28 August, 2010

International Day of Peace preparations!

The United Nations' International Day of Peace is right around the corner, and this week our class will begin preparing in earnest!  These past few weeks, we have been learning about what the word "peace" means.  We have learned that it means sharing, cooperating, loving, and helping.  We have been working on making our classroom a peaceful place, where we can all get along.  I am delighted to report that so far, pretty much all is well!

I have found some excellent books about Peace, at our local library.  Our class has really enjoyed What Does Peace Feel Like?  This book is interviews with children, asking what they think peace feels, tastes, and smells like.  It is charming, and offers a great perspective!  This week we are going to read Can You Say Peace? by Karen Katz.  This book shows children from all around the world, saying "Peace," in their native languages.

On this note, I want to (and I hope I have figured out how to, correctly) share a freebie file!  Whooo
hoo!    I have created a file of "peace cards."  They are cards with lovely watercolor backgrounds (I hope they feel a bit Waldorf-ish as I was very inspired by Waldorf alphabet cards) which are printed with the word peace, in a variety of different languages.  I have printed out a set for my class, laminated them, and set them out in a basket.  Next to the first basket, I have yet another basket, but this one has blank cards.  The children may choose a card, and copy the printing.  After that, they may decorate it.  I am hoping we will have a wide variety of homemade peace cards to put up in the hall of our school, very soon!  As a side note, I may also find it necessary to have plain white cards, with the peace words printed on them in dotted form.  If you find you would like a PDF of the cards, with just the words in a dotted font, please leave me a note in the comment box.  Thanks! : )

Okay, so here goes.  Hopefully, you will find my peace cards right HERE!  Enjoy!

17 August, 2010

The Pink Non-Tower

For a year and some, I have been thinking about and wishing I had . . . a pink tower! I just love this sensorial activity.  It teaches so many skills!

I imagine it would also act as a sort of "obstacle," teaching children to walk carefully around the classroom  - or you know what!  Yup, the whole thing would fall over!

Alas however, our school budget is small, and I just don't have the money to buy one myself.  So instead I have worked on amassing other objects that can be arranged according to size.  I know, I know, they won't do all that the pink tower would, but I still thought graduating sizes of "whatevers,"  could still be mighty interesting.

I started with stones.  The children had fun, arranging them by size!  I put out a variety of sizes and colors.

The Pink Non-Tower

I also encouraged the children to feel free to work with tree branch pieces (which usually live in the block building area.)  I also added something to the other objects, which I whipped up over the weekend.  The background on this activity is that a few years ago (surely when I was last thinking about graduated sizes activities) I picked up a series of wooden almost-spheres (I say "almost" because they do have a small flattened part on one side.)  I think I picked them up at a craft store.  So they have been sitting around my house, not being used for anything.  This weekend I came upon them, and I decided to paint them.  I wanted them to be an inviting color, not too bright, but not too dark either.   So I decided to paint them . . . pink!  What would Maria Montessori say?  I don't know, but for my class and me, it works!
Graduated sizing

My Consumer Product Safety Tester
I think we will also work with nuts, bolts, leaves, jars, or whatever other materials we find!  I am excited to see what else the children dream up and find, to add to this work!

13 August, 2010

My classroom

Puzzle Maps and other Geography
It has been a little bit crazy these past 2 weeks, trying to finalize my classroom layout and plans and get all my paperwork finished, 
but . . .  drum roll please . . . I finally did manage to get my act together enough to welcome my new class!  I have 5 returning students and 10 new students.  This year I also welcomed an assistant teacher!  Yay!  

For awhile now, my friend Honey has been asking me to post some pictures of my classroom,  and honestly, I have been putting her off as I was afraid it wouldn't look very impressive.  (I can always think of about 467 things I want to update or change.)  This year, however, I have decided to embrace my wishes for changes and updates, and think of them as a strength.  I am therefore declaring, "I am highly motivated to keep the classroom familiar and inviting, but also fresh and new!"  And that is very true.  I love setting up activities, and then building on those and the knowledge the children have hopefully gained from working with the particular materials, to create new activities.  I think this is a key part of being an educator.  Additionally I am quite happy so far, with the general classroom design, the activities, and "works."  I am also very excited about the activities I have planned for the future!  Sooooooooo Honey, these classroom pictures are for you!  

Science shelf
This is one of my Science shelves.  I always like to start the year with very simple activity designs, with plenty of items that can be used in a variety of ways.  The top shelf has a series of nesting mirrors, one of which has a small raccoon sitting atop it.  It is next to a couple of books about human and animal life near rivers.  The mirrors and the raccoon are a precursor to an "Ohio River" activity, which I prepared this summer.  The lower shelves have a basket of seashells and a basket of tree "cookies."  There is also a rain stick and a compass, for future works.

This is my shelf (which I picked up at a summer yard sale for $2!) which I use to house the metal insets, metal inset papers, and our basic punching materials.  My insets were given to my mother in law about 25 years ago, by a Montessori teacher who ordered a new set for her classroom and didn't need these anymore.  I sanded and repainted them, my husband made two replacement parts, and voila!  They are good as new!  "What is my favorite thing about this shelf?" you ask.  Well, believe it or not, it is the pencil holders on the top of it!  I had been checking out Montessori classroom pencil cups, online,  for a good part of last year, but I really didn't want to spend too much money on them.  This summer I astounded myself by thinking of a cheap and relatively easy solution, PVC pipe pieces!  I bought a bag of 15, 1 inch pieces, for around $3.  I then painted white price tag stickers, with the colors of each pencil.  I stuck the stickers on, "mod podged" them (just to make sure they stayed "stuck") and then glued them to the top of the shelf!   They work very well, and look very inviting, if I do say so myself!
 : )

I have areas for block building, playing house, and thanks to the lovely swapping group, a large area full of continent boxes!  I will post more photos of these areas, in the days and weeks to come!

And a few more self explanatory areas.

DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) bathtub

Practical Life

01 August, 2010

More Summer Activities: Van Gogh's bedroom

More continent swap projects!

To represent The Netherlands, I wanted to create a tangible activity based around one of Vincent van Gogh's paintings.  I thought a painting of his bedroom would be perfect.  The activity would allow the children to touch and move around the furniture!  I started with an image of one of his bedroom paintings.  (Did you know he painted this bedroom at least three times?)

Bedroom in Arles

Next, I used a coloring page (from The van Gogh Museum) of Bedroom in Arles. Using an exacto knife, I cut out all the furniture and painted in the spaces, thus creating the empty bedroom. Next I painted all the furniture pieces, as best I could, to match van Gogh's.


I arranged the activity in a red folder (to match the Montessori map colors), with photos of all van Gogh's bedroom paintings and a little envelope with the furniture pieces.  First the children are to figure out which image of van Gogh's bedroom, most closely resembles the empty bedroom.  Then they are to arrange the furniture just as van Gogh did, making the 2 bedroom images identical.


When they are finished,  the children can arrange the furniture as they wish.  "How would you arrange the furniture if this was your bedroom?"  Some children may notice furniture seems to "fit" only in certain places.  Why are the 2 chairs such different sizes?  Ah, perspective!  (I found an interesting lesson about perspective in van Gogh's bedroom, here.)  

  My daughter's original interior design!

After completing this project, I was thinking to myself how funny it would be if van Gogh was in his bed.  On a lark, I printed two of his self portraits, and cut out the heads.  I cut a little slit in the bed (just under the pillow) and stuck in his head.  I have to tell you, I laughed so hard I think my husband and children thought I was a lunatic.  See for yourself how funny it looks!  Hilarious, right?!?!  

 Here is a file with the empty bedroom and the furniture.   Have fun!