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Summer Fun Makes for Summer Memories – Part 2

Sara L. Ambarian

Copyright 2015

All Rights Reserved

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

Summertime means something different to each of us, depending on our ages, backgrounds, and interests, and even the regions where we grew up. What is fun and fulfilling to me or my family might not appeal to you or the children in your lives at all.

Frankly, I think that is part of the beauty of summer. It is a time which is much less “externally” scripted for many of us, allowing us – and the children in our lives—to write our own scripts, set our own priorities, chase our own muses, choose our own adventures. As fun as that is, if you look back on your own childhood summers, you will probably realize that a lot of your leisure time was actually very productive time for learning about yourself and the world around you, as well.

“We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.”

Maria Montessori

We asked the American Montessori Consulting Primary Recommended Resource Center partners http://www.amonco.org/resource_topic.html to share with us some of their favorite summertime memories to get you in the mood for planning your own summer activities and adventures.

Travel—

Gari Stein from Music For Little Folks (http://www.little-folks-music.com ) remembers summer road trips, a favorite of many families.

I didn’t take too many summer vacation, as I went to camp; but I remember when I was younger, we would drive to visit my sister at camp. It was special because my grandmother came with us, and I can’t remember any other time she came joined us on vacation We drove from Michigan up to Algonquin Park, Canada. This was before the interstate and often traffic would be so backed up, we would get out of our car, and walk around right on the highway. I remember it so vividly. Another part of fond travel memories are the sing-a-longs, especially when the five of us were packed into a sedan driving to Florida. Singing our hearts out and arguing over the correct words. Making fun of those out of tune. Those are the best memories ever.

Elaine Murphy from Kimbo Educational (http://kimboed.com ) also chose a car trip as a favorite summer memory.

My favorite vacation was a long, long road trip I took with my daughter and 3 granddaughters two summers ago. We drove thousands of miles to visit historical sites in the East. Since the girls are home schooled the purpose of this trip was for them to not only read about history, but to truly experience these important and famous places where history occurred.   Our stops took us to Williamsburg, Washington D.C., Gettysburg, Philadelphia, New Jersey battlefields, Sturbridge Village, and Boston. It was not always easy to drive long distances each day, but it was actually much better than I expected it would be. “Are we there yet” is just not in the girls’ vocabulary, thank goodness. We sang often, listened to music, took in the beauty of our country and enjoyed the abundance of its wonders.

The kids learned to read guide books and maps and helped choose where we would stop and stay. They learned to cooperate and share. After the trip they were able to apply their newly acquired knowledge and extend their experiences in a myriad of ways.

Some of the top favorite songs we sang, “On the Road Again”, “Let’s Go Riding in the Car-Car”, and “This Land is My Land” helped make the miles pass more quickly. These Kimbo singalong songs from Car Songs, Favorite Songs for Kids, and Songs About America were fun and often the break we needed when the highways were boring and tedious.

We also took stretch breaks with Kimbo fitness CDs such as Cool Aerobics for Kids and Catch a Brain Wave Fitness Fun. At night we relaxed with exercises from Yoga for Kids or Yoga and You, and we fell peacefully to sleep with quiet music from Sweet Dreams, knowing we were making lifelong learning opportunities and memories from this special summer vacation.

On a road trip, there’s always something new around the next bend, if you are looking for it.

Some parents hesitate to take their children on long driving trips, but many families find them delightful.road

The keys to happy and enjoyable car trips (and indeed, most successful travel with children) are preparation and engagement.

You should carefully choose your destinations, based on the interests, ages and attention spans of the people on the trip. Consider learning something about your destinations ahead of time and/or bringing some additional background or supplemental information along on the trip. Plan the itinerary trying to allow for unexpected problems or inspirations, as well as fatigue (of adults or children). Be sure to bring (or know your options for) timely meals, snacks and cold drinks, because being hot, hungry or thirsty will dampen the spirits of the most-intrepid travelers.

Try ahead of time to also manage your expectations. Not every stop in every outing will be a home-run with every member of your group. Sometimes the best thing about a trip is just getting away to see something new together. Also remember, if you take a child somewhere to “edify” them, but aren’t able to be enthusiastic about it yourself (unless it was the child’s idea to visit in the first place), often neither you nor the child will enjoy or benefit from the experience.

On the other hand, I have seen situations in which a child seemed not to enjoy an outing which they later remembered with fondness for decades. So, if no one’s having any fun, you might shorten your visit, re-arrange your itinerary, etc.; but don’t automatically assume that a visit has been a failure just because you aren’t getting immediate overwhelming enthusiasm. Sometimes children (and adults) need to let thing sink in a little before they make a final assessment of the value of an outing.

