this interesting interview article from The Duke University Talent Identification Program. http://www.actfl.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=4724

Also, review this analysis from the NEA. http://www.ncssfl.org/papers/BenefitsSecondLanguageStudyNEA.pdf

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Find out more about how childhood varies in selected countries, with articles for students and by students. http://library.thinkquest.org/CR0212302/akidslifein.html

To explore more about both multiculturalism in the United States and world cultures, check out this extensive resource: http://www.everyculture.com

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Liven Up Your Literature Lessons with Culinary Creations

Foster your child’s interest in cooking by adding some sparkle to your child’s summer reading list.  First, visit your local library and compile your selected booklist.    If you experience some problems developing a list or finding books that relate to both cooking and literature, ask the reference librarian to assist you.  As you know, many libraries now have an interdisciplinary loan program in place.  Therefore, books that belong to other library systems other than your own may be sent to your local branch for you borrow.

You can also refine your search by using your favorite search engine. Type in the keyword phrase children’s literature and recipes.  If you don’t see any titles that interest you, visit PBS Bookfinder, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or literatureplace.com and search for books using keyword phrases mystery and cooking,  social studies and cooking  or type your own special keyword combination into the search box.

The following three books represent a sampling of some of what you will find on your quest.  A synopsis of each is provided so that you will have an idea of how cooking and literature can be creatively combined in children’s literature.

Blue Schwartz and Nefertiti’s Necklace: A Mystery with Recipes by Betty Jacobson Hectman

Readers 10 and up will be intrigued with the main character Blue Schwartz.  She is bright, spunky, imaginative and very conscientious.     In order to build her savings account to purchase what she needs, Blue babysits for the children of an esteemed professor.

Blue is well loved by the professor’s children, often creating culinary delights that are offbeat, but delicious.   In her spare time, Blue’s eyes are glued to a television cooking program, as she is always eager to try the new recipes she discovers with her family, friends, and classmates.

As this fast paced story unfolds, Blue is soon accused of stealing a prized ancient Egyptian necklace owned by the professor.  She is given a short time frame in which to return the necklace or face the consequnces of being reported to the police.  Faced with this real threat, Blue is forced to assume the new role of a sleuth, in a desperate attempt to find the real thief.

This action packed story will engage even the most reluctant reader.    Upper elementary and middle school students will identify with Blue’s struggles to balance her school and home life, in addition to facing and solving the ongoing challenges of preteen life. Not many preteens or teens will face a predicament that is as extreme as Blue’s, but the story does provide for some interesting and useful problem solving techniques.

Blue’s culinary creations are mentioned throughout the story and the actual recipes are located in the back of the book; the titles alone will spark some interest in the young reader wanting to try at least one – Oatmeal Cookies for People Who Don’t Like Raisins, Nutty Popcorn Balls, Blue’s Bean Blizzard – and more.

The Coming to America Cookbook: Delicious Recipes and Fascinating Stories from America’s Many Cultures by Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond

This book is actually a collaborative effort of a registered dietitian and cooking instructor.  Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond span the globe to find recipes that represent a good cross-section of food indigenous to many cultures.  The authors present an interesting factually based overview, sprinkled with trivia and vocabulary about each of the countries selected.  After children read and learn about each country, they can try their hand at cooking up some scrumptious meals that are common to that region.  Every recipe we tried was delicious; our taste buds were in seventh heaven, experiencing the new spices and seasonings used in the recipes.

Many cultures are represented throughout the book – Ethiopian, Nigerian, Chinese, Turkish, Indian, Brazilian – and many more..     Educators will appreciate the introductory section of the book which presents the tools of the trade and safety rules associated with cooking.

Tasty Bible Stories A Menu of Tales & Matching Recipes by Tami Lehman-Wilzig

This book was a big hit with my fourth grade student.  Her eyes lit up like a Christmas tree when the book was initially presented to her early last year.   The attractive artwork displayed from cover to cover sustained her interest.

An interesting summary of selected Old Testament Bible stories is presented.  The recipes chosen correspond to the food mentioned in the story.  For example, the recipes for Baked Apple A Lá Mode and Fresh Figs and Sour Cream follow the story Eve: The Apple of Adam’s Eye.   Fresh Herb Mezzle, Persian Rice and Persian Kebab recipes compliment the story about Queen Esther.  These are just two of many clever examples of how literature and cooking can be combined.

