Earth

Montessori cosmic education teaches children about the interconnectedness of all living things. In the first plane (0-6) this is experienced with sensory learning and connecting with nature. Sensorial experiences are also incorporated in the classroom to deepen the understanding of our planet.

Once the child is introduced to cosmic nesting boxes and sandpaper globe, we begin our study of the planet Earth. These topics are introduced in the form of Unit Study in the classroom. Not all unit studies will interest all children, so it really depends how deep you delve in the unit study topic based on your child’s interests.

Waseca Biomes Cosmic Nesting Box

Cosmic education starts with macro (whole) and moves toward micro (parts) of the Earth. The lessons in early childhood (3-6) includes: Land, Air, Water Sorting, Sandpaper Globe, Montessori Puzzle Maps, Study of Planet Earth, Botany, Science, Geography, Geology, History, and more.

In our Monti-Story Box, we decided to look at the layers of the Earth. The book we chose for this box, represented illustrations of planets to as accurate as possible and the activities are simple but purposeful. There are 5 activities pertaining each curriculum of Montessori classroom and 1 art activity based on the artist study of the box.

Transfer with tong activities prepare hands for writing. It promotes and strengthens tripod grasp. This activity builds concentration and allows repetition. With repetition comes normalization.

One to one correspondence with ten frames. Ten frames are a great graphic tool to teach children place value. This graphic organizer can also be used for simple addition and subtraction activity

Always pick a book with realistic illustrations for younger children

Pointillism, also called divisionism in painting, the practice of applying small strokes or dots of color to a surface so that from a distance they visually blend together.”

Impressionistic lesson of Layers of the Earth. We used avocado pit for inner core, ketchup for outer core, gravel for mantle, and apple skin for crust

This box also comes with sensorial activity, paint, parts of Earth layers three-part cards, digital downloadable instructions. All of this you can get for only $50 in our Etsy Shop

Resources

Layers of the Earth Definition Cards

Kandinsky Inspired Art

Earth Explosion Activities

Interactive Earth Craft

Planets Needle Felting

Independence is NOT a Basic Human Need

Lately, on social media I am seeing a trend, almost a push to make toddlers into these mini adults. While I do believe toddlers are extremely capable and can do a lot of things, but this perceived independence associated with Montessori is really a misconception of independence. There are things toddlers are learning to do in the area of self-care, which is a very big sensitive period; however, these tasks aren’t mastered in this stage, nor it should be forced as a level of mastery. That is developmentally not appropriate.

Toddlers are more in a stage of collaboration versus independence. We collaborate so they can learn the skills that they will need to be independent.

Independence is a big mistaken goal of an adult. In United States, there is this push to make children independent early on. My favorite one is that they should be able to sleep in their own crib by themselves. From early on, we force independence. It isn’t an independence that comes naturally without healthy connection. That’s a forced goal by adults who are terribly misguided by social media and false advetisement.

Brain does, what?

A child’s most important and basic need is a need for SAFETY. They feel safe when they are closer to their primary caregiver. In the first stage of child’s life, a child is completely dependent on us for food, love, warmth, safety, cleanliness. When these basic needs are met, child develops TRUST. Child’s need for safety is so much greater at this stage that we are still researching and learning the full effects on brain when these needs are not met. Studies have confirmed that when infants and children need for safety and love goes unmet, they produce a stress hormone called cortisol. ” Children who are continuously exposed to traumatic and stressful situations, which is if they are left alone to cry for longer period of time, or when their emotional and attachment needs go unmet, they develop a hyper-reactive stress response. This destroys the developing brain’s architecture and has harmful effects on a child’s ability to learn.”

Yet, we push for sleeping independently and playing independently. Why? What exactly are we afraid of? That our children will be too attached to us!

Is independence in toddlerhood a realistic goal?

A simple search on Google on this topic gives us all the tools, tips, and strategies to make our toddlers independent. However, none talks about the connection. I wonder when or why this push for independence in the mainstream became so big.

When our children are infants, we are in tuned with their need for connection but suddenly when that same infant begins to talk and walk, we begin to think they should be doing more. They should be cooking breakfast, eating independently, playing alone by themselves, putting their shoes on, clothes, giving themselves a bath etc. We start the process of making them adults. I am not saying that they shouldn’t be doing all those things when they are ready or that we shouldn’t introduce those care of self-care lessons; I am saying that it shouldn’t be a goal. It should be a natural process that simply happens because of prepared environment not from the frenzy of an adult deciding that today my child will put his socks on by himself and will achieve the mastery in a week.

