Some Things are Alive in Pre-Primary Much of the work of the Pre-Primary unit has been learning the rhythms and routines of our classroom culture. For our young students, this is a huge task! As we get to know one another, we’re learning how to work together as well as respect each others’ workspace.
This week we began talking about what is alive and what is not alive. Then we discussed the similarities among all the things that were alive: they could often move on their own, they grew, and they used energy to do both of those things. We had a praying mantis visit our classroom as an example of something that is alive. We explored a classroom terrarium and the kindergarteners created their own terrariums. As the school year progresses, we’ll talk about these terrariums in the context of an ecosystem.
Our daily Kindergarten Studios have yielded a wide variety of experiences from creating our own paints out of natural materials to discussing main characters in several books. Today kindergarteners will wrap up a discussion about families by exploring their own family tree.
The Primary Unit (1/2/3) with Carla and Kris focusing on Advanced Practical Life. Dr. Montessori tells us that “A child’s work is to create the man he will become. An adult works to perfect the environment, but a child works to perfect himself. Practical life is one of the five general curriculum areas with Montessori. Practical life is about completing a work cycle, concentrating and being responsible for their environment.
By constant repetition of the motions, the child is strengthening his/her muscles, perfecting his coordination, and gaining confidence in a particular skill. Practical life also helps to expand concentration and learn step by step instructions. A wonderful quote about practical life: “The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy.”
Below are some of our students completing a practical life activity. The students have enjoyed concentrating on hammering nails in the outside classroom, and they are immensely happy! (Thanks to Peter for getting our tree stump.) -Carla A.
The World Will Sing!
On Fridays, primary, intermediate and upper units meet for children’s choir. All levels have begun working on a song with text by Joseph von Eichendorff.
In all things a song lies sleeping,
Those that dream on all unheard,
And the world will then start singing
Should you find the magic word.
Joseph von Eichendorff 1788-1857
During class on August 24, the children concentrated on the text, both learning and interpreting it, and on learning the melody. At the second class on August 31st they did a breathing exercise of blowing through a straw and ‘painting’ a pattern on a classmates palm using their breath and thus experiencing sustained breathing. Then they explored the mechanics of pronunciation, how are plosives made? What makes a vowel a vowel? This steady breath and new mouth knowledge were then applied to the song. And we learned a tongue twister song, When Sally Goes Tripping. Ask them to teach it to you and see how quickly you can sing it!
In music class on August 27, kids from the primary, intermediate and upper levels continued work on group participation. A key to performing music, group participation exercises also teach a vocabulary of movement, body percusion sounds and vocal sounds. It also helps build understanding of their own creative potential as well as the joy of cooperating with others. They worked as a group to respond vocally and with their bodies to text excerpts chosen for their level and then went outside to move as a group to a drum beat, learning how different rhythms feel as well as sound like. Music equals movement and movement equals music! -Elizabeth T.
Making Sense of the Census
6th and 7th graders have math together one day a week. We are beginning with a unit on statistics. And, we are correlating our work with Social Studies. Our first activity is looking at the population distribution of the 50 states. We created frequency tables using data gathered in the 1996 census. Then we began coloring a map of the US, giving each frequency interval a separate color. It has been fun trying to remember the abbreviations for the different states and where each is located on a blank map. Students are using a variety of resources – each other, computers, atlases, maps, etc. This activity will lead into a discussion of what we can deduce from our maps and, later, into the ideas of mean, median, and mode. -Marcia M.
Intermediate students (4/5) are exploring Division, and we are seeing how it is related to multiplication. We played a Fact Families game, where we roll dice to determine two numbers, calculate their product, then create four multiplication and division equations using those numbers.
Bean Division is an activity that we used to solve slightly more complicated division word problems. We will continue these activities next week, each student increasing their level of difficulty. -Heidi S.
Light Particles Travel
As Intermediate students (4/5) further explored Lenses and Mirrors, students built the concept that visible light travels as a particle/wave in straight lines. We used the knowledge from our first experiment to predict the location an object will appear in the reflection. The second half of the experiment, Tic-Tac Reflect, is a version of tic-tac-toe. Its a challenging game where the game pieces (x’s and o’s), for either side are on two separate boards, but they combine together in the “red-window’s reflection”. Please stop by sometime to play it with your child- its a fun way to use a different part of your brain! -Heidi S.
The Realm of the Mushroom King
The Upper Unit (6/7) continuing our exploration in the Kingdom of Fungi. Students had various samples of mushrooms to examine and then document in their science notebook. Then we prepared mushrooms and created spore prints of different types. We are currently designing experiments to determine what can increase or decrease the rate of mold growth, and we will conduct them next week. -Heidi S.
Back to the Ancient Cradle
In the Upper and Intermediate units, we are exploring democracy and the political process while we study “What it takes to be President of the United States of America”. We will be following the- race to the White House and actually holding our elections in the fall.
The Intermediate Unit is discovering the differences between renewable and nonrenewable resources. They experienced first hand the effects of demand exceeding the supply.
We are visiting “The Cradle of Civilization” as we look back to Ancient Mesopotamia and early man’s inventions in the Upper Unit. We are partnering with Liz to practice cuneiform writing with wedges and clay. -Susan G.
Pointy Things and Other Cool Tools
In creating sketchbooks, all students in grades 1-7 got a chance to use wooden-handled piercing tool to make holes for sewing pages to bindings. We’re using pointy needles to sew too. Needles had “eyes” to thread and we tied twine into knots. The paper cutter was sharp so Liz took charge of it. Wonderful brains helped count 16 sheets, 64 pages and solved many problems. Most often used was the versatile and ancient five-fingered hand clamp. Students will use the hand clamp and pens to sign and date the books.
Next week, creative minds will begin to add marvelous drawings to the pages. We figure the sketchbooks will last about a hundred or so years. -Liz W.