Monday, July 28, 2008

You and Your Montessori Child: Getting Back to Nature

NAMC montessori child getting back to nature girl pond
“Going out” into the world isn't something that only happens in the Montessori classroom. It happens in our Montessori homes, as well. Every time we take a trip to the grocery store, to the park, or go on vacation, our children are learning about the world around them. We model not only our values, but our enthusiasm, compassion, and stewardship.

We’re getting ready to go on a mini-vacation tomorrow. Instead of taking a whole week off this summer, my husband took two long weekends. The reason for this is because while I like the beach, he likes the mountains. So we’re compromising and doing both! My son couldn't be happier. Both the beach and mountains provide him with great opportunities to be outside exploring and being a part of nature.

While my ideal vacation is lounging on the beach, reading a book and sipping iced tea, I know that this will be far from reality. While my husband goes deep sea fishing (Nathaniel and I get sea sick just thinking about being on a boat), we’re planning on renting kayaks and exploring the North Carolina estuaries. Nathaniel has also researched a trip to Shackleford Banks and the southern portion of the Cape Lookout National Seashore to catch a glimpse of the wild ponies, the 500-year old descendants of Spanish Mustangs. He tells me that the island is also known as one of the best shell beaches on the East Coast.He is looking forward to finding and identifying shells such as Conchs, Welks, Queen’s Helmets, Scotch Bonnets, Olive Shells, and Sand Dollars. Of course, there will be plenty of water play and sand castling, too.

The best thing about the trip will be being together outside, away from the television and video games, and hard as it will be, I’m leaving my computer at home! In this age of technology, that’s no easy feat. Here are a few suggestions to help you and your family to get excited about exploring the great outdoors.

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. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, July 28, 2008.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Spelling in the Montessori Upper Elementary Classroom: Ideas for Better Linguistic Learning

NAMC montessori upper elementary spelling classroom ideas boy writing
For several years, I struggled with creating a spelling program for my Upper Elementary Montessori students. I wanted to build a spelling program that had meaning for the students and not just teacher-created lists of words to memorize.

The first Montessori school at which I taught had a spelling program that was designed around phonograms (a succession of orthographic letters that occurs with the same phonetic value in several words (e.g., the ight in bright, fight, and flight) and spelling rules. The spelling program began in first grade and progressed through Upper Elementary. Spelling was taught three days a week at the same time, with all Lower and Upper Elementary teachers teaching a different level and the students moving to their appropriate group. At first, it seemed like a good idea. The same rules were presented each year, but the lists themselves got progressively more difficult as the students moved up in level. At the beginning of the year, there was a placement dictation (assessment) given and students were grouped by ability, rather than by grade level.

In theory, this seemed to fit the Montessori philosophy of following the child. However, we ran into some difficulties when we had 2nd graders who tested at a 5th grade level and were then put with the rest of the 5th grade, or when a 5th grade student tested at a 3rd grade level. The 2nd grade student felt great, but the 5th grade student felt pretty embarrassed having to go to the Lower Elementary level for instruction. It also became rather apparent that students were not retaining what they had learned at previous levels, nor were they retaining the words they’d supposedly learned over the course of the year. This was proven by their continued poor performance on review lessons and in their writing. Clearly, the spelling program wasn't working.

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. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, July 24, 2008.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Montessori Philosophy: Nature- Nurturer to the Whole Child

NAMC montessori philosophy nature nurture whole child girls behind tree
"I would therefore initiate teachers into the observation of the most simple forms of living things, which all those aids which science gives; I would make them microscopists; I would give them a knowledge of the cultivation of plants and train them to observe their physiology; I would direct their observation to insects, and would make them study the general laws of biology. And I would not have them concerned with theory alone, but would encourage them to work independently in laboratories and in the bosom of free Nature."
- from The Advanced Montessori Method

Every once in a while I turn on a morning news program to “catch up” with the rest of the world. This morning, I heard an alarming statistic: only 6% of children ages 9-13 spend time playing outdoors aside from school. Calling it “Nature Deficit Disorder”, Richard Louv (Last Child in the Woods, 2005), states that the deficit of time spent outdoors is resulting in a wide range of behavioral as well as spiritual problems in today’s children. Dr. Montessori knew this a century ago when she stated “How often is the soul of man - especially in childhood - deprived because he is not allowed to come in contact with nature?”

