Mrs. Hood: En Otoño!

Maria Montessori believed that the initial six years of a child’s life are crucial for a their language development; that from birth a child must receive appropriate stimulation. This is also widely recognized by many specialists in language, also when referring to learning foreign languages.

Research shows that learning a second language boosts problem-solving, critical-thinking, and listening skills, in addition to improving memory, concentration, and the ability to multitask. Children proficient in other languages also show signs of enhanced creativity and mental flexibility.

In our environment, children are exposed to Spanish multiple times a day. From songs, to books, to direct conversations, Spanish is always part of our routines.

Due to the changing of the season, children have been introduced to the wonders of Otoño (Autumn) by observing and talking about what we see. The wind blowing, the leaves falling, the squirrels gathering acorns and climbing the trees, the scarecrows, the smiley pumpkins, and the different foods in season we get to explore during this time of the year are things we like to talk about, observe in nature, and imitate while reading our favorite book this week, En Otoño (In Autum) by Susana Madinabeitia Manso.

The leaves changing color has been another fun aspect we like to talk about and observe. Color recognition in both languages is always used. As a fun sensorial art work, children worked on a leaf stamping activity mixing fall colors and using giant maple leaves from our playground.

For food tasting we observed, touched, smelled and tasted butternut squash! Just a handful of students really loved it but we’ve gotta say that ALL of them tested it.

Have a great weekend,

Mrs. Hood and Ms. Maria 


Mrs. Wilson: Tasting Butternut Squash and Exploring a Sunflower

This week we started working on getting more into our daily routines. From changing our shoes when we arrive, to learning how to set and prepare our lunches before we sit down to eat, soon our classroom will have a rhythm and flow and these routines will come naturally to the children.

On Tuesday we celebrated our friend’s 2nd birthday. She brought in the book Humpty Dumpty to share with the class. Thank you!

The children had a chance to taste and explore a butternut squash. Like the last three times, they guessed apple and were surprised when a butternut squash was revealed. When we held the squash we felt how heavy it was and that it was smooth and it didn’t have a scent. When I cut in half we were able to see the bright orange coloring and that it did have a scent. Most of the children tasted the squash. Some liked it, and some not so much.

We also explored a sunflower and talked about the different parts of the flower. The children were able to use a magnifying glass to take a closer look at all of the parts. Another activity available is for the children to use their fine motor skills to pull out the seeds.


Mrs. Wilson: Transitioning into October

 

Here we are in the first week of October. Inside the classroom, we have made the transition from apples to pumpkins. In the refinement of the hand area, the children are exposed to materials that are pumpkin-related, such as using orange-colored pompoms for spooning, felt pumpkins to tong, and orange-colored paper straws for posting. For practical life, the children can choose to scrub a pumpkin in the sensory bin.

A gross-motor activity they can choose is pushing a large pumpkin in a wagon.

Food Tasting this week was a Golden Delicious Apple. When I do food tasting I hide the item from the children under a towel. Then we count to 3 and I excitedly lift the towel so they can see what we will be tasting. This makes whatever fruit or vegetable that much more desirable. When I asked the children what they thought it was, they guessed right. “APPLE!”

After tasting the Golden Delicious they each had a turn using the spiralizer. We then turned our apples into delicious applesauce which they were welcomed to enjoy as a special treat.

Parent-teacher conferences are coming up on October 28th! Look for an email on Tuesday with a link to sign up for your conference slot. 

Mrs. Wilson


Mrs. Hood: Connecting With the Environment!

 

Dr. Maria Montessori introduced Practical Life exercises to provide children with opportunities to perform simple tasks that they have already observed at home. Practical Life exercises enable children to care for themselves, take care of the environment, and develop respect for others.

Care of environment activities encourage the child to interact with the environment, exhibiting respect and love. These activities help the child form a connection with their environment and find a personal responsibility towards it.

