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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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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

postitlogo

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

ADint03

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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Spring Forward 2015 with AMC Lesson Planning

I recently revised and uploaded the new 2015 AMC Montessori Lesson Planning Springtime Newsletter. To see the contents of this newsletter please see below.

Visit http://www.amonco.org/montessori_spring_handson.html

Peruse through the entire lessons.

Then, download the new AMC Montessori Hands-On Creative Lesson Planning Newsletter. You can also access this newsletter by visiting http://www.amonco.org and clicking on the new eBook Library.

Below, is just a partial listing of the offerings included in the newly uploaded AMC Montessori Spring Hands-On Newsletter.

Part I – AMC Spring Newsletter

Sandy R. Wilbur answers general as well specific questions which will help you to understand the benefits of bird-watching with children. 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

Montessori Dianne Knesek reminds us that numeration is the basis for all math concepts. An important aspect of that understanding is the ability to sequence numbers from least to greatest. Exercises are very easy to make.

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The Language Salons are the brainchild of Director François Thibaut, who’s been a foreign language teacher since the late 1960’s. Thibaut’s best known for founding the renowned Language Workshop for Children and the Cercle Franco Americain French of Adults program in 1973. Read about this program in Part I of this newsletter.

french-language-classes-new-york-city

Part II – AMC Spring Newsletter

Rae continues to show us why we should visit the Creative Process website. Her innovative ideas will greatly add to your spring lesson planning.

Dr. Borenson shares some free Hands-On Equations® Basic Algebraic Concepts.

 

SmartBoard-1

Montessorian Richard Lord offers free Downloadable “Simple Reading Books” & Free Geography Set of Land and Water Form Cards.

childrens_furniture_index_feature4

Learn also how to make a flannel board from Fun Felt.

Part III – AMC Spring Newsletter

John shares his entertaining as well as educational activities entitled “I CAN’T TAKE THE PRESSURE and The Needle Proof Balloon.”

Nan shows us how to make some delicious peanut fudge. See how you can plan extension lesson exercises combining handwriting, cooking and illustrating!!!

Does your middle school student enjoy participating in fun, challenging puzzles? Are you looking for some activities to help your student prepare for the ACT or SAT?

In honor of two major spring holidays, Alan Stillson, the author of Middle School Word Puzzles, invites you to find these words and expressions that are related to Easter or Passover. Alan also offers some fun, challenging food puzzles for middle school students. Check out the new free samples from Alan’s newest book, Brain Warmer Uppers, as well.

brain

It’s Time to Think Outside the Book and Kindle, Too! Curious? Read this section to find out how you can use the creative ideas of Rita Arpaia from Literatureplace.com in your home and school classrooms right now!

Part IV — AMC Spring Newsletter

Dale Gausman, from North American Montessori Center, offers the timely Introducing a Bird Feeder and Making Grass-Eggshell People. You will also found three additional outstanding Montessori extension exercises – My Family Tree,  Marble Design Paper, and  Montessori Easter Activities: Ukrainian Easter Eggs in Culture and Science Curriculum with free .pdf downloads – all offered by NAMC.

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Part V – AMC Spring Newsletter

Marie and Kim illustrate how drawing helps children develop a mental map. Discover a Montessori extension exercise that is designed for age group 5 to 95. :)

It’s time to get up and “move” with Go Green!, a brand new CD form Kimbo Educational http://kimboed.com/gogreen.aspx#.UtRAIvZVe0e “GO GREEN! Caring About Our Earth contains song about playing outdoors, recycling, planting a garden, stopping pollution, and more inspire children to connect to the Earth and encourage them to be responsible for the Earth. Action fun and singable songs motivate children to be involved and to be aware of the outside world

Look for the Guide/Extension Activities by Dr. Pam Schiller in this section of the newsletter.

KIM9318CD

Find the lyrics and directions for the song, “The Alphabet March and Match”, by Pam Schiller, Ph.D., from the new Kimbo Educational CD release, Move and Learn.

The focus of the song is on letters, which aids in literacy knowledge. Move and Learn is a unique resource, providing 17 guided, action-packed educational songs, featuring concepts and skills that are necessary for every child to learn, including numbers, colors, literacy and more.

KIM9325CD

Part VI – AMC Spring Newsletter

Dr.Borenson, from Hands-On Equations®, offers more samples of algebraic concepts.

Download free French and Spanish songs with translations from Professor Toto.

watchandlearn1

Part VII- AMC Spring Newsletter

Ruth shares a needlepoint lesson which is designed for students 12 years and older.

