Montessori21stCentury’s Weblog

Montessori Lessons, Ideas and More…

Maria Montessori: Celebrating the Life of an Innovative Educator

Each year, on August 31st, Montessorians worldwide celebrate the birthday of Maria Montessori.    Kurious Kitty’s Kurio Kabait http://kuriouskitty.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-happy-birthday-month.html  and NAMC’s  Celebrating Maria Montessori’s Birthday in the Montessori Classroom http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/2010/08/celebrating-maria-montessoris-birthday.html are just two websites that acknowledge the importance of this iconoclastic educator’s birthday.

Throughout the years, countless school and homeschool Montessorians have written to me and shared their personal Montessori success stories.   In the 2007 the AMC Montessori Centenary Newsletter http://www.amonco.org/montessori_centenary.pdf   some special Montessorians shared how the Montessori method impacted their lives. Some snippets from this special newsletter are included below.

“I was very fortunate to have been one of the first Americans assigned to investigate the research of Montessori and Piaget. My investigation took me to London where I was privileged to work with the Nuffield Foundation and, in particular Edith Biggs who was Her Majesties Minister of Maths. Montessori and Piaget were doing research for a joint doctorate in epistemology and their research was discovering some interesting ideas concerning education and the teaching of children and young adults. Edith Biggs worked as a liaison between them and the outside world at the very first after they had completed their doctorate”.

“There were two ideas from the research of Montessori and Piaget that I have thought were the essence of their research:
1 Children learn actively; a child must be allowed to do an activity over and over again until they reassure themselves that what they have learned is true and this activity must be enjoyable.
2 Young adults must be able to read; they discovered in their research that the most singularly important element necessary for a student to understand a subject is that they know the language of that subject.”

Dr. Mel Poage of Action Mathematics http://www.actionmathematics.com

“To me, Montessori is the only program which enables every child to fully realize his potential.  Initially, my interest in Montessori was strictly personal. My husband’s military and subsequent aerospace contract job assignments threw us into some “not so great” school districts. Several moms like me researched alternatives to traditional programs. Montessori philosophy kept coming up, and we were able to integrate “bits and pieces” into a local church preschool program. However, a complete Montessori program was not available, and we had to “settle” on a few practical life exercises and some “hands-on” learning materials produced by major toy manufacturers.

The premature birth of our third child prompted a new sense of urgency in finding the right educational program. He slept through most of his first year and developed at a much slower rate than his older brothers.  He experienced both receptive and expressive language delays, punctuated by dyslexia. Fortunately, my husband’s job had finally brought us to a suburb of Houston which had a Montessori school, and I put my toddler on the waiting list when he was less than two years old,”  Dianne Knesek of http://www.conceptuallearning.com Conceptual Learning

“I was absolutely fascinated and comfortable with the approach of the Montessori method. I had attended a one room country school K-6, and taught art in public schools, so the environment felt like home to me. I cherish the memory of my toddler daughter exploring the room while we interviewed with the directress. It was clear Jessica was ready, and I am eternally grateful, that Montessori was there for her. As a young adult she has a love of learning and initiative that I attribute to the Montessori program and teachers.” Rae Peterson of The Creative Process http://www.creativeprocess.net/

To read the AMC Montessori  Centenary Newsletter in its entirety, please visit

http://www.amonco.org/montessori_library.html

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

1 Comment »

Chemistry Meets Practical Life Exercises, Arts and Crafts

Liquid Starch, Cornstarch and Epsom Salts–

Chemistry meets practical life exercises, arts and crafts

Activities that use simple household items or ingredients can be fun and  educational. A lot of these activities combine multiple layers of learning, as well as elements of investigation or creativity.

Explore the versatility of some common household items with a sampling of art, craft and practical life activities using liquid laundry starch, cornstarch, and Epsom salts.

From gooey play slime and tasty pie filling to gracious holiday gifts and perky starched curtains, Sara L. Ambarian shares a wide variety of fun and practical projects for children and adults of all ages.

To access this article, please visit  http://www.amonco.org/liquid_starch.pdf

Have fun!

