Montessori21stCentury’s Weblog

Montessori Lessons, Ideas and More…

Bird-watching with Children

Copyright 2015

Are your kids (and you) starting to get spring fever? Are you anxious to get outside and enjoy nature? Many areas of North America have had pretty severe winter weather, and for many of us, it likely is not over yet. One fun way to enjoy nature year-round is by bird-watching and/or bird feeding. Actually, February is National Bird Feeding Month, and it’s a great opportunity to encourage your family’s awareness of the birds all around us.

For tips and ideas to get you started, American Montessori Consulting talked to Sanford R. Wilbur, a retired wildlife biologist specializing in ornithology (the study of birds) and a lifelong recreational bird-watcher and outdoor enthusiast. Mr. Wilbur is also a father and grandfather who has had plenty of experience “birding” with children of all ages. We hope you enjoy the information he shared with us.

———————————————-

AMC: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us about bird-watching today. For families that are looking for engaging and educational science and nature experiences for their children, why would you recommend bird-watching, specifically?

Sanford Wilbur: Given that it’s a good thing to get kids outdoors, bird-watching is an especially good way to do it. Studying any group of animals can be fun, but watching and studying most groups is not easy on a casual basis. For instance, mammals are familiar to everybody and they’re easy to be interested in, but we usually see wild mammals by chance, rather than by planning. That’s because a lot of them are most active at night, or in the very early morning or late evening, and most of them are very secretive. Amphibians, like frogs and toads, are favorites with kids because of their looks and activities, and they are sometimes very colorful and make wonderful noises. Unfortunately, you can usually only find a couple of common species in any given area. There are jillions of insects but, except for butterflies, it takes an expert to get very far beyond the basics of bees, beetles, dragonflies, and such. Insects and amphibians are also hard to see outside the main spring-summer period.

On the other hand, birds of some kind are around all year, and in almost every environment. Most areas have a variety of species, which adds to the fun of identifying and keeping lists of what you see. Birds are often bright-colored; you can often tell the males and females apart by their color (which is not true for most groups of animals); their singing makes them visible and helps identify them at certain seasons; and their seasonal flocking habits make them very noticeable and interesting.

 You can watch birds on your back porch, in a city park, on a wildlife refuge, or combined with other activities like hiking, camping, bicycling, etc. You can also watch for other kinds of animals or look at plants on a bird-watching outing. About the only things you can’t do while trying to watch birds are riding motorcycles, shooting guns, and yelling.

bird_watching

AMC: You’ve said that we can probably find birds in any location or season. What sort of equipment or information do families really need to get started?

SRW: Bird-watching is a fairly simple hobby, and inexpensive. The only real need is for each person to have binoculars, and for someone in the group to have a bird identification book. Binoculars for beginners don’t have to do more than provide a little magnification, so you can buy very inexpensive ones until you know whether this is a hobby that’s going to last.

 AMC: Excuse me for interrupting, Mr. Wilbur, but could several people share one pair of binoculars, if necessary?

SRW: Sure. If you’re watching a pond full of ducks, you can pass the binoculars around, and everybody gets a look. But birds in bushes or hawks flying overhead often don’t stay in one place very long, so some might miss out if their turn doesn’t come in time. But we’ve often shared binoculars in our family on all-day hikes or other times when only one pair was available.

AMC: You also mentioned needing a bird book to help with identification. Can you tell us more about what to look for?

SRW: There are quite a few field guides available now, and most are pretty good. Bird species are quite different in different parts of the country, so just be sure yours either covers the whole United States or is a version that fits your locality. A new bird guide might cost $20 or so, but since birds look the same today as they did twenty years ago, you don’t necessarily need to invest in a new book right away. You can probably pick up a very serviceable used copy of a good guide for your area for a few dollars. I think I’ve been using some of my guidebooks for 30 or 40 years, and they still work just fine.

AMC: How about borrowing a bird guide from the local library? Would that be a practical idea?

SRW: That would be a reasonable way to start getting an idea of the birds in your area before you actually go out looking for them. But once you get outdoors, you need your own copy. That way, you won’t worry about the book getting dirty (almost a certainty), or of getting its pages bent when you take it in and out of your jacket. With your own copy, you might even want to jot some notes beside the pictures of birds you see, something you wouldn’t do with a library book.

 AMC: That’s why they call them “field guides,” right?

