Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Color Wheel

After reading Susanne's post over at Beautiful Sun Montessori and filling out all of my conference reports, I was inspired to do some color work. My conference reports include a place to indicate whether a child is working independently with materials that teach awareness of color, and whether they have mastered them for their age and/or level. I really got to wondering what, beyond color boxes 1, 2, and, 3, really helped the children to understand color.

I toyed with some paints and worked a bit with the color boxes and a color mixing work I had available and came up with some extension ideas.

I sat down with one of my second year students today and thought I would give her a simple terminology lesson. She already knows how to mix the primary colors together to produce the secondary colors. So, I thought I would simply teach her the names for these types of colors, and show her how to build them into the shape of the center of a color wheel. This, I thought, would lay the groundwork for a later lesson on how to produce tertiary colors.

So, we sat down at a rug where she had already matched the Colors in Color Box 1. I said, "The Colors in Color Box 1 are..." and before I could continue, she interjected, "Primary Colors!" Well, so much for my imparting of knowledge, huh?

Anyway, we built them into something like a triangle, then added in the secondary colors. Then, we got out the color mixing work and started exploring the concept of tertiary colors. After mixing a primary and a secondary color together, she chose the tablet from Color Box 3 that she thought most closely resembled the color she had produced. The result was the wheel you see below.

I think I will make a paper extension tomorrow if there's time, where children can paint the color wheel with colors they've mixed themselves.

In other news, some traveling musician friends of mine stopped in and played a couple of songs for the group. We recently began a formal music class, so there has been so much interest in music - a perfect opportunity to invite some visitors! Thanks, Leftmore!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Love the Spring!!

Spring is my favorite time of the year for more reasons than I could list, but among them is the beauty of the social life in a Montessori classroom and the exciting work that's going on!

Today was one of those lovely Spring days that completely blew my mind.

All of you teachers (and parents) are familiar, I'm sure, with the little moments that make you realize how far a child has come. Today, two children who can be rather volatile at any invasion of their personal space, or at the slightest conflict of interests, were sitting down in a very tight spot for group time. If I were able to freeze time at the moment that I saw them both head for the spot they chose, I would have guessed that some serious elbow-ing, face-making, and "I was there first!!!" shouting was on its way.

I would have been so wrong!

Oh, me of little faith. Here's how it played out:

G - "Could you please scoot back a little bit?"
J - "Sure." Scoots back. Still doesn't have quite enough space. "Could you please scoot over a little bit?"
G - "Sure."

...and all this with smiles and soft voices.

The children do, indeed, perfect themselves.

All of the excitement of the day inspired me to post some photos I've taken this Spring. It's a rather mixed bag, but here you are.

The Geometric Solids with Bases

A five year old girl is working with the geometric solids and their bases. She has stacked all of the solids with square bases on top of one another and all of the solids with circle bases on top of another.

The first time she worked with the bases, some weeks before this, having lined up the three square-based solids, she remarked, "It's like a square club!"

Birds Eye View aka The 45 Layout.

This is one of my absolute favorite works. I have to take a photo every time it's completed. This is the most recent one.

In my training (MCI), we use a purple mat for all Golden Bead work (though for this work I do eventually hope to make something with a bit of control).

Before giving the first lesson on Golden Bead material, the teacher tells the child that "Gold is what kings and queens used to barter with ..." and therefore we only work with the golden beads on the most luxurious of purple velvet, of course.

Pink Box 1
Objects with the Large Moveable Alphabet

This is a four year old's first completed work with the LMA. He was so very ready!

ai box

This is a six year old's work with one of the green phonogram boxes. She ran out of a and i, so she made some with construction paper. It saddens me that my LMA box does not have red vowels. Oh, what I could do if I had a budget with no limits...

My lovely assistant made a small sandpaper period, question mark, and exclamation point that I use to give the first lesson on these symbols.

This was an extension of that lesson where a five year old child wrote a sentence for each symbol. This was the first time I had seen this child write full sentences fluently. She was so excited! She didn't stop or hesitate once - she just wrote and wrote. She wrote so much, so quickly, that we had to bring out a second chalkboard for her to complete her sentences on. They were used side by side so she could complete one of her sentences horizontally. When she got to the end, she had to erase what had been on the top line to complete her last sentence. So, it's a bit jumbled, but if you look closely, you can read her sentence, "I laic being a big sister." Next is her exclamation, "My baib bruthr cen screm so lad!" (My baby brother can scream so loud!) And finally, her question, "R we gn do teh tasitg bodls?"(Are we gonna do the tasting bottles?") It was a thrill to behold.

Below is a cultural activity we have been working on for some time now called the Sun Game. I don't know that this lesson is included in any training other than MCI's, but it is absolutely one of my favorite things in the whole of the universe. It is prefaced by a group discussion or two on the sun. These preferably take place outside on a sunny day. You can talk about what the sun is, and what is gives us, etc.

Eventually you involve two identical plants, one of which you place in an area where it gets plenty of sunlight, while the other is placed in a cabinet or some other place with no exposure to the sun. Both are watered and cared for equally. The second, of course, eventually dies. This gives a concrete sense of the importance of the sun to plants.

Later, the actual material is presented, usually in stages. A large felt circle, representative of the sun, is laid out on the floor and cards picturing a variety of different plants are placed around it. These are coded dark orange. Around these are placed dark yellow cards featuring photos of herbivores, and around those light yellow cards with photos of carnivores. Omnivore cards can be added in as well. Half of the result is below - click on the image to see the whole thing.

: )

Now, off to enjoy the long weekend!

Friday, April 3, 2009

I Think You're Wonderful

One of the many lovely things I learned at Giving Tree Montessori, my internship site and a place where I spent three blissful years teaching was a song called, "I Think You're Wonderful*."

I also took an idea that we used there and have implemented it in my own classroom. We have something called the "Wonderful Necklace," and it hangs on a hook near the reading corner in our room. Anyone is welcome to take it, just as they take a work out, but they take it to a friend and tell them, "I think you're wonderful," and ask permission before putting the necklace around their friend's neck. The recipient can either pass it on when they have finished wearing it, or can return it to its place.

The goal is to facilitate the passing on of kind words and compliments - just because.

If you have tools that you use in your peaceful classrooms, I would love to hear about them!

*From my internet research, it seems that this song is by Red Grammer, from an album called Teaching Peace. You can stream it on youtube here: