Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Food Pyramid

On Wednesday, Miss K wrapped up Nutrition & Wellness week by focusing on healthy eating habits. She introduced the kids to the Food Pyramid and explained each of the different food groups. She went into a lot of depth here, including how many servings kids should eat from each food group every day. She also explained that within each food group there are healthy foods and unhealthy ones (within the vegetable group, for example, orange- and green-colored vegetables are better choices than yellow or white ones). She set up a healthy/unhealthy sort for the kids (grilled chicken vs. fried chicken) and talked to them about the importance of making good food choices. She put the sort on the shelves for the kids to work with at their own discretion (the tool/toy sort from Fire Safety and Prevention week was really popular).

I didn't get a lot of pictures during Independent Work time, because, for some reason, the kids needed a little more managing than normal. Typically they choose their work and get to it. Today? Not so much.

Miss D's son chose Laura from My Montessori Journey's syllable counting activity, as well as the first five "blue" sounds from Laura's system: d/e/q/x/y. He also reviewed Sound Box 4: h/u/s/c.

My daughter worked with the lacing frame (she now knows how to tie shoes!), as well as an extension I made for the constructive blue triangles. I'll try to upload it once I get all of that figured out.

Miss C's son worked with color box 2, water transfer using a funnel, and the map of the world.

Miss K's daughter chose metal insets, sorting bears, and the map of the United States.

For Arts & Crafts, Miss K gave the kids an assortment of pictures she had clipped from magazines showing foods from the different food groups. The kids got to choose one item from each food group and make a plate:

We closed with the "I" verse and story from My ABC Bible Verses: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," Philippians 4:13.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Enter the Two-Year-Olds!

Miss K and her crew couldn't be with us on Tuesday, so Miss D led Circle Time instead (thanks, Miss K, for leaving us so well prepared!). Miss D talked to the kids about all the things we need to do to keep our bodies healthy, and then she focused on exercise. She asked the kids about different kinds of exercise and what kinds of exercise they like to do, and then she led the kids in some calisthenics (Have I mentioned that Miss D is about 23 weeks pregnant? Thanks again Miss D!)

Miss D's son came excited to work with the sandpaper letters and sand tray, which was the final item on the long list we had made for him the previous week. He worked with about 15 letters...

...and then we made a new list. He chose metal insets, bead sequencing, the fabric box, and the feel and find puzzle. He also did water transfer and cutting practice:

Miss C's son, who is quite the puzzle guy, chose a horse puzzle...

...a fish puzzle...

...the 3-D Feel & Find puzzle...

...and then he went big-time and did North America:

He also worked with the pumpkin lifecycle 3-part cards that I downloaded for free (thanks!!) from Montessori for Everyone.

My daughter chose cutting practice, the teen bead hanger, the fabric box, and the map of the United States:

One very exciting development in our classroom was the introduction of the 2-year-olds! Typically, my 2yo and Miss D's 2yo stay in the playroom, and Miss D leads them in crafts, play-dough, stickering, etc. My daughter gets a lot of time in the Montessori classroom outside of "preschool," though, and she does pretty well depending on how well-fed and -napped she is. On this particular day, she was feeling pretty sad on the other side of the baby gate, and - I don't know, call me a softie - I took pity on her and invited her and Miss D's daughter over to the Montessori side. I don't know if this will be a daily thing (can I get this toothpaste back in the tube?), but it went pretty well!

My daughter chose water transfer with a medicine dropper, the wooden cylinders...

...and then my 4yo daughter presented the geometric solids to her:

To me, this is one of the most appealing aspects of the Montessori method. My daughters worked so nicely together, and it was great to see my older daughter's command of the subject and obvious delight in teaching her younger sister.

Miss D's daughter chose a one-to-one correspondence activity with tongs...


...and bear sorting:

For Music Time, Miss D led the kids in lots of movement songs to go with the day's exercise theme, and she also introduced a tooth-brushing song to reinforce the healthy habits we're discussing this week.

We closed with the "I" verse and story from My ABC Bible Verses: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," Philippians 4:13.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Germ Warfare

Miss K's Circle Time theme for this week is Nutrition & Wellness. She read the kids 1 Corinthians 6:20, "Honor God with your body," and then she explained that God wants us to take care of ourselves by eating good food, drinking only water and milk, exercising, dressing appropriately for the weather, and keeping ourselves clean.