SRW: Exactly. You can bird without carrying a guide with you – and you probably will, sometimes, as you get better at knowing what to look for on the birds you see -but it’s a lot easier to look in the book just after you see the bird, rather than trying to remember later on what you saw. If you do see a bird when you don’t have a bird book with you, try to pay attention to details and remember them as best you can. Carrying and jotting in a note book can help you remember such things as the color of the head or the way the bird held its tail. Between your memory and your notes, you can sometimes visualize a bird you see well enough to do the identification when you get to where you can look it up.

AMC: If you’re going to wait until you get home to do the identification, how about looking for bird identification information on the internet?

SRW: There are some sites with identification search engines and photos of common birds, but often a field guide is easier to use, especially for beginners. Guides are designed to group similar birds together in pictures, making it easier to compare the sometimes small details that differentiate one species from another.

 AMC: Isn’t it confusing to sort through all those different birds in the book?

SRW: Not necessarily. Birds come in a wide variety of basic sizes, shapes and colors, but those characteristics help you narrow down your search. After noticing the obvious differences, you can quickly learn to look for specific things. Most good bird books will direct your attention to characteristics like the color of the bird’s throat, the color of the rump, the size and shape of the bill, whether the bird twitches its tail or not, if it goes down tree trunks rather than up, etc. It really doesn’t take long to start homing in on those features, rather than just looking at the bird.

 If you’re starting out not knowing birds yourself, you could feel intimidated trying to help others learn. But, remember, even though there are over 500 species of birds in the United States, there are probably not more than 25 or so common ones in any given area. And you already know a lot of types of birds, even if you don’t think you do. Most everyone recognizes crows, robins, blackbirds, doves, sparrows, hawks, woodpeckers, and “sea gulls.” Many of the birds you see are going to look similar to some of these that you know. With a very little study of a bird guide covering your region, you will find that although there are 50 “sparrows” in the country, only two or three of them will be found in your area or in the type of environment you will be looking in. Twenty hawks become only one or two you’re likely to see; most areas won’t have more than one type of dove or quail, etc.

AMC: That makes sense, and it seems like knowing that would help children stay interested and not get frustrated by feeling there is “too much” to learn. Can you give any additional tips about how to get the most out of our bird-watching adventures, especially now while winter is still hanging on?

SRW: Right now, most of our bright-colored northern birds are wintering in Mexico and Central America. The biggest flocks of waterfowl have gone south to coastal Texas and Florida, and the valleys of California. But, no matter where you live, there are still birds around, and this is the time of year for backyard bird feeding. Not only is it fun to see what you can attract to your house using different kinds of food – millet seed, sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet – but a bird feeder gives one of the very best chances for seeing birds up close. Kids can get really interested in birds that come to a feeder close to a window, where even without binoculars you can often get good looks at a number of different species. This might prove to be motivation to get them out on walks farther afield as the weather improves. Winter bird feeding can often be exciting for adults, too, because providing feed when natural foods are scarce can attract unusual birds to the “easy pickings” along with the common residents.

bird_watching2

Spring is the best time to study songbirds because they are in their most colorful plumages, and the males are actively singing, which helps you spot them. Unfortunately, spring is the worst time for bugs in many parts of the country, something that needs to be considered to keep the experience for kids (and you!) from being a discouraging one.

Summer still gives you a lot to see, but you have to work harder than in spring. The males have quit singing, and the pairs are spending a lot of time quietly on their nests. It takes more effort to spot them in the leafy summer foliage, too. Most birds are not very interested in the winter bird feeder fare of seeds and suet, because there is plenty of natural food. But hummingbirds quickly find feeders filled with sugar water, and putting out some orange halves often attracts bright-colored orioles, tanagers, or grosbeaks. Summer is also a good time to go to marshes, where you can see broods of baby ducks and geese – almost always a hit with children.

In fall, the highlights for birders are the big migrations of waterfowl, hawks, shorebirds, and warblers. Particularly in the Northeast, there are designated hawk watching spots where you can sometimes see hundreds of hawks passing overhead in a few hours. Federal and state wildlife areas are particularly good for seeing major flights of ducks and geese. Some forested areas and beach headlands can have big flights of migrating warblers and vireos, but they are in their dull fall plumages and are difficult to identify. It can still be exciting to see the large numbers, even if you can’t identify them all.