You also cannot always predict how a child will most enjoy a trip. Some children are happy to sit in the backseat and look out the window and just see what’s there. Some children will be more interested if they know the route and have a map with which to follow along. Other children appreciate you pointing out things they might have missed and commenting on them.

I know a lot of us are used, now, to keeping kids entertained with computer games, iPods, and on-board DVD players. For a real family adventure, however, I think that there are big potential benefits to leaving them behind or limiting their use, in favor of one-to-one personal interactions and discussions.

Arts and crafts are a favorite leisure pursuit for many children and families. It is probably no surprise that Kim Stitzer, co-author of Draw-Write-Now (http://www.drawyourworld.com ), and her family are among them.

We rarely took summer vacations, but we did have a morning summertime activity—drawing and writing together after breakfast—which became a special summertime routine and memory for our family.

We cleared the breakfast dishes to do a DRAW WRITE NOW drawing together. I sat between my two kids as we focused on the subject —i.e. dog, tiger, house. I pointed out the shapes and lines in the subjects as they made the drawing on their papers. After the subject was completed, I’d get up and wash the dishes while the kids created a background for their drawings. It was nice to be close enough to watch their ideas go on paper, yet enough removed so that I was out of the process.

After I was done in the kitchen, we moved on to working on writing. Most of my attention was directed toward my 5-year-old as he was learning the basics of letter formation and spacing. I modeled a simple short sentence as he copied it on his own paper. My 7-year-old worked more independently, writing a story about her drawing. Some days, if it seemed like her writing had gotten messier, I’d ask her to simply copy the sentences in the lesson, focusing on making her writing look as nice a possible. After writing, we all moved outside for playtime. Sometime before lunch, we came back inside, eager to color our pictures.

Almost all of us have pencils, crayons, markers, paints, paper, and other art supplies around our homes. Bringing them out or just making sure that they are available when inspiration strikes can be a very economical and open-ended source of summer fun for children of a wide range of ages.

Lois from Bountiful Spinning, Weaving and Knitting (http://bountifulspinweave.com) shares her experiences with another interesting arts and craft project — sharing her love of weaving and the joy of design with her granddaughter.

Arts and Crafts—

Our granddaughter, Kaitlin, spends a lot of time with us in the summer. In 2009, I taught her how to weave on a Schacht 10” Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom. Rigid Heddle looms are quick to set up and quick to weave on.

I took her out to my warehouse and opened up 2 big bins of yarns for her to choose from. She choose 3 colors and designed the stripe pattern herself! We warped up the loom together, and she wove her scarf while I wove a scarf on my Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle loom. We had a marvelous time. We did some of our weaving out on the deck. It is fun to weave and spin outside, so it was really nice that the looms are so portable.bountiful_summer

This was just her second time to weave! It was the 40th Anniversary year for Schacht, and Schacht had a weaving and spinning contest in conjunction with their big anniversary celebration. Kaitlin went to the celebration with us and got to see her scarf up on display along with all the other lovely projects that were submitted. I am very proud of her weaving and designing abilities! It is great to be able to share my love of weaving with her.

Kaitlin’s pattern is up on our website here: http://www.bountifulspinweave.com/Rigid-
Heddle-Weaving-Patterns.php

Textile arts like sewing, knitting, crocheting, weaving and embroidery are a natural for summertime. The more-flexible scheduling suits these projects which often take more than a weekend for children. In summer, you can both retain and promote continuity with an on-going textile endeavor, encouraging kids to spend a little time working on it every day or two. As Lois mentioned, you can sometimes take your projects outdoors to enjoy the fine weather, or you can use them as a quiet, cool indoor pursuit that gives children a break from the heat and busier outdoor activities.

Local resources—

Even very small communities usually try to offer these kinds of opportunities for local children and families to enjoy. Check with your local library, parks and recreation facilities, children’s clubs and afterschool programs, churches, and even community colleges for classes, camps and other fun and educational summer activities for a variety of interests and ages.

Science and Nature—

You can also find interesting programs and resources when enjoying the great outdoors and famous historical sites.

The U.S. National Park System has junior ranger programs at many of their sites, as well as distance activities children can enjoy. Because of the variety of scenic, historic, and recreational sites within the system, they could appeal to a wide variety of students. You can find a list of participating sites at: http://www.nps.gov/learn/juniorranger.cfm

The U.S. Forest Service also offers fun activities through their Junior Forest Ranger and Junior Snow Ranger programs. The Adventure Guide is also offered in Spanish. http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/conservationeducation/smokey-woodsy/junior-rangers

Maria Montessori once said, “We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.” Summer is a great time to let our imaginations go with non-traditional scientific adventures.

