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Montessori Lessons, Ideas and More…

New Beginnings

“From small beginnings come great things.” Proverb

Spring is a time of beginnings, for all living things. Children and adults can engage together in this exciting season of rebirth– observing the growth and celebrating the feeling of renewal.

Baby Animals and Insects are Born

The animal world is full of activity in the spring.  New arrivals include many more species than the chicks and bunnies we think of in connection with Easter.

Monarch butterfly life cycle as photographed for the Chicago Nature Museum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AUeM8MbaIk

Here a stick insect emerges from his egg. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiV-DsfoJwA

At the Seymour fish hatchery in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, salmon eggs wiggle out of their eggs to become alevin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jgp6OjpfrQo  For more on the fascinating life cycle of a salmon, check out this informational page from the hatchery. http://seymoursalmon.com/lifecycle.php

Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings is a delightful story of a family with babies.  If you don’t have access to a copy, here’s a nice reading of it, on-line. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0fQpliJJQI

This short video shows a baby robin hatching from its egg. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDKgLfWheoI

ZooBorns is a blog which shows the photos and stories of animals born at accredited zoos and aquariums from all around the world.  There is always a cute new addition.  http://www.zooborns.com/

Just for fun, here are some cute baby animals sure to make students, parents and teachers smile. http://thedesigninspiration.com/articles/70-cutie-baby-animals-bring-your-a-good-mood/

Seeds Sprout and Buds Blossom

One of the main things we all think of in spring is the growth and rebirth of the plant world, and there are many ways students can use and hone their science and observation skills in the springtime.  Both nature study and gardening offer opportunities to learn about the life cycles of plants.

Enjoy these neat time-lapse videos of seeds sprouting.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d26AhcKeEbE , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKx4ZwoJqXY  , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nvAzt9sWIg , and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN8c_X0LNcg

Fruit trees bud out and bloom.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQyvRtyhMfA . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdpDkulqQ9U , and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-6dQvOSYmI

Even the lowly dandelion, spring and summer scourge of the suburban lawn, takes on rare beauty when we concentrate on its complex composite flower opening in the sun and closing with the dusk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrUdOYZfV4I

The Beauty of Pollination shows hummingbirds, butterflies, bats and other creatures helping to pollinate a variety of flowers.  (If you have a good internet connection, check out the HD version link on this version. It’s beautiful!) http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/xHkq1edcbk4?rel=0

How a Plant Grows is just one interesting book on the life cycles of plants. http://www.workshopplus.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=605&idcategory=0

natures_workshop

If your students will try their hands at growing their own plants, here’s a quick overview of the differences between hybrid, open-pollinated and heirloom seeds, including a little information about genetically-modified seeds. http://gardening.about.com/od/vegetable1/f/Heirlooms.htm

In the past few years, all around the world, there has been quite a bit of discussion about the comparative merits and problems of open-pollinated vs. hybridized seeds, including a lot of controversy over genetically-modified (GMO) seeds.  Wherever you stand on this complex issue, it involves an interesting mix of scientific, medical, philosophical and ethical considerations which students can research and ponder for themselves.

New Scientist offers a round-up of interesting articles both for and against genetically-modified foods/seeds. http://www.newscientist.com/topic/gm-food

This article from Clemson University gives a fine overview of what constitutes an heirloom seed and how seeds are saved in home gardens. It also lists and describes some famous heirloom varieties. http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/vegetables/gardening/hgic1255.html

One of the neat things about heirlooms seeds is that children can grow the same seeds as children from a hundred or more years ago and/or children from other countries/continents.  Heirlooms allow us to combine horticulture with history (and sometimes geography). They also often have interesting sizes, shapes, colors and flavors which may not be commercially profitable but may be especially fun or interesting for children.

Here are just two of the many dependable heirloom/open-pollinaed seed companies with a wide variety of interesting vegetable and flower seeds: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds http://rareseeds.com/  and Seed Savers Exchange http://www.seedsavers.org/

The Littlest Learners Start Strong

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays over, it is a great time to have preschoolers make some of their own new beginnings, too.

Books make great “gift” additions to Easter baskets.  Find a great assortment of early learning books at Farm Country General Store. http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com/index.php/cPath/7

farm_country

Little ones with visual and physical learning styles may especially enjoy these free video resources.

Here’s a cute version of the traditional ABC song.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCDxiJm-FX4

KidsTV123 has a cute alphabet song with graphics that show many examples of every letter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_-lz2BI2Co

This interesting video tries to help kids learn the alphabet in 15 minutes.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyBuYclBSwI

Help toddlers learn their colors with these cute videos.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arU-AxEVsi8 and  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHer1peKX88

Sing along and fill in the blanks with “Heads and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_0HWkYnJ20

Early number and counting lessons.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsKpazuC0RY , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5Ak50dFse8 , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO1K1bspH_8 , and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iOrTsCpemo

This is a short overview of Montessori theory and classroom activities from Australia.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZLq5Uttq8M

Although not Montessori-specific, for some interesting information and examples of language skills are connected to the daily life and learning of preschoolers, check out Language for Learning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AL1IDGCVAo

Happy Spring!

