Fresh from the Garden

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What’s on the menu today?

Fresh greens and vegetables from the garden, hand-picked and prepared by our very own Kiwi toddler students. Complete with fresh lettuce, parsley, basil, radishes, grape tomatoes, hand-tossed in a vinaigrette dressing. This, along with fresh, steamed carrots, complemented the pizza perfectly!

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Learning to Walk

Look Who’s Talking! A Child’s Thirst for Language Development

“Words are your [child’s] best friends. They are bridges of understanding and passages that seed all of humanity.” (Montessori Today, Paula Polk Lillard)

A child thirsts for new language like they thirst for water. They crave new language experiences for many reasons; to be in touch with their surroundings, engaged in their environment, and to communicate with others around them. We want to provide a variety of language opportunities for children, especially between the ages of birth to six years, when the child is in the “sensitive period” for language development.

At HBMH, our community is well equipped with language-rich learning opportunities. We talk to the children and adult with respect, modeling how to interact in a positive, productive way. We model grace and courtesy so the child understands proper social interactions. Every lesson is an opportunity to expand upon the child’s language development.

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In Montessori, we discourage talking to a newborn in a “baby voice”. Instead, we carry on conversations and talk to them as if talking to another adult. We share stories with them, and encourage them to respond. We “coo” in response to their little noises to show that their words and noises matter, and that they can communicate their needs through language. Our tone of voice conveys a specific message and emotion. We tell them what we’re going to do before we do it. For instance, “I’m going to pick you up”, or “I’m going to wipe your nose”, and so forth. Continue reading

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April is Child Abuse Awareness Month

It is our duty as educators to inform our staff and parents on child abuse awareness and prevention. However it is EVERYONE’S duty to be aware of signs and symptoms of child abuse, the proper way to report such incidents, and how to practice safe interactions with children. April is nationally recognized as Child Abuse Awareness Month. The Blue Ribbon Campaign is a community wide effort to recognize our collective responsibility to prevent and confront all forms of child abuse and neglect.

Although this topic is very sensitive, it needs to be treated with the seriousness it deserves. In some cases, adults may not know they are harming a child, or they don’t know the signs that a child shows when they’ve been physically, sexually or emotionally abused.

Every year, more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States. Even 1 is too many. The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations, losing on average between 4 and 7 children every day to child abuse and neglect. Continue reading

We Need Schools… Not Factories

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sugata-mitra/2013-ted-prize_b_2767598.html?utm_hp_ref=education-reform

“We need a curriculum of big questions, examinations where children can talk, share and use the Internet, and new, peer assessment systems. We need children from a range of economic and geographic backgrounds and an army of visionary educators. We need a pedagogy free from fear and focused on the magic of children’s innate quest for information and understanding.” (Sugata Mitra, 2013 TED Prize winner)

 

The Mysterious Trinomial Cube

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Today, we’re going to highlight on one of our students’ favorite works; the trinomial cube. There’s real beauty behind the intricate details of this mathematical work, details that are hard to notice at first glance.

The direct aim of this work is rather obvious; to build a puzzle in a box. The indirect aim, an introduction to algebra and preparation for the formula a+b+c³. DSC_0349 (1)

The child approaches the box with curiosity. It’s elegant details can spark the interest of anyone. Children are inherently captivated by mathematical materials. The colors, the difference is sizes and heights…”Why these specific colors?”, “Why do they fit together like that?”…DSC_0343

While there are many hidden lessons in this puzzle, the child is actively working towards building a concrete foundation for the abstract nature of the formulation, which they will later expand upon. The puzzle helps the child grasp the concept of a+b+c³ at such a young age, rather than simply memorizing the formula.

Through the child’s discovery, they come to unlock the intricate layers of the trinomial cube.DSC_0356 (1)

To begin, the guide carefully opens the box, and lays out all of the pieces, organizing them in different manners. With little, to no words, she places the cubes upon the lid, pairing the colors to one another. Each layer is placed in the box upon completion. The child is then invited to do the work on their own. There are many variations of the trinomial cube that call upon the child’s creativity, imagination and critical thinking.