Marjorie shares a classical music lesson plan for springtime from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi.

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Download the new, free “Anti-gravity water – is it possible? science activity from Exploration Education.

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Don’t forget to read Part VIII – AMC Spring Newsletter

Celebrating the Personal Life of George Washington

Montessorians will appreciate the imaginative George Washington lesson planning ideas that author Sara Ambarian has provided. Traditional colonial recipes are featured and can easily be incorporated into Montessori’s practical life exercises. Sara has done an excellent job of presenting sufficient information about this subject, without bogging down educators with too much data.

Diana, from Nature’s Workshop Plus, knows that we are all looking forward to the beauty of spring, so she showers us with some springtime nature activities that are sure to be enjoyed in any Montessori environment.

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The late Montessorian Kathy O’Reilly uses eggs as the focus of food related exercises. Her multiple subject integrated approach is supplemented with a Booklist for additional extension lessons.

This post contains only a very small sampling of what is offered in this newsletter.All of the lessons contained in the newsletter are free of charge. Visit http://www.amonco.org/montessori_spring_handson.html to download the newsletter in .pdf.

Enjoy!

Heidi Anne Spietz
http://www.amonco.org
Celebrating 27 Years of Serving School and Home Educators
Montessori for the 21st Century

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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.

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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

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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

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Montessori 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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Creative Christmas and Hanukkah Lesson Planning Ideas

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to focus on Christmas and Hanukkah lesson planning.  Below are some unique reading books, resources and additional holiday hands-on activities:

Christmas Homeschooling Activities, Books, Crafts and Printables List

“I thought that I would put together a list of  Christmas homeschooling resources. I have seen a lot of great stuff floating around the web lately.  🙂  A lot of these things can be found on my Pinterest boards.”   For details, please see http://stacysewsandschools.blogspot.com/2012/11/christmas-homeschooling-activities.html  Stacy Sews and Schools.

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Carols for a Kids Heart

“No other time of the year is filled with as much excitement and gleeful expectancy as Christmas, and no one seems to enjoy the season more than children. Christmas is a time for making memories. And musical memories are one of the most precious gifts we can give the children we love.
Authors Joni Eareckson Tada and Bobbie Wolgemuth offer some of their favorite Christmas carols in this collection for children to cherish. This treasure book will give your children a special vision of the true meaning of Christmas.
Let the children you love celebrate the joy and warmth of Christmas with heartwarming stories and singing along with Joni, Bobbie, and the children on the enclosed richly orchestrated CD.

In this third volume of Hymns for a Kid’s Heart, Joni Eareckson Tada and Bobbie Wolgemuth collaborate to help you teach twelve classic Christmas carols to the children you love. With richly orchestrated music, true stories, prayers, and Scripture, Christmas Carols for a Kid’s Heart will feed your child’s soul during the Christmas season.
Passing along a favorite Christmas tradition has never been easier or more fun. This yuletide collection features twelve timeless and traditional Christmas carols with delightful stories from the Bible, devotionals, simple piano music, guitar chords, and beautiful original illustrations by Sergio Martinez.
“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”
—2 Corinthians 9:15 (ESV)”   For details, see http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com/christmas-carols-for-a-kids-heart/

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Color the Classics Christmas

“Where did we get our Christmas carols? Why did it take 4 men 115 years to write “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing?” Your kids (as well as yourself) will discover the origins of the Christmas carols. How long did it actually take to compose “Messiah?” This Christmas remember the carols that honor Christ! With the carols playing in the backround, your children will color the illustration while you retell the carol’s story. This is a great family holiday activity to start shortly after Thanksgiving. How the Program Works -Have the child start coloring or painting an illustration. -Take the information from the book that describes that illustration and retell this information as a story. -Play the music that belongs to the illustration. -Have the children finish the picture. This multi-sensory approach will lock the experience in your child’s mind. The original purchasers of these books have the right to reproduce the illustrations for use with their own children only. (Total time for Christmas CD: approx. 45 minutes)”  Purchase from http://www.workshopplus.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=2730&idcategory=0  Nature’s Workshop Plus!

colortheclassicschristmas_1123_general

My Little House Craft Book

“Eighteen projects from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” stories. Laura and her family had to make the most of their own household items, using whatever materials were available. All you need to get started are a few simple supplies, and you’re on your way to making fun and useful pioneer crafts you’ll enjoy. A few of the crafts explained in this book are Charlotte’s straw hat, Mary’s Christmas tassels, Ma’s button lamp, Mary’s beaded bracelet and ring, Ma’s embroidered pillow-sham, baby Carrie’s button string, Laura’s corncob doll, and Ma’s prairie garden. 64 pages, paperback, 8”x10”.”

