Category Archives: Montessori lessons

Montessori Lesson of the growing a seed into a plant.

I bought this download on the seed to plant from Montessori Printshop.

I also have the wonderful free botany nomenclature cards from the Helpful Garden. I’ve been using these with Heleyna, but it was coincidental that Avila had reached some work on the same subject in her science book (Behold and see 3) So Avila and Heleyna worked together on this.

We gathered some dried beans; mung, black eye, haricot and pinto. We soaked them overnight.

The next day I took a couple of cloths and wet them and got a couple of sealable sandwich bags.

We laid the soaked beans on the cloth and sealed them into the bags and left them to grow.

P1020003

A few days later We set them up to have a good look at them.

As it happened some of the beans had made more progress than others so the process could be easily seen.

P1020005I started the line with a dry bean and then we had a soaked one and then the root and thankfully one of the beans had moved on so far that little leaves had started to grow and the “jacket” had been shed.

We made up the booklet and we’ll repeat that and go through the parts of a bean seed.

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Montessori: the cusp from Absorbent mind to Spontaneous Activity

I think Montessori’s view that a child from the age of 3 to 6 had what she called an absorbent mind is well known. She is probably most famous for her book The Absorbent Mind, which is a collection of lectures on young children’s education given in India. She and her son Mario fled there to escape the unwelcome gaze of Mussolini’s new found National Socialistic tendencies.

The next stage she speaks of is what she call spontaneous activity. As a child attains the age of reason (around 6 to 7) they are beginning to want to make more of their own discoveries. The child will explore, experiment and want to make it themselves.

Now, I have three children I am still home educating. They are aged 9 (10 in Feb) very nearly 8 (Dec birthday) and 5 and a half.

The original idea of going down the Montessori route was/is because Heleyna the youngest is such a kinesthetic learner.  But as we’ve started using the materials all three children have shown an interest.

I think I need to do some of the 3 to 6 album work with Heleyna as a leg up for the next stage. Looking at the albums I think the standard for the 3 to 6 age group is quite high. I don’t know why, but I had always thought Montessori lessons were “easier” somehow. Well, I’m learning!! My brain hurts!

I think I’ll start with a great lesson and work from there. The God Who Has No Hands, because it’s lovely.

I’ve been doing some of the Geometry Album work with her already and Avila has joined in with bits of it. I think Montessori’s strong leaning to children learning geometry is a lovely reminder that her first degree was in engineering. She was a brilliant woman.

Montessori was an excellent observer. She saw how the children in her Casa Bambini’s developed and she marked sensitive periods. Growth in language abilities accumulate over the years from birth to 6 and develop differently after that. A sensitive period for the understanding of numbers between ages of 4 to 5 and a half. I think I’ve seen that with Heleyna who has taken off in her understanding of how numbers work and basic math facts.

SENSORY aspects: Montessori understood that we are sensory creatures. We receive information about the world around us from all our senses, not just by reading about it or looking at it.

Modern “educational stuff” tends to be highly visually stimulating.  Parents with children on the autistic spectrum will often complain about it. Many adults find the high colour, loud noise and constant shifting of picture in visual resources pretty horrible too.

Montessori resources tend to be low-colour Even the pink tower is available in a natural wood finish (the one I have) so that children  are not subjected to a barrage of over-stimulation. Learning is a gentle progressive process; something else that overlaps with Charlotte Mason.

BOOKS; where does literature and books fit into a Montessori education? I have seen some criticism of Montessori, some saying Charlotte Mason herself criticised it, over the place of books. From what I can see, books, good literature, that is, does have a strong place in Montessori education. But even if, for some reason, they didn’t, we would still have them very much as part of our family education here.

Right now I am sorting through albums and books, so we’ll see how it goes.

 

Montessori; tower and brown stair extension

The sensory material in Montessori’s method isn’t just so that a child can learn through her senses, but also so that she can train her senses to learn.

Big brother Alex was called in to help complete the tower of cubes and rectangular prisms. In building this and accepting help in building it Heleyna was able to see that the object was more stable with a broader base moving up to a narrower top. She also could see once the tower began to rock that there was a maximum height for this construction  The stability of the tower depended on each object being centrally placed over the one before it and that it needed a firm base. The carpet or learning rug wouldn’t cut it. She had already been building with the 1000 cubes experimenting in stable and less stable structures. We took this structure down and did some of the usual extensions.