With cold and flu season looming large on the horizon, Miss K delved deeper into the "keeping ourselves clean" part of being healthy. She talked about germs, that we can't see them, that some are good and some are bad, and then she talked about how bad germs can be spread from person to person and make us sick. Then she led the kids through a very simple but very effective exercise: She pulled out a wet paper towel that she had prepared ahead of time; she had one of the kids touch the paper towel and then touch a table top, a chair, and another kid's hands. Then they all inspected the table, chair, and hand and discovered that all three were wet. She explained that we spread germs in exactly the same way, so we all have to be very careful to wash our hands after we go to the bathroom, cough, sneeze, blow our nose, etc. She also reminded the kids to sneeze and cough into the crook of their arm, rather than into their hands, as another way to prevent spreading germs.

Finally, Miss K led the kids in some exercises:

For her day, Miss K's daughter chose metal insets...

...spooning split peas... well as the wooden cylinders, and color box 3, which I promise to post about soon.

Miss C's son chose metal insets...

...water transfer with the medicine dropper...

...color box 2... well as puzzles.

My daughter chose cutting practice...

...handwriting practice, the teen bead hanger, and the golden beads/number cards, which she and Miss D's son did together. They worked very nicely (can you get me 4 tens, can you get me 3 hundreds...), and Miss K's daughter also did this with them for a little bit.

Miss D's son came to school very eager to get to work on the list we had created for him last week, and he started with the sandpaper numerals and sand (rice) tray... well as handwriting practice, transferring water through a funnel, and the golden beads and number cards.

For PE, Miss D led the kids in tossing/catching bean bags, kicking soccer balls through cones, and walking on a line.

We ended the day by reading the "I" verse and story from My ABC Bible Verses: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," Philippians 4:13

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Velveeta as Montessori Lesson

What are the chances that those words have ever been put together in the same phrase before?

Sunday afternoons in the fall mean one thing in our house: football. My father-in-law comes over, and he and my husband cheer on their team. And of course, nothing says "football" like the pasteurized, processed-cheesy goodness of Velveeta.

Slicing bananas is a very familiar Practical Life activity, but I've discovered that Velveeta works beautifully, as well. It can be cut with a butter knife, it gives just the right amount of resistance to make it somewhat of a challenge, and for a 4-year-old, nothing is quite as satisfying as cutting up an entire 2-lb block of Velveeta yourself (that's right - 2 pounds!).

My daughter loves the cutting part in and of itself, but what she really enjoys is helping me make food for her dad and grandpa.

Let me know if you want my Cheesy Sausage Dip recipe - it really is good. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Pumpkin Parable

On Wednesday Miss K finished her Circle Time lesson on pumpkins by cutting open a pumpkin and letting the kids examine the insides.

As she cut open the pumpkin, she read them this pumpkin parable. She set the seeds aside to be used later during Arts & Crafts, and I popped the pumpkin in the freezer to keep until next week, when Miss K plans to carve it with the kids (keeping my fingers crossed that putting it in the freezer works - anyone have any experience with a frozen pumpkin?).

When we started Independent Work, Miss D's son got right to work on the hundred board, which he hadn't finished the day before. He worked very hard on it and breezed right through it:

Afterward, he was thrilled to check it off of his list from the day before and then make a new list. He chose sandpaper numerals and letters with the sand tray, cutting out shapes, handwriting practice, water transfer with a medicine dropper, and the golden beads and number cards (we acknowledged ahead of time that this was a long list that he would finish next week).

Miss K presented the golden bead material to her daughter and Miss C's son:

Then Miss C's son did the bead stair...

...while Miss K's daughter worked with the constructive blue triangles...

...and Miss D's son practiced his tracing skills:

(This worksheet is a cutting activity I created at this website - what a great site! I also created a bunch of handwriting practice sheets here.)

Miss K played I Spy with Miss C's son...

My daughter chose scissors practice, handwriting practice, and Word Drawers 14, 15, and 16:

For Arts & Crafts, Miss K led the kids in making these cute little pumpkin books...

...which open up to reveal "strings" and seeds (from the pumpkin she cut open during Circle Time):

How cute!

We closed with the "H" verse and story from My ABC Bible Verses: "Honor your father and your mother."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fun with Water

Today Miss K continued her Circle Time lesson on pumpkins. She reviewed a pumpkin's lifecycle and sang this song with the kids (to the tune of Ten Little Indians):

Seed, flower, growth, and harvest,
Seed, flower, growth, and harvest,
Seed, flower, growth, and harvest,
that's how a pumpkin grows.