In toddlerhood, children are beginning to gain a LITTLE independence. And I want to emphasize on this word, little. In this stage, when child’s basic need of connection is met, he will exert independence and will. Doing this with a healthy connection will develop healthy autonomy in our children.

“Children who successfully complete this stage feel secure and confident, while those who do not are left with a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt. Erikson believed that achieving a balance between autonomy and shame and doubt would lead to will, which is the belief that children can act with intention, within reason and limits.”

So, if your toddler isn’t ready to be independent yet that’s okay, they are fulfilling their strongest human need, a need for connection. Let them be a little closer to you now so they can develop a healthy independence.

In November

“November is a month in which nature prepares to numb”. This month reminds us to be more grateful for all the wonderful blessings in our lives, to slow down and enjoy simple things in life, to give more, and to be more present. We all have something to be grateful for and when we shift our mindset from what is lacking to what is already here, we manifest more joy in our everyday life.

One of the most important things we do every night with our son is to practice gratitude. Before we go to sleep, we count all the things we are grateful for, which for my toddler means he is grateful for his quails, his trucks, and the little blankie that he sleeps with. However, that is not the point but the point is to really appreciate little things in our lives by being more grateful than complaining.

November is also my favorite month to do some fun shelf work. Some of the Montessori activities that we are doing this month are simple nature-based activities. Here are a few ideas from this year and the previous years for you to try at home.

Sensorial Color Matching

Practical Life Acorn Spoon Transfer

Math: Roll the die and match the number of leaves on a tree

Study the real leaves and changes in colors

Parts of the leaf puzzle

Leaves: Three Part Cards

Creating a gratitude tree or a gratitude jar

Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving history

Parts of the Turkey Three Part Cards

Kandinsky Inspired Fall Tree Activity

Make your own turkey craft

Download this Freebie Kandinsky Inspired Fall Tree from our November Monti-Story Box

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Montessori Short Bead Stairs

Great creations come from the mathematical mind, so we must always consider all that is mathematical as a means of mental development. It is certain that mathematics organize the abstract path of the mind, so we must offer it at an early age, in a clear and very accessible manner, as a stimulus to the child whose mind is yet to be organized .”

Dr. Maria Montessori

Montessori materials are very intentional. There is a science behind each and every material. In Montessori (3-6) classroom, children get the first introduction to mathematics. This abstract concept is very concrete for Montessori children. In fact, it is so concrete that children learn binomial theorem with material and can learn to manipulate this abstract concept in a concrete way. Did I spark your interest in Montessori math yet?

Needless to say, Montessori math is my favorite. It begins in a sensorial area, where children learn to visually discriminate among different sizes and learn three dimension and two-dimension shapes.

Montessori math follows a pattern of left-right, concrete to abstract. The very first material that your child will ever work with is Number Rods. Number Rods are so big and concrete for children to deeply understand the difference between rising quantities. The number 10 rod is exactly 10 times more than the number 1 rod. This concept is fascinating for children.

As we move away from concrete and more into abstract, the first introduction is to the short beads material. Montessori short beads material is small compared to Number Rods and Spindle Box. This is the first lesson that will build a solid foundation in Montessori math material. The colors of the bead repeat in other Montessori materials such as bead chains, decanomial work, checkerboard, and more.

Children do this work over and over that they learn the colors for each number. This lesson is so appealing to children due to their sensitive period for counting and for small objects.

Did you like this material? You can get this now in our shop. We also added some printable activities that you can do with your little one after the presentation.

Montessori Pre-Writing Material

One of the classic Montessori pre-writing materials is Metal Insets. The design of this simple material is genius. By tracing each shape in the set, a child actually learn every stroke of letter formation. Not only that, but this work also builds curiosity in geometry and encourages art appreciation. Now, wouldn’t you call this material genius Montessori design too?

So, what is Montessori Metal Insets? Montessori Metal Insets are made of metal consists 5 straight line shapes and 5 curved line shapes. We recently launched our wooden shapes inspired by the original Metal Insets in our shop.

In Montessori, we emphasize learning the proper technique for handwriting. Research shows that tracing letters is not as effective as preparing the hands for writing. The typical tracing activities involve tracing broken lines. Children would be so focused on the tracing part that they forget the letter formation and shape. “It is important to remember that learning to write letters starts with learning the motor plan for the letters and being able to fluently link the successive strokes to form the letter”

The Metal Inset builds:

  • correct pincer grasp
  • control of small movement
  • the result of pressure on pencil by forming dark versus light lines
  • geometric sense and artistic abilities
  • concentration
  • hand-eye coordination
  • movement of tracing curved shapes and straight shapes which directly transfers to letter formation

The beauty of this material is that there are 7 different presentations with the same material. This work is explored in early childhood for tracing and then in the elementary classroom to understand plane geometry. I love the versatility of this material. It can be used in so many different ways. Here are some of the resources on Montessori Metal Inset Extensions

Jack-O-Lantern Shapes for Matching Lesson

Metal Inset Extensions Cards by Missy Montessori

Montessori Services

Living Montessori Now

Observations from this Week

The most important thing we can give our children is space.

