Friday, February 5, 2016

Organizing a Montessori Day

Let's highlight a previous Nugget: Montessori Keys: Montessori as an Approach to Life

When we are teachers in Montessori schools, we strive to educate the parents on the fullness of Montessori, so they can have a Montessori-inspired home. This is best for the child, to be in a variety of environments where his needs and tendencies are respected and addressed while also tending to the needs and tendencies of the other people in that social structure (family, school, etc.).

When we are homeschool parents (whether trained Montessori teachers or not), we find that our work cycle naturally extends beyond the 3+ hour work cycle in the morning and (for 5 year olds and older) any second work cycles of the day. It becomes a 24/7 work cycle.

In our homes, or in Montessori schools that have the blessing of having children longer, we find that our work cycles become entirely natural.

We adults provide key presentations, that don't take just too much of the child's time; and we find we have time to be outside, to do art, to just sit and have a natural conversation, to plan that trip to the library, better yet for the older child to plan the errands needed. The children may choose to work with a Montessori material or apply a concept learned through Montessori experiences at any time of the day or night. I recall a 4 year old young man who awoke in the middle of the night to use the toilet, then proceeded to work on the puzzle map of Africa - the hardest of the set - he found it relaxing and found that he was indeed capable of working on it by himself. Why the middle of the night? Who knows! His mind was more relaxed; no distractions of noise and people and lights; no pressure from the adults around him (since they were allegedly sleeping, not (ahem) videotaping from around the corner).

In a home environment, the keys can be presented at any time. Maybe there is a dedicated school time - that is fine too - just remember what all happens at schools: snack, bathroom breaks, chatting with friends, watching the class fish, caring for the other animals, watering plants, gardening, working outside AND inside, food preparation, and more! The children do not have their hands on the materials every moment! So it is ok at home to have a variety of things happening - just provide the keys. The keys lay a foundation and a structure - and enjoy the freedom of time for exploration!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Snake Game post update!

The snake games have come up in conversation quite a bit lately. I updated this previous post with more detailed photographs and descriptions:
Motnessori Nuggets: Snake Games Part 1

All Montessori Nuggets on Snake Games

Monday, January 11, 2016

Peace Education in Montessori

Peace Education does not have to be a separate curriculum from the rest of the Montessori experience.

When we do separate it out, we minimize the value of the work Montessori did in observing human nature and providing for specific needs at specific planes of development, fulfilling those needs in a way that causes a child to reach his greatest possible potential, which will feed those needs and tendencies towards generosity and community.

Montessori's Own Writings: 

Other Authors: 
  • Lena Gitter: Montessori's Legacy to Children
  • Edwin Mortimer Standing: Maria Montessori - Her Life and Work
  • Montessori Nugget on Peace Education

Friday, January 1, 2016

Culture in Montessori

The Montessori approach to education and life really holds the corner on authentic culture!

We provide the children with keys to the world (primarily through the sensorial materials) in the first plane of development: 0-6 years old (infant, toddler, preschool, kindergarten) --- and keys to the universe at elementary (cosmic education), with the adolescent really finding his place in the history of the world by participating with society and working with the earth itself.

Through providing these key experiences, the child's time is freed up to explore his own personal interests, fully and thoroughly construct himself and, varying at the different ages, to explore the culture around him: first the culture of his own family, then that of the immediate community and/or school, then that of the entire world. By elementary, we are delving into the cultures of civilizations past and present.


Through Exercises of Practical Life: first from the child's own culture, then expanding out to include experiences from other cultures.

Through Sensorial experiences: first explore consistent key materials on weight, length, volume, smell, sight, color, etc. And then through the child's work with the sensorial aspects of the world: the sandpaper, continent/painted, climatic, and oceans globes; the puzzle maps for the world, each continent, and the child's own country; exploring the flags of various countries, their meanings and histories.

Through the Language experiences: cultural folders for exploring by continent, then by theme within a continent - striking about conversations about what we see in the photographs. Studying biomes and climates of each area, how that affects the local people's choices of lifestyle.

And that is just for the 3-6 year old!!!
A Montessori Nugget with a brief description of where to find cultural aspects in the AMI-style 3-6 albums.

At elementary, we study civilizations of the past, use history question charts to guide our research into past cultures, as well as present cultures.