There seem to be two pronounced reasons for this nature deprivation. Firstly, we live in a world of fear; fear of strangers, fear of abductions, fear of terror. Louv argues that sensationalist media coverage and paranoid parents have literally "scared children straight out of the woods and fields," while promoting a litigious culture of fear that favors "safe" regimented sports over imaginative play”.

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. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, July 21, 2008.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Montessori Summer Activities: Woodworking- Teaching Montessori Students Respect and Responsibility

NAMC montessori summer activities woodworking boy in goggles
Summertime is the perfect time for outdoor projects. Maria Montessori believed that young children ought to be engaged in meaningful work using their hands. Woodworking is a great way to introduce and isolate skills one step at a time while creating meaningful work that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Using real, child-size tools and materials will engage your young child. Using real tools, not play or pretend ones, lets them know that they are working just as an adult. It doesn’t negate their experience by putting it into the realm of make-believe. Real tools also teach respect and responsibility. They are not to be handled carelessly, but cautiously and carefully.

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. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, July 18, 2008.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Montessori Philosophy: Moving from Concrete to Abstract

NAMC montessori education concrete to abstract boy pink tower
"If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man's future"
Maria Montessori (1870-1952)

The phrase “concrete to abstract” is heard frequently in the Montessori community. In fact, I've read many Montessori progress reports that state that a child is not yet working abstractly or is still using concrete materials. But what exactly does that mean? The phrase can be rather ambiguous, especially to a new Montessori teacher or parent who may have little working knowledge of Montessori terms and practices.

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. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, July 15, 2008.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Montessori Summer Activities: Growing a Hummingbird and Butterfly Habitat

NAMC montessori summer activities hummingbird butterfly garden
Children and adults alike are fascinated by hummingbirds. Providing a backyard habitat that attracts both hummingbirds and butterflies is the perfect Montessori outdoor experience. It combines Practical Life (gardening, art, photography), botany (plant identification), and zoology (animal observation and identification, habits and habitats).

Here are a few fascinating facts about hummingbirds that you and your students/children may not know, as well as tips on growing a garden that will attract both hummingbirds and butterflies:

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. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, July 10, 2008.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Montessori Practical Life Activities, In the Classroom and at Home

NAMC montessori practical life activities home classroom boy washing hands
"Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.”
- Maria Montessori

Success in life is directly correlated to the degree in which people believe they are capable as well as independent. And how do we learn to be capable and independent? We practice the skills that are necessary until we no longer need help and can act and do accordingly.

Allowing children to gain independence and self-discipline is the purpose of the Practical Life activities in the Montessori classroom and at home. I say “home” because Practical Life activities have the purpose of allowing students to gain independence and self-discipline. These skills cannot be practiced only at school. What happens when a child is allowed to prepare their own snack, slice their own apples, pour their own drink, and wash and dry their own dishes in the Montessori classroom, but at home is told “Oh, you’re much too young to use a knife. You will spill that if you pour it. Let me do it for you”? The mixed message is clear.

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. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, July 8, 2008.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fourth of July Celebrations and Activities for the Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori classroom activities fourth of july kids in wagon
In the United States, Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. This was officially adopted on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly celebrated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, picnics, and various summer activities.

This summer marks the 232nd birthday of the United States of America and as the summer heat encroaches and a presidential election looms ahead, I reflect back on my childhood where outdoor picnics and sparklers brought so much joy. Why not try a little old fashioned fun at your Montessori Classroom Fourth of July celebration?

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. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, July 4, 2008.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Montessori Summer Activities: Star Gazing and The First Great Lesson

NAMC montessori summer activities star gazing first great lesson looking through telescope
Looking for something to do this summer? Why not take a thought from the First Great Lesson (The Beginning of the Universe and the Earth), and go star gazing across the clear, dark summer sky?

Before you venture out, it might be a good idea to review the concept of how in the beginning, there was nothing but darkness and a cold that was beyond any cold you could imagine. And then…BANG!!! A great explosion happened and all of the new things in the universe broke apart into hot matter that spread farther and farther into space. This hot matter became the very first stars.

Another idea would be to bring in stories of the creation of the universe from other cultures. This is a great way to compare and contrast cultural ideas and to talk about how all people have ideas about how the world was created. Invite the children to act out the creation stories for family and friends. Here are a few ideas:

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. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, July 3, 2008.
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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.

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