By scouring the web, you can find additional ways to incorporate cooking into your summer lesson planning curriculum.  See the following links for additional resources:

http://www.dltk-bible.com/recipes.htm

Bible Recipes

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/life/handstand-kids-chinese-cookbook-29382.html

Handstand Kids: Chinese Cookbooks

http://blog.pockettales.com/post/15027197534/weekend-fun-cooking-with-childrens-literature

Weekend Fun: Cooking with Children’s Literature

http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com/product_info.php/products_id/3137

Cooking Up U.S. History

http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com/product_info.php/products_id/3138

Cooking Up World History

http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com/product_info.php/products_id/929103

Eat Your Way through the USA

May your child’s culinary adventures this summer be filled with fun.  🙂

Enjoy!

Heidi Anne Spietz

American Montessori Consulting

http://www.amonco.org

Celebrating 24 Years of Serving School and Home Educators

Montessori for the 21st Century

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Summer Reading Round-Up

With summer holidays and trips ahead, now is a perfect time to start exploring your students’ recreational reading options.  We have put together a variety of ideas to help get you and your students excited about literature both for free reading and for reading aloud as a family or class group. From pre-readers to teenagers, we have recommendations for every age group, and from many genres.

We surveyed the American Montessori Consulting Resource Center partners   http://www.amonco.org/directory.html for their favorite titles for families and young readers.  You can find a listing of the results in “Children’s Books for Summer Reading, Part One– Resource partner picks” at http://www.amonco.org/summer2/montessori_summer2.pdf

We also put the word out to students, parents, grandparents, teachers and others who value reading.  The favorites of this diverse group, from 7 years old to 80 years old, are listed in “Children’s Books for Summer Reading, Part Two– Community recommendations”.  http://www.amonco.org/summer4/montessori_summer4.pdf

Rita from Literatureplace.com shares both book suggestions and lesson ideas in the following three articles, “Howls With Owls”, “And the Winner Is…”, and “Start With the Winners”. Her recommendations focus on award winners and classic literature.  http://www.amonco.org/summer6/montessori_summer6.pdf

If you are longing for a taste of the Great Outdoors, you may enjoy the 19th and 20th century titles recommended by Sara L. Ambarian in “Classic Nature and Outdoor Adventure Fiction for Kids and Families.” This listing spans from very simple read-alouds to teen-appropriate fiction.  http://www.amonco.org/spring5/montessori_spring.5.pdf

The Lord Company offers free downloadable books in their Simple Steps Reading Series. These parable-based early reading stories are printed in single pages, which the student can help to download, bind and decorate.  This makes the book not just a tool for lessons, but a potential keepsake; and their participation in creating the book is a good daily life exercise, as well. http://www.amonco.org/summer7/montessori_summer7.pdf

Are you still looking for more reading resources? 

This list includes some great books you may not have thought about in quite a while. http://childrensbooksguide.com/top-100

The search features at PublicLibraries.com can help you locate your local branch library –or perhaps a library near a vacation destination–  so you can be sure not to run out of reading materials!  http://www.publiclibraries.com

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For those of you who are tech-oriented, there is another library service gaining popularity across the country—downloading free electronic books from your local library.  Some busy readers find it useful to have a single book available to read on their home computer, iPod and other electronic devices as time and inclination allow.  If this sounds like something which might interest you, here is some additional information to get you started.

PublicLibraries.com posted an article and poll data comparing electronic books with print books on their blog on April 17, 2012. http://www.publiclibraries.com

This is a very interesting article about the advantages and disadvantages of borrowing e-books from the library. http://www.nodebtplan.net/2011/11/10/borrow-ebooks-from-your-local-library-to-save-money

Here’s another short how-to article/video about downloading e-books from your public library. http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-20049244-285/how-to-download-e-books-from-your-local-library

This site is a good example of a big city library system’s e-books offerings.  Your library’s offerings may vary.  http://www.sandiego.gov/public-library/catalog-databases/ebooks.shtml

This seems to be the main search engine for libraries with e-book services. You may find yours here, too. http://sonysearch.overdrive.com

Happy reading!

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