Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Bit of Art

Happy Summer 2012!  

I have been so busy with new roles in my career but that hasn't stopped me from taking numerous pictures throughout the year...nor my intentions of recording the work that takes place in this environment!  I can't wait to share them with you - FINALLY!  AND...thank you for being patient!  This year I humbly serve as a Head Directress of a preprimary room, a faculty member, and a board member of a Montessori society...exciting roles indeed!  In addition, I have been trying to live that well-balanced life that Dr. Montessori stresses so much in her teachings of being a "spiritually-prepared" directress.   This means, practicing yoga and meditation everyday, eating more fresh whole foods, and my new love....Zumba!  

What do you do to stay balanced in your life?

{  The Water Table }

Every environment needs a water table.  It is usually the first work I direct a child towards if he seems to be unfocused, agitated, or feeling out of sorts (i.e. tearful morning arrival).  It is especially appealing if you tell the child that you have something "oh so special for the water table today."  Then, go into your secret stash in your cabinet and get out that bowl of floating fish, pretty shells, boats, a water pump, novel sponges, etc. (you get the drift - pardon the pun)!  The water table will be an oasis of peace and purposeful work.  To "follow the child" is to give him works that will help him develop the fundamental skill of concentration.  Watch the tranquility unfold.

We did not have a "real" water table during my first year in this environment.  
However, a clear storage container worked perfectly!  The water table manipulatives were kept in a bucket underneath the table.

{ ART }

I present an Artist of the Month by introducing the artist through a story and a few framed pictures of the artist's works and of the artist.  The children love to learn abut the artist and to hear facts from his /her childhood.  On the other hand, you could just have one large beautiful work on the wall.  You'll know what will appeal to your children.  Artists range from Charley Harper, to Paul Klee, Kandisnsky, Mondrian, and so forth...

{ The Art Shelf }

{  From L to R:  Playdoh Color Mixing, Sugar cube Color Mixing, Paul Klee-inspired work;
Playdoh cutting, Paper Strip cutting, Paul Klee puzzle;  
Geometric Shapes Collage (glued to black paper), Stamping with Paint }

  The children used the black pencil to draw a self-portrait then placed squares of tissue paper on top.  After "painting" water on top of the tissue paper, the tissue squares are removed and the color remains!

 This Art Shelf is an everyday fixture in the environment.   There are two trays (in the bottom drawer which is not pictured).  Thus, only two students at a time are able to use materials from the Art Shelf.  This teaches patience and turn-taking.  When a child chooses this work, he takes a tray and the materials that he needs for his independent art project.

{ On the Shelf:  Children can take up to five pieces of colorful paper, a Paul Klee print, writing pencils, scissors, gluesticks, a pencil sharpener, Outlines of doves for the Poke and Punch activity, regular white paper, two boxes of colored pencils)

{  Community Project:  Planet Earth Mache }

I'm so fortunate to have just my kindergartners with me in the afternoons.  It's a very special time of community building and enrichment activities.  Last year, we made a Paper Mache Globe.  We used a large styrofoam sphere (from Michael's), paper mache mix (we just had to add water), and tempura paint.  After two days of letting the globe dry, it was time to paint.  Each kindergartner poked out a continent to be used as a stencil.   I used the stencils to make the outlines of each continent and the children painted the globe with sponge brushes.  This globe now greets visitors into our school lobby with a small beautiful sign that says, 

"Our Home, Planet Earth
Made by the Kindergartners"

Happy Independence Day!
May all beings live in love and freedom!

More art to follow!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Practical Life

{Snack Preparation}
{Bean Transfer with One Hand}
{Stone Transfer with Fingers}
{Stone Sorting and Finger Transfer} 
{Glass Marble Transfer with Fingers ~ Refining} 
{Transferring with a Spoon}
{Cloth Folding ~ Four Variations}
{Dry Pouring Using Pitchers with Handles}
{Dry Pouring ~ Containers without Handles}
{Liquid Pouring ~ Pitchers with Handles}
{Socket Wrench}
{Rolling Mats}
{First Shelf of Practical Life}
{Second Shelf of Practical Life}
{In addition to the shelves, this photo shows Dishwashing, Sponge Squeezing,
the Food Preparation Table, and  Hand washing}

Breathe in...breathe out...The beginning of the school year is too exciting for words!  A new community of children and families at a new school!