Leave a comment »

Some 1999 Fall Lessons and Resources Revisited – Part I

Are you looking for additional Canadian Thanksgiving, American Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and other worldwide autumn/winter holiday lesson planning information?  If so, you’re likely to find some of  what you need in the original AMC 1999 autumn issue.  This issue, located at  http://amonco.org/fall99.html , has just received a facelift.

Put some spice in your pumpkin presentations by perusing through this issue. Locate a special pumpkin unit study that can be easily adapted for either a Montessori school or home based classroom.  If you are currently creating your own fall themed classified reading activities, check out the pumpkin based investigation link.  Jot down the types of activities you wish to use for your classified reading presentations.  With your list in hand, you can quickly and easily make an interesting pumpkin classified reading card activity that your students are sure to appreciate.

                

Help children experience the majestic beauty and meaning of this upcoming season.  Participating in hands-on exercises involving autumn leaves,  analyzing and creating fall themed poems, and investigating and using Thanksgiving recipes from the past, helps students truly experience just some of what autumn has to offer.

This 1999 issue http://amonco.org/fall99.html also contains lesson planning for several upcoming holidays including Christmas and Hanukkah.   All dead links have been removed and new ones with fresh autumn themed material have been added.

Many of the older AMC issues are in the process of receiving a facelift, so stay tuned for more fall and winter based resources in the weeks to come!!    🙂

Heidi Anne Spietz

American Montessori Consulting

Celebrating 24 Years of Serving School and Home Educators

Montessori for the 21st Century

http://www.amonco.org

Leave a comment »

Plan Ahead! Part II

“First comes thought; then organization of that thought into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” Napoleon Hill

Here are some more resources and ideas for extended lesson plans in other subjects.

Arts, crafts and music—

If a subject is new to you or beyond your personal experiences or education, why not invest in a specialized curriculum.

Coyote Creek offers several sets of art lessons.  Their “Art Lessons for Children” contains six volumes; so if you bought the whole series, you could plan to explore approximately one volume per month for a traditional school year, or one every two months for a full-year’s art instruction. http://www.coycreek.com/artlessonsforchildrensixvolumeseriesondvd-2.aspx

Harrisville Design’s WoolWorks Curriculum for grades 3-8 offers 12 lessons which help you use fiber arts study to reinforce math, social studies, science and other academic subjects.  http://www.harrisville.com/woolworks.htm

Beautify your whole year with handwriting practice and/or calligraphy lessons.

Try the Barkowsky Fluent Handwriting system to help students learn neat and attractive handwriting. Also, as a fun combination of practice and creativity, have students try some calligrams—artful shapes made of handwritten words.  http://www.amonco.org/creative7/montessori_fall7.pdf

To get even more creative and ornamental, why not introduce on-going calligraphy lessons? Calligraphy teaches coordination, neatness and attention to detail, plus it can be a very useful life skill.  It’s also an “art”/aesthetic outlet that may appeal to students who don’t consider themselves “traditionally creative”, because it is based on set rules and patterns, but allows for individual interpretation and technique. You can find an assortment of calligraphy instruction materials at the Farm Country General Store link below, or at your local library. http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=calligraphy&x=6&y=8

For more fun art lessons which combine the coordination skills for drawing and writing, be sure to visit Draw Your World. http://www.drawyourworld.com  Also check out their “Draw Write Now” book series for grades 1-8 and other art and handwriting materials in their on-line store.

Dale from North American Montessori Center’s “Friendship Quilt” project http://www.amonco.org/creative5/montessori_fall5.pdf  is a fairly short craft/sewing project. However, after students complete this quilt, perhaps they would be interested in collaborating on additional quilts.  There are many charity organizations that look for donations of blankets or quilts. You will find some here. http://familycrafts.about.com/od/craftingforcharity/Crafting_for_Charity.htm  A quilt could also be an attractive raffle or fundraiser prize.  Once students feel a sense of confidence from the first quilt, having them help make an additional quilt or two (perhaps with varying decoration techniques to introduce new skills) will help them develop more of a feeling of mastery. Repetition builds familiarity. If you make a quilt for charity, you might also get students interested in other charity craft projects, as well.