She also showed the kids a book she had made explaining the different stages of a pumpkin's life, and then she showed them pictures of different lifecycle stages, which the kids put in order. And although no one ended up using it today, I made a beautiful 3-part card series on the lifecycle of a pumpkin that Lori at Montessori for Everyone made available for download for free (thanks!)

When Independent Work started, Miss D's son immediately asked to do his Sound Book, which was the final thing he needed to do to finish the previous day's Daily Plan. He finished that up, and then we made a new plan for his day: water transfer with a medicine dropper, bead sequencing, metal insets, and the hundred board. He got to work right away:

I was very glad that we had started using the nameplate/placeholder system the day before, because the water transfer activity was very popular (it's the first time I've been brave enough to use water in the classroom - it went well!). For her day, my daughter picked water transfer, a number-matching puzzle, a horse puzzle, bead sequencing, a picture/sentence matching game that I downloaded for free from Montessori for Everyone, a syllable counting activity that I downloaded from Laura at My Montessori Journey, and the sandpaper numerals and sand (cornmeal) tray.

Picture-sentence matching:

Sandpaper numerals:

The syllable counting activity didn't really hold my daughter's attention, but Miss K's daughter loved it...

...and of course the water activity was a big hit...

...with everyone in the classroom:

Miss D's son really seemed to enjoy the metal insets...

...and he got to 20 with the hundred board before it was time to put everything away. He set it aside to finish tomorrow.

Miss D led Music Time, and she included lots of pumpkin songs and incorporated movement and tambourines, shakers, and rhythm sticks.

We finished up with the "H" verse and story from My ABC Bible Verses: "Honor your father and your mother."

Monday, October 20, 2008


Miss K's Circle Time theme for this week is pumpkins. She showed the kids a little sugar pumpkin and read them a book she had made about the lifecycle of a pumpkin. She taught them all sorts of interesting stuff about pumpkins: they're fruits, not vegetables; they're actually the largest fruit, with some weighing more than 1,000 pounds; pumpkin flowers are edible; pumpkins are 90% water; and they take four months to grow from seed to mature pumpkin.

Much to my delight, Miss D's son came very eager to finish the daily plan we had made for him last week (also much to my delight, my daughter finished everything on her list over the weekend).

He and my daughter did the Tool/Toy sorting activity from Fire Safety week...

...while Miss K's daughter did a new bead sequencing activity I made over the weekend:

I had a feeling that the bead sequencing activity would be popular, so I followed some advice I read somewhere (can't find it now - sorry!) and made namecards/placeholders for each child. If another person is working with an activity, the child puts his or her namecard on the shelf where the work is kept to mark a turn in line. This system worked well with the bead sequencing activity, which everyone wanted to try.

Miss D's son carefully completed one of the two items left on his plan (the second set of four "yellow" letters, h/u/s/c)...

...but asked if he could finish the final thing (putting his new sounds in a Sound Book) tomorrow because he wanted to do the lacing cards and the bead sequencing activity, instead. We added those to his list so that he'd be able to check them off when he was finished (a great way to get him using a pencil!):

My daughter worked with the cutting activity that has been on the shelves since the first week of school. Interestingly, she didn't want to do this at first because she felt frustrated when she couldn't cut precisely on the line. I pointed out how well she had cut out the tires for the firetruck she made with Miss K last week, and she was encouraged to try the cutting activity again. She was excited to see her own progress as she cut each snip right on the line:

Next it was her turn to try the beads...

...while Miss D's son completed this 6-sided puzzle...

...and Miss K's daughter did the grass-cutting activity. Miss K asked her if she could decorate her picture with some things she might find outside during the fall, and she spontaneously drew this lovely apple:

Miss K and her daughter also played I Spy with the phonetic objects, and they spied for initial sounds and rhyming sounds.

Finally, we mixed red-, blue-, and yellow-colored water to make the primary colors:

I told the kids this color-mixing activity would be on the shelves tomorrow, but this experience showed me that they aren't quite ready for that. First, they need to get the hang of using a medicine dropper, so tomorrow I plan to put out a water-transferring activity.

For PE, Miss D led the kids outside, where they kicked soccer balls through and around little orange cones, and then they played with the parachute.

We closed with the letter H verse and story from My ABC Bible Verses: "Honor your father and your mother," Exodus 20:12