In geography, we look at economic geography in an interesting format - looking at trade products and usages; we look at the lifestyle of people in various regions of the globe, based on climate. We learn about the rays of the sun, the tilt of the earth - and the affect on climate - and the ensuing affect on the people. Indeed, everything we do in geography (earth studies) leads to the affect on the local people in each region.

In biology, we look even further into biomes and how those affect all the living creatures, including the people.

In language, we explore a variety of literature, learning about peoples of other areas and times, with dramatic performances and other experiences to highlight the beauties of a variety of cultures.

Music should be listened to that comes from a varietoy of cultures. Art experiences are keys-based, so that a child can read about an art form and have the basic skills already in place to follow their interests and explore the art of all cultures and all times.

We look at the history of mathematics and the contributions of a variety of people to our understanding of math and geometry....

and even language history and development - how cultures have affected one another's languages.

There is so much more I am not including! Children really do come out of a Montessori education with a strong sense of culture; a strong sense of being part of something bigger than themselves, where they play an important role; and a strong sense of *culture.*

Other Montessori Nuggets mentioning Culture - a non-inclusive list: 
Elementary Geography Table of Contents - with notes of where to find Geography in Primary albums
Broadcasting Seeds
Art Presentations at all ages
Fifth Great Lesson - Story of Numbers
Benefits of the Prepared Environment
Great Lessons and Keys Lessons - Some Thoughts (Cosmic Education)
What Do We Provide Our Children?
Spiritual Preparation of the Adult - Who Owns the Learning?
Peace Education in Montessori
A portion of the Primary Biology Introduction
Cursive or Print Part 3
Handwork in Montessori

Monday, December 21, 2015

Special Needs and Montessori - Can it be done?

Montessori for Special Needs

Can it be done?

Um. Yes. Montessori started with special needs and found the experiences were applicable to the universal child. Even with "typically developing" children, there are always slight modifications to be made to suit personal interest, time of day, personality quirks and more. So we Montessorians just look to the individual child's needs in how to present the key experiences for their plane of development.

Previous Montessori Nuggets - not an all-inclusive list:

A foundation to understanding that Montessori is useful for all children - the universal child, regardless of personal interests, personalities or learning needs:

Montessori Books about Special Needs: 

Additional Resources for Special Needs as related to Montessori:

NOTE: The word "disadvantaged" has changed in meaning over the years. Previously, it was used to describe socio-economic factors with perhaps some inclusion of special needs. Currently, the word disadvantaged is more often applied to children with special needs, but can still be used in other ways. There is a book by Reginald C Orem about Montessori and the Disadvantaged - it is more focused on the socio-economic factors, more-so than special needs factors.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Walking on the Line - Control of Movement

Walking on the line in the Montessori Environment - not an readily understood area of the Montessori experience.

There is a good deal of information and photographs online for the walking on the line activity that are mis-leading at best and downright inaccurate at worst.

Some points that are the most readily confused:

  • The line can be an ellipse or a wandering line with gentle curves - we do not want corners or sharp curves. When long enough, it provides some "straight" lengths without the need for corners. 
  • The line is a silent individual activity, but many children can do it at the same time. In a classroom, a group of children would be given the presentation. 
  • The width of the line should be about half the width of the child's foot, in the ideal situation. Otherwise, three-quarter of an inch should be the narrowest. 
  • The line should be a different texture from the floor itself, so the children can feel the difference (tying in the practice of wearing socks or being barefoot when doing this activity) - being barefoot helps in self-awareness and self-presence as well. ;) 
  • It should be noticable in color when looking at it, but not distracting when looking at objects close to it. A different shade of the same color as the flooring is highly recommended. 

An observation of the benefits of walking on the line: Walking on the Line Thoughts

Montessori's own writings on this topic - I am not including what others have written: 

  • Discovery of the Child: depending on your edition, look around pages 89-126, in various places; some editions include walking on the line in the illustrations as well. 
  • Absorbent Mind: depending on your edition, look around 195-224
  • Montessori Method (good for historical reading, was updated and renamed Discovery of the Child): 140-141, 339, 342-343
  • Montessori's Own Handbook (good for historical reading, this book was never updated): 26-28, 63, 64; illustrations 60, 62. In the Schocken edition: 63. 
  • Advanced Montessori Method, Volume 2 - Montessori Elementary Material: 251-352, illustration 352
  • The Secret of Childhood: depending on your edition, 75-98
  • Education for a New World: 34, 59
  • The Montessori Index also suggests I cross-reference Gymnastics and the Silence Game - so any portions of Montessori's books that mention those two are likely to include Walking on the Line as well - or at least relate. 

