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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!

Another week is over, and we are alive and well, still friends. Besides the daily fun with math (I'll be posting more on how to do your Montessori math with things you find around the house!) and reading, we have been exploring all things green.

After the Story of Plants, we went in a few different directions. We looked at seeds and the life cycle of a plant, as well as beans and how they grow. Planting took over the house, and now we have pots of soil in every window sill and in all sunny patches on floors. (Yes, I am looking forward to warmer weather so they get moved OUT!)

We took a look at the Kingdom of Plants - the younger children worked with the simpler version, the four main groupings of plants. The older children went a bit deeper into the details of divisions and classes of plants. And of course, out we went, into the woods, to find as many variations for each category as we could.

   

This has really not ended, as every time they see a plant, they start discussing the characteristics: "Does it have roots?"  "Where are the seeds?" 

We have been exploring different roots (the planted beans make for a great view of the root network, and how the roots support the soil) and discussing what the tasks of the roots are. 

We also taken a look at the parts of a flower. It felt slightly sacrilegious as we were doing it, but it was all in the name of science :) Using our chart and our "Parts of a Flower" cards, we managed to find all the parts, as well as discovering a few interesting things about the shapes of petals. Another great question to wonder over: "How do flowers get their color? Why are some red, some yellow, some pink?" 

Experiments are ongoing here, and one fun unplanned experiment was a discovery by our 7-year-old who had planted a bowl of peas. They were growing nicely in the window sill, and she discovered that all the sprouts were leaning in the same direction. "It's because plants need sun!" A great connection to the Story of Plants. So she took her bowl and made a scientific hypothesis. "If I turn the bowl so the sprouts are leaning away from the sun, and I put it in the window and don't touch it, will the plants move the opposite direction, towards the sun again?"

Sure enough... only a few hours later, she was excitedly showing how she was correct.

And to wrap up the week, on Friday the older boys worked for an hour building the Tree of Plants, a comprehensive view of the classification system for the plant kingdom. We were very excited to test it out now that I have crocheted pouches for the "Russian doll" feature of this material. And everyone helped to find plants from around the house and outside to place on the tree. A few fun discoveries here, even for the plant expert in the house ;)

    

So that's been our plant week, in a nutshell. (Pun very much intended.)  

Now, we want to share this fun with you! 

We are launching a Botany Bundle, that includes 20+ materials all within different topics in botany, from charts, to parts and experiments. 

https://www.montessorimaterials.no/products/botanikk-bundle

For those of you who actually managed to read to the end of this post, we have a treat - 75% off the bundle until the 1st of April!! Click here to add this to your cart and get your special discount!  Or use the code "BOTANIKK" at the checkout.

Stay safe!

Sarah and Halvor

Well, technically!  For those of us far up in the northern hemisphere, it may not feel like it, but despite the weather, we have jumped into spring with a plant unit here at home.

We started off with the wonderful story of plants (and I can guarantee that it was slightly awkward telling it to my kids and husband rather than a group of children or Montessori trainers!) However, everyone was excited, and lots of interesting questions kept popping up as we went along:

  • How to underwater plants grow if they don't get sunlight?
  • Do all plants have roots?
  • Why do only some plants have flowers?

All great stuff to get them researching on their own. 

 

For this story, I used some of my recently created impressionistic charts for botany. I spotted a few things as I was going, so I have updated them and am now putting them out for you all to enjoy.  Click HERE to go to the product page, and then you can download directly from the page. We will keep them downloadable for a week.

So enjoy, and happy spring!

For those of you who follow along with my personal (and some professional) posts, you already know that we're home, along with almost everyone else here in Norway, due to COVID-19. My husband and I are both Montessori educators, of both children and adults, add to this our four young children, and our hands are full!  However, we are now facing an interesting challenge. And I mean challenge - this is putting our skills (and patience) to the test. So, we've decided to turn this all into a great opportunity to work together with our kids, try out our materials and some fun ways of presenting and learning with them, and just enjoy doing it. 

We are nearly through week 2 of our home schooling and we have so much to share, that we have decided to resurrect this blog so we can share everything with you!

Every day we will post what we are doing with our children, show you some films, pictures and other tips.  We'll be using materials that we have out here, adding new ones as fast as we can, of course. But keep an eye out - there will be discounts and freebies popping up everywhere!!

Stay safe, stay home, and see you back here again soon!

Sarah and Halvor