In general, you can watch waterfowl, shorebirds, herons, hawks, etc., any time of the day. Songbirds are most active in the early morning; depending on the region of the country, the woods can seem pretty quiet after 9 or 10 in the morning.

AMC: Thank you very much, Mr. Wilbur. We appreciate your time and information.

———————————————————

More ideas for bird-watching information:

National Wildlife Refuge System

http://www.fws.gov/refuges/

National Wildlife Refuges are excellent destination for watching birds and other wildlife. Many are located in rural areas, but almost every bigger city has one relatively nearby. Most have modest entry fees, if any, and offer lots of interpretive signs, leaflets and lists to help you enjoy the areas. Many also offer driving tours, hiking trails, and other recreational opportunities.

Mr. Wilbur recommends this informative article on birding with children. You’ll find many ideas and tips here:

http://www.easyfunschool.com/article1975.html

General information about bird identification:

http://www.birding.com/bird_identification.asp

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center’s “Tools for Learning About Birds:”

http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs/ident.html

Bird identification search engine:

http://identify.whatbird.com/mwg/_/0/attrs.aspx

———————————————

Sanford Wilbur is retired after nearly 37 years with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He still watches birds, and has written several books on birds and other wildlife. He and his wife live in Oregon. Please visit the following links for additional information about the author and his resources:

http://www.condortales.com/newbooks.html  

http://www.condortales.com/ninefeet.html

http://www.condortales.com/

Read the other parts of this creative hands-on lesson planning newsletter by visiting   http://www.amonco.org/montessori_spring_handson.html

Leave a comment »

Spring 2015 – It’s Time to Head Outdoors

“In those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and a sullenness against Nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth.” John Milton, Tractate of Education

Spring is a season of transitions in the world around us.  Changing weather conditions, migrating birds, growing vegetation, and other natural occurrences make it an exciting time to get curious and go outside to see what is going on.  Here are a few ideas that you will want to use within the next few months.

Try this fun spring activity, “Watching Spring”, from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  http://www.dnr.state.md.us/cin/pdfs/Watching_Spring_Activity.pdf

You will find lots of fun ideas for family fun in the spring here:

http://stayathomemoms.about.com/od/activitiesandfun/u/spring-activities.htm

http://www.grandparents.com/grandkids/activities-games-and-crafts/spring-fun-activities-list

http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2012/03/50-simple-outdoor-activities-for-kids.html

Nature’s Workshop Plus! also offers some great ideas for how to “Celebrate Spring with Some Fun, Educational Nature Activities”.  http://www.amonco.org/spring8/montessori_spring8.pdf

Compare and contrast spring and summer & fall and winter in North Carolina Forests.  Learn more by visiting Farm Country General Store http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com/product_info.php/products_id/1367

Traditionally, families have often spent outdoor time together in spring flying kits. If it’s been a while since you have tried this activity, get into the spirit with “The Art and Fun of Kite Flying”. http://www.amonco.org/spring4/montessori_spring4.pdf

For an outdoor science activity that doesn’t demand a lot of equipment or a high fitness level, check out Sanford R. Wilbur’s “Bird-watching with Children”. Birdwatching also allows children to practice being patient and quiet.  http://www.amonco.org/spring1/montessori_spring1.pdf

Looking for a place to get close to nature?  America’s national forests are a great place to have fun and get away from town for a few hours or a few days.  Many locations are still free! Find areas to explore and activities to pursue in your own state, or plan a trip to a neighboring region here: http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/map/state_list.shtml

Spring is coming, if it hasn’t arrived yet where you live, so banish your own – and your students’ — winter blues with some time enjoying the outdoors and nature!

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 »

Learning is a Picnic! Part Two-Adventures and Activities

“The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.”  Plato

A picnic is a wonderful opportunity for both children and adults to observe and enjoy nature.  While you eat, as well as before and after your meal, it is fun to keep your eyes and ears open for wildlife, insects, changing sky conditions, and more. 

If you are new to birdwatching, or want some kid-friendly tips, please refer to Sanford R. Wilbur’s “Birdwatching with Kids” interview. http://www.amonco.org/spring1/montessori_spring1.pdf

Birdcage Press also offers a fun card game and book set, Backyard Birds, which you could use in conjunction with your birdwatching adventures. http://www.amonco.org/summer5/montessori_summer5.pdf  

For younger kids and hands-on explorers, botany might be a more rewarding pursuit than bird or wildlife watching.  You need almost no equipment, you don’t need to stay quiet, and your subjects will not fly or scamper away while you are studying them! Make sure you are familiar with poison oak, poison ivy, stinging nettle or any other plants in your area which students should not handle.  Then, get more study ideas from Sara L. Ambarian in her article, “Nurturing Budding Botanists”. http://www.amonco.org/Botanists.pdf

“Whole body learners” (for more, see http://www.amonco.org/summer5/montessori_summer5.pdf ) might really “dig” geologic explorations. Examining soil and rock formations often requires a lot of walking around and getting your hands dirty. Don’t think that you need to have a location with really dramatic geologic features like boulders or cliff faces in order to have a rewarding geology adventure. You can learn a lot from looking at variations in the color and texture of soil or gravel areas, the sizes and composition of rocks along a river bed, the shapes of surrounding hills or mountains, etc. Visit the following website from Rochester, New York, for some fun ideas to get kids started enjoying rocks and minerals. http://rochester.kidsoutandabout.com/content/getting-kids-rockhounding  

Geology enthusiasts will also enjoy the Hobby Lobby story found here: http://www.amonco.org/summer2/montessori_summer2.pdf .

Another great way to enjoy a day outside is to immortalize it in art. Before going, you might invest some time preparing with an art study program like that found in Coyote Creek’s video series “Drawing Nature”. http://www.coycreek.com/drawingnaturevol2drawinglessonsforbeginners.aspx

Other fun outdoor activities that give children an opportunity to move around and might be appropriate for your picnic location are kite-flying and beachcombing. Find lots of ideas and resources on these subjects in “Up, Up and Away—The Art and Fun of Kite Flying” and “Classified Seashell Activities and Resources”. http://www.amonco.org/summer/montessori_summer1.pdf

For learning opportunities involving weather and sky conditions, check out these informative links from the National Weather Service. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc/?n=teacher

When you’re done eating and exploring, you may want to make a memento to remember the outing. This site has some fun outdoor crafts listed in their sections for “backyard”, “beach craft”, “camping and picnic”, etc. http://familycrafts.about.com/od/summercrafts/a/summermn.htm

Here are a few other selected outdoor craft ideas for students young and old: 

Tree Rubbings Collage http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/Tree-Rubbings-Collage.html

Pretty pencil pinwheel http://crafts.kaboose.com/pretty-pencil-pinwheel.html ,

Fun Floral Straws http://www.marthastewart.com/355464/fun-floral-straws?czone=holiday/sixty-days-of-summer/party-ideas&center=276964&gallery=275330&slide=355464

Families or other groups can extend the outdoor fun, and help a good cause, too, by joining the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout.  Find out more about the program at: http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Great-American-Backyard-Campout.aspx

1 Comment »

Montessori Springtime Nature and Science Activities

Spring is an excellent time to get the children in our lives interested in and excited about science and nature.

Last year we interviewed ornithologist Sanford R. Wilbur for some tips about how to start children out in the engrossing activity of birdwatching. You don’t need to spend a lot of money or have any previous “birding” experience in order to help kids with ornithological studies.  Mr. Wilbur makes it fun and easy with his suggestions. http://www.amonco.org/spring1/montessori_spring1.pdf

Dale Gausman from the North American Montessori Center gives more useful suggestions in his article, “Introducing a Bird Feeder”. http://www.amonco.org/spring4/montessori_spring4.pdf

Spring weather is often perfect for burning off some energy and getting some fresh air while kite flying.  It is a fun hands-on activity with great science and exercise opportunities. Check out our information and links in “Up, Up, and Away – The Art and Fun of Kite Flying”, as well as our seashell classification activities (another fun spring science project) here: http://www.amonco.org/spring4/montessori_spring4.pdf

Another classic outdoor activity for kids (and adults) is blowing soap bubbles. It’s an inexpensive, simple activity that teaches some interesting lessons about gravity, light waves, hydrogen bonding and other chemistry and physics concepts. It’s also an activity that is beautiful and entertaining.  Add a younger sibling or family dog to the scene, trying to catch the bubbles, and you really have some fun! For more ideas and some recipes for making your own bubble solution, visit these websites: http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/bubbles/bubbles.html and http://www.bubbleblowers.com/homemade.html

