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Montessori Lessons, Ideas and More…

Montessori February Community Service Projects 2016

Please note: If the links don’t come through, please visit http://www.amonco.org/montessoricommunityprojects.html

This year commit to do something fun yet really meaningful for those in your community who are sad and lonely. Become involved in a project and possibly enlist the help of other families and friends. First, call your local nursing home or children’s hospital and explain that you would like to bring handmade gifts to the patients. Find out the dos and don’ts of acceptable gift giving.

Now, get busy and go to work. 🙂 Visit the Kids Activities – Community Service Ideas website. Scroll down until you see Project Ideas. Decide whether you want to make a cooking, sewing or other type of craft project. One word of caution here. The first time we became involved in a community project, we got a little carried away by our enthusiasm and spent more than we wanted. Don’t make the same mistake. Meet with your other community project partners and agree that you will set a spending limit. To make the project enjoyable for everyone, be sure to also consider the age, ability, interest, and attention span of the children/teens involved in making the gifts.

Bargain hunting does take time but is well worth the effort. These trips are useful for children and teens as they learn about budgeting, units of measurement in cooking and how much yardage of material to buy.

Visit some craft, yardage and stationery stores in your area and explain what your group is doing and ask to see the discount and bins. Also inquire about possible discounts.

You can also cut costs by purchasing baking items at many discount grocery chains. Below, are some additional sites and recipes to consider for your cooking projects.

Although the service project mentioned in this posting is designed for the young, the elderly enjoy these projects as well. A 91-year-old member of our family recently created the Valentine bag pictured above. She continues to be housebound because of illness but is motivated to reach out and help others. She currently is making these organza Valentine bags to give to women in need.

We did some bargain shopping and found some good buys through eBay auctions. Among the best bargains were the satin rosettes and organza bags. By clipping coupons and waiting for sales, we were also able to purchase ribbon and other trimming at deeply discounted prices.

This year, we knew that it was mandatory that we stay within our budget. Again, we made some price comparisons and found some very inexpensive lots of lip balm, mini hand lotion, etc. These items will be inserted into the 30 completed organza Valentine bags and given as gifts.

May the love and compassion that you send out to others be returned to you.

Visit American Montessori Consulting and look under New and Notable for other holiday related lessons and unit studies.

Enjoy!
Heidi Anne Spietz
American Montessori Consulting
Celebrating 28 Years of Serving School and Home Educators
Montessori for the 21st Century
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Lessons to Jumpstart 2016!

Happy New Year!!

Below are links to jump start your Montessori lesson planning for the new year.

Many of these lessons are free!

Getting Ready for a “New” Year

Animals in the Winter Unit Study Free Lesson Plans

Valentine Day Links

Montessori Winter-Themed Activities from NAMC Part I

Montessori Winter-Themed Activities from NAMC Part II

Gardening Year Round – Tips from an Expert

Beginning a Spring Garden at Home or School

Spring Tea

Year End Activities

Draw Your World Lesson Plans

Children’s Books for Summer Reading – Part II

Bird-watching with Children

Monthly Observances and Notable Data

Science Activity “I CAN’T TAKE THE PRESSURE!”

Celebrating the Personal Life of George Washington – lesson planning ideas

Valentine Origami Art & Math Activities

A Movie About Maria Montessori Worth Watching

AMC Montessori Winter Hands On Lessons

Hands-On Interdisciplinary Learning

Winter Science Links

Want more?? Click on the links below for additional free lessons and articles that are available only at the amonco.org website :

Italy – Links for a Montessori Unit Study

A Maria Montessori Movie Worth Seeing

Gardening Year Round – Tips from an Expert

AMC Holiday Montessori Grammar Bingo and Extension Exercises

Apples and Oranges – Links for Montessori Unit Study

Study of the Human Respiratory System – Links for Montessori Unit Study

Medical Terminology – Links for Montessori Unit Study

The Human Cardiovascular System – Links for Montessori Unit Study

Cardiology Terminology

The Human Nervous System – Links for Montessori Unit Study

Let’s Go on an Animal Safari – See Part VII

More in store for you in 2016!

Visit www.amonco.org often throughout 2016 to discover new Montessori lesson planning.

Enjoy!
Heidi
http://www.amonco.org

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CrĂŞpes Recipe For Children

Professor Toto

Copyright 2013-2015

All Rights Reserved.

Website: http://www.professortoto.com

 Recipe Submitted by Laeticia

 Crêpes Recipe For Children

Cooking should be more than cooking; it should be fun, and children love to make their own snack by rolling up a crĂŞpe! This recipe is an easy and fun activity that you both will enjoy.

Equipment: Large Bowl, Plastic spatula, Whisk, Frying Pan (non-stick), spray oil

 Batter Ingredients: 1.5 cup of Milk, 1 tablespoon of Butter, 3 Eggs, _ teaspoon of Vanilla Extract, 1 cup of Flour

Fillings: Various to taste.

