Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Montessori Cosmic Education and Connections Between Living Things: Hold a Council of All Beings

The most important thing we can do is to hear inside ourselves the sounds of the Earth crying. - Thich Naht Hahn
NAMC montessori cosmic education connections between all life council of all beings children in animal masks
A few years ago, my upper elementary Montessori class spent a few days on Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, camping and having class on the beach. We learned about the Wright brothers and built and flew paper airplanes, studied coastal dune environments, learned about simile, metaphor, and onomatopoeia while writing poetry about the ocean. We gathered the huge seashells that are common on the North Carolina coast, built sand castles, and played in the waves. But the most poignant part of the trip was our final evening. We gathered at sunset on the beach and made s’mores and as it grew dark we invited the Council of All Beings to join us. What happened next among these 50 children was nothing short of amazing.

Montessori’s vision of Cosmic Education is to understand the interdependency of all life on earth and, indeed, the universe. Created in 1985 by Joanna Macy and John Seed, The Council of All Beings is a time for us humans to come together and take on the persona of non-human beings on earth. It is a reflection of Cosmic Education as it fosters compassion for the hardships facings other living things. Often, the hardships are caused by humans and the Council of All Beings gives voices to those who don’t have a voice.

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 Wednesday, September 30, 2009.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Montessori Preschool Outdoor Play: Activity Ideas for Social Development

Let us always remember that inner discipline is something to come and not something always present. - Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
NAMC montessori preschool outdoor activities social development children jumping on playground
Outdoor playtime in your Montessori preschool does not have to be completely unstructured. In fact, studies have shown that unstructured or lightly-supervised playtime can actually lead to aggressive play and behavior problems. Playing organized games and activities teaches cooperation, sharing, following the rules, helpfulness, social skills, and control of emotions. Additionally, organized play makes sure that all students are actively participating in some physical activity.

Here are some suggestions for activities during your Montessori outdoor play time:

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, September 29, 2009.

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Cultural Units and Themes for Your Montessori Classroom: How to Make it Fun!

Culture and education have no bounds or limits; now man is in a phase in which he must decide for himself how far he can proceed in the culture that belongs to the whole of humanity. - Maria Montessori, Four Planes of Education. AMI, 1971 (Edinburgh and London lectures): p. 11

NAMC montessori curriculum cultural units themes tips how to make it fun students with globe
Setting up a new Montessori elementary classroom for the new school year? Doing a different cultural theme than you have in the past? Maybe your school has added a new classroom or age grouping? I’ve known Montessori classrooms that rotated three cultural themes over the three-year cycle (for example, Greek and Roman Civilizations, Middle Ages, and Renaissance). I have also heard of classrooms that studied a different continent every year, chosen by student votes.

Montessori students and teachers both will enjoy and benefit from a cultural unit that is integrated into as many curricular areas as possible. At the Montessori Preschool/Kindergarten level, geographical and historical study of continents and oceans will lay the foundation toward more in-depth elementary cultural themes.

At the Montessori elementary level, the best cultural units also make global connections by relating all aspects of the culture being studied, including animal and plant life, language, food, people and customs. Of course, don’t forget the cultural aspects of art, music, dance, legends, folktales, games, festivals, traditions, and religions! The year we studied Ancient Greece and Rome, our class play was based on the Greek tale of “Jason and the Golden Fleece.” This example of a cultural theme for the classroom will help you plan a well connected, fun year of lessons across all the Montessori curriculum!

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, September 25, 2009.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Character Education Ideas for the Montessori Classroom

We must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit. - Maria Montessori, Education for a New World
NAMC montessori classroom character education ideas children painting together
In a previous blog article on Educating the Human Potential, we wrote about the importance of Character Education in the Montessori classroom.

Montessori believed that children learn wisdom, virtue, courage, honesty, and character by hearing, reading, and telling stories that model these virtues. Our world is rich with literature about individual heroes who have made the earth a better place for others. Reading these stories and poems aloud to students builds a strong curriculum for Character Education in conjunction with other subjects such as History, the Sciences, Practical Life, Peace, etc., and opens the floor for further exploration and discussion, whereby Montessori students can identify and learn to define the character virtues demonstrated in a particular story or poem.

The Montessori classroom can also be the environment where students learn to practice character virtues, and recognize these virtues in their peers and community, every day.

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 Wednesday, September 23, 2009.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Developing and Improving Penmanship With Montessori Elementary Activities and Work

A teacher said a word rapidly in passing, and on return saw it had been written with moveable letters. For these mites of four, once was enough, though a child of seven requires much repetition before he grasps the word correctly. All this was due to that special period of sensitivity; the mind was like soft wax, susceptible at this age to impressions which could not be taken in at a later stage, when this special malleability would have disappeared. - Maria Montessori, Education for a New World
NAMC montessori elementary activities work developing improving penmanship girl writing
In my work as a NAMC personal tutor, I have listened to NAMC students express an ongoing concern regarding penmanship in the lower elementary Montessori classroom. It applies both to students coming from the Montessori Children's House and those who are new to Montessori. Whether or not this may be due to inconsistencies in teaching methods or issues with Sensory Processing Disorder (formerly known as Sensory Integration Disorder), there are ways to help Montessori elementary students improve their penmanship.