Indoors or out, photography can provide the basis of many engaging and educational hands-on activities, when you choose age-appropriate equipment.  Rae from Creative Process suggests some interesting photography projects in her “Picture-A-Day and Time Lapse Photography Idea”.  http://www.amonco.org/spring2/montessori_spring2.pdf

 

For a great round-up of nature-oriented educational activities, be sure to read the listing from Diana Nuack of Nature’s Workshop Plus, available here: http://www.amonco.org/spring8/montessori_spring8.pdf

Need more spring activity ideas? http://www.activities-for-kids.net/spring-activities-for-kids.html

********

When the outdoor fun is finished, there are lots of ways to expand on what you learned.

John Grunder from Exploration Education has shared two great science experiments.  “I CAN’T TAKE THE PRESSURE!” teaches Bernoulli’s principle in a fun and easy way with common household items.  His “Needle-Proof Balloon” experiment teaches about molecular bonds. http://www.amonco.org/spring3/montessori_spring_3.pdf

It is useful and easy to reinforce science and nature themes through both fiction and non-fiction reading.  Frances Hodgson  Burnett’s “The Secret Garden” is an especially appropriate subject for spring reading, because the garden and the children both transform and “bloom” as the book proceeds.  For more outdoor-oriented fiction,  many of the titles suggested by Sara L. Ambarian for summer reading would also be good inspiration for spring nature science projects and exploration.  http://www.amonco.org/Classic.pdf  Find some fun spring poetry here: http://www.dltk-holidays.com/spring/poem/index.htm

Back in the house or classroom, why not try the map of the world project from Draw Your World’s Marie and Kim to help students process and understand scale and geography.  http://www.amonco.org/spring5/montessori_spring.5.pdf

Have fun this weekend, checking out these wonderful resources.

Leave a comment »

Spring Forward with Hands On Lesson Planning

Please visit https://montessori21stcentury.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/spring-forward-2013-with-timely-lesson-planning-ideas/ for the updated 2013 issue!

Enjoy!

Heidi Anne Spietz
http://www.amonco.org

2 Comments »

Exploring Holidays and History

 

Spring brings many special holidays and historical events to enrich our homes and classrooms. Enjoy these resources to help your students understand and explore these interesting observances.

For a round-up of various links for January and February lesson plans and ideas, visit: http://www.amonco.org/jan_feb_celebrations.html   

Black History Month – February

Black History Month, observed in February since 1926, provides many interesting opportunities to explore history, culture and food.  The Creative Process can get you started with their “Celebrate Black History Month” page, linked here: http://www.amonco.org/spring8/montessori_spring8.pdf

You will find more information, resources and recipes in the links below.

http://www.lessonplanspage.com/blackhistorymonth-htm , http://seasonal.theteacherscorner.net/black-history-month , http://www.thinkfinity.org/?q=black-history-month , and http://www.soul-food-advisor.com/black_history_month.html

Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, 1809

There is no question that Abraham Lincoln is one of the most famous and most admired presidents of the United States.  Many states no longer observe his birthday as a separate holiday; but his life, accomplishments and assassination are at the heart of one of the most complex and pivotal eras of American history.  President Lincoln’s life and career make an excellent basis for unit studies. Explore these interesting websites for more information.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/abrahamlincoln , http://www.nps.gov/abli/index.htmhttp://www.civilwarhome.com/lincolnbio.htm , and http://www.primaryteachers.org/abraham_lincoln_unit.htm

George Washington’s birthday, February 22, 1732 (Presidents’ Day observed February 20, 2012)

Sara L. Ambarian helps us get to know the man who is called “the Father of our Country”, with information about George Washington in her article, “Celebrating the Personal Life of George Washington”. You’ll find additional educational links about our first president at the end of the article. http://www.amonco.org/spring8/montessori_spring8.pdf

For more presidential lesson ideas, read “It’s Time to Think Outside the Box and Kindle, Too!” from Literatureplace.com, with its suggestions for studying Thomas Jefferson. http://www.amonco.org/spring3/montessori_spring_3.pdf  You can also enhance your studies of government and politics with a batch of the famous, traditional and tasty Senate Bean Soup, from Dale and Rita at North American Montessori Center. http://www.amonco.org/spring4/montessori_spring4.pdf