If musical studies are part of your year-long lesson plans, you can find musical instruments, sheet music, CDs, and more at TheMusicHouse.com. http://www.themusichouse.com , and a wide variety of music-oriented curricula and activities at Sing ‘n’ Learn. http://www.singnlearn.com

Gardening, science, and outdoor adventuring—

Rae from The Creative Process offers autumn planning tips in her Gardens for Schools. http://www.amonco.org/creative01/montessori_fall1.pdf   She also has lesson plans and curriculum resources for a classroom “Plant a Tree” project. http://www.amonco.org/creative/montessori_fall4.pdf

Exploration Education offers year-long science curricula appropriate for both traditional and homeschool environments for students from kindergarten through 10th grade. http://www.explorationeducation.com

The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, offers two free curricula—one for K-3, another for 4-8  http://www.elephants.com/curriculum.php

The Minnesota DNR has a great round-up guide to curricula and projects for a wide variety of science and outdoor subjects. Some are state-oriented, some are national. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/education/activity_guides.html

Nature journaling is a great year-long project which can be enjoyed by students of all ages. Because they are open-ended and potentially unstructured, each student can record new concepts, observations, and inspirations in their own way and at their own level. One student might write descriptions of what they see. Another student might sketch plants or landscapes. A third might (if observing nature in a place where it is permitted) gather leaves, feathers or other natural materials to identify and/or remind them later of things that they saw. If students have access to cameras, some might want to shoot and add printed photographs. Just make sure that the students have regular outdoor time, direct and encourage observation and identification, and see what your students decide to record. The following article has some good information and ideas to get you started.  http://covenantfamilytutorial.blogspot.com/2010/09/nature-journaling.html

Maybe this is the year to invest in a microscope http://www.workshopplus.com/productcart/pc/viewCategories.asp?idCategory=30 , grow an insectivorous plant http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=2105&idcategory=36 , or set up a bat house http://www.workshopplus.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=829&idcategory=0 . Nature’s Workshop Plus! has all those items and many more. Be sure to check their clearance items for some excellent deals on science and art products. http://www.workshopplus.com  You can also find high-quality science equipment at Lab Essentials. http://www.labessentials.com

Professional development—

You can also get a good start on your year’s strategies and goals with some professional perspective and enrichment.

Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis and Victoria Kindle Hodson of LearningSuccess Institute have lots of good information and ideas for teaching children of all ages, personalities, and abilities. You can get a good idea about the kind of information they have to offer by listening to some interesting past interviews Mariaemma has posted on their site. http://learningsuccessinstitute.com/radioshows.html

North American Montessori Center also offers professional development courses.  See http://www.montessoritraining.net

Bookmark this post, and Plan Ahead! Part I so that you can refer to this resource information throughout the school year. 🙂

Stay tuned for more lesson planning ideas and resources that will be published in the weeks to come.

 

Leave a comment »

Plan Ahead! Part I

 Part 1—Daily Almanac and Observations, plus Miscellaneous Learning Resources

“If you have no idea where you want to go, it makes little difference how fast you travel.”  Italian Proverb

As summer winds down and autumn studies loom, now is the time to start (or finish) researching and planning fresh lessons and routines for the coming school year. 

A good place to start looking for ideas and resources is this list: http://www.amonco.org/directory.html  Also, the internet is full of good ideas and resources for classroom activities and lesson plans.  The following are just a few ideas you might consider out of the almost unlimited possibilities.  Happy planning!

Daily almanac and observations–

Day, date, time, sunrise, sunset, length of the day, phase of the moon, current weather conditions, forecast weather (short and long-term), upcoming celestial events, and important events on this date in history are only some of the types of daily information and observations your students might enjoy researching and recording to start each day. 