I had every intention to return to this blog since the inception of this school year but I have been one busy person...acclimating myself to this new school and constantly following and preparing the environment for the beautiful population that I serve.  

"The child should love everything that he learns for his mental and emotional growths are linked.  Whatever is presented to him must be made beautiful and clear, striking his imagination." ~ Maria Montessori To Educate the Human Potential.

I only had two weeks to prepare this new environment...a private Montessori setting...and those days consisted of moving some of my materials into the small storage space, organizing, and taking in all of the existing materials, and of course, preparing the children's environment.  

I chose to post the Practical Life area and lessons first because it is the key to unlocking all of the other curriculum areas.  It is this area that children begin to develop  concentration, coordination, order, and independence.

As the weeks progress, more works are added to the area.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


{ Asia }

I love sharing this story based in India.  I told the story with felt 'puppets' that I made and the children can retell the story using the puppets on a work rug to a friend or just to themselves.  

{ Asian Cultural Artifacts Basket }

Here one child is offering help to another child with the Asia map.  It is so heartwarming to see the kindness of helping hands throughout the course of the day...

Globes and puzzle maps are used in  3-6 Montessori environments to teach geography in an extremely concrete and motor sensorial way.  Children are able to see the Earth as a whole then as continents, then as countries, then states and so on.  During this time of their lives students also love to do puzzles.  The colorful wooden puzzles leave lasting impressions of the shapes and sizes of the countries and states.

One of the Ohio Academic Standards that has to be met by kindergartners is to "(m)easure...volume using uniform objects in the environment.  For example, how many small containers it takes to fill a big container using sand, rice, or beans."  Here the children used an Asian soup spoon to see how many spoonfuls are needed to fill the measuring cups.  I used the geese measuring cups to represent Spring ~ yea!  One was a half cup and the other was a full cup.

{ Mortar and Pestle with Anise Seeds }
This work made the room smell intoxicatingly licorice!
Using the mortar strengthened the children's handwriting muscles and created crushed anise to be used in the Smelling Bottles on our Sensorial Shelf.

As a side note, the Smelling Bottles contained various spices from Asia:  cinnamon, anise, curry, peppercorns, cardamom, and ginger.

As a Montessori teacher I am always seeking ways to refine the skills of the children including their gross motor skills.  I found this beautiful little Asian bell at Goodwill ( I love thrift stores!) for an exercise of 'Walking with a Bell' in which children walk the perimeter of the room in an attempt to not ring it while walking.

'Cherry Blossom Painting' is a work to celebrate spring's offerings and Japan's Sakura or Cherry blossom time ~ a very special time of the year.  

For this work, children use the eyedropper to squeeze four drops of diluted black tempura paint near the bottom of the sheet of 5x7 paper.  Secondly, they use a cut straw to blow the paint towards the top of the paper.  After the puddles of paint have been blown, they squeeze a tiny amount of pink tempura paint into the little bowl and practice painting cherry blossoms on the smaller sheets of paper with a paintbrush.  When they feel that they are ready, they paint the cherry blossoms onto their 5x7 sheet.  These are wonderful Mother's Day gifts, too!

The following are two paintings from the children ~

{ sweet }

{ Conical Hats }

We talked about staple foods and the staple food of Asia ~ rice.  The children made conical hats and also tasted rice...
and they loved it.  And, they say the most wonderful things like,  "This is so good I can eat this all day and all night until I blow up!"  One hears the funniest things when in the midst of children.  Anyways, it's amazing what a bit of vegetarian stir fry sauce can do to rice!

