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What Does it Take to Be a Great Educator?

Organizational Strategies

What does it take to be a great educator? Better formal training? Natural talent? A love for children? Kindness? Moral excellence in order to think of the children’s needs and the family’s needs and the center’s needs before one’s own? Or faith for a child to achieve academic excellence? Or what? How do you rate these?

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It’s Time to Try Something Different This Fall

The autumn months can be full of unique learning activities if you know where to look.    Why not experiment with something new and different this fall by using some of the activities featured at the websites below?

Begin by visiting Birdcage Press http://www.birdcagepress.com/, by participating in their beautifully illustrated stories and games, children can learn more about art, wildlife & nature, air & space and history.

Next, point your browser to Coyote Creek Productions http://www.coycreek.com/ where you will find a collection of DVDs featuring a four volume set of drawing lessons and an eight volume animal safari series.

Children in a Montessori learning environment use classified reading cards to identify and categorize different animals. Such exercises sometimes focus on helping the child learn about each animal’s habitat, physical characteristics, and relationship to other animals. The Coyote Creek Animal Safari series will bring this learning to life.   See Coyote Creek Productions http://www.coycreek.com/ full line of products, where you will find a collection of DVDs featuring this eight volume animal safari series plus a four volume set of drawing lessons DVDs.

Your next stop should be to Draw Your World http://www.drawyourworld.com/ After you have familiarized yourself with their product line, jump to http://www.drawyourworld.com/blog/ Take time to read through the various posts there.  You are more than likely to locate one or two of their featured resources or lessons that can be easily included in your existing reading, writing and drawing activities.   For example, this company offers a free Draw a Simple World Map hands-on lesson that can be used with many Montessori based geography lessons.  See http://www.drawyourworld.com/blog/draw-a-simple-world-map.html to download.

Use the free map from Draw Your World with the free set of Montessori land forms courtesy of LORD Company http://www.lordequip.com/ Download a set of land forms for global geographical investigations by visiting http://www.lordequip.com/land_water.php LORD Company also offers a wide selection of furniture plus other free downloadable resources.  See http://www.lordequip.com/ for details.

Add some music to the mix this fall by first visiting Gari Stein’s The More We Get Together http://www.little-folks-music.com/together.htm page.   You will find some invaluable resources you can include in your music programs this fall by clicking on the links to the left of the screen http://www.little-folks-music.com/together.htm plus an overview of The More We Get Together book.   Renowned author Gari Stein’s music career spans over 47 years.  As a seasoned ECE professional music consultant, she is in constant demand to develop workshops and teach new classes.

For Montessori based lessons that compare and contrast Renaissance and Baroque music visit http://www.amonco.org/spring2002_1.html These lessons can be integrated into existing Renaissance and Baroque art lessons by visiting http://www.amonco.org/spring2002_2.html

Next, hop on over to Kimbo Educational http://kimboed.com/ where you will find a nice collection of dance, fitness and singable songs DVDs and CDs.  Check out the new Kimbo Preschool Gym CD http://kimboed.com/preschoolgym.aspx#.UkHw_LxVe0c which will make fitness fun for 3 – 5 year olds.

 Speaking of fun, Hands-On Equations http://www.borenson.com/ replaces the fear and dread of learning algebra with pure excitement and joy. Take a moment right now to visit this website where you can view students solving equations using Hands-On Equations.  What you will readily notice in each of the video clips is that students are relaxed and thoroughly engaged in the hands-on algebra learning activity. Click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo6vvOnkErE to view an additional sample Hands-On Equations lesson.

Hands-On Equations also offers an app for the iPhone, iPad and iPad Touch.  See http://www.borenson.com/ for details.

The free Hands-On Equations Intro webmars are designed to address any questions you may have as well as provide a forum where you can learn more about the product.  Fortunately, the webmars are scheduled frequently throughout the year.   You can easily access the upcoming webmar schedule by visiting http://www.borenson.com/ Parents wishing to use the Hands-On Equations in a home setting should click on http://www.borenson.com/Home/ParentsHomePage/tabid/956/Default.aspx for specific information and resources.

