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What a day it has been! We had a small theme lesson planned to do with the children, but had no idea it would take over the whole day, and several unexpected and unplanned activities popped up.

To start with, I asked them all what today was. It was a struggle to get a day of the week and a date, poor things. They are so far removed from their normal routines. However, we managed to get them to the point where we figured out the day and date. And then when they couldn't guess what today was, I asked our 12-year-old to choose the planet picture from the wall, which one do you think we are celebrating today. There is was, they all realized it was Earth Day.

Then the discussion erupted. All of the reasons for Earth Day and why it was important, ideas of what we could do. Now, most of the ideas were big ones, quite removed from their daily life. So I asked, is there anything you can do now, here, today, to help take care of the earth?

Then the suggestions were flowing, and I was having a hard time writing them all down fast enough. My 7-year-old was trying to illustrate as I wrote :)

 

Some really good suggestions.

I then suggested we keep a logbook of everything we do today that helps take care of Earth. I had to quickly throw together a worksheet and off they went. (Keep reading, the worksheets are at the end as a freebie downloadable document.)

Next step was a little art project, making Earth Day bracelets. A bit of memory wire and a little container of green bead mix, and they were all going (giving me time to create a few more activities for them. Again, keep reading.)

A word search activities, a color by number came to life while they completed this project and as they younger ones worked on these worksheets, saving the planet seemed to be even more important and very personal. My 5-year-old kept running over to close the refrigerator or turn off the faucet (even though we needed to get some food out or were using the water to clean something). 

The older boys were thinking a little more "big picture". They collected a trash bag and some gloves, and off they went. They were on a mission to pick up plastic which they had spotted on their recent walks around the area. Five hours later, they returned, reporting how they had picked up all the trash they had found!  

With the older ones off on their trek, the two younger ones were around the house, outside enjoying the lovely sunny spring weather. My 5-year-old spotted that the cherry tree had started to blossom! He had been waiting for this for the last 2 weeks. So out came our camera and we took some pictures. As we stood under the tree branches, we heard some delightful sounds of spring - the bumblebees! So we stood and listened, and following the sound, we tried to catch some pictures of the bees on the blossom. Look at this one!

Of course, Miss 7-year-old got super excited, for a few reasons. We have been doing lots of work with the parts of the flower and how they are pollinated. And here was a perfect picture of the flower with it's stamen and the bumblebee climbing into the blossom before flying on to the next. She was excitedly explaining the whole process to little brother, who was more concerned about whether or not the bumblebee had a stinger.

Once the interest had died down, then suddenly they had a need to photograph all of nature in our yard. When they got to the beautiful tulips that had finally opened, another cry of excitement was heard. "Mom, I see the pollen parts here, too!"

  

So we got out our chart of Parts of the Flower, pulled apart a tulip and had a long discussion about the parts, even opening the pistil to see if she could find the ovary.

A while later, they were inside and one of the big bumblebees managed to follow them inside the house. My daughter's reaction was to back away. My 5-year-old grabbed the camera and tried to get a good shot.

 

We managed to catch it in a glass with a plate, and they did a bit of observation inside, but became worried that the bee was scared.  We carried it outside and out it down on the grass, still under the glass so that we could observe it a while.

So much better than a show on the iPad!

Once we had watched the bee a while, we decided that he might be getting scared so we let him go.

Well, that was a summary of what we did today to celebrate Earth. 

And now for that freebie I mentioned.  CLICK HERE to download the set of Earth Day worksheets. And remember, Earth Day is every day!

Stay safe, everyone!!

Today we marked Leonardo daVinci's birthday with a little art history lesson. The children looked at some of his works and picked some to replicate in person.

Here are a few of some of them...

  

Miss Mona Marie

 

   

Valiant attempts at Vetruvian Man ("Mom, why does he have four legs and four arms?! Oh yeah, he's making a snow angel")

 

   

Saint Zach the Baptist

 

And, of course, Halvor had to stand in for the old man. A few photo filters and we got him aged a bit:

  

 

And what would a Leonard day be without the daVinci bridge?