John Grunder of Exploration Education http://www.explorationeducation.com shows us “Can Do!”, an easy experiment which illustrates concepts of balance and center of gravity. This is a quick, fun lesson you can do with children (and adults) of any age and anywhere you might enjoy a canned drink, including a summer picnic.

Fogirl_summerr more science ideas for picnics and other outings, check out these lesson plans.

North American Montessori Center suggests this outdoor science activity for preschoolers– Montessori Twos Activity and Presentation: Observing Nature Close Up

http://montessoritraining.blogspot.ca/2010/06/montessori-twos-activity-observing.html

See, also:

http://www.lessonplans.com/ext-resource.php?l=http://www.beaconlearningcenter.com/UnitPlan/2954.htm

http://www.grandparents.com/grandkids/activities-games-and-crafts/easy-outdoor-science-projects

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/easy-outdoor-science-activities-for-kids.htm

If your summer plans include an amusement park, older and/or bolder children can experience physics concepts first-hand while riding rollercoasters and other thrill rides. Review these concepts before you go for a better understanding of how the attractions work and what the forces are that you feel as you ride.

http://www.learner.org/interactives/parkphysics/coaster.html

http://ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/211_fall2002.web.dir/shawna_sastamoinen/roller_coasters.htm

http://science.howstuffworks.com/engineering/structural/roller-coaster3.htm

Working Together—

Less time in structured activities for school and other pursuits, plus longer sunlight hours and generally more-favorable weather, means summer often offers more opportunities for families and friends to work together on special projects. It is also always a busy time for outdoor chores in rural areas, especially if those areas experience cold, snowy winters.

Montessori practices emphasize learning by doing, and there always seem to be a lot of interesting things to do in the summer.

Rae from The Creative Process (http://www.netposterworks.com ) grew up on a farm, and her summer memories mostly revolve around helping her parents with farm chores.

As the eldest child, and with no brothers, I was called on for a variety of farm chores that seemed to me, at the time, to fill hours. When I was quite small I was an excellent deliverer of messages – either fetching my Dad from the field, or if I happened to be with him when a piece of machinery broke down, heading back to the house with instructions for calling the farm implement store for the availability

I was also put on a tractor, charged with keeping the wheels straight, so my dad could “pick stones” and put them on the slow moving wagon. I think “picking stones” was a Michigan thing – the glaciers of 14,000 years ago seemed to churn to a stop in mid-mitten, dropping their load of small, and not so small stones, right on my folks’ farm. They had to be taken away so the crops could grow. My dad had been doing it his entire life, starting out alongside big work horses when he was a child. Eventually my sister was big enough for the steering straight task and I got to help pick stone. What a thrill!

Another necessary task was weeding the bean field. That meant walking the rows of young bean plants with a hoe and chopping out ragweed and pigweed before they damaged the crop….One summer our folks “paid” us for farm work. The deal was the profits from one acre of beans for each of us, we could choose which status of a part.variety and the time of sale. I had rapt attention on the radio for the farm report that fall. I knew exactly which kind of bean had produced the highest yield per acre and had calculated what I thought might be the top price. So when that price was announced one morning I hollered out “SELL!” My dad did. He sold his, too, for what turned out to be the high price for the season.

I gathered eggs and walked down the lane to the back pasture to bring the cogames_summerws up for milking in the afternoon, too . I really don’t remember doing much in the garden, other than eating a tomato straight off the vine.  Preserving food, however, would turn into everybody helping to cut corn kernels off cobs.  It’s summerunder the big tree with not quite enough breeze to shoo away the flies attracted by the sweet juice, canning tomatoes and string beans.

My grandmother had suffered a stroke, so sometimes I would be with her during the day. I could help her to the bathroom, get something to drink, change the channel for the Tigers baseball game, and call if we needed more help. It was this grandmother who taught me to spell “cat”, “dog”, and “wagon” (I liked that big word!) She also helped me learn numbers. I wrote 1 through 1000 and then sent the pages in a letter to Aunt May. There certainly was a blending of sitter and sittee….

It wasn’t all “work” . We did manage swimming lessons, and sometimes I would go with my Mom, a teacher, to her summer school classes at Central Michigan University. I also polished off all the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Boxcar Kids, and moved on to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Whether you live in the country or the city, or somewhere in-between, I am sure that there are many summer chores and projects in which you can involve the children in your life. Whether it is gardening, home improvements, cooking, or something as simple as doing a jigsaw puzzle, these experiences teach practical life skills. They also teach the satisfaction and enjoyment that comes from working together to accomplish a common goal.