Montessori educator Dianne Knesek is the creator of Conceptual Learning Materials, http://conceptuallearning.com/index.php?&vmcchk=1 a company based in Texas that services both school and home educators. Dianne’s intent has been to augment current resources and give greater opportunities for learning through discovery.  Her product line, http://www.conceptuallearning.com/component/option,com_virtuemart/Itemid,9/which continues to expand, is currently used in countless schools and other settings throughout the United States.  To see an example of Dianne’s learning style, please visit http://www.amonco.org/summer2/montessori_summer2.pdf  Scroll down until you see the free lessons “Inequalities” and “Problem Solving”.   The Problem Solving Series by Conceptual Learning Materials is a three-way matching series that addresses critical thinking and problem solving for all levels from K through 6th grade.

Finally, Bountiful Spinweave http://bountifulspinweave.com/ is known as a complete resource for those interested in weaving and knitting activities.  A collection of yarns, books, gifts, weaving and spinning supplies can be accessed at http://bountifulspinweave.com/kids-page.php#.UkIC97xVe0c Bountiful even offers a special Kids Page http://bountifulspinweave.com/kids-page.php which features products that can be used in either a school or home setting.

We know that 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 a handmade gift.   With the holiday gift season fast approaching, now is the time to embark on making some of these projects.

Use the resources from the websites above, plus the ones listed at http://www.amonco.org/directory.html, to make your lessons for autumn awesome.

The companies specifically mentioned above have generously donated prizes for the 25th Anniversary of American Montessori Consulting Drawing.  The contest ends on September 30th.  Don’t forget to enter the drawing by visiting http://www.amonco.org/directory.html Scroll down to the bottom of the page and complete the entry blank.

Enjoy!
Heidi Anne Spietz
American Montessori Consulting
www.amonco.org

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Autumn Adventures in Hands-On Science with Exploration Education

Maria Montessori knew that children would tire of memorizing facts and learning about scientific concepts that seemed vague or difficult to comprehend.    Without the relevance of seeing how science can actually relate to everyday life, children can become disinterested and disengaged from this discipline.  Therefore, home and school educators are continually searching for ways to make this subject exciting and meaningful.   They want exercises that are easy to present, easy to understand and encourage the student to engage in further independent reading and study.    Exploration Education meets these goals and more by specializing in a unique science base hands-on curriculum that can be tailored to meet the student’s needs.   See http://www.explorationeducation.com for complete details.

 
You can access the following free hands-on activities that you can use right now and in the months

 
Money to Burn
Push or Pull
To Float, or not to Float
Air Lift
One turn deserves another
Floating Eggs
It’s Needling Me
Optics
Plastic Milk
Soap that grows
The Invisible Leash
The little big bounce
Can do
Speed boat soap
The Flame Proof Balloon
I can’t take the pressure
Static Charge
Needle proof balloon
Simply Sound
Heat Transfer, thermodynamics, and a rubber band
To view these activities please visit:
Exploration Education Activities.

 
Some of these activities can be downloaded into .pdf format. See below.


AMC Summer Hands-On Newsletter
AMC Fall Hands-On Newsletter
AMC Spring Hands-On Newsletter

Be sure to stay tuned to Montessori21stCentury for the unveiling of the winter hands-on newsletter where you will find an additional activity in .pdf format from Exploration Education.

Finally, don’t forget to enter the special AMC 25th Anniversary Drawing.  To see the list of prizes available visit Montessori 25th Anniversary Drawing.

To enter the drawing, please visit AMC Online Resource Directory  Scroll to the bottom and complete the entry blank.
 
Heidi Anne Spietz
American Montessori Consulting
www.amonco.org

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The Natural Benefits of an Active Life

Anyone who has watched healthy children acting naturally has probably noticed how active they are.  They wiggle, fidget, roll around, jump up and down, charge, tumble, wave their arms, and generally just move with the verve and enthusiasm of youth.

Montessori classrooms allow students more physical freedom than traditional classrooms; but with the sedentary trend in leisure activities, it is especially positive for teachers and parents to encourage both children’s spontaneous physicality (at appropriate times) and more-organized physical activities

Below you will find both ideas for specific activities and information about the benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle.