  1. Prepare the batter:

Combine all ingredients except the milk in a large bowl. Have the child mix the ingredients with a whisk. Have the child continue to mix while you’re adding the milk into the bowl.

  1. Make the crĂŞpes

Over medium heat, lightly cover the pan with spray oil. Pour one small ladle of the crĂŞpe mix into the pan. Tilt and jiggle allowing the batter to cover the bottom of the pan.

Flip the crĂŞpe using a plastic spatula when the edges start to turn golden.

Cook the crĂŞpe until the bottom turns golden (45 sec). You can peek at the bottom of the crĂŞpe by lifting up an edge with the plastic spatula. Re-spray the pan between each crĂŞpe.

  1. Fill the crĂŞpes

Have the child spread the filling on the crĂŞpe and roll it up.

About Professor Toto

A multimedia language course for children

http://www.professortoto.com

This multimedia course was developed by François Thibaut’s renowned Language Workshop for Children, a teacher and a practicing specialist in the field since 1973.

All products are classroom tested and received six major children’s media awards.

The Professor Toto Language Education course starts a child’s journey through colorful visuals, child-friendly narration, and lots of different stories in French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, or German.

* *

Receive additional lesson plans, craft ideas, recipes, and more by visiting http://www.amonco.org/montessori_winter_handson.html

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Apple Angel Food Recipe

Conceptual Learning

Copyright 2011 – 2015

All Rights Reserved.

Website: http://www.conceptuallearning.com/

Recipe Submitted by Montessorian Dianne Knesek

Apple Angel Food

Prepare angel food cake batter.

Mix in 1/2 lb of pecans.

Pour into angel food cake pan.

Slice a couple of Granny Smith apples on top.

Bake as directed.

Cool.

With spatula, loosen cake from sides

Place on platter and invert

Serve and enjoy!

About Conceptual Learning

Conceptual Learning Materials has introduced several new series into the Insights into Math Concepts line.

To ease the children into more abstract fraction work, we have introduced “Fraction Match,” a series of 15 matching exercises that include graphics, verbal expressions, and fraction symbols for various configurations. These include numerators of one, numerators greater than one, fraction of a set, improper fractions, mixed numbers, fractions on a number line, equivalencies, and simple addition of fractions. The work is appropriate for students in 2nd through 4th grades. Other recent fraction releases include “Fraction Operations” which focuses on addition & subtraction of unlike fractions. “More Fraction Operations” includes multiplication and division of fractions and mixed numbers as well as a comprehensive overview of all fraction operations. Previously released fraction series include “Fraction Concepts,” “Fraction Line and Labels,” and “Fraction Order.”

Three levels of time have also been introduced. The incremental matching cards encompass time to the hour, half hour, quarter hour, five-minutes, and time intervals of varying difficulty.

“Introduction to Decimals” has been expanded to include mixed rounding and as well as operations involving one and two-place decimals. Previously released decimal series include “Decimal Line and Labels,” “Decimal Order,” “Advanced Decimals, ” as well as “Decimal/Fraction Equivalencies.”

Please contact us for a new catalog and be sure to visit http://www.conceptuallearning.com

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Dianne Knesek

Editor’s Note:

Receive additional lesson plans, craft ideas, recipes, and more by visiting http://www.amonco.org/montessori_fall_handson.html

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Painted Kitchen Trivet Craft Project

FunFelt
Copyright 2002-2015
All Rights Reserved.
Website http://www.funfelt.com

Craft Submitted by Karen
The following is an idea which appeared in a past issue of Karen’s newsletter, FunWithFelt – #16 Home Made Holiday Gift Ideas.

Gift Idea: Painted Kitchen Trivet

Materials: 12″ tile Acrylic paint, 1 or more colors Paintbrush, Sheet cork

Rubber cement

I did this with my oldest daughter and it was a big hit! Take a 12″ square plain or solid colored tile from the hardware store, and some acrylic paint   (I used a black tile with gold and silver paint!). Have the child paint designs onto the tile and paint his or her name and the year. Bake the painted tile in the oven 15-20 minutes (read paint bottle for directions).
Glue sheet cork (available at hardware stores) to the bottom of the tile with regular rubber cement or cork cement.

This makes a beautiful trivet that can be given as a gift and used at those holiday meals. The baking makes the paint permanent and resistant to heat. Everyone we gave these too are still using them 6 years later! By the way I did this when my daughter was only 18 months old, sitting in her high chair painting (with me
carefully monitoring!). Her art was very abstract, and the grandparents loved it!

This project would be equally well received by an older child who could be more detailed in their design, perhaps painting a picture, or patterned design. Have fun with it!

