Thursday, September 22, 2011

Around My Classroom

I can not believe the month of September is almost over. Where did the time go?
My class has been very busy working on "All About Me" posters or drawing self portraits. I am in the process of receiving baby photos for our "Guess the Baby" game, in which I will display pictures of the children as baby's and they will guess who is who. The children are very excited to see one another as babies. And the parents are having a lot of fun trying to find pictures of their child so that the other parents can't tell who is who.
I had planned on doing family trees as mentioned in a previous post, but, time does not permit. However, since the theme for October is "Trees", I have decided to move the family trees to next month.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What's the Point of Practical Life?

In today's post I will discuss the concept of Practical Life
in the Montessori curriculum. Practical Life is the first
curriculum area taught in the Montessori program and is often the
most popular area with students. The main purpose of Practical
Life is to develop skills that prepare a child for reading, writing
and arithmetic. Therefore activities are designed to develop hand
eye coordination (when holding a spoon or sewing a button),
concentration when repeating sequences (with matching or folding
socks), and independence (by learning to pour themselves a
beverage to drink), to name a few .

Practical Life is divided into smaller sections:
1) Control of Movement which includes cutting paper, sorting an
array of items and transfer activities.
2) Care of Environment, which is their classroom. This involves
washing windows, watering plants and washing a table.
3) Care of Self, which covers learning how to button, zip, lace and
velcro clothes and tie shoes and washing hands.
4) Grace and Courtesy, which teaches children how to greet people,
prepare foods and serve them to their friends

In Montessori teaching, every lesson in Practical Life and
Sensorial prepares the child for further development in reading,
writing or arithmetic. This is accomplished by what we call,
"direct" and "indirect" aims. Indirect aims mimic aspects of
advanced cognitive skills. For example, in spooning, children
move items from the left bowl to the right bowl, mimicking reading
patterns and therefore indirectly preparing for the complex task
of reading. The direct aim in spooning are things such as
developing independence and developing concentration. One may
look at it in simpler terms as direct aims being those goals we can
not see because they come from inside the child (for example,

I'd like to share an example of how children have the need and
desire for Practical Life activities in a Montessori classroom and at
home. I had a little boy in my class one year who's mother said it
drove her "nuts" because all this child wanted to do was roll
everything in sight, including the bathroom mat outside the shower
and she had no idea where this came from. This parent attended
our information night on Practical Life and Sensorial and it was
then that she found out we roll our mats the children use to do
floor work. We practice this on a daily basis with the children
so they can master this skill. It turned out to be his favourite
thing to do :)

I'd like to finish my discussion on Practical Life with a quote from
Maria Montessori:
"If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist
them to advance on the way to independence. It must initiate
them into those kinds of activities, which they can perform
themselves. We must help them to learn how to walk without
assistance, to run, to go up and down the stairs, to pick up fallen
objects, to dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express
their needs and to attempt to satisfy their desires through their
own efforts. All this is part of an education of independence".
(The Discovery of the Child, pg 56-57).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Practical Life at the Beginning of School Year

Here are a few pictures of what my Practical Life area looks like so far. Practical Life at the beginning of the school year is very different than Practical Life at the end of the year. I always start off with very simple lessons to accommodate the new and young students. As you can see to the right, my Practical Life is minimal however, that will change in October where I add more to the shelves and change a few things around. I like to start with the basics to remind students how Practical Life lessons are to be completed correctly.
Below is our simple transferring lessons.
Next comes the lacing, sorting, and fine motor lessons.

The last two shelves are cutting and care of the environment. The students are in charge of most of the cleaning up.

Our theme "All About Me" is officially underway and I will have examples of what the children are working on in the next few days

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Day of School

After 18 months off on sick and maternity leave, it's finally time for me to go back to teaching. It has been a bittersweet transition for me, though teaching is my passion and I love working with the other children, it's tough to be away from my own baby all day while I'm at work. But when I return home at 4:15, the moment Noah and I see each other is the best feeling in the world. Today when I arrived home Noah would not stop kissing me :)
I had a good first day. Since Montessori schooling teaches that the classroom is t he responsibility of the children, and my role is simply to direct them through activities and tasks, it is the children that keep the classroom in order and tidy. So on our first day together we went over the rules and routines of the classroom to remind them what is expected of them all.
I only have a few new students this year; most of the children are returning students who I have worked with before, so we have been spending time doing activities getting to know each other again and having fun. And I look forward to the days and weeks to come when the class settles into routine and normalization occurs.

I must stop typing as I am falling asleep at the keyboard. Good night everyone :)