Establishing lasting peace is the work of education. – Maria Montessori
The Montessori environment is the foundation for supporting learning. Recently, we have been changing the environment to accommodate the children’s growth. The learning tower has been replaced with a ball box which allows them to still see out the window. We moved a shelf to the other side of the snack table to make room for three soft climbing structures. With all this rain the children are more active in the classroom. The soft structures allow them to roll, slide, and climb before settling into the classroom routine. We also observe that children vacillate between fine motor and gross motor movement.
In addition to using the ball box as a step up to the window, the children found purpose in working together to push the ball box to the middle of the room and open it. The top creates a ramp and the plastic blue, white and red balls begin to roll all over the room. We sing. “Roll that little ball ‘round the room” as a reminder of how the balls are used. Halfway through February this work was extended with long cardboard tubes, some of which have been cut in half to create troughs, and the addition of small, light-weight, ping-pong-size balls. Children tried putting objects of all shapes and sizes into the tubes, delighting in what would fit and having some frustration with objects, such as books and larger balls, that would not fit. The trough, or half-cut tubes, allowed the children to see the path of the balls.
To explore new sensations we pulled out the smocks and tried our hands at finger painting. Each child chose three to four colors and then experimented with mixing them. For many this was a completely new experience and some found joy in the squishy feelings between their fingers, while a few children only touched with fingertips or declined all together.
The children in our class continue to be fascinated with water and this month we introduced dish washing. We began with those who love water, putting on a smock and washing the snack bowls; first scrubbing in soapy water and then rinsing in clean water. After a few weeks of guiding individual children through washing all the dishes, now each child washes and rinses his or her own dish and then puts it into the dish drainer. The last child to wash dishes also gets to carry the tubs of water to the sink, with assistance, and pour all the water into the sink.
In addition to washing dishes we have reintroduced water pouring and drinking water from small cups. During snack each child receives a small cup and pitcher. The teacher pours a small amount of water into their individual pitcher and then the child is guided to pour the water into the cup. Sometimes the child drinks from the pitcher or water spills on the table, opportunities for the teachers to role model being friendly with error and remind the child, ‘pitchers are for pouring’, ‘we drink from our cups’ or offer a small wiping cloth to clean up the spilt water. Watching their little hands maneuver the pitchers and cups is amazing.
Other new works include a woven basket of different colored fabric swatches and foam pieces on the sensorial shelf. This is an open ended work for exploration. Several students were very drawn to this work and focused for long periods of time creating with the pieces. On the practical life shelf, thanks to the SMS Annual Fund, the big blue threading rope has some new wooden pieces for threading. On the language shelf we have new puzzles, one providing the opportunity to talk about colors and shapes and the other an assortment of locks with a different number of various animals hidden behind the lock.
In circle time we have been talking about our feelings and making faces that match our emotions. We sing a version of If You’re Happy and You Know it that includes feeling sad (cry boo hoo), mad (tell a friend,’I’m mad!’), silly (do a wiggle) and happy (share a smile). Our aim is to reinforce that all feelings are acceptable and guide children how to express feelings in respectful ways.
Next month we will be closed for our observations on Wednesday March 6 and Thursday March 7 we will have our conferences. We are looking forward to talking with you about your child. If you have any specific topic you would like us to cover please let us know. At the end of March Mrs. Greene will join Mrs. Feus and Mrs. Hastings at the American Montessori Society’s Annual Conference in Washington DC. Mrs. Carson will be in the classroom.
Pick up for March will be on the grassy hill.