To connect with Story Time Felts, please visit http://www.funfelt.com/

Receive additional creative lesson planning ideas by visiting

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

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Summer Fun Makes for Summer Memories – Part I

Article by Heidi Anne Spietz

Looking back on your childhood, do you remember a specific summer that really stood out from the rest? If so, do you remember what made it so special?   My hope is that the vacation ideas, booklists, hands-on lessons, crafts, recipes and other activities listed in this summer newsletter http://www.amonco.org/montessori_summer_handson.html will provide the ideas needed to make this summer a treasured set of lasting memories.

In the first part of this two-part article, five of the AMC resource partners, http://www.amonco.org/directory.html who contributed to the richness of this newsletter, have been kind enough to share some of their favorite childhood vacation memories. Take a moment now to get to know each of these professionals on a more personal level.  Hopefully, the experiences shared will provide some insight on what specific childhood summer vacations really stand the test of time.

Edith Cooper, Owner of http://www.coycreek.com/ Coyote Creek Productions reflects on a special summer vacation that has had a long-lasting effect.

Magnificent waterfalls, beautiful horse trails to ride, stars to watch in the night sky: such pleasure! What more could an eight-year-old child be given? That first camping trip to Yosemite gave me much more: it forged a lifelong love of art and brought me a friendship that has lasted a lifetime.

I knew that my father was a career silkscreen artist, since I often “racked” the prints he made in his San Francisco studio, in order for the prints to dry before he could add more colors. But for the first time, on that camping trip with my father, mother, and older brother, I watched him draw from life, and the pencil and ink drawings he made of “my” pony graced every home I had throughout the years until they were lost in the crash of a moving van. But art—lost and found—was always with me. And long after that trip to Yosemite, after I had left my work as a catalog librarian, I formed a company to produce instructional videos for children. Our first productions were six videos of art instruction for children.

For some us, a favorite winter rather than summer vacation comes to mind. This is especially true if the temperature outside feels more like summertime.   Dale Gausman, Founder of http://www.montessori-namta.org/ North American Montessori Teachers’ Association shares just such a vacation.

My grandmother took my sister and me on our first vacation when I was in grade three. She invited us to go with her to visit my aunt in Los Angeles for two weeks over the Christmas holidays. It felt like an adventure to take the train for two days, and I was excited to leave behind Vancouver’s rain for the California sun.

I don’t remember much about the journey itself. I am sure that I watched towns flickering past us through the window; the occasional cow or horse standing in the fields; and the rugged coastline coming back into view as we reached California. But as a young growing boy, my interest laid primarily in food, and that is what I remember when I think of our train ride.

My grandmother brought all of our food for the two-day train trip in a small suitcase. There were no hot meals or sweet treats from the dining car. Instead, when we were hungry, my grandmother would pull out the suitcase, pop open the latch, and hand out the carefully wrapped meals that she had prepared. The only deviation from her suitcase was on our last day, when she bought us a can of hot tomato soup from a vending machine. I still remember the warm, homey aroma of that soup and how delicious it was.

Staying in Los Angeles, we naturally made a day trip to Disneyland, and my sister and I had a fantastic time. My favourite ride was, without question, the go carts. As an 8-year-old boy, it was amazing to me to be able to whizz round the corners and hammer down the straightaways at top speed. It was definitely a highlight of my trip.

Another highlight, and one that has made a lasting impression on me, was listening to my aunt read to us all every evening. She chose to read us The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. If an experience was memorable to you as a child, it is likely to be just as memorable to other children. I learned from my aunt and read the same book to my son when he was 8 years old. I believe he was just as enthralled as I was. 

Elaine Murphy, http://kimboed.com/ Kimbo Educational reflects on a summer vacation filled with experiential experiences.

I spent one glorious summer at a day camp called “Candy Mountain” when I was just 10 years old. Of course, we campers sang that fun song over and over, but we never tired of it. I learned so much that summer. The “candy” was really an opportunity to gain some independence, grow creatively, get stronger physically and make new friends. I had never been away from home, even for the daytime hours, and I was shy and a bookworm. My parents didn’t ask, they just sent me and said have a good time! I didn’t know any other children and I would rather have read my books curled up on my front porch. I changed that summer and came to realize that there was a big world out there that I wanted to be a part of. I could do it, and I learned to love life to its fullest. It was a set of experiential lessons about nature, art, planting, sharing and caring for our environment, teamwork and more. It was not just a vacation. My parents got more than their money’s worth by investing in me that summer.

Nan Barchowsky, Founder of http://www.bfhhandwriting.com/ Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting shows us how gardening can help children develop small hand muscles, as she looks back upon her own special childhood summers spent with her grandmother.

When I was a little girl I spent my summers at my grandmother’s home. She had a garden and grew beautiful flowers. I loved Nanny, my grandmother, very much, but when it came to her garden she was strict. I wanted to be with her in her garden, and I wanted to help. I thought I could pull some weeds, but she disagreed! Not in my garden she said! She feared I would pull up her flowers. How was I to know the difference between a valued plant and a weed?