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Games and Physical Education

Younger kids often enjoy specific games, and these can be lots of fun for the whole family (or neighbors and/or friends) to play together. Perhaps you remember some from your childhood, and you can share those.  If you don’t (or if you cannot remember all the rules), check out this fun site, Games Kids Play.  http://www.gameskidsplay.net/

For some general P.E. ideas for home or homeschool, these articles have some great suggestions.

Simple Homeschool’s “Physical Education for Homeschooled Teens” has ideas for the whole family.

http://simplehomeschool.net/physical-education/

Brain Pop, Jr.’s Exercise page

http://www.brainpopjr.com/health/bewell/exercise/grownups.weml

These are some specific physical education exercises. http://teachers.net/lessonplans/subjects/physical_education

NAMC gives instructions for a full day of fun and games, during a Harvest Festival. http://montessoritraining.blogspot.ca/2008/10/montessori-harvest-festival.html#.Ufe2Dm3wb1A

Health and Nutrition

Here you will find some health, exercise and nutrition lesson plans.

Kids.gov’s “Exercise, Fitness, and Nutrition” lesson plans http://kids.usa.gov/grown-ups/lesson-plans/exercise-fitness-and-nutrition/index.shtml

 Gari Stein offers many different CDs, classes and more.  Visit  http://www.little-folks-music.com/background.htm  and look to the left of the page to see the complete list of music, dance and other fun activities and services available from the Little Folks Music website. 

 

The American Heart Association’s “Elementary Lesson Plans”

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Educator/FortheClassroom/ElementaryLessonPlans/Elementary-Lesson-Plans_UCM_001258_Article.jsp

NAMC’s “Nutrition is Part of the Prepared Classroom”. http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/2013/06/nutrition-part-of-montessori-prepared-environment.html#.UfeysW3wb1A

Kimbo Educational has a whole series of  “Sing-A-Song & Dance Along” products to get little kids moving and learning at the same time.

http://kimboed.com/aerobics.aspx

Kimbo also offers the brand NEW Preschool Gym CD.  See http://kimboed.com/search.aspx?find=Preschool+Gym+CD

Older students may be familiar with the terms “aerobic” and “cardio” used in reference to exercise, but do they really know what they mean?  Check out these pages about aerobic (cardiovascular) and anaerobic exercise for definitions, examples, and explanations of the health benefits of each type.

Georgia State University’s “Exercise and Physical Fitness Page”

http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwfit/aerobice.html

SparkPeople’s “Reference Guide to Aneaerobic Exercise”

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1035

To explore this subject in more depth, check out the Human Cardiovascular System Unit Study. http://www.amonco.org/montessori_heart_unitstudy.html

Hiking

Autumn can be a very appealing season for outdoor activities.  Most areas in the northern hemisphere have a mix of cooler and warmer days, with lots of brisk breezes to keep you invigorated.  In the fall – or during any temperate weather–  hiking is great exercise for all ages, an inexpensive activity, and a wonderful opportunity to chat, observe nature, and learn together as a family or group.  If they are introduced to hiking in a gentle and enjoyable manner at a young age, many children grow enjoy this healthy pastime more and more as they grow.

The Washington Trails Association shares some helpful hints for hiking with children in these two articles. http://www.wta.org/hiking-info/children/resources-for-families/how-to/tips-for-hiking-with-kids  and http://www.wta.org/hiking-info/children/how-to/keep-kids-adults-entertained-on-trail

It’s also important, especially with young children who are new to hiking, to remember Maria Montessori’s words. “But the child does not want to get anywhere; he just wants to walk, and to help him truly the adult must follow the child, and not expect him to keep up.” The activity, the movement, the sights and sounds are likely to be the main draw for young children. Goals, destinations and pace can come as an added interest later, if the child learns to enjoy very informal and spontaneous outings first.

Besides just the joy, new horizons and adventure provided by hiking, scientists are beginning to study the actual physical health benefits of this activity. Some of their findings are really fascinating! http://www.psmag.com/health/for-good-health-take-a-hike-3862

Gardening

Whether you choose to grow ornamentals, vegetables or fruit, gardening provides not only interesting agricultural and botanical lessons, but also provides a gentle, enjoyable and healthy source of exercise and fresh air.