Heleyna then got out the tin of animals and asked a lot of questions about each one. Then she decided we needed to use the cubes and stairs to make different habitats for the different animals. She made a desert, forest, sea with caves along the cliff face and a pool for the platypus. I have not read any Montessori lessons or suggestions that include this sort of imagination play but it suited her and was a way to learn a little more about the animals.

We also did some listening with these. The cubes are hollow and the prisms are solid so they make a different sound.

Seeking Montessori Albums and Great Lessons.

Having read some background into Dr. Montessori’s Method I have started using some of these sites for albums and great lessons.

Good overview list of Montessori Albums free and to buy.

Karen Tyler’s albums get good reviews. Unfortunately I need the Great Lessons and albums aimed at the next level 6 to 9 and 9 to 12.

I do like Moteaco for albums and great lessons.

Cultivating Dharma is great for albums (free ones) and if you check out the site there’s other freebies and good links to help greenhorn Montessori mums like me 🙂

The Great Lessons overview here lead to a link to Miss Barbara’s Great Lesson pages.

There’s a beautiful Great Lesson here, told originally by Mario Montessori, Dr Montessori’s son. It’s called God Who Has No Hands and I love it.

Montessori Materials

Livable Learning has some great free prinables and if you become a member -$50 for a lifetimes access- there’s even more stuff. I haven’t signed up as yet, but I would consider it for her material as they are very good.

I have bought the stuff I have bought from Absorbent Minds in the UK. I haven’t found anywhere cheaper than this Beware of the postage costs and the VAT, but even with these added AM is generally cheaper than elsewhere.

You will have to decide what you can afford to buy and what you can afford to make or substitute.  I am learning that I should try not to substitute too differently as Dr Montessori worked long and hard to make her design choices.  They were not just random as they are designed for all the senses of the child to be used.

I think I am about ready to roll properly now. My ambition is to have the children become independent learners as soon as possible. If I follow the method Dr. Montessori laid out, then theoretically this should happen and the children will have the ability to make their own discoveries and the self-discipline to work together learn, no matter what I’m capable of.

Montessori moment; from The Absorbent Mind on selective mutism.

I am reading The Absorbent Mind which is Dr. Maria Montessori’s seminal work, based on her lectures in India where she and her son Mario lived during the years of the Second World War. I am not sure how this book published in 1947 has become public domain so early, but I am truly grateful. This woman was a genius!  Her understanding of language acquisition outstrips science and her recognition of the child’s need for a respectful and loving relationship with his mother to enhance language is profound.

She said:

Mothers, and society in general, must take special care that children have frequent experiences of the best language. Let the child come with us when we visit our friends…especially where people speak with emphasis and clear enunciation.”

Ignoring this salient advice we have, as a culture, put our babies and children into institutions where they are surrounded by children of the same age and same lack of language skills. When they are not there, we put them in front of the TV for hours on end and then teachers in school complain that Reception aged children (4 to 5 year olds) can’t talk!

Montessori was years ahead of the research in noting that a baby and toddler’s relationship with his mother was the primary source for language development. We now know from lots of research that this is true.

But there is something else Dr. Montessori picked up on, which I think is very oddly ignored by professionals, and that is selective mutism.

I have personally met a number of children who stopped speaking in school. Some were so truamatised by their school experience they stopped speaking at all. Most of the children I’ve met now speak and behave as happy, well adjusted, loved children behave. They have put the trauma of school behind them and are doing really well as home educated children.   There are a number of reasons a child stops talking, and some are very complicated and do get professional notice. However, I think Dr. Montessori’s observations of mute children speaking in her Casa Bambini’s should receive some attention.

We have children in our schools of three and four years of age who had never spoken and then suddenly spoke. They had never even spoken the words of the two year old, they were absolutely dumb and then suddenly they spoke. By allowing them free activity and a stimulating environment they suddenly manifested this power.”

That fascinates me.