 There was a solution! Nanny measured off a small space in the garden that was all mine. She suggested some flowers, and we agreed on Johnny-jump-ups and English daisies. I planted them; they grew. Weeds grew too, and I gently pulled them out so that I would not disturb the flowers. I could be with Nanny and have fun in my very own garden at the same time.

Gari Stein, Fonder of http://www.little-folks-music.com/ Music for Little Folks, reflects on the summers she spent at Camp Arowhon and the lasting friendships she made at camp.

I was extremely fortunate, for many summers to go to Camp Arowhon, in Algonquin Park Canada, nestled in a pristine wooded environment surrounded by water. Once we traveled by train, plane or bus, hearts beating with anticipation, we excitedly entered camp in shifts on the camp boat fondly called the ‘Lizzie”. Children coming together in friendship and fellowship that for me spanned from a junior camper to a senior counselor. 

Tomorrow, we will be focusing, in more depth, on the impact that travel, arts and crafts, local resources, science and nature can have on planning your own summer activities and adventures.  Stayed tuned for  Summer Fun Makes for Summer Memories – Part II

Enjoy!

Heid

 

 

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Nurturing Budding Botanists – Learning and Teaching the Basics of Plant Science

Copyright 2011 -2015

by Sara L. Ambarian

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

Science study can be one of the most fascinating aspects of our children’s schooling, due to the incredible diversity of scientific subjects and the wide variety of hands-on activities which can be related to each. Late spring and summer is a great time to take your scientific endeavors outdoors and take advantage of the vast laboratory of nature. An especially interesting and broad branch of science for summer study in the outdoors is botany.

What is botany?

Botany, according to Webster’s Dictionary is “the bflower_botanist_1ranch of biology that studies plants, their life, structure, growth, classification, etc.” Delving deeper into specifics, the Botanical Society of America http://botany.org/bsa/careers/what_is_botany.php tells us that “plants” have been generally thought to include “a wide range of living organisms from the smallest bacteria to the largest living things ‑ the giant sequoia trees. By this definition plants include: algae, fungi, lichens, mosses, ferns, conifers and flowering plants.” However, the Society states that modern scientists theorize that bacteria, algae and fungi are not part of the plant kingdom, though they continue to be studied/taught about within botany classes. For basic botany education, you probably won’t have the resources (or your students the interest) to worry too much about these tiny organisms, one way or another.

What do botanists do?

Like other biology careers, botany is a general discipline that covers many more specific studies and specialties. Someone educated as a botanist might study plant anatomy, plant reproductive biology, ecosystem ecology, paleobotany, plant care/cultivation, botanical education, or any of a wide variety of other specialized fields. They may work indoors or outdoors, in a wide variety of work environments– in a laboratory, in a greenhouse, at a botanic garden, at a museum, for a government agency, for a private company, etc.

For more on what botanists do, where they work, who they work for, etc., see:

http://www.forestinfo.org/discover

(This page also has links to information on some other interesting outdoor careers, as well.)

For an interesting table showing different specialties in the botanical field, see The Botanical Society of America, at:

http://www.botany.org/bsa/careers/bot-spec.html

Also visit The Botanical Society of America’s career page, which has interesting stories from actual professional botanists:

http://www.botany.org/bsa/careers/

Why teach or study botany?

There are many reasons to teach or study botany. Every child has plant materials of some sort available for study, even if it’s only sidewalk weeds, houseplants, or cut flowers and/or vegetables from the grocery store. Plants are intricate organisms which can provide many fascinating study opportunities; but unlike animals, they stay right where you left them. Because of this, plants are easier for young children to examine and identify. Also, you can theoretically observe them over an extended period of time.

Changes in growing plants are generally fairly obvious and easy for even small children to observe and compare. For example, growth from a seedling and other changes in size, development of flower and/or leaf buds, blossom drop and fruit development, and seasonal foliage color changes are all obvious processes anyone paying attention can follow. Older children can delve deeper into botany through more complex subjects like habitat and plant reproduction.

Studying plants also often brings up interesting lessons in the behavior of insects, birds and mammals, since we’re all interdependent on one another.

Getting started.

Don’t feel overwhelmed about trying to teach botany even if you do not know much about the subject yourself. It is a big and complex study, and you are not going to send your students out ready for university research projects. All you should really be aiming for at the start is to get the kids interested by presenting one or two small botanical lessons… and it does not take much preparation to be able to do that.

Below are some simple ideas for botanical explorations. Each of these is a manageable lesson, both for you to teach and for your students to learn. They each also touch on one aspect of botanical study which could inspire your students to pursue additional information and other lessons, of your or their own design.