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17

Visit these links for lesson and craft ideas for the “greenest” spring holiday! https://montessori21stcentury.wordpress.com/2008/02/13/st-patricks-day-crafts-origami-and-more  http://www.fastq.com/~jbpratt/education/sstudies/geog/stpatricks.html  and http://www.edhelper.com/st_patricks_day.htm  

Easter, April 8

Georgette Baker from Cantemos offers some fun projects for Easter and other spring holidays.  Check out her festive hat and easy tie-dye instructions. http://www.amonco.org/spring1/montessori_spring1.pdf  

For long-lasting Easter fun outdoors, Jan from Garden Artisans shares a cute Hippity Hoppity Bunny Topiary project here: http://www.amonco.org/spring2/montessori_spring2.pdf  

Bake up an interesting Italian tradition with Mary Ann Esposito’s Neopolitan Stuffed Easter Bread.  If desirable, you could make it easier, more economical and/or more kid-friendly by replacing the fancy imported meat and cheese with meat or cheese of your choice.  It might also be more kid-friendly if you dice the meat and cheese a little smaller than Ms. Esposito does in the tutorial.  The recipe is full of interesting Easter symbolism, and what child wouldn’t be fascinated (as Ms. Esposito was herself) by the whole raw eggs baked into the bread! http://www.ciaoitalia.com/seasons/20/2020/neapolitan-stuffed-easter-bread  

Find more Easter inspiration at the following sites.

http://www.preschooleducation.com/aeaster.shtml , http://www.bobsedulinks.com/easter.htm  and http://www.holidays.net/easter/index.htm

Cinco de Mayo, May 5

Cinco de Mayo is not, as sometimes assumed, Mexican Independence Day (a separate holiday which is celebrated on September 16). It marks the Battle of Puebla in which Mexican troops defeated French troops. Find out more at: http://www.mexonline.com/cinco-de-mayo.htm  

For introduction or reinforcement of Spanish language lessons, check out the offerings from Cantemos http://www.amonco.org/spring1/montessori_spring1.pdf  and Professor Toto http://www.amonco.org/spring6/montessori_spring6.pdf  

For Spanish-speaking students or those learning Spanish, check out our Unit Study Lesson Plan About Mexico in Spanish. https://montessori21stcentury.wordpress.com/2008/02/14/a-unit-study-lesson-plan-about-mexico-in-spanish

For more lesson ideas and some recipe ideas for Mexican food to make, check these interesting sites.  http://seasonal.theteacherscorner.net/cinco-de-mayo/ , http://recipesource.com/ethnic/americas/mexican /, and http://www.mexicanrecipes.org /

Mother’s Day , May 13

Parents and educators are always looking for ideas and resources for the popular holiday, Mother’s Day.  Dale Gausman from NAMC lists some books and ideas in his article, “Mother’s Day in the Montessori Classroom”. He also provides some lesson plan ideas for older students.  http://www.amonco.org/spring6/montessori_spring6.pdf

These websites provide some additional ideas for crafts and decorations.  http://www.mothersdaycentral.com/mothers-day-crafts/  and http://www.divinedinnerparty.com/mothers-day-ideas.html

Memorial Day, May 28

Memorial Day is a solemn, but potentially important holiday with which to acquaint children at age appropriate levels. NAMC’s Dale Gausman discusses the history of and Montessori perspective for teaching about Memorial Day in his “Montessori Curriculum Ideas for Memorial Day”. http://www.amonco.org/spring7/montessori_spring7.pdf

Find more information on the history of this day of remembrance, at: http://www.history.com/topics/memorial-day-history  and http://virtual-markets.net/vme/memorial/dvm_mem.html  

**********

For more seasonal and holiday observances for educators, visit: http://www.netposterworks.com/holidays/index.html  and http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays

For more about holidays, in a convenient monthly chronology, see Rae from The Creative Process’s “Monthly Observances and Notable Dates”. http://www.amonco.org/spring2/montessori_spring2.pdf

Leave a comment »

Springtime Hands On Learning for PreK – Grade 8

Welcome to Springtime at American Montessori Consulting

Visit Spring/Summer 1998. and Spring/Summer 1999. These newsletters were recently revised.

A sampling of what is featured in the 1998 issue appears below:

• interdisciplinary lessons involving shape, color, science and math.