{ make it a beautiful day }

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Environment

It's so surreal that there are only 22 days left of the school year!  I remember when my classroom looked like this in August.  It was daunting and exciting at the same time!  However, I read a terrific book titled Feng Shui in the Classroom by Rebecca Janke.  I highly recommend's an easy and fun read...and so interesting!  "Montessori said that 90 percent of our work with children lies in the design of the environment and 10 percent is doing demonstration of materials..."  And, I needed all the help I could get.  If you're a teacher (or a parent, for that mattter) you know how overwhelming the organization of your environment can be.  An article from Jola-Montessori's website highlights Janke's book.

I was working on my Master's at Xavier University when I first heard about this brand new, public, neighborhood, Montessori, and GREEN school opening in 2008.  Yep,'s a LEED-certified school.  How cool is that?  No mold, leaks, or roaches...just a bright and beee-utiful school!

Anyway, a few moves here and there at the beginning of the school year...and here is what it evolved into by October...

This is on the left as soon as you walk into our environment.  Our 'Classroom Rules' line the left side of the board, a poster of the 'Golden Rule' is in the middle and our monthly calendar and labels of the State Standards (being met that week) finish it out.  This shelf holds manipulatives (geometric shapes, blocks, puzzles, weaving, and patterning works) that the children can feel immediate success with during the early part of the year.

Ah...I love this area...the Practical Life and Art Area...
the checkered table in the foreground is for snack preparation.

Although the blinds are closed in this photo, we have south-facing, so lovely!  Just to give an idea of the orientation of this room - I am standing at the snack table, to the left corner is our door, and to the right corner is my desk.  In a dream world, I would rather not have my desk in the environment because it should truly be the childrens' home but...public schools just don't have that space.  

{The Peace Corner}
...a place for two children to resolve conflict or to simply 
have some peace and quiet.  My desk is to the left in this photo.

{ The Reading Corner }
I wanted the whole environment to have a worldly, peaceful feel since 
Dr. Montessori said that we are all world citizens.  
I suppose it's an African/Indian/Asian Corner.

These are two of the 'Object Boxes' used with the Moveable Alphabet.  I organized them according to the Orton-Gillingham system of introducing letter sounds from the book Recipe for Reading.

{ Language Shelf }

As the children move from a concrete foundation to a more abstract way of thinking, they begin to use picture cards instead of objects.  These picture cards are used for phonemic awareness in which the child sorts pictures according to their beginning sounds.

{ Language Shelf } 

The children loved this name and picture recognition/matching work that I created with cardstock, labels, and my handy dandy printer.

The 'works' on Montessori shelves are arranged from concrete to abstract or least difficult to most difficult.  Phonetic reading cards on the top of this shelf are housed in clear boxes arranged by color, as well.  Oh, and the children love caring for all of the plants in the environment, too!


{ Practical Life - First Shelf }
In this area of the curriculum, children aren't just learning practical work, but developing concentration, coordination, order, and their intelligence.  

{ Practical Life - Second Shelf }

{ The art of Floral Arranging is truly enjoyed be each child }

Watering Plants is just one of the ways in which the children begin to feel that they are an important member of our community and a caregiver of the Earth.  I made the daily signs with popsicle sticks and my trusty laminator ($25 bucks at Target!).  The children not only begin to recognize these sight words but place a sign in each plant after it has been watered ( to avoid over watering).

{ Practical Life - Third Shelf } the right of it is the easel


 { The Writing Desk }
It has everything a young person needs to write correspondence to a friend or loved one ~
blank cards, greeting cards, envelopes, stamps, etc...

{ Art Shelf } 
Vincent Van Gogh and Peace were our major themes in October

{ Culture Shelf }
The World, Living and Non-living, Signs, and Seasons

A work from one of my favorite places - Laughing Star Montessori.
The owner is a Montessori teacher and receives her inspiration from her students who give her ideas!

{ Science Shelf }
Living and Non-living, Fish (life science), Magnetic and Non-magnetic (physical science)  

Scientific Observations of Natural and Manmade objects

{ Up-close and personal with Princess Violet }
Printed labels around the environment strengthen 
the children's reading skills and vocabulary.

This is where the children prepare and have their own snack...

...these signs help them with the order in which to prepare their snack

These Snack Stones help the children with name recognition and to reserve their space at the snack table while they are washing their hands and/or preparing snack.

{ cheers }