Learn some basics, print some diagrams, and view some photos.

Plant anatomy and terminology are both easy ways to introduce botanical ideas to students. The following links, and many other resources, can get you started.

Dictionary of botanical terms plus an encyclopedia of plants and flowers:

http://www.botany.com /

Parts of plants, with fun activities at some of the links:

http://www.botanical-online.com/lasplantasangles.htm

Find information about local wildflower varieties online at a site like this:

http://wildflowerinformation.org

Beautiful botanical macro photography:

http://www.botanical-online.com/macrofotografiaangles.htm

Borrow a book.

Head to your local library and see what it has to offer. You will probably find some simple books for young readers, some flower or tree identification field guides for your area, as well as books on more specialized botanical subjects. Let the selection give you inspiration. Later, if your student(s) enjoy their initial botanical studies, you may want to invest in a couple of (new or used) botany-oriented books.

Learn the local dangers.

Every environment has its hazards, whether it is your own home or classroom or a vast natural wilderness. It is just common sense.

For example, in many areas, gardeners know that sheltered areas behind plants often harbor black widow spiders; so it is wise to keep your eyes open as you explore. Depending on your region, you might have a number of other insect dangers (or at least annoyances) to plan for as well. Mosquitos, ticks, deer flies and other biting bugs are often out enjoying the summer weather at the same time you are, so take appropriate precautions with protective clothing, repellents, etc.

Flower32In California, a spring botanical phenomenon that brings many visitors out of the city, the blooming of the California poppies, is often accompanied by the spring “wake-up” of local rattlesnakes. Especially dangerous is the Mojave green rattlesnake, which is an odd gray-green color which sometimes blends into the gray- or blue-green foliage of the poppies. Every year, folks plunge out into the vast fields of orange blooms, as if it is the poppy field in Oz, with no thought to what might be hidden beneath. Unfortunately, sometimes people or dogs are bitten by rattlers, when sticking to the trails and/or watching where they put their feet could let them enjoy the gorgeous display in safety.

In some areas, you will want to be alert for bears if you go berry picking (an interesting and literally rewarding type of botanical study).

Even dangers from other plants can potentially put a damper on your botanizing adventures. Be sure that you and the children are all familiar with poison oak (western US)/poison ivy, stinging nettle, poison sumac, and any other local plant irritant.

http://www.ehow.com/how_2285113_avoid-poisonous-plants-backpacking.html

Also, if you plan to pick any wild edibles, like berries, be ABSOLUTELY sure that you know what you will be gathering, that it is safe to eat, what other local plants might look similar, and that you are legally allowed to gather it in the location where you plan to do so. Children must be seriously admonished not to pick or eat ANY other plant material they find, and young children must be very closely monitored, so keep your adult-to-child ratio as close as possible for the safest outing.

Don’t let potential dangers deter you from exploring. Just do some research so you and the students know what to expect and where to use caution.

Get up close and personal.

At botanic gardens, preserves and national parks, nature study is strictly “hands-off”… take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints”… a good policy due to the volume of visitors. However, in a schoolyard setting, home garden, or on national forest/Bureau of Land Management area, judicious hands-on opportunities can be had. Many children will respond more readily to the study if they can actually handle, dismantle and analyze a flower or leaf or two up close; so this is a great option when it is available.

Flowers, leaves , bark (and/or parts thereof) look even more interesting when seen under magnification. Many botanical details are big enough to see well with limited enlargement. So, take a magnifying glass with you; or if allowable, bring home one or two small specimens to analyze in greater detail under a home microscope. Check these links out, too.

Instructions for viewing dyed onion skin cells under the microscope (a very cool experiment!):

http://www.crystal-clear-science-fair-projects.com/plant-cell-science-project.html

An interesting sequence of photos of bamboo examined under a microscope:

http://www.powerfibers.com/Bamboo_under_the_Microscope.pdf

Some really wild autofluorescent plant cell photography you have to see to believe:

http://www.olympusconfocal.com/gallery/plants/index.html

If you can’t go out, find specimens at the grocery store or nursery, or in the kitchen.

You can also study domesticated flowers you could buy cheap in bouquets at the grocery store or in pots from a home improvement store or nursery. No one will care if you tear these apart to analyze their anatomy, and a mixed-variety supermarket bouquet will provide plenty of specimens for several students to study several different types of flower.

You can also do botanical analyses on your vegetables before you eat them. What part of the plant do you eat? Can you see the rest of it (i.e., carrot tops, pea pods, green onion roots)? Do you know where/how the plant grows? You can make many interesting botanical observations and discoveries about if you look at skins, leaf veins, seeds, husks, etc. Then you can eat what is left of your experimentation.