Of my six children, one had delayed speech. His speech was so delayed we were referred to a language therapist. The NHS being the way it is, the child’s age and need for language comes second to the waiting list system so we waited a very long time for the appointment. The fact that he was already diagnosed with Failure To Thrive, that catch-all dx for children who are sickly, don’t grow or put on weight and are struggling, was not considered. On the day the letter, with the appointment, dropped through the door my son picked it up, came up to me and said as clear as you like, “Mum, there’s a letter for you.”

You might shrug and say, “Well most 3 year olds could manage that sentence.” And I would agree – except he hadn’t managed anything like a sentence until that moment and then suddenly he was speaking, full sentences.

Why?

I don’t know. But I have a sneaky suspicion my son’s language problem was rooted in how I was parenting him. I did the exact opposite to the things that both Maria Montessori and Charlotte Mason recommended. Instead of spending loads of time with my son, I was sending him to nursery and working my socks off as a student and then newly qualified nurse.

I am not doing a guilt trip here. I had absolutely no other option at the time. We have built an economy on forcing mothers into work. Even now living on one wage is pretty challenging. But the fact is, he was institutionalised, and his language was delayed. Research does show a causal relationship.

While delayed language and selective mutism may seem quite different, there may be a link between them in that they are caused by separating the child from the adult he should be attached to, and forcing them into a group situation that is unnatural and unhelpful.

Montessori wouldn’t have her classes separated by yearly age, but had classes with children aged 3 to 6 and then 6 to 9 and 9 to 12.  The older children helped the younger children and an atmosphere of cooperation was encouraged.

Just about all home educators will tell you that educating our children in mixed age groups makes a huge difference to their language and social development. It’s been known for well over 100 years.

Montessori; math beads Addition facts to 10 story snake game

Heleyna likes stories to I’ve presented her addition to 10 bead snake game as a story.

Despite foggy brain, there’s only one typo so please forgive me.

Not sure what the good doctor would make of this adaption of her snake game. Hope she isn’t spinning …

Montessori moments.

The way Dr. Montessori approaches geometry and spacial awareness with children fascinates me.

The basic tower whether you have the pink one or the natural one like ours, is nowhere near as simple as I had thought it would be.

The reason I decided to go down the Montessori route was because Heleyna showed such a strong kinesthetic learning style. Since the first lot of items have arrived however, it has become clear that it isn’t just Heleyna who needs to learn with some hands on work. All three of the younger ones are using the equipment and Ronan has found it useful when working through Life of Fred Honey.

There are a number of exercises with the Pink Tower and eventually I want to get the brown stair for the extensions.  The adult should begin with presenting the item to the child and demonstrating a way to use it. I have done this by making the exercises as pink squares on paper (pink squares from Helpful Garden). I found copying the exercises quite difficult at times (FMS causes vis/spacial problems anyway).

Heleyna is slowly learning to see the patterns and repeat them with the blocks. In this she is building her visual spacial awareness and learning some subtle things about size, before we start measuring the cubes.

She also built the tower with the hollow parts outward and blew up and down listening to the change in sound from small to large cubes. She also loves the smell of the wood, so this is a truly multisensory piece of equipment.

That leaves me with another question; how much Montessori stuff should I be making and how much do I need to buy?

You see, the equipment really does have a multi-sensory element to them, and back in the day I worked with children with shortened life expectancy and with children with autism, the place of multisensory objects was very important.

If I make everything out of paper, or even play-doh, what will  the children lose out on?

I think the balance is in buying some stuff, making some stuff and using other stuff to be similar. It’s a balance between cost in money, cost in time (and my meagre energy levels) and cost in educational experience for the children.

I made the hexagon pieces for Heleyna. Basically a large hexagon and then the triangle pieces that make the hexagon.

The real thing is demonstrated HERE.
With the paper/card version Heleyna was able to make the shapes and understood the words triangle, equilateral triangle or as we called it “EEEK a lateral triangle!” It’s a memory aid, honest.

She made the rhombus and trapezium and used the correct words.

Then she took the attribute blocks we usually use for her Critical Thinking work and used the equilateral triangles there to make a hexagon and to compare sizes of triangle.