Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter Enrichment Activities for your Montessori School

winter enrichment activities for NAMC montessori school girls playing chess
With the start of winter, the days are shorter and it is dark now before dinner. All over the country there are blizzards, ice storms, and even colder than normal temperatures in the southern part of the United States. It even snowed in New Orleans!

While it is always difficult coming back to the school routine after the holidays, Montessori students are eager to learn, and most settle back into lessons with grace and ease. Winter weather has its drawbacks, though. During the warmer months, our playground is full of kids playing after school. This time of the year, it seems like as soon as school is over, they rush home to get out of the cold, wet, weather.

If this is true at your Montessori school, you might try implementing a winter after-school program to help beat the winter blues and promote a sense of community. Recruit parents and interested teachers to provide fun, enrichment classes for one hour after school, one day a week, for four to six weeks.

Ideas for classes:

Winter Enrichment Activities for your Montessori School

  • Yoga, tai chi
  • Chess
  • Cooking
  • Origami
  • Water colors
  • Arts and crafts
  • Handbell choir
  • Dance/creative movement
  • Jump rope
  • Drama
  • Lego Mindstorms (robotics for upper elementary age)
  • Geocaching (an outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS)
  • Astronomy
  • Creative Writing
  • Dinosaurs
  • Science Experiments
  • Computers
  • Virtual field trips
Here is a sample activity, taken from NAMC Lower Elementary – Introduction to Health, Sciences, Art & Music:

winter enrichment activities for NAMC montessori school rhythm sticks
Making Rhythm Sticks

Purpose
To discover, make, and play rhythm sticks; to practice motor skills, listening, and keeping a beat.

Material
  • Pre-made pair of rhythm sticks.
  • Sets of wooden chopsticks.
  • Paints and brushes.
  • Music journals and pencils.
Presentation
  • Most Montessori teachers introduce this concept in Year 1. This activity may be done in parts over several days.
  • Announce to the students that they are going to have an opportunity to create a percussion instrument.
  • Show students a pre-made pair of rhythm sticks and demonstrate how to play a few different rhythms with them. Explain that rhythm sticks are used to keep the beat in music and that many cultures use some type of rhythm sticks in their music.
  • Invite the students to examine the rhythm sticks.
  • Demonstrate how to make rhythm sticks: Carefully separate a pair of new wooden chopsticks. With paint and brushes, make a simple, yet vivid design down the length of the sticks. Say that you will need to allow the paint to dry before playing the rhythm sticks.
  • Distribute the wooden chopsticks.
  • Invite the students to make their own rhythm sticks by painting designs on the chopsticks.
  • Allow time for the paint to dry.
MAKING RHYTHMS
  • After the paint has dried, invite the students to take turns leading everyone in tapping out different rhythms on the rhythm sticks.
  • Invite the students to choose a familiar song to sing while keeping the beat with the rhythm sticks.
  • Choose a place in the classroom for storing the rhythm sticks for another time.
EXTENSIONS
  • Make thicker rhythm sticks from dowels, then compare the sound with that made by chopstick rhythm sticks.
  • Tap out rhythms with the sticks behind the back, above the head, down by the feet.
  • Tap the beat to recorded music from cultures around the world.
  • Research the history of claves.
  • Research and demonstrate the rhythmic pattern called clave, which is played on claves.
A successful program will have both students and teachers looking forward to winter enrichment classes next year. For classes such as yoga, dance or tai chi, it is important to have someone familiar with these activities lead the first session.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, December 29, 2008.

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