* * * * * *

Generational interests vary and times change. However, I think that all of us, whatever our age, enjoyed many of the same basic summer opportunities: exploring new places or new experiences, having time to loaf or to dream or to recharge from the busy school year, and spending more time with family and friends. I hope that this upcoming summer includes whatever blend of these pursuits will make the best summer memories for you and your students.

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

 

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

 

Don’t forget to read the companion newsletters.  Just visit:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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!

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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!

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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.

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 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=

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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

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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

treeadventtn

 

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

menorah+and+dreidel

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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Summer is Coming! – Let’s Celebrate

As we approach the first day of  summer, take time now to focus or refocus on the summer months ahead.  You’ll discover why these links are well worth a second look.

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

AMC Montessori Summer Hands-On Learning Newsletter

https://montessori21stcentury.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/experiencing-fine-art-in-person-with-your-children/

Experiencing Fine Art in Person with Your Children

https://montessori21stcentury.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/indoor-activities-to-get-you-out-of-the-sun/

Indoor Activities Get You Out of the Sun

https://montessori21stcentury.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/family-fun-and-outdoor-science-pursuits-a-%E2%80%9Cnatural%E2%80%9D-combination/

FAMILY FUN AND OUTDOOR SCIENCE PURSUITS: A “NATURAL” COMBINATION

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

MONTESSORI LESSONS -A Gardening Unit Study (With the Focus on the Summer)

https://montessori21stcentury.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/innovative-montessori-music-for-the-summer/

Innovative Montessori Music for the Summer

http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/2008/07/montessori-summer-activities.html

Montessori Summer Activities: Woodworking

I wish you and your family a very blessed upcoming summer.

Heidi Anne Spietz

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Savoring the Second Half of Summer

It seems like, for many people, summer and other vacations speed by so quickly that we can hardly remember where the time went.  If that is the case for you– or even if you have started to get a bit of the mid-summer doldrums, and run out of fun and educational ideas– this is a great time to refocus and come up with a few more ways to make the most of the rest of the summer.

Free game and practice worksheets

Fun, free worksheets like these can be a great thing to take along on a driving trip, a lazy day at the beach, or just for a quiet hour under the trees in the backyard.

http://www.mathgametime.com/math-worksheets

http://www.softschools.com/language_arts/spelling

http://www.turtlediary.com/kids-games/english-topics/spelling-games.html

http://www.jumpstart.com/parents/worksheets/geography-worksheets

And here are some great ESL worksheets, too! http://www.anglomaniacy.pl/printables.htm

 

Free video lessons

When it’s just too hot to go out and play, and kids are restless, remember that your computer can connect you with a wide variety of free and fresh educational opportunities.  Here are a few links to get you started.

http://sqooltube.com

http://www.turtlediary.com/kids-videos.html

http://www.kidsknowit.com/interactive-educational-movies

http://www.edudemic.com/2013/01/the-top-12-youtube-education-channels

https://www.youtube.com/show/kidseducationalvideos http://www.kidsmemory.com

Cool food for hot weather

When the summer sun starts to take its toll on everyone’s energy and patience, check out some quick and easy recipes which don’t require you heating up the kitchen by firing up the stove or oven.  Many are both kid-pleasing and kid-friendly to assemble, so you can share the kitchen duties to speed up and/or socialize the process and make meals truly a family affair.

Try these great recipes for children to help prepare–  Summer Fruit, Cheese and Meat Kabobs from Dianne at Conceptual Learning and Watermelon Blueberry Banana Split from the late Kathy O’Reilly’s “Cooking With Children Can Be Easy”. http://www.amonco.org/summer2/montessori_summer2.pdf

 

Here are a variety of other listings of hot weather meals your family might enjoy. Some are also useful for short-term power outages and other disaster situations, when you might go oven-free by necessity, rather than by choice.  Perhaps you could also discuss these scenarios with your students as you plan and prepare the recipes.

http://family.go.com/food/pkg-summer-recipes

http://main.kitchendaily.com/snack-recipes/no-cook/kid-friendly/easy/?perPage=50

http://www.myrecipes.com/t/kid-friendly/no-cook

http://busycooks.about.com/od/nocookrecipes/No_Cook_Recipes.htm

 

Farmers’ Markets

Many of the tastiest no-cook or quick-to-cook summer recipes involve enjoying the bounty of local summer fruits and vegetables in a fairly natural state. This is a wonderful opportunity to encourage our children (and whole families) to both eat healthily and learn or remember where these delicious foods come from. 

In summer, even a trip to the supermarket is usually a feast for the eyes, but perhaps you and your students would enjoy a visit to a local farmers’ market. 