Good fun, lots of teamwork, cooperation and learning!

To share our celebration with you, we are giving you a free download - matching cards of Leonardo's more famous works. 

(Om du trenger de på norsk, er det bare å klikke her!)

Enjoy and stay safe!!

As I'm sure many of you know, forming letters is not all about writing on a paper with your pencil.

In the Montessori classroom, children begin to form letters using a very sensorial materials called the Sandpaper letters.  These are tiles with individual letters of sandpaper, and the child is shown how to trace over the letters in the correct writing direction.

From this stage, the children can trace letters on a tray of sand, in the air, on a chalkboard, etc. All these are non-permanent ways of writing, which means the child can quickly remove what he doesn't like and try again.

One activity with forming letters that is quite popular with younger children is using playdough. As this is something very simple to do at home, we tried it out with our 5 and 7 year olds.

Step one was the Practical Life activity of making the dough. Lots of fun, and always exciting to see what the color will turn out to be.  I'll post the recipe and instructions for home-made playdough below. It's a super easy, 5-minute recipe, all with basic household ingredients (and therefore non-toxic, as well!)

Step two was to have fun. I created a printable playdough mat with the alphabet that they could use to form letters, or they could make other letters (names are the usual first project). Click on the link to download a copy.

  

And there you have it! A fun, simple project that resulted in good teamwork and lots of concentration!

So, the playdough recipe:

1/2 cup flour

2 tablespoons salt

100 ml water

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon oil 

food coloring

In a small bowl, mix together the flour and salt and set aside for a minute.

Combine the water, lemon juice, oil and coloring in a small pot and heat on medium heat to just before boiling. 

Carefully add the dry ingredients while stirring and continue to cook the mixture, stirring well, until it all pulls into a ball. Stir and cook until it is no longer sticky, but be careful not to overcook it. This shouldn't take more than a minute or so.

Remove the pot from the heat and put the ball of dough on a plate or parchment to cool. Once cool enough, you can knead it a bit, and if you want stronger color, you can knead more color in at this stage.

And that's it! Store it in airtight containers for future use.

Enjoy, stay safe!

 

Every year Easter comes along and I have wonderful intentions of doing a lovely natural egg dyeing project with the kids. And every year things are hectic with one thing or another and we never get to it.

Enter Easter 2020: nothing else to do but projects with the kids.

We decided that we were going to approach this as a science project to see what nature has to offer in the way of amazing colors.

The older guys did a bit of research and found a few options. We chose 5 and made our shopping list.  Now usually, I would send them to the store with the list and let them do the shopping (practical life activities!) but due to COVID-19, we keep our kids out of the stores, so I followed the list and came home with a bag full of veggies.

 First step: cutting up our dye ingredients (another great practical life activity!). Each of them had responsibility for one color/ingredient.

Once we had those chopped, we prepared the pots on the stove: 1 liter water + 2 tablespoons white vinegar. Bring that to a boil and add the dye ingredient.  Simmer this for 30 minutes.

  

Look at those colors! Jewels!

 

 

After the 30 minutes simmering, we strained out the ingredients and the dye went into a smaller bowl. Each child added a few hard-boiled eggs to their dye mixture, and set the timer for another 30 minutes.

Here are our 5 colors! We got a really fun surprise on one of these, a very unexpected result from a dye ingredient (will let you guess). 

 

We exceeded that 30 minute dyeing time, because we don't like pastel colors :)  But once they were happy with the color, we removed the eggs and dried them off on paper towels. (The green eggs were still a bit weak on color, so they stayed sitting even longer.)

To make them extra shiny and lovely, we rubbed a little coconut oil on the eggs, just for a last polish.

Here's the result:

 

Needless to say, we were chuffed! Who knew nature could be so amazing? (Well, we did!)

And our next experiment will be, "If you re-heat the dye, can you re-use it later?" We saved them all in jars and have them in the fridge. We can let you know in a few days if it works to re-use the dye (feels like a shame to dump them!)