Purchase from http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=2180&idcategory=0 Nature’s Workshop Plus!

little-house-crafts-book_2096_general

The Farolitos of Christmas 

“With her father away fighting in World War II and her grandfather too sick to create the traditional luminaria, Luz helps create farolitos, little lanterns, for their Christmas celebration instead.”   Please see https://www.literatureplace.com/Books/Farolitos+of+Christmas/  Literatureplace.com for details.

winners_bookfinder

 James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

“Warm and joyful tales from the memoirs of Yorkshire, England veterinarian, James Herriot. In addition to his well-known 5-book series, All Creatures Great and Small, he also authored 8 children’s books. James Herriot’s Treasury for Children contains his complete set of 8 children’s books in one large, beautifully illustrated volume. Each story features adorable animals, pleasant townsfolk, and all the warmth and good humor that have made his stories so beloved the world over. You and your children will be captivated by the beautiful, realistic artwork which makes the stories come alive and sweeps you away into the English countryside! The 8 stories are entitled: Moses the Kitten; Only One Woof; The Christmas Day Kitten; Bonny’s Big Day; Blossom Comes Home; The Market Square Dog; Oscar, Cat About Town; and Smudge, the Little Lost Lamb. This collection of stories is especially good for reading aloud with your little ones gathered around looking at the pictures! Enjoyable for the entire family. 250 pages, hardcover, 8 1/2″x10 3/4.”  Purchase from http://www.workshopplus.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=537&idcategory=0  Nature’s Workshop Plus!

 

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A Christmas Carol Study Guide

“The classic Christmas story of greed, cold-heartedness, and redemption. Scrooge is content with his life of work and petty self-interest–or he would be if he were content with anything. Scrooge begrudges anyone a morsel of joy or happiness even himself. That is until three Christmas spirits force him to see what his actions have done to himself and others, and reawaken him to the commandment, “Love your neighbor.” A novel rich in literary technique. Setting: London, 1800s

Progeny Press study guides include vocabulary, comprehension, analysis and critical thinking exercises. They also contain questions on Biblical principles and other activities related to the story. An answer key is included. ”

Purchase from http://www.excellenceineducation.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=EIE&Product_Code=ACCSG&Category_Code= Excellence in Education.

A Christmas Carol

Christmas Songs Made in America

“Here is a treasury of stories about Christmas songs written in America from its founding to the Civil War and from the depths of the Great Depression to the brink of prosperity. For decades, songwriters and lyricists have used popular, folk, rock, sacred, and country music to celebrate the season’s heartfelt cheer. Some were written for Broadway, others for Hollywood. Some entertained children, others set a romantic mood. Some grew from the chains of slavery, others from the joyous freedom of faith. If there’s a story to tell about a Christmas song, you’re likely to find it here.”  Purchase from http://www.excellenceineducation.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=EIE&Product_Code=CSMA&Category_Code=

9781581820461

Feliz Navid, Christmas Carols in Spanish

“Celebrate the Christmas season while you learn your favorite carols in Spanish.

Perfect for the whole family to sing along and learn. The Teach Me…Christmas title is a bilingual celebration of Christmas traditions in Mexico through the magic of song. The beautifully illustrated book will teach the reader about the rich heritage, culture and beliefs of Mexico during this delightful season. Narrated and sung in Spanish along with an English version and translation.”  Please see http://www.singnlearn.com/Item/feliznavidad

feliznavidadset

Feliz Navid, Christmas Carols in French

Sing Along and Learn Christmas Carols in French
From Teach Me Tapes

“The Teach Me…Christmas title is a bilingual celebration of Christmas tradition in France through the magic of song. This beautifully illustrated book will teach the reader about the rich heritage, culture and beliefs of France during this delightful season. Narrated and sung in French along with an English version and translation.

Classic songs for the holiday, perfect for all ages to sing and learn French.”
Visit http://www.singnlearn.com/Item/frenchchristmas for more details.

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Christmas Felt Advent Calendars, Felt Board Stories and Activity Books

“Start a new tradition with the children in your life using Story Time Felts unique Christmas felt products. Help children get ready for their favorite holiday with our traditional felt board stories, or reinforce skills with our activity felt books. Our felt fabric advent calendars help them count down to Christmas and make great gifts for children and adults alike!