Some links for more information on Walking on the Line: 

There are more accurate resources available I am sure, but these were the ones I found the most quickly.

More recent scientific findings on the benefits of walking on the line? 

Do a web search for "proprioception and walking on the line". Note all the exercises which utilize walking on a line as therapy for a variety of concerns. Then compare those exercises to the stages of the walking on the line activity in a Montessori resource that includes *all* the stages. 

Amazing stuff! 

Just another area that modern research is corroborating everything Montessori observed over 100 years ago. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Montessori Elementary Mathematics - Multiplication Checkerboard

Montessori Elementary Mathematics: Multiplication Checkerboard

Materials: white number tiles 0-9, gray numbers tiles 0-9, checkerboard[1], checkerboard bead bar box (only has bead bars 1-9)

            This is the checkerboard. We are going to learn how to do multiplication on the checkerboard.
·   Numbers: We have these numbers across the bottom (read and point to each number).
·   Multiplicand and Multiplier: This ridge is where we place our multiplicand and multiplier (indicate the ridge at the bottom and to the right, respectively). We also have some numbers along the right side (read and point to each one). We will put the multiplier here.
·   Squares – color and value: Then we have all of these colored squares. Here are the units (point to the lower left corner – green). Tens are here and here (point to each of the blue squares touching the unit square – 2). All of these are hundreds (indicate the diagonal 3 reds). Here we have thousands (indicate these 4). Here are the ten-thousands (indicate these 4). Continue with each category.
·   Squares – value of beads: What is interesting about the checkerboard is that the value of the bead bar is determined by which square upon which it is placed. I have a 3-bar; if I put it here (place on the units square), it is three units. If I put it here (place on a hundred square), it is three hundred; if I put it here (another hundred), it is still 300. What if I put it here (place on a 100,000 square). We don’t have to stick with one bead bar. If I have a 3-bar here (on tens) and a 5-bar here (on hundreds), we have 530. What if I put it here? (slide each over one to show 5,300). What if I put it here (slide up and right one place – diagonally)? It is still 5,300. Repeat until the concept is clear and the children can readily read the numbers on the board – invite them to place beads and you read the number; and to place beads to read the numbers themselves.

Exercise 1: representing each multiplication with the bead bars
Prerequisites: knowledge of the process of multiplication; Introduction to the checker-board; Ability to read hierarchical numbers; (technically the children can do the 1st exercise without knowing the multiplication facts); Can precede work on the large bead frame (this exercise only)

Notes: If the children choose very large digits, they will have a ton of bead bars in each square that will overflow into other squares. In that situation, after they have done the multiplications, exchange within each row before sliding diagonally; then finish the exchanging to reach the final answer. 
                This work can help the children learn their multiplication because they are represented by the quantities they are putting down each time. If they do know their facts and they’ve caught on to the procedure of exercise 1, move them right on to exercise 2 on another day.

Exercise 2: Using the Multiplication Facts

Purpose: Further experience in long multiplication. Indirect preparation for category multiplication.

[1] Boards: current manufacturing only go to units of millions; felt version and the presentation in AMI training goes to hundred-millions on the horizontal

why does the checkerboard have more than 3 spaces per grouping? e.g. multiples of thousands beyond hundred thousand?

Each square on the checkerboard represents the multiplication of the bottom and right-hand values. So a board that is 9 squares along the bottom and 4 squares along the side - that last upper left hand square will represent 100,000,000 taken 1,000 times. 
The checkerboard does a few things for the children - it helps them work with VERY large numbers (now we can go into billions! - and it helps them see the "why" behind shifting the numbers one over when we multiply on paper (which the large bead frame starts to do) as well as the combinations of the quantities (so goes beyond the large bead frame in these concepts). I start the children with small numbers and they challenge themselves when they are ready to do the larger numbers.

Not to be confused with the Decimal Checkerboard (some tidbits found at Montessori Trails - a Montessori Nugget will be posted soon).