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 }

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wonder-filled Days

W. Clement Stone once wrote: “When you discover your mission, you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it.” 

This is how I feel about the Montessori philosophy of education.  What a calling...a vocation...a way to make the world a better place each and everyday.  I chose this particular photo to start my blog because of the beautiful way this four year old child was writing words with the Moveable Alphabet.  The brilliance in each child manifests itself in a myriad of ways and I am so honored to be an observer of them.  Also, I remember that at this moment in time I was just beginning my journey into the world of creating my own Montessori environment...and I AM IN LOVE WITH IT!  

{ peace and joy to you all }