Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Universal Children’s Day: Montessori Classroom Activity Ideas

It is not enough to ensure for the child food, clothing and shelter; on the satisfaction of his more spiritual needs the progress of humanity depends – the creation indeed of a stronger and better humanity. ~ Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential
NAMC montessori activities for children's day boys laughing
We’re past the newness of the beginning of the school year. We've normalized. We know our routines and schedules. At this time of year, I like to introduce something new to reignite the students’ excitement and continue their engagement. November 20, 2009 is National Child Day in Canada, and it is also the UN’s Universal Children’s Day. Children’s Day is meant to be an observation of “worldwide fraternity and understanding between children and of activity promoting the welfare of the world's children.”

In this spirit, one appropriate activity for a classroom of any age of Montessori students is to sponsor a child. Utilizing organizations such as Heifer International, World Vision, Compassion, Children International, and Save the Children will connect your students with a child (or more than one child). As your students raise funds to donate, they will enjoy writing letters to and receiving letters from their sponsored friend. Your students will not only practice their language skills (and possibly foreign language skills), they will foster their generosity, empathy and understanding of others. They will also help contribute to the welfare of other children.

Universal Children’s Day: Montessori Classroom Activity Ideas

NAMC montessori activities for children's day boy writing a letter
Pen Pals are another option for fostering these skills. World Pen Pals, The Student Letter Exchange, and Amazing Kids! Penpals offer traditional letter writing pen pals. World Pen Pals and The Student Letter Exchange have both been in existence for several decades. With today’s technology, email pen pals are also available through organizations such as Circle of Friends Penpal Club and ePALS Classroom Exchange. Email pen pals are a great alternative, especially for children in the developing world, where the price of postage may be prohibitive. You can also contact other Montessori schools nationally or internationally to see if they would be interested in being pen pals either as a class or as individuals. Having a pen pal is such a simple and classic pleasure for children. Some children will continue to write their pen pals for years. It’s an opportunity to introduce your students to a very unique relationship.

For younger students, “fraternity and understanding between children” can begin at home. Many of us have used Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown in the classroom. A common project involves sending a paper Flat Stanley through the mail and asking recipients to take pictures with Flat Stanley. These pictures allow students to see sights across North America and the world. Better yet, create your own unique classroom “buddy”, either a paper character or even a hand-made puppet or soft-toy character to share. Why not require that this “buddy” only be sent to other children? Friends, relatives and children of friends can be the recipients. You can also contact other Montessori schools nationally or internationally to see if they would be interested in hosting your class character for a couple of days. Younger children might also enjoy having a class “friend” such as a stuffed panda or other animal. Every weekend this “friend” goes home with a different student. The student documents the weekend with a journal and photos. The other students will enjoy learning the kinds of activities and traditions that take place in other children’s homes.

Take this opportunity to use Children’s Day as a chance to add some “spice” to your Montessori classroom activities while teaching your students to connect with and understand other children. Have fun!

Resources for Sponsoring a Child:
Resources for Pen Pals:
Previous Children’s Day Blog: Show Your Appreciation with a Children’s Day - Books and Activities for the Montessori Classroom
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 Tuesday, November 17, 2009.


  1. I've been following your blog for a while because I am currently a public school teacher who really (REALLY) wants to be a Montessori teacher. Anyway, I wanted to tell you that this post means a lot to me because just yesterday I began sponsoring some children through World Vision, so the timing on this post is impeccable! I think it is so important to show children impact we can have on the world around us and the connections we can build beyond our own lives. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Thank you very much for your kind comment and for following the blog. I agree that it is crucial to show children the impact we can have on the world. Best of luck with your endeavors!

  3. Check NAMC's Facebook page comments for a great example of this idea at work with students around the world!


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