Now, for the secret ingredients:

Pink: red beets

Yellow: turmeric

Green: parsley and spinach leaves

Blue: red cabbage

Purple: frozen blueberries

The red cabbage was a shocker. We all hypothesized that it would be the same purple color, but look at that blue! Amazing!

We hope you guys have fun with this and drop your pictures and comments or questions below! Looking forward to hearing from you all! 

I would like to continue my thoughts from yesterday's post, where I did a crash course on the hierarchies and the colors that represent them in the Montessori materials.

The Stamp Game is such a favorite and for good reason. It is simple and concrete enough for pre-school children to use with fluency, but it is also used by elementary school children for calculating the four operations, and then can be extended to squaring and square root.

Yesterday we shared a link for a simple, free printable Stamp Game, which I hope you all can use, if you don't have the option of buying or making the Stamp Game otherwise. So, now that you have it, what can you do with it??

The first concept that we present to children is that of exchanging. By counting through the ones, we find that after 9, we get to 10. But ten is the blue tile! That means we need to exchange our 10 green ones for 1 blue ten tile. 

There's a great game children can play using the Stamp Game and a die (as in, the singular form of dice). Working with a friend or two, they can take turns throwing the die and collecting that number from the "bank" of stamps. However, they must remember that if they have 10 in a hierarchy, they much exchange for 1 in the next hierarchy!  The repetition in an activity like this helps to reinforce the concept of exchanging between hierarchies, something that will become essential for further arithmetic work.

Now, that being said, this is hardly a game only for younger children! We love playing this with older children, but you just need to make it slightly more challenging. For instance:

  • use 2 dice and they have to add the two numbers together first, before collecting the stamp tiles
  • use 2 dice, but now you have to multiply the two numbers together before collecting the corresponding stamp tiles. (Of course, this will get them quickly into hundreds and eventually thousands.)
  • use 2 multifaceted dice and add or multiply them together. Here you can even get into adding/subtracting or multiplying with negative numbers, if you can find dice with a few negatives on them.

Do you see how your imagination is the limit here? And best of all, it's fun!! Children are having a great time playing a game, while all the time practicing their basic arithmetic. Win, win...

Now, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I have created yet another extension of this basic game for my own children. The key here was to incorporate movement into the activity, and give my older guys a bit of a challenge as well. So using my abundance of hobby foam, I cut them into slightly larger squares (which also double as a checkerboard... more on that another day). I also found 3 colored dice. You guessed it: green, blue and red.

Rather than going on and on trying to explain it in this blog post, I've popped it all into a downloadable just for you. Hope you can enjoy it at home with your kids, and I especially hope that you are able to go outside during this time of social distancing!

In case you can't get outside, try a variation of the game inside. This is my daughter and I are testing out the concept, minus the relay-running ;) Still fun! 

Hope you try this and remember to leave your comments below to let us know how it went. 

Good luck, enjoy. And stay safe!!!

If you are new to Montessori, then you might be noticing some re-occurring colors in the arithmetic materials. There is a reason our logo looks the way it does :)

So many of the arithmetic materials are built on these three colors that represent hierarchies in our decimal system.  We use green for ones, blue for tens and red for hundreds. BUT it doesn't stop there. The pattern now repeats as we move higher and higher in the system. Thousands are green, ten thousands are blue and hundred thousands are red. And so on and so on.  This will help you to understand the majority of the arithmetic materials.

So let's start with a bit of basics here.  The first materials using hierarchies that children are introduced to is, of course, the Golden Bead material, where ones, tens, hundreds and thousands are concrete, physically represented, easy to compare and contrast, as well as calculate. They can get an actual feel of how much bigger and heavier 1000 is compared to 1. So they are getting a solid (pun intended) understanding for the connections between the hierarchies in the decimal system.