Space is the greatest gift we can give to our children. Space to be themselves, space to explore on their own, space to learn, space to grow, space to embrace and express all their emotions, space to love, space to fall, space to make mistakes, and space to spread their wings.

This week while we were enjoying our weekly Timbernook class, I saw my son walking ahead of me with a group of adults that were mere strangers to him. Some part of me wanted to remind him to “Slow down” and say, “Wait for me”. I realized those concerns were coming from my deep-rooted fears. Fear of losing him, fear of him getting hurt, fear of not being able to protect this perfect little person. Being a mother is overwhelming; on one hand, we want our children to be outgoing, confident, resilient, and social, and then wanting to protect them from everything at the same time. As I let go of my fear, I could really enjoy watching him being independent, brave, courageous, adventurous, and absolutely at peace with himself. He didn’t care who was with him, if he walked funny, if people liked him, or if he looked a certain way. He was happy collecting acorns in his walk and listening to the storybook being told by the teacher. He was completely present at that moment.

Giving space to our children is sometimes hard for us as we grew up with the idea of parents own their children. How wrong was that idea? How wrong were our parents to think that they own us? At that moment, as I saw my son walking confidently with the group of children, I truly understood the meaning of “My child came through me, he is not mine or a thing that I can own.” I am just a carrier to bring this wonderful, precious being to this planet. He was already someone before he met me. How naïve of me to think that I am supposed to do anything other than to follow him!

I really believe space is the best thing we can give to our children to blossom. Space on this planet to stay who they are. They don’t need to be anything else but themselves; the most perfect, beautiful, miraculous, and enlightened beings on this planet are our children.

Folktales

Folktales are an ancient form of art. This is the way generations of humans shared their wisdom, morals, values, and the meaning of all the unexplainable things around the world. Stories was the only form of communication and literacy. People gathered around the fire and told stories about the stars, earth, rain, animals, and so worth. These stories usually had an important message and wisdom to share, to inspire people to do the right thing.

If we think about it, we are still quite similar to our ancestors in that terms. Even today, we prefer a good story and are much more likely to remember them compared to simply stating the facts. Perhaps our story delivery has changed, we certainly don’t gather around the fire to tell stories but we use media to tell our wonderful stories.

For this, reason this month’s Monti-Story Box is African Folktale. We chose African Folktale for this beautiful book, Bringing Rain to Kapiti Plains, which tells the importance of rain in a small community of Africa. Rain is the most essential for farmers in the poor countries. This story depicts how everything is linked in our ecosystem and one event like draught  can affect people and animals.

Folktales are a great way to introduce different culture and art in our kids’ lives. Lets look at some of the activities included in Monti-Story Box and some additional ones that you can do with your child.

Fine Motor Activities such as pre-writing board and puzzle are a great way to strengthen the pincer grasp. Moreover, puzzles help understand the pattern and putting two parts together.

 

Adinkra are visual symbols with historical and philosophical significance originally printed on cloth which royals wore to important ceremonies

Montessori three part cards, also known as nomenclature cards are important Montessori literacy materials. You will find these cards in every area in the Montessori classroom. They can be used in so many ways. Children use the big cards with pictures and text as flashcards to learn new words, they can be used for object – picture matching lesson, picture-picture matching. Refer to my previous post on the importance of these lessons for reading development.

Also, check out our private Facebook group to learn how to present these three part cards in a Montessori Way. The group is only open for Monti-Story Box customers.

Art activities are a great way to learn about different culture. Children can make masaai bead necklace with paper plates, African mask with paper towel roll, or animal silhouette painting. In the Monti-Story Box, we included a canvas of Masaai stick figure art along with paint.

Masaai Stick Figure Art

 

Additional Resources for Incorporating African Unit Study

Free Africa Unit Resource by Living Montessori Now

African Recipes to do with kids

Africa Shelf Ideas from Trillium Montessori

Additional Books to include in your unit study

Africa Fact Cards & Parts of the Animals

Use coupon Code: Truly10 for discount on Sprout Kids Furniture. Our kids’ size furniture store!

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