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Crafting the Winter Weekends Away

Brrrrr… . Now that we are in throes of winter, some families choose to spend the weekends snuggled in their warm homes reading their favorite book or finishing a craft project.    Why not make some lasting memories in the process?

Knitting, needlepoint, embroidery, crocheting, woodworking and other such activities serve multiple purposes and can be enjoyed by all. 

The benefits of crafting stretch far beyond just making memories.  First, young children receive practical life applications as well as learning how to combine colors and textures.  Second, crafting gives family members an opportunity to share a creative experience.   Third, we all know that you can’t put a price on the value of  handmade gift.  Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are not far off, so, let’s examine some of the homemade gifts that can be used for these occasions.

 Knitting and Crocheting Resources 

 Whether you are a novice or a seasoned professional your first stop should be to the How to Knit and Crochet Learning Center http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/learn-home.html

You will find most of what is needed here – from the basics to a discussion forum where you can ask questions, look for project ideas and share the fun. You will also discover links to free projects.


scarf

Additional free knitting patterns are available at: http://crafts.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Free_Knitting_Patterns_for_Children  –

Bountiful Spinweave http://www.bountifulspinweave.com also offers fun and unique projects for children and teens.   Be sure to check out their beautiful selection of yarn for your knitting and crocheting projects, http://www.bountifulspinweave.com/yarns.php#.UPROneiR3UQand free patterns at Bountiful Spinweave Free Patterns http://www.bountifulspinweave.com/patterns.php#.UPROZ-iR3UQ

To see some of the crochet projects completed by the children at a Montessori school visit the Seattle Montessori Blog entries  Crochet! http://seattlemontessorian.blogspot.com/2009/10/crochet.html and French Knitting and Pom Poms http://www.howwemontessori.com/how-we-montessori/2012/04/french-knitting-and-pom-poms.html .

Since the price of yarn can be quite expensive, it’s always best to check the bins and discount tables at your local crafts or yardage store for bargains.  If it’s too cold to venture outside, visit Closeouts from Bountiful Spinweave http://www.bountifulspinweave.com

You can also find out more about fibers, books, spinning and weaving by visiting http://www.bountifulspinweave.com

 Needlepoint and Sewing Resources

 Have you admired those who create beautiful needlepoint masterpieces, but felt too timid to try to make one?  The sites below offer clear instructions for beginners and offer many interesting projects for children.

Visit Embroidery for Children – Save the Stitches http://www.nordicneedle.net/guides/stitching-techniques/embroidery-101/embroidery-for-children/ and How to Needlepoint http://www.needlepoint-for-fun.com/how-to-needlepoint.html

Receive a free Beginning Cross Stitch and Continental Stitch for Making Coasters by a visiting http://www.amonco.org/creative6/montessori_fall6.pdf   These coasters make a thoughtful gift for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.

The Stacy Sews blog is filled with ideas that you and your children can do together this winter. Pont your browser to The Forty Minute Tote Bag http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2012/6/3/mollys-sketchbook-the-forty-minute-tote.html and http://stacysewsandschools.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/christmas-in-july-a-book-cover-tutorial/Christmas in July – A Book Cover Tutorial. 

 Woodworking Resources

Woodworking projects take on a whole new meaning when older children and teens help out.    Most projects, at some point, must be finished outside, but there are a few on the lists below that can be completed indoors.

Here are sites to explore:

http://www.absolutelyfreeplans.com/PROJECTS%20FOR%20CHILDREN/projects_for_children.htm Projects for Children

 http://ezinearticles.com/?A-Basic-List-of-Hand-Tools-Needed-For-Kids-to-Get-Started-in-Woodworking&id=728003 A Basic List of Hand Tools Needed for Kids to Get Started in Woodworking

 http://www.thewoodbox.com/woodcrafts/box/bxbasicinfo.htm The Basic Wooden Box

 http://www.finewoodworking.com/woodworking-plans/article/kids-woodworking-projects.aspx Kid’s Woodworking Projects (For ages 7 and older)

All Art Supplies.com www.allartsupplies.com/ carries a wide range of art supplies for those interested in painting a design on their creation.

Nature’s Wokshop Plus!.com http://www.workshopplus.com/ offers the Wikki Stix Creativity Kit in which children can make wooden shapes, frames plus other interesting projects. 

Care and Concern Crafting

 For an activity that you can make for shut-ins,  please visit

https://montessori21stcentury.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/montessori-february-community-service-projects/

                                                       Community Service Projects

heart2013

 For more creative fun visit http://www.amonco.org/montessori_library.html and click on the free hands on lesson planning idea-planning newsletters.

Happy Crafting!

 Heidi Anne Spietz

American Montessori Consulting

http://www.amonco.org

Celebrating 25 Years of Serving School and Home Educators

Montessori for the 21st Century

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