We’ve found that when adults and children tell felt stories, it brings them closer together as they listen to the story, touch the soft felt pieces, and interact with the felt board. With Story Time Felts products, story time is together time. What better time to bring closeness to your family than Christmas!”

Purchase from http://www.funfelt.com/christmas.html

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Hanukkah Activities and Resources for the Montessori Classroom

The following is from the NAAMC Montessori Teacher Training Blog:

“When I taught in an elementary Montessori classroom, one of my Jewish students enjoyed giving a lesson to the class for every Jewish holiday. The best part of the lessons was her personal and personable approach to storytelling. Her classmates were completely engaged, asked tons of questions, and other, shyer, Jewish students would eventually join her in giving the lesson. I would recommend starting with your Montessori students and their knowledge for these kinds of lessons. You can supplement their lessons with your research and experiences, books and activities.”  To read the post in its entirety, please visit http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/2009/12/hanukkah-in-montessori-classroom.html

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Check back frequently to this blog for some additional winter and holiday creative idea lesson planning ideas in the weeks to come.

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

 

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Community Service Projects for the Upcoming Holiday Season

This holiday season bring some extra joy to friends, family members and strangers. We all know that a homemade gift comes right from the heart and is cherished by the receiver for years to come. Start now by looking at the projects I have selected from Pinterest

For additional ideas, please also see February Community Service Projects

Enjoy! 🙂

Heidi

amonco.org

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Algebra Made Simple with Hands-On Equations

“Your child has a much greater capacity to learn math than he or she ever thought possible! And I can prove it.” – H. Borenson – Inventor of Hands-On Equations

Learning algebra is critical for student success in school and work in any technical field. But there is another reason for students to begin learning real algebra at an early age. When an 8-year old can understand and solve algebraic equations that are not normally presented until the 7th or 8th grade, the student feels EMPOWERED.

Empowerment is critical.  We cannot succeed in any endeavor if we think “It’s beyond me” or “It’s not in my genes”. It’s not just kids. Many adults think, “I am simply not good at math. Neither were my parents.”

When an 8- to 10-year old child succeeds with algebra, a whole new mental landscape opens up. The child sees that he or she has a far greater capacity to succeed in math then they ever thought possible. This change in self-perception is the single greatest benefit of using Hands-On Equations. Algebraic equations and verbal problems no longer cause an immediate mental block. Instead, the student now knows that he or she has the skills to tackle the problems and be successful. (Hands-On Equations is equally valuable for middle school and older students as well, particularly if they have had difficulty with traditional approaches to algebra.)

HandsOn.doc Consider an equation such as 4x + 5 = 2x + 13. Here is Eric, age 8, solving the problem in this video solution. (He is showing the solution on the Teacher’s Demonstration Scale, which is not part of the Hands-On Equations Deluxe Home Set. However, it is easier to see the solution that way.) As you watch the video you will get the sense that Eric understands every step of the solution process.  There is nothing about this equation or its solution that Eric finds mysterious.

That is the key! Our goal is to enable students to see that math makes sense. It is logical. It is not a set of rules to memorize without knowing where those rules come from or what they mean. And, amazing as it sounds, Eric learned to solve this equation in just three lessons! This is testimony to the remarkable teaching methods developed by Dr. Henry Borenson, who received a patent for Hands-On Equations.

HP-DVD

You are encouraged to participate in a FREE Hands-On Equations Introductory Webinar. The next one is scheduled for Thursday, July 31, 2014 from 9:15 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. EDT.

The Hands-On Equations Deluxe Home Set is ideal for home use. It includes the Hands-On Equations Instructional Video Manual (from which the above video clip was taken).  Every one of the 25 lessons of Hands-On Equations will be demonstrated for you or your child by either Eric, Molly (age 11) or Dr. Borenson.

Also included in the Deluxe Home Set is the Introductory Verbal Problems Workbook, which contains some 80 verbal problems. For example, problem #61 asks, “The length and width of a rectangle are 2x and x + 1, respectively. If the perimeter of the rectangle is 38, how long is each side?” Using two pawns to represent the length and a pawn and 1-cube to represent the width, we can consider the semi-perimeter of 19 to get the equation 2x + x + 1 = 19, where x is the name of the pawn.

You may download the Fun Way to Learn Algebra app for free for your IOS, Android or Kindle Device at the App Store, Google Play or Amazon Appstore. Hands-On Equations 1, 2 and 3 are also available.

For more information about Borenson math products and workshops, please visit the website at www.borenson.com or take a look at this brochure.

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