“These small objects fascinate a child. He must first of all group them according to their color, then arrange them in various ways, making up a kind of little story, in which the three cubes are three kings, each one having a retinue identical to that of the other two, the guards being dressed in black. Many effects can be obtained through the use of this material…when playing with this material, a child forms a visual image of the arrangement of the objects and can thus remember their quantity and order. The sense impressions received from these objects furnish material for the mind. No object is so attractive for four-year-old children. Later on, by calling the kinds a, b, c, and writing the names of the separate pieces according to their dependence upon their own king, five-year-old children, and certainly six-year-olds, can store up in their minds the algebraic formula for the cube of a trinomial without looking at the material, since they have fixed in their visual memory the disposition of the various objects. This gives some idea of the possibilities that can be attained in practice.” (Montessori, The Discovery of the Child)

To see the lesson in full, click on the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEZnNFxsnS8#t=13

Transition Techniques and Tips

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Imagine that you’re back in preschool. You arrive at school for the day, hang up your coat and back pack, and get settled into the morning routine. You decide to paint this morning, and begin gathering your supplies, which takes roughly 15 minutes or so. Before your brush touches the piece of paper, you’re interrupted by loud clapping. “Okay, everyone! Put your things away, it’s circle time!”. You’re frustrated. You barely had time to even start painting, and now you must put your things away. All that time put into the preparation, only to be interrupted and forced to do something else. Circle time begins, filled with sing-along songs and a few stories. After that, it’s music lessons, then outdoor time, lunch, nap, and then it’s on to afternoon extra curricular activities. Your day is filled with transition after transition, leaving little to no time to adjust to each new activity.

This rarely happens in a Montessori community. The children are given the freedom to work, uninterrupted for long periods at a time, with calm, comfortable transitions throughout their day. The Montessori Guide observes and understands when the appropriate time is to transition from the morning work cycle to outdoor playtime, or to lunch, and so forth. We observe the children to find out their needs. We look for signs of readiness for what comes next; signs that the child is ready for a new lesson, or for greater responsibility. We make the expectations for each transition very clear. We demonstrate and model how to carry oneself during a transition, and let the older students help the younger students practice.IMG_6431

If you’ve ever been in a Montessori classroom, and truly know the philosophy, you understand the necessary role that transitions play in the students’ daily routine. Transitioning from one period of the day to the next, can be quite challenging, for any age group. Guiding an entire group of children during a transition takes practice; both for the Guide, and for the children. Keep in mind that you need to have realistic, age-appropriate expectations for the children in your care, and expect them to struggle or make mistakes during the learning process.

The patterns and daily routines that we establish for our children help build the foundation for their ability to adapt. This, like many other skills, is something that has to be taught, and learned through repetition and consistency. A new student does not often come to school knowing how to transition, so we have to help them.

Whatever your technique may be, do so with the utmost respect for your children’s needs, and make sure their work is not interrupted abruptly, or unnecessarily. Over the years, I’ve witnessed many different transition techniques. A popular technique is to simply sit on the rug and sing, ever so softly, as to get the attention of the entire group. Another, has a small bell to ring when the work cycle is complete. This is usually done by a senior student. Lining up is also a lesson that needs to be taught. You cannot just expect a child to know how to stand quietly, or where to stand, what to do with their hands, or feet, can they talk to their neighbor in front or behind them, are they to remain quiet…there are lots of skills to be refined!
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Give your students advance warnings of an upcoming transition. Walk quietly from one child to then next, reminding them that “you have a few more minutes”, or play a quiet, familiar song. Give a set amount of time for actual clean-up. A child who’s been working on the world map all morning, and has lots of different materials, may want to leave their work out. Put it aside, with their name on it, for them to return to at a later time. Practice this “clean up” routine every day, be consistent, and encourage students to help one another. And as always, safety is of the utmost importance. Always make sure students respect one another’s space. One Guide can help clean up, while the other watch the students to make sure they are safe at all times.
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Most importantly, follow the child. The dynamics of your room will tell you how to conduct each transition, in a way that is beneficial for you, and your students.

Here are a few teacher resources, to help reference when planning transitions/daily routines:

Parent Resource: Managing Daily Transitions at Home:

A Helping Friend

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