National Montessori Week-
National Montessori Week was celebrated at West Side from February 24th through February 28th. We shared some background informtion about Maria Montesori and her great accomplishment in creating what we call the Montessori Method of Education. Maria lived from 1870-1952. She was an Italian physician, philosopher, and educator. At age 13, she attended an all boys technical school hoping to become an engineer. She, however, graduated from the University of Rome La Sapienza Medical School and became the first female doctor in Italy. She then wanted to help educate children with mental disabilities and was asked to start a school for a housing project in Rome, which she called the “Casa dei Bambini” or Children’s House. She believed children developed at different paces and had different interests. She believed children could learn in 3-year age groups and the older childen helped to teach the younger children. Children could be responsible in helping to guide their own learning. They could learn in a well-prepared environment (by the teacher) and the teacher could help facilitate learning. Although Maria is not with us anymore, the beautiful work and principles she believed in are seen in motion every day at West Side Montessori!
We did have a few special activites to celebrate National Montessori Week. We really focused on our Sensorial area since it is a unique element of a Montessori classroom. We reviewed some basic materials that were shown earlier in the year and appropriate ways to use them. Extension cards to use with the brown prisms and pink cubes were demonstrated. Also, some cards showing unique ways to use the knobless cylinder boxes were a work choice. Some of the children enjoyed tracing and pin punching the triangles from the triangle box (1 whole gray trangle, 2 green triangles representing halves, 3 yellow triangles representing thirds, and four red triangles representing fourths) and gluing them onto a poster board. They also were able to do this with the pink cubes and brown prisms. A language work involved usng the moveable alphabet to write about things that made the children feel peaceful, such as reading a book, riding their bike,etc. Throughout the week, children from different levels came into our classroom.We had some of the older Little House children visit with their parents to gain an experience of what a Children’s House class is like. A few third graders came in to read to our children. Also, children from Upper Elementary helped with special projects within the room and chose work with our class. On Friday, a culminating activity for Montessori Week involved a school-wide sing along with Risa. We all came together in the Commons and shared a wonderful experience. Some of the older children were paired up with the younger children.
The Human Body-
The human body has been our area of focus over the past couple of weeks. We talked about the part of the body that we could see first. We reviewed them by singing the song ” Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” and playing the game Simon Says. The children helped explain why each body part is so important. For example, the nose is used for smelling, th ears are used for hearing, the eyes for seeing, etc. Next, the bones beneath the skin were introduced. The bones that make up our skeleton were compared to a hanger used for clothes. They help give us our shape. Otherwise, we may be a pile of skin on the floor instead of a well-shaped body. Proper terms, such as clavicle, phalanges, and tibia were used. One of the most important jobs of the skeleton is to protect the organs, such as the brain and heart. The children learned that the femur is the longest and strongest bone in the body. Work choices on the shelf included puzzles in which the children matched the body part to its correct label, books to look at, a skull outline to pin punch, a skeleton to assmble and label, a book to label the bones in the body, and a foam skeleton puzzle (a favorite work). During circle time, the kids enjoyed reading and singing along with a book called Dem Bones. For example, the head bone’s connected to the neck bone. This was a popular sience unit!!
The roles of organs in the body were examined next. During small group lessons, children were asked to put on an empty anatomy apron. Other children came up and helped place the organs where they belonged. We discussed the brain and how it is the control center of the body. It helps us to make good choices! The heart is another important organ that pumps blood through the body, and the stomach digests the food. Some of the children enjoyed pin punching the organs and gluing them onto a body.
Fun in the Art Area-
Once in a while, a little down time is needed in the day after the children have completed their lessons and morning work choices. Painting and coloring have helped provide a relaxing break and opportunities for creativity and imagination!
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