Keeping a journal of this sort of information can be interesting and informative. It can provide good practice for spelling and handwriting. It also adds some routine and structure to the school day. If you keep the journal, it can also provide conversation starters and teachable moments when comparing past data with current data (especially weather observations) in successive years.

http://www.timeanddate.com

http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-current.html

http://www.historyorb.com/today

To record your own daily weather observations all you really need are an outdoor thermometer, a window or door to check current sky conditions, and a notebook.   You can also easily find the daily forecast on-line on a local news site or by typing in your city or zip code (for the US) here:  http://www.weather.gov

However, if you want to get into more depth, look for inexpensive “weather stations” (digital or traditional) which include other instruments like barometers (to measure barometric pressure)  and hygrometers (to measure humidity), or which record the high and low daily temperatures. Nature’s Workshop Plus! sells an economical weather station with a thermometer, hygrometer, and barometer http://www.workshopplus.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=2113&idcategory=0  , and the Farm Country General Store has a variety of interesting weather books. http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com

You can also look for (or sometimes construct your own) rain gauges, weather vanes, windsocks and other instruments to help students understand and evaluate atmospheric conditions. Some students love the extra data they can gather from this sort of instrument. The following article by Geoff Jenkins of the Royal Meteorological Society in the UK has many inspiring ideas and tips for home and school weather observation.  http://www.rmets.org/sites/default/files/pdf/simweameasurements.pdf

The famous Old Farmer’s Almanac has a website which provides lots of interesting information, including weather forecasts.  Be sure to check out their articles on predicting the weather, and maybe have students try their hand at a forecast! http://www.almanac.com/weather

For an example of a very detailed daily weather report, check out the Appalachian Mountain Club’s forecasts for local recreational enthusiasts.  Perhaps one of your students would like to report specialized details like ground/trail conditions, or might think of their own weather-related observations to record. http://www.outdoors.org/recreation/tripplanner/go/pinkham-washington-weather.cfm

For daily weather stories and facts, check out The Weather Notebook. http://www.weathernotebook.org The archives of this National Public Radio show produced by New Hampshire’s well-respected and historic Mount Washington Observatory provide nine years’ worth of brief, interesting weather stories. These free, easy-to-access tidbits of history and information would dovetail well into a morning Pick a year and the current month, then look for today’s date for a topical weather story.

Miscellaneous learning resources—

Core academics are always an important part of lesson planning, and they can also be subjects that are hard to keep fresh and interesting for students. Look now for free lessons and curriculum plans like the following.

General curriculum resources. http://www.discoveryeducation.com/teachers , http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/showthread.php?t=109114 , http://www.galileoeducation.org/Homeschooling.html ,

Daily quick facts and short exercises can be a fun way to help students learn new information and practice skills they are learning.

Free daily math problem for grades 1-8. http://www.mathbuddyonline.com/common/mbqad.html

SuperKids offers a free “word of the day” as vocabulary boosters for students from upper elementary through high school. http://www.superkids.com/aweb/tools/words/wod.shtml 

Sciensational has free daily science and math facts. http://www.sciensational.com

For older children, more advanced students, or kids who really want to test their intellectual limits, try these sites with more-advanced daily challenges. http://dictionary.reference.com/wordoftheday , http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day  , http://www.imo-official.org/problems.aspx

This article explains how you can use the “word a day” strategy to teach or learn foreign languages and provides links for nine languages plus sign language. http://www.childrenlearninglanguages.com/Vocabulary_and_LanguageSkills/Word_of_the_Day.html

Also, look around for open-ended materials that encourage a creative use and/or lot of interaction, like this cool writable globe from Schoolmasters Science. http://www.schoolmasters.com/categories/productDetails.cfm?product_ID=16685&div=sc&category&bc3&details You could start your year’s geography study with this blank globe several different ways, depending on the age and skills of your students.  With very young students with limited geographic knowledge, you could only mark countries, oceans, etc., as you study them.  With older students, you could have them do a “challenge” attempt at naming the countries; and then spend the rest of the year researching the countries and landforms they did not know initially.

If your lesson plans for the year ahead include any sort of science, art, or other “fair” projects, you may find the following article from Catholic Homeschooling Resources inspiring.  It describes their Annual Project Fair, and shares some interesting ideas for project types, as well as fair organization

Leave a comment »