Growing edible sprouts is another great way to do kitchen botany. For more information, check out the Sprout School pages at SproutPeople.org:

http://sproutpeople.org/sprouts.html

Get creative–

Artistic/creative kids may enjoy flower/leaf pressing, or might learn more if they draw, paint or photograph botanical specimens.

Although you can purchase (or build) a fancy press, flower or leaf pressing can be done by placing specimens between waxed or parchment paper within the pages of a large book with other books or heavy items stacked on top. (The paper will keep your pages clean from pollen or moisture.) Leaves are usually easy to just lay flat. Flowers often look nicer with some attention paid to how you spread petals, bend stems, etc., to try to get the finished flattened flower to reflect the fresh appearance of the specimen. Experiment with more than one specimen, if practical, to see what looks the most attractive. The length of time it takes for the specimens to flatten and dry will vary based on the thickness and moisture content of the specimen, the amount of weight used, and the humidity level of your surroundings. Fully-dried pressed leaves and flowers can be kept as keepsakes or used in art projects. If they are exposed to a lot of sunlight (and as they age, generally), they may lose a lot of their original color. However, kept dry in the dark, they stay beautiful an amazingly long time.

Very young artists can observe and reproduce a flower, leaf or vegetable with the most basic elements of color and shape. Pink, red, white, yellow, purple, or orange flowers may have nearly watercolor gradations of hue and shade; but for the littlest children, just picking a corresponding color crayon, pencil or marker is a lesson. In analyzing shape, help them focus on the overall outline and basic composition. An open rose is a wavy spherical shape. A violet or viola has five petals little ones can count. Most carrots are basically a long triangle (though French and baby varieties are sometimes more oblong and rounded).

Older or more experienced student artists can explore shading, striping, spots, proportion, individual plant/flower parts, and even details as intricate as leaf veining or hairy stems. You may be surprised at the details different children will notice and choose to reproduce. We often each see something slightly different even when we view the same item. That is one of the exciting things about doing nature study with a buddy or in a group. Their choices of media will also affect the level of nuance and detail that is possible. Black-and-white pencil or ink drawings are great for fine details. Colored pencils (especially the kind that smears with water) are an easy and neat way to mix colors to show subtle gradations, even if sketching out in the field. Watercolors can give even more fluid color transitions and sometimes even capture the effect of the moisture and luminescence of some plant materials.

Plant photography can also run the gamut from a simple “wide” shot of a field of grass or flowers, to a cameo of a single pretty blossom, to a very “tight”(“macro”) photo of a vegetable’s seeds, the texture of a piece of bark, or the sticky pistil and pollen-covered stamen in the center of a flower. Again, each child will see something different, and both age and technical experience can often play a part in both their approach and their results; but it’s all another way of viewing, experiencing, and remembering what they’ve seen. Make sure that they know how to operate the camera, turn them loose, and see what they see.

Planting seeds, in more ways than one.

Perhaps one of the most obvious ways to get children interested in botany is through gardening. Whether you plant a windowsill herb garden in pots, a sidewalk strip of annual flowers, or a dozen varieties of vegetables, helping with a garden gives children a wide variety of botanical experiences. They experience seed sprouting. They can learn about the nutrients and environmental factors plants need to grow. They can examine their plants in great detail. They can see the formation of fruit/seeds. They will probably also see pests and diseases that affect plants. If the plants flourish, they have a crop of herbs, flowers, fruit or vegetables to enjoy. If they don’t, trying to figure out why can provide interesting lessons as well. Do try to include some easy-to-grow varieties, to increase the chances of success; but emphasize the process (rather than the results) all along the way, so you do not miss out on the unexpected “teachable moments”.

However you choose to introduce and/or pursue botany with children, you are helping them better understand the world around them. You may also be planting the seeds of curiosity, opening up new avenues of inquiry and interest. It is always interesting how often learning one piece of information will spur you to think, ask or study about related subjects. So you never really know where the simple introductory lesson you teach might lead your students. The good news is that there is a whole summer ahead to find out!

You can also access this activity in

I will leave you with one more activity suggestion (the easiest one yet!) Play this fun flower match memory game!

http://www.prongo.com/match/flowers.pl

Please see http://www.condortales.com/bridestouch.html to learn more about the author.

Read the other parts of this creative hands-on lesson planning newsletter by visiting

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

 

 

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Montessori Spring Adventures in Weather and Science

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”

Roger Miller

Most of us are familiar with the proverb which states, “March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.” It has been the inspiration for many cute school-days decorations and coloring pages, but the principle is often quite true.  Spring weather, depending on where you live, can often have some of the most varied, and sometimes capricious, weather of the year. For that reason, it is a great time of the year to introduce meteorological science to children of all ages.