There is something extra-enticing about produce that hasn’t traveled hundreds of miles or been sitting in cold storage for months (though we love those fruits and vegetables, too.) Small farmers are able to grow more-perishable and often more-unusual varieties than big commercial farmers do, so the variety of colors, shapes and sizes of fruits and vegetables can be nearly amazing.  Since the produce is often fresher and riper, it also tends to have a richer aroma, which is certainly an important element of both the anticipation and enjoyment of good food. 

Since many small farmers often consider education a part of their business, they are often a font of interesting information about the origin, history, and growth habits of the produce they sell.  What a delicious way to blend lessons in both nutrition and botanical science!

If you’re not familiar with any local markets in your area, these search engines might help you find one.  If there are none nearby, a drive to one in a neighboring area could be a fun family outing. Just remember to bring an ice chest to protect your enticing purchases from heat and damage on the ride home.

http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets

http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/farmersmarkets

http://www.pickyourown.org

 

Find out more about fish

If your favorite summer adventures include a visit to the ocean, a lake or pond, or a river or stream, you may see some fish while you are recreating.  Why not bone-up on your fish facts before you go?  The following sites give lots of good information, as well as lesson ideas.

http://www.seaworld.org/aquademics/tetra/all_about_fish.htm

http://www.troutintheclassroom.org/teachers/lesson-plans

http://www.doh.state.fl.us/family/wic/Documents/fish_campaign_and_book/lesson_plan.pdf

For more fish lessons, plus many more fun outdoor activities, check out the National Wildlife Federation’s “Connect Kids and Nature” pages. http://www.nwf.org/what-we-do/kids-and-nature/educators/lesson-plans.aspx

Here are some cute books about fish. Look for more at your local library.

http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com/product_info.php/cPath/14/products_id/1614

http://www.workshopplus.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=2028&idcategory=0

 

Want to get creative? Check out these neat fish art ideas.

http://www.incredibleart.org/files/fish.htm

 

If you like to get outdoors (and sometimes get wet), you might enjoy sport fishing.  It is a sport which allows children to practice both hand-eye coordination and patience.  It can also allow adults and children to enjoy some leisurely quiet conversation, as well as lots of excitement if and when the fish are biting.

It’s late in the summer for some of the organized free-fishing programs around the United States (many are held in June or near Independence Day). However, there is still a lot of interesting fishing information available from public parks, state and local fish and wildlife or natural resource organizations, and private associations like those below.  Check with your own local recreational agencies for more specific information and advice about your nearby opportunities.

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/takeakidfishing/index.html

http://myfwc.com/education/outdoor-skills/kid-fishing/what

http://takemefishing.org/fishing/family/fish-with-your-kids

Since we aren’t naturally equipped like fish, anytime you’re around water, it’s important to be very careful.  Here are some good tips for staying safe in and around the water. http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/out/swim.html

 

Understanding wildfires and wildfire safety

Many children in rural areas grow up with fire safety practices and fire season preparations an integral part of their normal lives.  However, in years like this year and last, when devastating wildfires have been big news all across North America, children from all areas are more likely to be aware of wildland fire dangers.

Although we try our best to protect especially our young children from subjects that will cause them sadness or fear beyond their maturity level, some such events will affect children despite our best efforts.  In that case, sometimes information and a plan of action can provide important comfort and perspective to help children cope.

The Smokey Bear site offers information, games, and safety tips. It even has a map of active fires around the U.S., which might be interesting to older students. http://www.smokeybear.com  Understanding your own local wildfire risks, and including children in fire safety practices in age-appropriate ways, can help them focus their energies into something positive and pro-active. 

You will also find a lot of good information at the educational links on this page. http://www.wildlandfire.com/docs/wildfire_edu.htm

For young children who are distressed by the apparent devastation of wildfire, you might help them find comfort and perspective through a book like,Fire! By Celia Godkin, (or for older pre-teen students,  Fire: Friend or Foe by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, both available from Childsake http://www.childsake.com and other booksellers.) These books explain the important beneficial effects of wildland fires, of which many people are not aware.

You might also consider making a visit to your local fire station.  Most fire departments welcome young visitors; and a face-to-face visit with firefighters can be both educational and comforting.  Children can learn more about fire safety (at home and in wild areas), see the safety equipment and apparatus that help fire personnel do their job safely, and even thank them for the important job that they do.  Call ahead to your local station to see if they have any specific rules about visitations.

For more wildfire information and photos, check out these interesting sites, as well.

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/wildfires

http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/conservationeducation/about/education-themes/wildland-fire

http://www.nps.gov/fire/wildland-fire/connect/photo-gallery.cfm

 

Museums and other tours

If you haven’t taken advantage of summer leisure and weather to visit a museum, historical site, or other nearby educational site, you still have time. It is amazing how much interesting perspective and knowledge a child can gain from an outing of just a few hours.  It may become a favorite family memory, as well.  Another potential benefit is that indoor sites like museums are usually air conditioned, so they could be a pleasant place to linger on a hot summer day.

