Friday, January 30, 2015

Birds and Movement!

This week we talked a lot about birds, sang songs about birds, read books about birds and the sounds they make, and prepared some bird feeders for our outdoor area. We practiced listening silently to hear the birds in our yard. There are many species that call our area home. We saw hummingbirds, scrub jays, crows, chickadees, sparrows, robins and flickers!

Scooping birdseed into our new feeder.

Carefully mixing sugar into hot water to make hummingbird nectar.

Even though spring is nearly two months away, the warm sunny weather has brought out not only birds but the insects and flowers as well. We delighted in finding these treasures during outside play.

How do worms feel on our hands? How can we hold them gently?

The first dandelion pops its head out of the ground!

All this sunshine has renewed interest in the sandbox. Everybody in!

Every day we explore different ways to move, whether we pretend to be a herd of elephants stomping around outside, or singing songs that tell us to hop, tiptoe, crawl, or slither on the ellipse inside. Children are naturally drawn to games and activities that limit their movement in some way. It takes a lot of will power to follow along when we clap and then stop, or dance and then freeze. We are also learning to carry things carefully across a room, without spilling water or letting a rug unroll before we get where we are going. 
Sometimes you just gotta dance.

Beanbag toss is a new choice outside

Carrying a scoopful of sand across the yard takes concentration.

Climb up and jump down!

Inside we are still doing many activities to strengthen and refine motor control as well as orient to the classroom. There are so many things to look at in the classroom; it can be overwhelming. This week we went on "treasure hunts" together, gathering objects of the same color in a basket, naming them, and then putting them away. This orients children to where things are in the classroom, gives them the vocabulary to know what they are using, and it's a lot of fun to go search for things!
Look at all the red objects we found!

Squeezing a sponge strengthens the hands.

Matching nuts and bolts takes patience.

Our last week in January was full of work and play. We can't wait to see what February brings!

Shabbat Shalom!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Building Independence

We spend a lot of time at Tree of Life Montessori building skills towards functional independence - taking care of our needs by ourselves, for ourselves. Right now the children are focusing on hand-washing, putting on their own inside shoes for movement on the line, and getting ready to go outside by  themselves.

One of the most motivating activities for functional independence is making a snack and eating it without help! Apple slicing and cheese slicing have been very popular this week.

Pulling apart the cheese

Cutting carefully

Velcro Dressing Frame

Reading in the book corner is a way to give yourself space.

Cylinder Blocks are a foundational Sensorial material

Matching Colors

Mixing batter to make waffles for snack

Waiting for waffles to cook!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Working Together, Working by Ourselves

This week as we caught on to the daily rhythm of our school day and continued to practice everything we learned last week, the children showed great interest in building relationships with one another. Many times work was shared, without any prompting from Morah Ariel and without any problems arising.
Scrubbing windows together

Running on the line first thing in the morning gets us ready for a busy day!

Everyone learned how to peel their own mandarins

Helping a friend get water from our rain barrel

The simple pleasure of building together

While playing with friends is lots of fun, it's also satisfying to work alone, building skills and making our own discoveries. The children organically flowed in and out of working together and choosing independent activities throughout the morning.

A different kind of beads inspired renewed interest in the activity.

Flower arranging requires many skills, such as pouring water and decision-making.
The arrangements also beautify our classroom!

Drawing with concentration

Water is an endless source of interest and experimentation for young children

Pouring lentils is a classic Montessori preliminary activity, 
paving the way for many other activities that require self-control. 
Children will often repeat the pouring over and over
 until they feel satisfied with the work.

Spontaneously cleaning the chalkboard with a wet sponge! 
Then it will be fresh and ready for a new picture.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Welcoming new friends!

Last week we welcomed our first friends to Tree of Life Montessori. We spent our first week getting to know each other and exploring the school environment. We spent a lot of time together singing, stretching, telling stories, and playing games. We spent time playing outside and using different tools in the sand box.

Working on the pegboard

Branches are fun to use in so many different ways!

Exploring the sandbox

By the end of the week everyone was able to independently choose creative activities, like painting and collage. We also learned ways to keep our classroom looking beautiful, such as washing the glass windows on the french doors.

Two painters at work.

Plein air painting on our covered patio!

Beading on pipe cleaners takes a lot of concentration, but it is very rewarding.

Wiping the windows lets the sunshine in.

First thing Friday, we mixed some dough and let it rise all morning. Before going home for the day, we shaped and baked our challah, said Hamotzi together, and ate it up! We can't wait to do it again next week!

Mixing all the ingredients takes strong arms and a lot of helpers.

Fresh challah! Delicious!