Monday, June 13, 2016

Chag Shavuot Sameach!

Shavuot is a holiday that sometimes feels neglected; the variety of traditions and meanings make it feel a bit more disjointed than, say, Passover or Chanukah. Luckily for us, celebrating Shavuot means lots of fun activities and special treats to eat!
After mashing strawberries and mixing them with yogurt, we all helped make yogurt popsicles to share after lunch! It is traditional to eat dairy foods on Shavuot.

Enjoying our treats together outside.

We were lucky to find a large grain mill to grind some wheat! The grain mill is not too difficult to turn but it is still a gross motor workout for the children and requires some core strength. It does make very fine flour which we will bake into waffles this week.

Turning the wheel on the grain mill to make a "Mt. Hood" of flour.
We danced with our mini Torahs and sang to show our appreciation for the Torah and its wisdom!

As an added Shavuot surprise, we discovered that morning that the chrysalis had opened and a butterfly had emerged! It is a Cabbage White Butterfly.

Since we are not experts in the care of butterflies it was quickly decided that we should let it go. We opened the jar and watched with anticipation...

And away it flew! 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

New work, New Life

The end of the year is coming, but life doesn't stop for young children. Every day is a new opportunity to learn, absorb, try something new. The children at Tree of Life are still getting regular lessons and are relishing the chance to try things they have seen all year!

Building for the first time with the brown stair, examining the varied dimensions, finding the ways the blocks fit together.

Making tiny bonfires for Lag B'Omer!

The Montessori Materials present mathematical concepts in concrete, sensorial ways, aiding children in making sense of the seemingly abstract world of numbers.

Counting spindles into the boxes reaffirms the child's understanding of quantity.

Giving children the tools not just to do an activity, but also the means to put it away independently, gives children confidence in caring for the school and themselves. Here a spatula is used to pry up shapes that have been hammered into a corkboard.

New outside movement games are always fun and popular! Hopscotch is a great way to enjoy some morning sunshine.

New seasonal scrubbing work - potatoes - inducing tongue-out concentration..

When children spontaneously take an activity off the shelf - perhaps one they have had a lesson on recently, perhaps one they haven't tried in a while - and then use it with satisfaction, you can be sure it is meeting a developmental need. Here the joy in comparing the size of the blocks, figuring out which would support which, and appreciating the aesthetic beauty of a well-balanced sculpture!

Outside our environment is always changing. We build structures for shade, grow fruits, vegetables, and flowers, and our water barrel fills following rain and empties when we use it all up. 

Finding mature snap peas becomes more challenging as the children eat them whenever they think of it! And teachers too!

Our potato plants are almost as tall as the children!

On Friday we found a caterpillar and put it in an insect habitat with some leaves from the plant it was eating. By Monday we no longer had a caterpillar, but a chrysalis! Models of the life cycle of a butterfly and labels for each stage help us understand this tiny creature's journey.

Outdoor materials inspire endless creation - such as building nests out of leaves, grass, and moss we found in our play yard.