Painting the metamorphosis

Spring has arrived and we have welcomed the season with our study of insects and more specifically, butterflies and hornworms.  We received live Painted Lady caterpillars and hornworms and have been eagerly watching them grow and change.  The children were delighted to see each caterpillar climbing to the top of the observation jar, preparing to transform into a chrysalis. Once the chrysalis’ were made, the children shrieked with delight, “They made a chrysalis!  Soon they will be butterflies!”  Once the butterflies emerge from the chrysalis we will find a nice spot to release them.  We have been discussing that this process of change is called metamorphosis and we have compared the process to that of frogs, ladybugs, ants, and of course, our live hornworms.  The children documented the butterfly metamorphosis by drawing and painting it with watercolors.  Many students have also recorded their observations of our specimens in their science journals.  We have discussed that butterflies are symmetrical, and to highlight this concept we have been creating butterflies with drops of paint on paper, which is then folded in half to imprint the same design on both sides.

Holding our hornworm

Our study of the hornworms is especially exciting because they grow so much during their time in the classroom.  We are also able to handle the hornworms, which is very fun for the children.  As we observe the hornworm we notice its parts; head, thorax, abdomen, legs, and spiracles.  We use these terms throughout our discussions of these creatures to help the children learn, “Oh, I can feel the spiracles attaching to my hand.”  Part of our responsibility as hornworm caregivers, is to keep their jar clean, which requires regular cleanings and removing of their frass balls, or excrement, by the adults.   You can imagine the comments and faces the children make when they observe those cleanings!  Students love gathering around in a circle and taking the hornworms out to see how much they’ve grown and to hold them.  The children understand how gentle and still they need to be when we are handling the hornworms.

Our display of the butterfly metamorphosis

In Geography we have journeyed to South America.  We are learning about the animals found in South America, and the various countries in the continent, which we see in our puzzle maps.  If you have any artifacts, pictures, or experiences you would be willing to share with the class, please let me know.  This study will lead to learning about volcanoes, since the western side of the continent belongs to the “ring of fire”.  We will also learn about Brazilian artist, Romero Britto and his use of bright colors and bold patterns in his art.

Of course a big highlight of the month was attending the American Montessori Society’s national conference in D.C.  Each day of the conference was packed with activities, including school visits, workshops, mentoring, and keynote speakers. We had the opportunity to visit Franklin Montessori School in Rockville, Maryland.  School visits are always helpful in getting new ideas and observing new ways of doing things.  The workshops attended included topics such as Orton-Gillingham and Montessori, which provided me with wonderful strategies to use in our classroom to supplement the traditional Montessori method of language instruction.  Math workshops gave me new insights into the traditional math activities and ways to encourage further exploration of the works, therefor creating a deeper understanding of math concepts for the child.  Another fun workshop was “Montessori and Movement,” which discussed the importance of all kinds of movement opportunities within the classroom.  For example, rather than simply fetching a puzzle piece from one side of the mat and placing it on a puzzle, why not separate the pieces to the other side of the room and have the child get on all fours and push each piece on a paper plate over to the puzzle?  Now there’s an extra challenge!  I was inspired by the words of Pedro Nogeura, one of our keynote speakers, who discussed the importance of quality early childhood education and the impact such education can make on society.  With so much inspiration and ideas, I was thrilled to return to the classroom, ready to implement new strategies with a renewed appreciation for this amazing Montessori philosophy.  I am so deeply grateful to our wonderful community and school board for recognizing the importance of this incredible opportunity and enabling us to attend.  

Upcoming Events:

The SMS Tag Sale Saturday, April 6 at 8 am at Margaret and Barry Johnson’s house 1230 Yorkshire Rd.  Are you able to volunteer? Sign up here. Please invite others who would be interested in clothes and items for younger children.  

The Five Love Languages with author Dr. Gary Chapman @7pm April 24 in Home Moravian Church Sanctuary. This event is co-sponsored by Salem Montessori School and the Shaffner Fund of Home Moravian Church and is free and open to the public.