Check out the following sites for an overview of weather subjects and meteorological careers.

http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/weather.html

http://eo.ucar.edu/webweather/

http://xoap.weather.com/education/wxclass/careers/careerslessonplan.html

If you live in a severe weather area, older students might benefit from this preparedness page from the CDC.  Spring storms can be frightening and dangerous. However, having a plan and being involved in preparations can give older students a feeling of competence and a more-realistic set of expectations.  http://www.cdc.gov/features/springweather/

Spring can be an exceptionally exciting time to try Creative Process’ “Picture-A-Day and Time Lapse Photography” project, due to both varying weather conditions and new vegetative growth.

http://www.netposterworks.com/resources/curideas/picture_a_day.html

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A big factor in the behavior of weather patterns, and especially severe weather systems, is barometric pressure  Share this informative article with students so that they can understand what is meant when weather reports mention high or low pressure areas. http://geography.about.com/od/climate/a/highlowpressure.htm

Then, you can get up close and personal with the characteristics of varying air pressures in John Grunder from Exploration Education’s experiment, “I CAN’T TAKE THE PRESSURE!” http://www.amonco.org/spring3/montessori_spring_3.pdf, which illustrates Bernoulli’s principle. http://www.yourdictionary.com/bernoulli-s-principle

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Some additional resources are available from  http://www.schoolmasters.com/science/catalogsearch/result/?cat=0&q=Weather Schoolmasters Science   http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=2108&idcategory=441 Natures Workshop Plus!

While you’re exploring scientific principles, how about researching and discussing springs, the season’s name sake? The Physics Hypertextbook offers an interesting discussion of springs, elasticity, and Hooke’s Law for teachers, parents, and older students. http://physics.info/springs/ It’s a scientific subject you may not have thought much about, but it really can be fascinating.

Happy Spring!

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Introducing the Montessori Decimal and Fractions Equivalence Matching Sets

Decimal and fraction equivalence matching sets are sometimes difficult for children to conceptualize.  In the article below, Montessori teacher Diane Knesek shares some free hands-on lessons that you can use right now in your school or home classroom.

Decimal and Fraction Equivalence Matching Set by Dianne Knesek

http://www.conceptuallearning.com/

Students learn that there are different ways to write the same value. For example, one out of ten can be written as thconceptual_learninge fraction.   We usually read this as one tenth. Another way to write one tenth is .1, sometimes read as point one. It is not unusual to see this also written as 0.1 because there are no units and one tenth. Actually, writing fractions as base-ten decimals is a very easy way to work with them because operations are based on the same principles as operations with whole numbers.

Maria Montessori devised an entire series of exercises based on a color-coded place value system and that illustrates that working with decimal fractions is very similar to working with base ten whole numbers. Hands-on materials include color-coded beads, cubes, decimal board, decimal cards, and stamp game variation. These are all excellent in helping the student discover the value and relationships of decimal fraction hierarchies as well as operations with decimal fractions.

After the student has worked with the appropriate level of hands-on materials, he or she may follow up with Conceptual Learning Material’s “bridging” materials. One very popular series is the ten-exercise Decimal – Fraction Equivalence matching set. Decimal/Fraction Equivalence  Instructions and two sample exercises can be found by visiting http://www.amonco.org/Conceptual_Summer2015.pdf

Conceptual Learning Materials’ decimal series emphasizes concepts and applications. Other sets in the series include Decimal Cards, Decimal Introduction, Decimal Number Line and Labels, Decimal Order, Percent, and Advanced Decimals.

For additional Montessori math products and resources, please visit  Conceptual Learning Materials.

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Celebrate Spring with Some Fun Educational Nature Activities

Nature’s Workshop Plus! 

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All Rights Reserved.

Website:  http://www.workshopplus.com/

Spring! What a wonderful time of the year. The sunshine becomes warmer, dormant grass awakens from its necessary winter nap,  trees seem to wake up and wave hello to all who take notice, and life springs from nearly every place we look.  We also get to experience the spring rains which boost the season into its new identity. Your students might like to start a nature journal during this season.  There is so much to record!  Here are a few ideas.