Montessori observed that between the ages of two and six, children undergo two sensitive periods for writing. The first begins at around the age of two, when there is refinement of the senses (taste, sound, smell, sight, weight, touch) through the Montessori Sensorial activities. The second sensitive period for writing takes place around the age of three or four, as the student develops a fascination with writing. Students at this age begin to attempt to reproduce numbers and letters. It is during this sensitive period for language and writing when the Moveable Alphabet, Metal Insets, and Sandpaper Letters are introduced to the child.

Montessori observed that once the sensitive period for language had passed, the child could still learn, but not as rapidly or with the ease and comprehension that there was at the height of the early period of natural curiosity. In order to help the lower elementary student who has moved out of this sensitive period for language improve her penmanship, the Montessori teacher carefully observes the student in order to determine the specific areas that require improvement.

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, September 18, 2009.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Parent Volunteers in the Montessori Community: Create a Montessori Volunteer Handbook

NAMC montessori community create parent volunteer handbook mother and young girl reading
Parent (or grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbor, etc.) volunteers play an important role in the Montessori community. By donating their time and talents, good volunteers make a huge difference in the lives of your Montessori students. It is important, therefore, to educate your volunteers on the philosophy of your Montessori school as well as their important role within your community.

Just as a parent handbook is important to communicate the philosophy and policies of your Montessori school, a volunteer handbook acquaints the helper with your expectations of a good volunteer. There should be a Montessori volunteer orientation meeting for those who are able to attend to go over the handbook and discuss areas where volunteers are needed. Following is a guideline of information to include in the Montessori Volunteer Handbook:

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, September 15, 2009.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Five Great Lessons for Montessori Elementary: An Introduction and Lesson Idea List

Our goal is not so much the imparting of knowledge as the unveiling and developing of spiritual energy. - Maria Montessori, The Child in the Family
NAMC montessori elementary five great lessons lesson plan ideas volcanoes
The Five Great Lessons is a group of impressionistic stories that are meant to provide elementary Montessori students with a “big picture” of the world and life. At this stage of development, children are becoming aware of the world and their place in it. For a child, the Great Lessons are more than just educational and inspirational stories. They spark the imagination and lead students to contemplate not only the past, but the future. It is through the telling (and re-telling) of these important Cosmic lessons that students are motivated to further research and works in the Montessori classroom.

Each of the Great Lessons serves to initiate student exploration and discovery. While children develop an awareness of the natural world and its laws, they are also moved to explore topics such as history, geography, math, science and language. Most importantly, the Great Lessons develop in Montessori students reverence and gratitude for those who have come before us.

Because of the importance and wealth of information that can be discovered in each lesson, it is important, therefore, not to rush through them, but to give ample time in between for research on the topics presented in the lessons. Here is a list of possible topics that can be explored for each of the Five Great Lessons:

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, September 10, 2009.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Influenza in Montessori Schools – Tips for a Flu Free, Stay Healthy Plan

NAMC montessori schools and influenza tips for flu free stay healthy plan girl washing hands
Back to school this year is more than just new lunch boxes and backpacks. Now, more than ever, parents and teachers are stressing the importance of hand washing, not just as proper hygiene, but as disease prevention. With the outbreak last spring of the H1N1 virus, people all over the world are voicing concern about this highly communicable illness.
Among those at highest risk are children who are younger than five years old as well as their caregivers. Infants under six months are at highest risk, as they are unable to receive flu vaccines.

All Montessori schools, especially those with programs for children five and younger, should examine and revise, if necessary, their crisis plans. Contingency plans should be put in place in case of excessive staff absences. Sick leave policies might need to be revised, allowing for staff members to have both an adequate recovery period as well as allowing them to stay home with sick family members.

Here are some recommendations to safeguard your Montessori community, based on the guidelines issued by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC):

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 Wednesday, September 9, 2009.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ramadan Activities and Reading for the Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori classroom activities reading for ramadan qur-an
In my Montessori classroom, I have always viewed cultural celebrations as an opportunity to help my Montessori students view the world with open eyes and minds. It is my hope that these exposures to the customs and peoples of other cultures and religions, helps children (and adults) to see everyone equally. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is Ramadan. This year Ramadan is August 22-September 21. Muslims are celebrating when the Qur-an verses were revealed to the prophet Muhammad. The night the first verses were revealed is known as Lailut ul-Qadr (The Night of Power). It falls during the last 10 days of the month.

Muslims use Ramadan as a time to reflect, pray, and do good deeds while spending time with family and friends. This is very much in line with Montessori philosophy, and is a wonderful time to introduce activities and reading material to your students as part of culture and peace education studies.

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, September 4, 2009.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Biting in the Montessori Toddler Classroom: Causes and Redirecting Behavior

NAMC Montessori toddler classroom biting causes redirecting behavior two toddlers
Recently, one of our NAMC graduates asked for our help and advice concerning two toddlers in her Montessori classroom who are biting other children. She and her assistant have been keeping the children close to them, but the behavior is continuing.

Most biting occurs in children between the ages of one-and-a-half and three years old. Its occurrence reflects not only the children’s feelings, but also their inability to use expressive language. Children usually bite when they’re afraid, angry, or frustrated, or in some cases, to have power over someone (i.e., to get/take something from another child). Additionally, a major change such a new baby or starting school may cause biting to surface. Children may also bite when they become over-stimulated or excited.

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, September 1, 2009.
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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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