If you cannot travel and/or you do not live in a big city, you can still probably find somewhere interesting to tour. Even small towns often have at least one small historical society or art museum.  Older towns may have a district of historic buildings and/or homes you could enjoy on a walking tour.  Local parks sometimes are built on historic sites, endowed by famous local residents, or have some other interesting story behind them.  So, if, like many of us this year, you are having a “stay-cation”, don’t forget to look “in your own backyard” for interesting and educational local opportunities you might have missed.

Rae from The Creative Process has compiled some interesting links which may provide ideas or additional enrichment.

http://www.netposterworks.com/resources/artres1.html

http://www.netposterworks.com/resources/socstudres1.html

http://www.netposterworks.com/resources/scienceres1.html

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Last, if you haven’t read Summer Fun Makes for Summer Memories, our round-up of summer reminiscences and fun ideas from the American Montessori Consulting Resource Partners, don’t miss it.  http://www.amonco.org/summer8/montessori_summer8.pdf

There is plenty of summer enjoyment and enrichment left to savor, so get out and make the most of it!  Be safe and have fun!

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Crafting the Winter Weekends Away

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

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

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

 Knitting and Crocheting Resources 

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

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


scarf

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

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

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

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

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

 Needlepoint and Sewing Resources

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

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

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

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

 Woodworking Resources

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

Here are sites to explore:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Care and Concern Crafting

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

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

                                                       Community Service Projects

heart2013

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

Happy Crafting!

 Heidi Anne Spietz

American Montessori Consulting

http://www.amonco.org

Celebrating 25 Years of Serving School and Home Educators

Montessori for the 21st Century

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Holidays and Observances

There are lots of interesting holidays and observances to learn about and celebrate in the upcoming months.

These sites include a variety of holiday and observance listings for the United States and worldwide.

http://www.calendar-365.com/holidays/2013.html

http://www.mnn.com/family/family-activities/blogs/multicultural-winter-holiday-celebrations

http://www.rochester.edu/diversity/calendar.html

http://www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/a-multicultural-australia/calendar-australia/

 Students may enjoy this simple overview with graphic presentation about holidays in America and how they are established.  http://www.wvu.edu/~exten/infores/pubs/fypubs/503.wlg_addendum.pdf

Rae at Creative Process shares some interesting additional background on the origins of holidays. http://www.netposterworks.com/holidays/index.html

Here are some lesson ideas for winter holidays from Scholastic. http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/collection/celebrating-holidays-classroom

Teachers and parents will find many interesting multicultural education resources to enhance your holiday studies here. http://cybraryman.com/multicultural.html

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November 22, Thanksgiving Day—The historians at Plimouth Plantation share the origins and development of Thanksgiving as an American holiday. http://www.plimoth.org/learn/MRL/read/thanksgiving-history  Also, enjoy “The Thanksgiving Song” from I Remember Lou by Alan Stillson http://www.amonco.org/winter5/montessori_winter5.pdf

December 9, Hanukkah— Learn more about this important Jewish holiday. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Hanukkah/History.shtml

December 25, Christmas Day—   Students can investigate the religious and secular traditions of this beloved holiday, both in America and in other countries, with these resources.

http://www.allthingschristmas.com/traditions.html

http://www.christmasnightinc.com/Nativity-Story-c114.html

http://www.infoukes.com/culture/traditions/christmas/

http://www.ireland-information.com/articles/irishchristmastraditions.htm

http://www.worldofchristmas.net/christmas-world/africa.html

http://www.ompersonal.com.ar/omchristmas2/christmas.htm

http://www.amonco.org/2fall_winter2001.html

http://www.amonco.org/1fall_winter2001.html

 

Also, check out “Winter and the Season of Giving” in the Montessori Classroom http://www.amonco.org/winter8/montessori_winter8.pdf

December 26, Kwanzaa— Here is an overview of the origin and traditions of this African-American holiday. http://www.theholidayspot.com/kwanzaa/history.htm

January 1, New Year’s Day 2013—Learn how people celebrate New Year’s around the world. http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia/explain/docs/newyears.asp  Also, students can follow the time of New Year’s celebrations around the globe with this fun website. http://www.timeanddate.com/counters/multicountdowna.html

January 21, Martin Luther King Day—Enjoy these lesson plans and links from Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. http://www.nps.gov/malu/forteachers/lessonplansandteacherguides.htm

Black History Month, February—Check out these links for Black History Month. http://www.factmonster.com/spot/bhm1.html

February 2, Groundhog Day—You can find lots of interesting Groundhog Day facts and a live streaming video here. http://www.groundhog.org