  1. Begin by noting the daily weather patterns and discuss how it relates to the greening of the grass. Make a grid in the journal and record the daily temperature, rainfall quantities, amount of sunshine, types of clouds, etc. Reinforce the journal concept with a study of cloud formations.
  1. Sketch a tree and the growth of its leaves. Look up the scientific name of the species and record it in the journal along with its common name.  Leave space in the journal for revisiting that section during the season and resketch the leaves as they grow.  Once the leaf is full grown, leave enough space for a sketch of the colorful Fall leaf. You could even begin a leaf collection of several species beginning with the smallest leaves in the Spring and ending with a colorful Fall collection.
  1. Record beautiful poetry about the spring season in your journal.  Perhaps adding appropriate Scripture, personal thoughts, and beautiful artwork could complete each entry.
  1. Plant seeds and record their growth.  Small children love to plant bean seeds.  Plant the bean seeds in a glass jar so that the growth is visible. They grow quickly, and the seeds are so large that the shoot, growing up, and the root, growing down, are very easy to see. Draw the growth stages in your journal. Label all parts of the plant. Older students might like to plant flower and vegetable plants.  Record the growth data in your journal using Metric measure. Keeping careful records now allows the children to gain experience in recording data.  Once they enter into the upper level sciences, lab reports will be required.
  1. Have an insect section in the journal.  It wouldn’t be Spring and Summer without our little “friends”.  Again, look up and record their scientific and common names, draw the species, label its parts, record where the insect lives, and what it eats. Study the metamorphosis of the insect.  Does this species experience complete or incomplete metamorphosis? Draw its life cycle. Start an ant farm and observe the diligent activity of the ant. Observe in nature or via video a butterfly leaving its chrysalis. The video “City of the Bees” examines the life of the honey bee.  This video shows the inside of the hive, how the bees gathers nectar, how the bees communicate, and more.  It is fascinating to watch. Don’t forget to serve toast and honey!  Using colorful photographs as your guide, sketch the bees and their hive into the journal. Label as mentioned before.
  1. Begin a rock collection.  Draw what you see.  Hand magnifiers or stereo microscopes allow for more detailed viewing. I haven’t met a child yet who didn’t have a touch of “rock hound” him or her! This activity just about requires a field guide for proper identification.  A beginner guide works better for children than an overwhelming larger volume which might be harder to use.
  1. Go on a nature hike and record what you do and see.  Take a pair of binoculars for bird watching.  Make sure to begin a bird section in your journal.  They are so beautiful.  Set up a bird feeding area in your yard and keep a field guide handy for quick identification. Learn the common birds of your area.

These are just a few ideas for you nature journal.  Allow your imagination to help you plan.  Your children might enjoy this activity better if they can decide which area in their journal to develop first. Always include art and poetry in the journal. Supply your students with a set of colored pencils, drawing pencils and a good eraser. One thing we have found is that children don’t want to “mess-up” a page in their journal, so we recommend that each page be completed in a loose leaf format then placed in a binder when the child is satisfied with the page. If you use a binder with a clear plastic cover, the students can decorate a page and insert it into the cover for a custom look!  For upper elementary and middle school students, look up the taxonomy of the species being studied and note it in the journal. The more you do toward preparation for high school biology the better.

Nature journaling will also require nature studying.  The “Handbook of Nature Study”, by Anna Botsford Comstock, http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=734&idcategory=0  is an excellent resource for a teacher or parent who needs to know more about topics in nature.  The book was originally published in 1911 and contains 887 pages. It is divided into 4 major sections: The Teaching of Nature Study, Animals, Plants,and Earth and Sky.  It is a store house of information to help you teach you children/students about nature.  Please see.http://www.workshopplus.com for information about both this book.

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Below are some additional resources that you can use for your spring lesson planning.  You may have to copy and paste these links into your browser.

Garden Pirate

http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=4069&idcategory=0

Make the world a little greener by depositing seed “bombs” in forgotten outdoor spaces. Using fun shape molds, you can cast seed bombs from fast-growing flower seeds, growing medium, plaster gypsum, sand, and water. Once the seed bomb shapes have dried and hardened, they can be distributed in appropriate outdoor places. After a while, a beautiful cluster of flowers will explode in those spots. Learn about botany, flowering plants, seeds, nature conservation, tree planting, and more.

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Nature Kaleidoscope- http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=3127&idcategory=0

A make-your-own kaleidoscope kit.

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Hanging Bird Feeder Kit- http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=3893&idcategory=0

Adults and children will enjoy building this old fashion, hanging bird feeder.

Deluxe Insect Collecting Kit- http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=4166&idcategory=0

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This  Deluxe Insect Collecting Kit includes a 12 x 18 inch insect display case, professional grade 10 inch Safety Glo insect net, foam spreading board, 100

Love Plant (Great for Mother’s  Day!  http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=4176&idcategory=

loveplantgrowing(1)_1831_generalThese carefree plants are easy and fun to grow and will thrive in any terrarium.

With so much to see and do this Spring, don’t forget to take time for simple, peaceful, observation. Children need quiet time in their lives to reflect, think and form opinions about life. They can learn form observing nature, listening to nature, studying nature, drawing nature, planting, being outside, getting dirty, splashing in a creek, and chasing butterflies! If we can teach them to enjoy these lovely God-given gifts, we are giving them an enormous gift that no mass media gimmick can ever match.

Blessings to you,

Diana Ruark

Nature’s Workshop Plus!

For free catalog or more information:

(888) 393-5663

http://www.workshopplus.com/ 

All resources mentioned in the article are available through Nature’s Workshop, Plus.

Editor’s Note: For additional springtime articles, lesson plans, recipes and more, please visit http://www.amonco.org/montessori_spring_handson.html

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