 

And as they work with these, they are using number cards with the digits written down, each in the hierarchy colors.  They can puzzle these together to create large numbers. So they would lay out the cards on a mat as shown above, and then they could find an amount of golden bead, then find the corresponding cards for each hierarchy.

Now the fun part is when they lay all those number cards together on top of each other, aligned on the right, in order:

  A little magical, isn't it?

As the materials (and the child's intellect) moves from concrete to more abstract, we find the next material going from an actual cube of 1000 beads to a green square with the number 1000 written on it, red square with 100, blue square for 10 and green square for 1. 

 

This is the material we know as the Stamp Game. (There's a really cool history of why Maria Montessori called this the Stamp Game, but that's for another day.) This material is the big jump into a world of working with hierarchies within the decimal system, from simple and compound multiplication and division, to squaring and square root.

And all of that was to explain what we have done at home to support our math work!

Enter my very large pile of hobby foam, in green, blue and red ;) We have, as you might have guessed, been cutting lots of squares.  We made our own stamp game, as well as larger squares for an extension of the Stamp Game using dice and a lot of running (more explanation later). We are also using the larger squares to put together a checkerboard (and of course I added light blue, pink and light green for the decimal checkerboard).  Just for fun, I have crocheted a small checkerboard for doing square root. Again, more on that later.

One fun thing I wanted to share today, though - my 7-year-old was working on division and rather than using beads on the division board, we went with "stamps". But what could we use instead of the skittles, so we could divide our stamps between something? Then it hit me - pawns from our chess set. It worked like a charm, and off she went, doing her division work.

Actually, going back to that story about why Maria Montessori's original materials was called the Stamp Game... it actually fits with our theme of "use what you have around you".  At the time, collecting postage stamps was popular for the children, and she used stamps of different values to create her activity. 

Stay tuned. Tomorrow we'll continue taking a look at the sequence of materials that utilize the green, blue and red hierarchy pattern. For now, I hope you're inspired to start collecting some colored card stock or or even get your kids coloring or painting squares. Or, even easier, click on the link HERE and download a simple printable that your children can cut up (practical life skills!)

Enjoy and stay safe!

Montessori math: beautiful, logical and innovative. There's something thrilling about seeing the colors in the maths materials that make my heart just skip a bit. I absolutely love every material and how they build systematically on each other. You can see the red thread moving along, from simple use with 3-6 year olds to more and more complex mathematical concepts for older children and young people. And to be honest, I've seen so many light bulbs turn on in adult learners, as well. Somehow, the materials appeal to humans of all ages.

Now, the question is, how can we adapt these to use in our homes while we are away from the classrooms. We cannot expect anyone to own a full Montessori math curriculum for their homes.

We have been attacking this problem head-on, and the art teacher side of me went into full drive. We are going to show some simple and fun ideas to create what we are calling "mock math materials" for your children who are now learning at home.

Enter hobby foam. ("Mosgummi" for the Norwegians reading this.) This will become your best friend, believe me. Order a pile of it (get extras of green, blue and red!) and follow along in the next series of posts where we will show all of the math materials we have created for our home school.

Leave us a comment: What is your favorite Montessori math material? (I definitely have a few definite favs!)

Nearly the entire family (Nearly headless? How can you be nearly headless?) is a huge fan of Harry Potter.  In fact, the very first day of quarantine school, there was a bit of resistance to the idea of meeting up at the dining room table to start the school day, so I told everyone that they had 5 minutes to arrive at school dressed in their house robes. Worked like a charm. Every single child was in place a minute before 9 am, ready to start!

At school we were planning on doing some Harry Potter themed days, so I had to promise them that we would do it here at home, instead.

Enter our trip into the Forbidden Forest.

In full uniform - robes, scarves, hats and wrist cuffs (knitting patterns available on request) - we headed out into the nearby woods. I had prepared activity stations for them to solve. There was a bit of math, poetry composition, a little etymology in there, coding and magical creatures (zoology, right?)

  

Good fun, and some very creative answers. 

    

We ended the day with a little food science, making Butterbeer Fudge - highly recommended!