• new color gradient learning ideas

• Butterflies – Lessons and Observations

• categorize gems according to color.

• lessons in shapes and mathematics for middle school students

Visit Springtime Celebrations to access the following:

Gardening & Other Springtime Nature Activities
and Theme Lesson Planning

• Ampersand Press – Games and Wildlife Stamps

• Bird-watching with Kids

• Introducing a Bird Feeder

• Growing Your Own Herbs and Cooking with Your Children

• Childsake – Nature and the Environment

• Farm Country General Store – Open Pollinated Seeds

• Fun Felt Newsletter Article Loaded with Free Butterfly Lesson Planning Ideas

• Fun Felt – Science Theme Lesson Planning with Felt

• Free Birdhouse Plans and Patterns

• Free Gardening Tips and More

• Free Information Source – Seashells for Classified Reading Exercises

• Free Lesson Planning Butterfly Links

• Garden Artisans – Newsletters, Projects and More

• Garden Forever for Gardeners of All Ages and Abilities

• Joyful Noise – Theme Related Materials – Wonderful Selection of Science Materials

• Lab Essentials, Inc. – Microscopes for Science Investigational Studies

• Nature’s Workshop Plus!

• Priority Montessori Materials – Hands On Science

• Schoolmasters.com Science Kits and Activities

• Spring Gardening with Children – Make a Tepee (Free Instructions)

• Wildflowers – Free Lesson Planning Ideas

Springtime Art Activities

• allartsupplies.com- For School and Home Classrooms

• Chinaberry.com – Find the Perfect Nature and/or Springtime Theme Books

• Creative Care – Ideas Books (Jenny’s Spring Crafts)

• Free Making Art from Seashells Activity

• Free Seashell Painting

• Nature’s Workshop Plus

Holidays

• Paper Mache Pinata

• Celebrating Cinco de Mayo at The Holiday Zone

• Lesson Plan – Subtopic – Cinco de Mayo

• A Unit Study Lesson Plan About Mexico in?Spanish

• Cinco de Mayo ~ Excellent Background Information

• Cinco de Mayo Recipes

• Creative Care – Ideas Books (Jenny’s Crafts)

• Free Mother’s Day History and Activities

• History of Memorial Day

• Memorial Day

• Free Father’s Day Projects

• Free Easter History and Activities

• Free Passover Ideas

Happy Spring!!

Heidi
http://www.amonco.org

1 Comment »

February is Bird Watching Month

Help children and teens develop a new hobby and learn about biology in the process.  Use the information provided by Diana Ruark of Nature’s Workshop Plus!,  Dale Gausman of the North American Montessori Center, and Sandy R. Wilbur, retired wildlife biologist specializing in ornithology, from Condor Tales to take you step-by-step through a series of integrated lesson presentations.

In Part I of the AMC Spring 2011 edition, Sandy answers general as well specific questions which will help you to understand the benefits of this hobby. You’ll learn how to get started, what types of products to buy, and what pitfalls to avoid, to name a few. Sandy is also sensitive to the concerns educators may feel about presenting lessons on this topic.

“If you’re starting out not knowing birds yourself, you could feel intimidated trying to help others learn.  But, remember, even though
there are over 500 species of birds in the United States, there are probably not more than 25 or so common ones in any given area. And you already know a lot of types of birds, even if you don’t think you do. Most everyone recognizes crows, robins, blackbirds, doves, sparrows, hawks, woodpeckers, and “sea gulls.” Many of the birds you see are going to look similar to some of these that you know. With a very little study of a bird guide covering your region, you will find that although there are 50 “sparrows” in the country, only two or three of them will be found in your area or in the type of environment you will be looking in. Twenty hawks become only one or two you’re likely to see; most areas won’t have more than one type of dove or quail, etc.“

Sandy R. Wilbur  Copyright 2011

Diana Ruark of Nature’s Workshop Plus! also offers useful lesson planning information for helping your students appreciate nature in general, with an additional tip or two about birds and bird watching.  Click here for details. Diana provides you with resources and a useful book to help you with your nature planning lessons.

Last, but not least, in Part IV of this issue, Montessorian Dale Gausman leads you through the process of introducing a bird feeder to a group of children.  Besides offering suggestions on how to get started, Dale provides a list of materials and other resources you will need to ensure a successful set of lesson presentations.

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

Leave a comment »