Moving Locations!

I am proud to announce Discover Me Montessori will be moving to a new location next school year 2018-2019. We are officially becoming a 'center' through the state of Texas in order to grow our school. We will be opening the schoolhouse up Spring 2018 to offer tours for fall enrollment. More information will be coming soon! 

In the meantime, did you know we have a Facebook Page? Keep updated with what our school has been up to by following Our Facebook Page.

Montessori Culture: Learning About Continents

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One of the greatest things about Montessori is how everything learned can be learned in a concrete way and more than one piece of knowledge is usually connected to the activity. Take, for instance, the map of the continents. By use of the Montessori puzzle (and globe), children learn where each continent is in relationship to the world. They are color coded for children to help differentiate between each continent and make an association based on the color.

Not only do they learn to establish where in the world each continent is, but they begin to learn the zoology, botany, and culture of each continent.  One of the early activities I'll do with my kiddos is to match the animals that belong to each continent. Using miniature animals not only makes it more concrete, but fun! I have a board book that matches the Montessori color coding and is a visual for the name and color/shape of the continent. Along with that visual, the child will begin to learn at least 3 animals from each of the 7 continents. 

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Later on, I can begin to have them learn about the different flags, historical monuments/buildings, and different type of cultures (mostly with the use of the TOOBS miniature figures). African culture, Egyptian culture, and historical event like the Revolutionary War.

Other activities I'll present to them are matching the names of the continents to the image using a 3-period lesson, matching games with pictures of animal cards and continent cards, tracing activities where they trace the puzzle piece, label and color. These are just  some of the ideas I will use to implement the learning of culture, geography, zoology, and history in my classroom.

Montessori Activity: The Teens Frame

There is a lot that goes on inside of a Montessori classroom. Children are encouraged to pick an activity they feel led to, and the guide/teacher observes and guides as needed. At the beginning of the school year, children are shown how to retrieve their work mat, properly collect the materials they wish to work with, and how to return everything back to it's place. By the end of the first year (and in most cases, much earlier), even the youngest child has developed this independence and self-reliance. It's pretty amazing! 

As a parent myself, I was always curious about what my children were doing in the classroom. I wanted to put together a video series that gives an insiders look for parents on what some of these activities look like to appease the curiosity and build a better understanding of the Montessori classroom. 

Welcome to Our Little School House!

The past several weeks have been a whirlwind getting the house prepared for the Montessori school. While we have begun scheduling home tours for families to see if Discover Me Montessori is right for them, I wanted to present a digital tour as well. While it doesn't capture every single aspect of what we have to offer, it gets quite a bit. 

One of my favorite areas is the writing and sensorial area. While I'm still waiting on some additional materials to add to the center, this area has the Montessori metal insets for the children to practice their fine motor skills in writing by tracing the shapes and coloring them in, or drawing lines/zigzags, and so forth.  You can also see the most common Montessori materials here: red rods, pink tower, and brown stairs.

Here is the math center. Again, still waiting on some materials, but you can see the red and blue number rods for children learning to understand the quantities 1-10, and the green sandpaper numerals to further develop numeral understanding and prepare the child for writing. 

Below is another angle of the math area, focusing on some non-Montessori materials I will provide in the classroom.

Here is a view standing from the math area. Here you can see some practical life activities, like buckling, zipping, and snapping, as well as the general layout of one of the two rooms that will be the school. 

In Montessori, children are encouraged to work wherever they please. Because of this, we have several sizes of work mats they learn to unroll and work on at the beginning of the year. Here is an example of a small moveable alphabet activity where the child chooses cards to create the words and find the miniature objects to match with them.

For imaginative play, we have a small wooden dollhouse with a family and moveable furniture. We also have a large felt board that will have engaging activities that go along with each monthly theme. Our first month of school will include the community helpers theme.  So far, I have the farmer and his barn, and the firefighter and firehouse ready.

Some other things we have available for the children are the sensory bins, a reading nook, a dramatic play area (this example will be for a "bakery" where children will have lots of felt cookie pieces and felt decorations to create and use the oven to bake. It was 100% child-made, as will be most of our future dramatic play centers so they can take pride in their learning and work. This area also has  baby and doctor tools to go along with the community helpers theme), a circle time area for when we meet in the mornings or red stories, and an art easle. 

Summer Is Here!

Providing meaningful activities for your children that foster a continued love of learning, natural curiosity, and building a variety of skills only requires creativity, perhaps a few around-the-house materials, and plenty of time to allow your children the freedom to explore. School may be out, but your child is still discovering how wonderful and curious is the world around them. I've collected just a few ideas that are simple but at the same time, provide a powerful impact on a child's thinking and skills. Today, we utilize the natural resources nature provides!

FUN WITH NATURE

These activities require very little extra material other than what is outside for your child to discover. Whether it be in your own backyard, on a walk around the neighborhood, or exploring a local park, invite your kiddo to collect any objects from nature to do one or all of the following activities.