This article lists some of the major health benefits of gardening. http://www.bordbia.ie/aboutgardening/itsgardentime/pages/healthbenefits.aspx

Rae from The Creative Process provides some interesting ideas about gardens for schools. http://www.amonco.org/creative01/montessori_fall1.pdf

This lengthy PDF expands on the subject of planning and sustaining a school garden. http://www.ecoliteracy.org/sites/default/files/uploads/getting-started-2009.pdf

The broader benefits of exercise

Most of us feel good when we participate in healthy activities we enjoy, but scientists and health experts can give us reasons why, as well as listing benefits which extend far beyond the playground, trail or garden. 

“How Physical Activity Benefits A Child’s Mental Development”

http://www.howtolearn.com/2013/05/how-physical-activity-benefits-a-childs-mental-development

Dr. Mercola explains how exercise benefits children’s brain function.

http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2012/01/20/physically-active-children-perform-better-academically.aspx

 

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So, maybe we should all take a page from the natural inclinations of childhood, and both encourage and participate in some sort of joyful, healthy movement every day, staring this autumn!

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Celebrate American Montessori Consulting’s 25th Anniversary

Enter the American Montessori Consulting Drawing and Win Prizes (Click Here.)

1st Place AMC Montessori Winner Prizes Include:

Preschool Gym CD (Making Fitness Fun For 3 -5 Year Olds from Kimbo Educational)

$25.00 Gift Certificate from (Draw Your World)

Potholder Loom (Makes 2 Beautiful Potholders) from (Bountiful Spinweave)

Animal Safari (A Learning Journey) Creepy Critters from (Coyote Creek Productions)

Animal Safari (A Learning Journey) Tongues, Tails, and Scales from (Coyote Creek Productions)

Animal Safari (A Learning Journey) Wild Wetlands from (Coyote Creek Productions

Art Lesson for Children with Donna Hugh Volume 5 (Animals of the Rain Forest) from (Coyote Creek Productions)

Art Lesson for Children with Donna Hugh Volume 5 (Plants of the Rain Forest) from (Coyote Creek Productions)

(Hands-On Equations Learning System(from Hands On Equations)

Reading, Writing and Spelling in Spanish II from (American Montessori Consulting)

2nd Place AMC Montessori Winner Prizes Include:

The More We Get Together from (author Gari Stein)

Montessori Writing Center Sequence Set from (LORD Company)

$50.00 Gift Certificate from (Conceptual Learning)

Art Lesson for Children with Donna Hugh Volume 1 (Easy Watercolor Techniques) from (Coyote Creek Productions)

Art Lesson for Children with Donna Hugh Volume 2 (Easy Art Projects) from (Coyote Creek Production)

Animal Safari (A Learning Journey) Born in a Barnyard from (Coyote Creek Productions)

 3rd Place AMC Montessori Winner Prizes Include

Inspirational Art Cards from (Birdcage Press)

Quick-to-Knit Scraf Kit from (Bountiful Spinweave)

Animal Safari (A Learning Journey) Animals and Man from (Coyote Creek Productions)

Art Lesson for Children with Donna Hugh Volume 4 (Felt Pen Fun) from (Coyote Creek Productions)

Reading, Writing and Spelling in Spanish II from (American Montessori Consulting)

4th Place AMC Montessori Winner Prizes Include:

 Potholder Loom (Makes 2 Beautiful Potholders) from (Bountiful Spinweave)

Animal Safari (A Learning Journey) Wild World Habitats from (Coyote Creek Productions)

Animal Safari (A Learning Journey) Animals of the Amazon from (Coyote Creek Productions)

5th Place AMC Montessori Winner Prizes Include:

 Art Lesson for Children with Donna Hugh Volume 3 (More Fun with Watercolors) from (Coyote Creek Productions)

Animal Safari (A Learning Journey) Exploration Dinosaur from (Coyote Creek Productions)

(Click here) to enter the drawing!!

Join the Montessori for the 21st Century E-mail List (Subscribe Now)

Heidi Anne Spietz

American Montessori Consulting

http://www.amonco.org

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