As a highlight, this week we introduced to our new students one of the most beloved activities in our Montessori environments: flower arrangement. Second year students were thrilled to observe the work and they were ready to continue sharpening their hand skills and also their leadership skills while modeling this work to new students. This is a beautiful activity that offers so much to your child’s development. Through this exercise, children develop a sense of beauty, the mental task of sequencing, they learn to exercise the judgment of size and capacity in matching flowers to vases and in pouring water, also, manual dexterity as they need to fetch water and use different tools. This activity also indirectly prepares your child for botany studies in our Primary program and offers a great opportunity to work on independence and concentration. Your children love it! We can’t thank you enough for your weekly flower donations!

To close our apple unit studies, we explored a yellow apple during food tasting. Some of the children’s facial expressions when they saw a yellow apple were priceless! They couldn’t believe there were yellow apples! It was so funny to them! Needless to say, they enjoyed every bit of it!

Lastly, here is one of the songs your child has been learning during the last weeks. As children are working on copying finger plays and growing in language, feel free to sing it at home with your child.

Way up high in that apple tree. (place left hand under right elbow and lift right arm with fingers opened forming a tree)

Five red apples smiled down at me. (wiggle fingers)

I shook that tree as hard as I could. (shake right arm and hand)

Down came an apple! Mmmmm it was good! (hide thumb and pretend to eat and apple)

Way up high in the apple tree, 4 red apples smiled down at me (count fingers)

Repeat song until there are zero apples in the tree.

Virtual Parent-Teacher Conferences are coming up on October 28th! Please look for an email this coming Tuesday with a link for you to sign up for your conference slot. 

Reminder: School picture day is next Wednesday October 13th.

Enjoy the holiday weekend,

Mrs. Hood and Ms. Maria 


Mrs. Wilson: Apple, Peeler, Corer

 

This week we introduced a new song to the children. This song will be a part of our morning routine every day. During our gathering, I hold up a photo of one of the children and ask “Who is this?” The child and/or their friends can say the name. Then it is that child’s turn to get up and dance if they wish.

In the tune of Farmer in the Dell:

(Name) is here today!
(Name) is here today!
We are so happy that (Name) is here today!
YAY! (hold up arms)

If a child is not at school and we know it is because they are not feeling well. I tell the children and say “I hope… feels better soon.” This teaches them empathy for their friends.

The children were also introduced to an apple, peeler, corer. For food tasting, the children explored and tasted a Granny Smith apple. I think they couldn’t get enough. After we tasted the apple, I brought out our device and modeled how to use it. Each child then had a turn to use it themselves. Next week we will practice using this device again and use the apples to make homemade applesauce.


Mrs. Hood’s Class: On the Move!

“Movement, or physical activity, is thus an essential factor in intellectual growth, which depends upon the impressions received from outside. Through movement we come in contact with external reality, and it is through these contacts that we eventually acquire even abstract ideas.” – Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

One of the main advantages of our prepared environment is the opportunity for children to move freely! Children engage with the materials for as long as they want and are able to choose activities that perfect different skills – all while they think they are just playing!

As toddlers have an inner need to reach their maximum effort, hand-powered materials that build upper body and arm strength as well as develop cardiovascular health are VERY important. In the classroom your toddler fulfills this need using different materials. One of them is a heavy wagon. Some of the children like to push it empty, others like to put some materials or heavy balls in it, and some children really enjoy asking their friends to hop on so they can give them a ride around the environment. The calmness we observe after a child has exercised using these tools are just so great!

Your children have also been enjoying our outdoor environment so much! They are developing their large motor skills by climbing our big rock and the hill to get to the top of the slide. They also like to practice walking on the big rocks path and pushing the big trucks and wheelbarrow! They run and enjoy exploring in our forsythia tunnel! Some of them love walking around the sandbox frame and others seem to love the tree stump walking path which offers a bigger challenge for balancing!

In addition, our toddlers have access to space in the gym at different times during the morning and as needed! We are SO thankful for it, as we continue to  “follow the child” and adjust activities according to their needs without interrupting their work cycle. Saying the children enjoyed their time at the gym this week is an understatement! They seemed to love the obstacle course, jumping and running as fast as they could! They enjoyed playing with the balls and  hula hoops and some of them even stopped at the music station to show off some quite impressive dance moves! 🙂 We had so much fun!

We hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we do!

Mrs. Hood and Ms. Maria


Mrs. Wilson: Peace Day Celebration and Food Tasting

 

On Tuesday, September 21st we took part in celebrating International Day of Peace. Since this is an abstract concept for this age, we kept the activity very simple. The children took turns holding a “peace” candle while we listened to the Light a Candle For Peace song. The children asked for the song again and again.

Our apple exploration continues. The children have enjoyed the apple tree song that we sing during circle time. It goes:

Way up high (point to the sky)
In a tree (make a fist, hold arms together to make a tree)
(#) Little apples smiled at me (point to cheeks with a great big smile)
So I shook that tree as hard as I could
Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake (arms, fist in tree position shake back and forth)
Down came an apple, mmmmm it was good (rub tummy)

The children also participated in our weekly Food Tasting activity. This week they tasted a Macintosh apple. We labeled all the parts of the apple such as stem, skin, flesh, core, and seeds. The children started off by smelling and feeling the apple. They passed the apple to their friend sitting next to them. Then I demonstrated cutting the apples in half, one vertically and one horizontally so they could see the star. I modeled tasting the Macintosh apple and exaggerated how delicious it was, using words to describe how it tasted. Each child who was interested had a turn to taste.

This week we also celebrated a friend’s birthday! Thank you Riley for the birthday book. Your friends seem to enjoy The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen.

Enjoy this week’s photos,
Mrs. Wilson


Mrs. Hood’s Class: Apple Yumminess!

One of the main highlights of our week was our first lesson on food tasting. As children grow beyond the infant stage, they begin the journey to independence as toddlers. Many parents notice this change in their children when it comes to mealtime, as they begin to hear a resounding, “No!” when it comes to eating the foods they once loved and trying new ones. In order to help families, we have integrated food tasting into our toddler program as a way to ease children into the idea of trying new foods by teaching them all about the food and encouraging them to participate as a group. 

This week we introduced some delicious red apples! 

Children were really excited to see the food tasting tray covered, especially the second year students who are familiar with this routine. They knew there was a surprise and they immediately gathered quietly around the tray encouraging the first year students to gather as well. There were smiles and expressions of awe at the moment I removed the towel that was covering the apple. This fruit was presented as a whole first, then cut in front of them, presented as half, and then served individually. In our conversation, we included such adjectives as cold, big, smooth, red, and tasty to keep adding to our vocabulary. Children observed while I slowly picked up a piece of apple and placed it inside my mouth, tasting it slowly and dramatically, with the purpose of encouraging curiosity and expectation when it was their turn to taste. They immediately started to ask for their turn to taste it! They really liked it! This lesson is a favorite every year and we can’t wait to explore weekly all the different food items in our list. 

As an extension of this activity, children also had a fun Sensorial experience dissecting an apple using an apple peeler and collaborating in the creation of a delicious apple sauce!  With senses full of curiosity, children touched, observed, smelled, peeled, and cored an apple. The children found it very fun and interesting to use the handle of the peeler but their eyes really sparkled and the smiles bloomed when they started watching the skin of the apple peeling and falling on the table. New vocabulary such as skin, flesh, stem, and seeds were introduced. We then added some lemon juice, cinnamon, and a bit of vanilla to our crock pot and the smell in the classroom was just so amazing! 

Some of the children had the opportunity to taste the fruit of the work of their hands and we can’t wait for next week to share it together again with the whole class! 

We thank you so much for your support in providing food items for our class to explore. It’s a pleasure to team up with you and offer great and real experiences that your children won’t forget. 

If you haven’t had the chance yet this year, I encourage you to visit an apple farm with your toddlers one of these weekends. They might surprise you and give you an apple lesson. 😉 

Enjoy, 

Mrs. Hood and Ms. Maria