February 12, Lincoln’s Birthday—Find out more about our 16th President. http://sc94.ameslab.gov/TOUR/alincoln.html

February 14, Valentine’s Day—Find some theories about the origins of this holiday, as well as craft and activity links here. http://holidays.kaboose.com/valentines-day/history/val-history.html  

February 18, Presidents Day and Washington’s Birthday—Learn more about the man who is called “The Father of His Country”. http://www.mountvernon.org/meet-george-washington  

March 10, Daylight Saving— The history of Daylight Saving Time is really rather fascinating.  Why not take a little time to discuss it with your students. http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving   Older students (and teachers or parents) may also enjoy this in-depth and interesting look at the evolution of the idea. http://www.seizethedaylight.com

March 17, St. Patrick’s Day—For a little Irish perspective on “the wearing of the green”, enjoy the articles and recipes here. http://www.irelandforvisitors.com/articles/st_patricks_day_in_ireland.htm

March 31, Easter—Enjoy a look at Easter 2012 celebrations around the world. http://abcnews.go.com/International/slideshow/celebrations-easter-world-16082460

April 1, April Fool’s Day—Explore some theories and fun facts about the history of this “foolish” holiday. http://www.april-fools.us/history-april-fools.htm

April 22, Earth Day —You’ll find many interesting Earth Day lesson ideas for all ages here. http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson174.shtml

Let’s celebrate!

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Practical Life Lessons for the Holidays

Holiday events provide a wealth of opportunities for children to practice their practical life skills. Of course children should be reminded of the basic grace and courtesy skills if they will be guests or hosts (if you will entertain at our home).  However, do not forget other activities which are natural practical life lessons, as well.  Choosing, washing, and donning holiday clothing are all good self-care activities. Straightening the house for guests or before putting up holiday decorations teaches care of the home environment.  Participating in decorating activities and/or food preparation gives the child a sense of their part in the event, as well as a chance to practice toward mastery of these household skills.

In guiding children through the many interesting activities and chores of the holiday season, remember the words of Maria Montessori “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” We all need to develop a sense of mastery and confidence, and these experiences when we are young provide the foundation for lifelong self-esteem and self-reliance.

Please enjoy the following practical life lesson resources.

* * * * *

North American Montessori Center has provided a whole array of interesting holiday-themed activities that help children practice many different skills. Don’t miss the interesting and versatile Furoshiki fabric package wrapping instructions, the cute cinnamon-scented gingerbread men project, the counting exercises, flower arranging, and more.

http://www.amonco.org/winter1/montessori_winter1.pdf

Find another nice activity  that is appropriate for the holidays in their Napkin Folding Exercise.  http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/2009/11/montessori-practical-life-activity.html

For more general information on day-to-day mastery opportunities, NAMC offers a very useful listing of Practical Life lessons here: http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/2008/07/montessori-practical-life-at-home.html

Fun Felt’s Handprint Towel craft/gift project is a nice way to combine a fun craft with an item that can be used during daily activities.  http://www.amonco.org/winter5/montessori_winter5.pdf

Kimbo’s Self-Regulatory Exercises use music to help young children learn to concentrate and control their own bodies. http://www.amonco.org/winter7/montessori_winter7.pdf

Manners are the building blocks of the characteristics of grace and courtesy mentioned in the NAMC 3-6 Classroom Guides (http://www.montessoritraining.net/classroom_guides/default.htm). Find many manners books at Farm Country General Store.  They have a wide selection for different ages and personalities. http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com

Another important life skill for children to practice around the holidays is writing “thank you” notes. Find some good hints on the subject here:  http://www.drdaveanddee.com/thank.html and http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art37036.asp

Working together as a family is also a practical life exercise. Find suggestions for modeling positive perspective, gratitude, generosity, and more in Rethinking Holiday Priorities During Tough Times by Sara L. Ambarian.  http://www.amonco.org/winter8/montessori_winter8.pdf

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Sights and Smells of the Season

Winter and the holidays bring many beautiful things to see, many wonderful things to smell, and many happy traditions and memories to share.

Sights—

If you cannot get outside (or you live in a temperate climate) share the beauty of the season with your students through some gorgeous winter photography. http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/23/45-winter-wonderland-photos

http://www.squidoo.com/winter-pictures

There are many lovely winter scenes in fine art, as well.

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O134147/snow-scene-children-leaving-school-oil-painting-vautier-benjamin

http://www.oilpaintingfactory.com/english/Search.aspx?key=snow%20winter

It can be fun to have students express their own winter visions through photography and/or art.

