Friday, May 21, 2010

Montessori Language Arts to Engage Your Students Through Summer

NAMC montessori language arts summer time girls writingAh, summer – a time for rest, relaxation, and recharging. I always have a full list of personal activities for this time away from the Montessori school schedule. Here are a few ideas for keeping your Montessori students engaged and interacting on new levels through the summer break.

Summer “homework” may help prevent your Montessori students’ minds from going “mushy,” and may also provide a springboard for starting the new school year in the fall. Besides the academic benefits, summer homework can help you keep in touch with and get to know your students on another level during the summer.

Montessori Language Arts to Engage Your Students Through Summer

One simple approach is to send periodic newsletters to your Montessori students throughout the summer. Share with them what you have been doing and encourage them to write you and tell you the same for themselves. Once you have some information from your students, you can include those updates in your next newsletter. In your final newsletter, ask each student to select one to three small items that represent something about their summer, and bring it to your Montessori classroom when school begins. On the first day of school, invite each student to introduce his/her items and have the other students guess what they might represent as a Montessori classroom ice breaker and circle time activity.

Another option is to send a blank journal to one of your Montessori students within the first week of summer. Explain that they have two days to write about what they have been doing, what they are looking forward to during their summer, what they have been reading, etc. Encourage them to draw pictures or attach photographs or brochures. Once she/he has shared something about themselves in the journal, ask the student to send the journal to the next student on a list that you have included with the journal. If your Montessori school does not allow student addresses to be public within a classroom, you could possibly recreate this concept with a word processing document that is e-mailed from student to student. By keeping a two-day limit for each student, you should be able to get through all of your students at least once during the summer (and possibly twice depending on the size of your class).

Remember to write the first entry yourself to get things started and to include yourself on the list! If you don’t want to ask your students’ families to pay for postage, include prepaid envelopes along with the journal and the student list. If sending just the journal, it should qualify for a media mail postage rate though that might possibly be a slower shipping time. If postage is an issue, consider the previously-mentioned e-mail version of this project. For more total writing, you could have more than one journal that makes the rounds among your students. This project could also have a creative writing focus by starting a story with one or two sentences and having each student subsequently build on the story.

NAMC montessori language arts summer time boy reading
Assigning a book or two for your Montessori students to read over the summer is another way to keep them engaged and offers a jumping off point for the new school year. Since it can be difficult to find a book that every student will enjoy, a possible option is to split your Montessori class into reading groups based on gender, age, interests, etc. Another option is to offer five or six titles to your students (either on the last day of school, or a letter sent home on the last day of school, or sent home over the summer) and allow them to choose the stories they will read.

Another fun reading option that can involve your entire Montessori school (students, parents, faculty and staff) is to implement a common reading program. A fiction book with a really strong story that is appropriate for all ages would be an excellent choice. Select a book that older students can read to themselves and parents can read to younger children. At summer’s end, have a special back-to-school night where everyone can discuss the book and catch up on their summer activities. A summer common reading program would also be a great idea for a faculty and staff development reading selection or an activity for just elementary and middle school students to help bridge and bond the different age groups.

No matter what you decide to do, don’t be shy about keeping in touch with your students or encouraging them to do some work during their summer. Be creative and have fun!
If you have any favorite reading material for Preschool through to middle school, please feel free to share them with us!

Some Reading Suggestions:

Lower Elementary
  • Milord, Susan, editor. Tales Alive: Multicultural Folktales with Activities. Charlotte, VT: Williamson Publishing, 1995.
  • Mwalimu. Awful Aardvark. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1989.
  • Newman, LeslĂ©a. The Boy Who Cried Fabulous. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press, 2004.
  • Orgel, Doris. Button Soup. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens Publishing, 1998.
  • Parillo, Tony. Michelangelo’s Surprise. New York, NY: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998.
Upper Elementary
  • Hughes, Ted. The Cat and the Cuckoo. Brookfield, CT: Roaring Book Press, 2002.
  • MacBride, Roger Lea, editor. West from Home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, San Francisco1915. New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1974.
  • Mosel, Arlene. Tikki Tikki Tembo. New York, NY: Square Fish Books, 2007 (reprint of original1968 edition).
  • Moss, Jeff. Bone Poems. New York, NY: Scholastic, 1997.
  • Mulherin, Jennifer. Shakespeare for Everyone (series). Bath, Avon: Cherrytree Press. 1988.
  • Service, Robert. The Cremation of Sam McGee. Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1986 (originally published 1907).
  • Service, Robert. The Shooting of Dan McGrew. Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1988 (originally published in 1907).
  • Swanson, Diane. A Crash of Rhinos, A Party of Jays: The Wacky Way We Name Animals. Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2006.
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 Friday, May 21, 2010.

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