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Montessori Lessons, Ideas and More…

Get in the Spirit — Gathering and Giving

“Even the smallest act of caring for another person is like a drop of water -it will make ripples throughout the entire pond…”

― Jessy and Bryan Matteo 

Autumn brings many opportunities to celebrate and show appreciation. Hospitality and generosity are important virtues to help children develop at a young age, and they make holiday gatherings and gift-giving and –receiving situations much more enjoyable for everyone.

It is healthy for children to help plan, set-up, and cook for gatherings, so they learn the effort that goes into (and the pleasure that can be derived from) serving others and making them feel welcome. Children’s natural creativity and enthusiasm in the preparations can also add a lot of charm to an event. 

You can also reinforce positive attitudes about patience, thrift and the satisfaction of a job well-done by encouraging children to make and give home-made presents rather than store-bought items. 

Children sometimes need specific guidance about proper behavior in social situations, which you can provide through practice and also good role modeling.

With a little planning, patience, creativity, and perhaps some of the ideas below, hopefully everyone will enjoy the celebrations of the season—and the lessons they teach.

Party preparations and decorations– 

If little ones have trouble remembering all that belongs on the table, you might download a cute free placemat which shows a proper casual place setting. http://www.positivelysplendid.com/2011/05/dinnertime-doodle-mats-ssg-idea-16.html or try your hand at some more decorative, but still instructional, mats like these. http://simplekids.net/learning-to-set-the-table

Why not try some fancy napkin folding to dress up your seasonal table? For paper napkins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG-cG939aR4 For cloth napkins. http://bumblebeelinens.com/napkinFolding.php

Have students channel their arts and crafts talents into projects like these that can double as party decorations, place mats, and other theme-setting items. http://www.allkidsnetwork.com/crafts/fall

For lots of cute decorating ideas and planning tips for sharing Thanksgiving festivities with children, check out Thanksgiving Kids. http://kidsparties.about.com/od/thanksgiving/tp/ThanksgivingHub.htm 

Combine nature study with homemaking with inspirations from these free fall party centerpieces and other decorating ideas from Chickens in the Road.  Show your children that you don’t have to be fancy to be festive. http://chickensintheroad.com/house/crafts/how-to-decorate-for-an-autumn-party-for-free

Here are cute tablecloth and trivia ideas for family dinners from Rachel Hollis (though the garland made of book pages seems like it might send a rather mixed message to young people).http://mychiclife.com/2012/02/26/nate-berkus-family-style-entertaining/ 

Turn cheap, flimsy window screening in festive leaf shapes http://www.crafts-for-all-seasons.com/autumn-leaf-craft.html

Later in the season you could make cute Snow-Covered Pine Trees http://www.amonco.org/creative3/montessori_fall3.pdf

Home-made gift ideas—

Hostess gifts are a gracious gesture in a hectic world. Some of these are simple enough for children to help make. http://momadvice.com/blog/2009/12/a-round-up-of-homemade-hostess-gifts 

A wide variety of gift projects using many different skills and techniques. http://www.llemonade.com/gifts.html 

Here is a great round-up of easy gifts kids can make from the UK’s Activity Village. http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/gifts_kids_can_make.htm 

Mix-in-a-jar recipes are fun gifts to make with children of all ages because there is no cooking required. Many recipes make enough to keep some and give some as gifts; but if one you like does not, have older kids do the math to make a larger batch! http://marymae.tripod.com/jarlinks.htm , http://www.razzledazzlerecipes.com/christmas/gifts , http://www.mixesinajar.com

Introduce students to the concept of felting wool with this Felt Ball Ornament project and some other felting activities. http://www.amonco.org/creative01/montessori_fall1.pdf 

Use a tile, paint, and some cork to make a Kitchen Trivet. http://www.amonco.org/creative/montessori_fall4.pdf

Learn to needlepoint with a continental stitch on plastic canvas.You can make very attractive coasters with these instructions for students 8-12 years old. http://www.amonco.org/creative6/montessori_fall6.pdf

It’s not too early to start work on home-made gifts for Christmas, either. http://spoonful.com/christmas/homemade-christmas-gifts

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa

Putting on our party manners—

Here are lots of good ideas for helping children know how to behave in a variety of social situations. http://childcare.about.com/od/behaviors/a/manners.htm , http://www.eduguide.org/library/viewarticle/1132 , http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/25-manners-every-kid-should-know-by-age-9-2480238.html

“Gracious acceptance is an art – an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving…. Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you.”

― Alexander McCall Smith, Love Over Scotland

Enjoy your holiday gathering and giving!

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An Autumn Recipe and Special Savings to Start the Day

As the weather cools down, many of us will spend more time in the kitchen.  We’ll be making the usual family favorites as well as trying different recipes that are eye-catching. As mentioned in other posts here, meal planning and preparation open up the door to interdisciplinary learning experiences.  Although cooking and baking are part of Maria Montessori’s practical life exercises, math, chemistry, reading and art are all intertwined in culinary creations, as well. 

The AMC Fall 2012 newsletter http://www.amonco.org/montessori_fall_handson.html contains a nice variety of recipes to try.  The winter edition will feature additional winter ones, as well.  Below, is a sneak preview of what to expect in this upcoming issue.  

Wood Etc. Corp.

Website: http://www.woodetccorp.com

Recipe Submitted by Anna & Wolfgang

German Farmer’s Breakfast
bauernfruhstuck

A good lunch or dinner dish. Serve with a green salad and
bread.4 medium potatoes
4 strips bacon, cubed
3 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
½  teaspoon salt1 cup cooked ham, cut into small cubes
2 medium tomatoes, peeled
1 tablespoon of chopped chives

Boil unpeeled potatoes 30 minutes. Rinse under cold water, peel, and set aside to cool.
Slice potatoes. In a large frying pan cook bacon until transparent.
Add the potato slicesuntil lightly browned.

Meanwhile blend eggs with milk and salt. Stir in the cubed ham.

Cut the tomatoes into thin wedges: add to the egg mixture.
Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes in the frying pan.
Cook until the eggs are set. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve at once.
Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Special Limited Time Offer from Wood. Etc

Wood, Etc. www.woodetccorp.com is currently offering a special fall promotion. Receive a savings of 40% to 50% off selected storage, lockers, dramatic play and book displays. See www.rdsschoolfurniture.com for details.

Heidi Anne Spietz
American Montessori Consulting
Celebrating 24 Years of Serving School and Home Educators
Montessori for the 21st Century
www.amonco.org

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