If you have access to appropriate camera equipment for the ages of your students, why not let them try their hands at some winter photography. Most of us, young and old, have admired the famous photographs of the National Geographic Society.  This short article lets us learn from the professionals how to take better photos of people, animals and nature. http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/activities/moreactivities/photography101/

For other creative media, some students will have plenty of ideas from their own imagination. If students need more inspiration, have them go outdoors (if practical), look out a window, or look through a book or magazine or on-line.

Students can share their vision of a perfect winter day with this easy but versatile painting lesson.  http://www.deepspacesparkle.com/2009/01/22/winter-scene-drawing-and-painting/

You could also encourage students to present their winter scenes with collages or textile artwork.  (Textile art needn’t be an elaborate appliqué or quilting project. Very attractive scenes can be made with cut-out pieces of felt glued to a felt or paper background, for example.)

Here is a nice example of a winter landscape simplified into a quilt. (Be sure to scroll the slide show both ways for more interesting landscape quilts, both simple and complex.) http://quilting.about.com/od/picturesofquilts/ig/Art-Quilts-Gallery/Solitude-Landscape-Quilt.htm

This is a good explanation of the process of simplifying a photo or live scene into graphic basics for paper or textile interpretation. http://www.quiltingdaily.com/blogs/quilting-daily/archive/2010/08/03/how-to-make-a-landscape-quilt-the-easy-way.aspx

This short tutorial does not show collage/textile landscape examples. However, it gives a good explanation of the elements of landscape art and how to simplify them.  http://www.slideshare.net/ms_slu/collage-landscapes

Here are some links for fine art paper, multi-media, mosaic, and fabric/quilt landscape techniques and examples for more ideas and inspiration.

http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/winter+abstract+landscape/canvas+prints  http://lonecrowart.blogspot.com/2009/05/abstract-landscape-collage-steps.html

http://sandrameech-art.blogspot.com/2011/01/images-in-landscape.html

http://pinterest.com/kathadill/landscape-art-quilts

http://www.mosaicart.us/#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=0&p=0&a=0&at=0

If your students are not excited about landscapes, why not try some seasonal still life art or photography using holiday food and/or decorations?

Here are some general still life resources:

http://www.art-is-fun.com/still-life-paintings.html

http://www.nga.gov/kids/DTP6stillife.pdf

http://www.drawinghowtodraw.com/drawing-lessons/nature-drawing/drawing-still-lifes.html

http://painting.about.com/od/artistreferencephotos/ig/Reference-Photos-Still-Life/

Find out more about food in art through history from Rae at The Creative Process. http://www.netposterworks.com/resources/curideas/sharing_food.html

Smells—

Some Texas middle and high school students share their favorite smells in this article.  Perhaps you can have students write or tell you about their favorite smells. http://www.valleymorningstar.com/articles/smell-96788-favorite-world.html

Start your youngest students exploring and identifying scents with the Smelling Bottle exercise for preschoolers from Dale at NAMC. http://www.amonco.org/winter3/montessori_winter3.pdf

You will find a variety of experiments for various age groups which focus on our sense of smell here.

http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/experiments/smelltaste.html

http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/chsmell.html

http://www.cln.org/themes/smell.html

Scent Baskets from Mariaemma at Coaching for Learning Success are an easy craft and decorating project in which all ages can participate.  http://www.amonco.org/winter4/montessori_winter4.pdf

FunFelt Scented Playdough Recipe combines a favorite activity with favorite aromas of the season.  http://www.amonco.org/winter5/montessori_winter5.pdf

Cakes and other goodies baking in the oven are always welcome smells in our homes. Gert Kimble of Kimbo Educational shares her traditional family recipe for Grandma Cake, which she has baked over 400 times for holidays and other celebrations.  http://www.amonco.org/winter6/montessori_winter6.pdf

Ginger is a lovely, warming smell in the winter. Try these Ginger Coconut Baked Apples. http://www.amonco.org/winter3/montessori_winter3.pdf

Another favorite winter spice is cinnamon.  Find a variety of cinnamon –spiced recipes here: http://allrecipes.com/recipes/herbs-and-spices/spices/cinnamon/top.aspx

If your students doubt that cooking can appeal to both our eyes and our nose, look at this cute Christmas-themed veggie plate! http://inspiredatmyisland.blogspot.ca/2012/09/lunch-love-part-iii-veggie-licious.html

For a lovely scent in your home or classroom that doesn’t require cooking (except if you choose to dry your orange peels in the oven), consider having students mix up a spicy potpourri.  This recipe is especially good for younger children, because there are no essential oils or toxic ingredients.  It also has rich, festive scents that would make it a nice holiday gift. http://www.ehow.com/how_8244416_make-potpourri-spices.html

Hope you enjoy many wonderful sights and and smells this winter season!

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