Nature Photo Collage

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For this activity, I used a frame from a local dollar store (and it was actually $1). Turn the example "photograph" around in the frame so you have a solid white background. After your child picks the flowers or other plants, put them between two sheets of wax or parchment paper and set a stack of books (or other heavy objects) on top to press the flowers. After about 2 days, they should be pressed and ready. Together, carefully position the flowers on the inside glass of the frame. This requires your child to use his concentration and focus skills, along with fine motor skills as he arranges the flowers with tiny movements so as not to break the dry fauna. For added creative fun, you can encourage your child to decorate the white background with markers or crayons or paint before adding it on top of the fauna, and then attaching the back of the photo frame.

Categorizing Nature

Again, you can do this activity in any location that is outdoors. Invite your child to collect things from nature in a basket, box, or bag...whatever you have available. Afterwards, you can discuss all the different items found outside in nature and ask her where she thinks the items came from. Depending on the resources you have available for her to collect, you can provide her with different baskets or boxes labeled with a category. For example: trees, bushes, ground/grass. Encourage her to sort the items in the box she thinks it belongs (leaves, berries, and flowers from bushes; rocks, wood chips, clover, flowers, grass from ground; pecans, acorns, leaves, buds, bark, twigs from trees). Afterwards, she can create a collage by gluing the items on a piece of paper. These activities build on her categorizing and discrimination skills, along with fine motor control.

Floral Arrangements

Not all locations provide your child with the possibilities of different wild flowers, but if you find yourself fortunate enough, allow your child to pick flowers to bring home and arrange in a mason jar or other dispensable 'vase'. You can find these kinds of jars at your local $1 store. Before they arrange the flowers, you can invite them to decorate the vase with stickers and a ribbon. Teach him how to trim the bottom of the stems and allow him to try on his own with safe scissors. You can even discuss the life cycle of flowers, and how once they are picked, they do not survive long because they no longer have roots to give them the water and nutrients they need.  

Montessori Math Curriculum

Mathematics is the science of abstract thought related to quantity, space, and patterns. During Dr. Montessori's research and studies of child development in education, she concluded that children develop delight and excitement in math when they are given a proper foundation and the freedom to explore. This, in turn, increases their awareness of all things mathematical. 

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Everything within the Montessori classroom is designed to support the development of the mathematical mind. The environment is orderly, the placement of materials has a specific order, moving from left to right, top to bottom, from the most simplest task to the most abstract and progressively more difficult materials. Every activity in all domains follow a specific order, sequential steps, in order to complete. 

At Discover Me, we follow the Montessori Method when introducing math concepts to young children. Beginning at the most concrete, simplest skills like understanding the numeric symbols 0-9, building knowledge on representing quantities for numerals 0-9, and understanding that zero means the absence of a quantity, we then move to the more abstract math skills, like the decimal system (place value) and how a set quantity can be exchanged for another (10 units [ones] for one 10-bar; ten 10-bars for one 100-square and so forth). While there are several activities and games that we introduce and play with the children, they are repetitive in their purpose: to build a strong understanding of the relationships between the numbers and what they represent. 

To read more about math in the Montessori environment, check out NAMC's blog.

 

Preparing Meals

Making ones own meal is a practical life skill that teaches self-reliance, confidence, and responsibility. Not only will children prepare their  meals, but learn where the food comes from, tending to the garden where they pick fresh vegetables when it is time to harvest.  To appease their curiosity, we may have a world map out with miniature vegetable and fruit figurines to place on the map of where they first originated from. 

While preparing their meal, the child will learn visual discrimination skills (when to stop pouring their drink), along with fine  motor skills like cutting, grating, or spreading his  or her food, or even building hand strength by squeezing oranges for orange juice.

At the table, the child will also be learning grace and courtesy skills. How to set a table, how to place the napkin, how to ask politely to pass the bowl of fruit, and so forth. When finished, it is the child's responsibility to gather his things, take to the sink, and wash them and place them back where they go. The entire process builds self-confidence, independence, and responsibility skills, all vital qualities in preparing the child to be a successful adult.

Montessori Connects All Domains

In the Montessori classroom, everything in language arts is integrated and cross curricular....from teaching the parts of speech through the use of special grammar symbols (geometry & encoding skills), to practicing something in practical life (focus, concentration, and fine motor skills to help with writing and math), to labeling animal parts in science (classification, observation & reading skills) it is all interconnected. This makes the child's learning very successful and purposeful. Read more here at the North American Montessori Center:
http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/…/language-arts-in-m…

What is Sensorial Work?

What is Sensorial work? In Montessori education, it is another domain, much like language, math, and practical life that encourage children to focus on his or her senses in order to refine them and develop strong concentration skills. When children work with Montessori sensorial materials, they begin to classify things around them and experiment with the environment. This work helps children organize their intelligence which leads to self-confidence both in the classroom, and in the world. Read more about Sensorial work here: http://montessoricommons.cc/the-purposes-of-the-sensorial-…/

What is Practical Life?

What is Practical Life? In Montessori, Practical Life is a "domain" of learning, just like language or math. Dr. Montessori said, "If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence." This is the mission of Practical Life. Children learn preliminary activities, care of self, care of environment, and social grace and courtesy. All of these foster a sense of independence, self-control, and long periods of concentration which enhance their academic abilities later down the road. Read more about Practical Life from the North American Montessori Center: http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/…/importance-of-prac…