Chart 1 showing the size relationship between the Earth and the Sun.
One of the ways children show me how they are processing the impressionistic lesson of the formation of the Universe is by how they are interpreting the posters in our room which are used during the presentation.
First, the most immature child processes this wonderful impressionistic story very literally. I find this is often a young first year child. This vision is not wrong for where the child is developmentally. I know the child will see it from a different facet as he is older.
The second and third year child (and often the first year upper child) is wanting to show what he believes really happened at that moment on the Earth. His drawings are more “photo realistic.”
Volcanos spewing smoke. The sun hides herself behind a veil of ashy clouds.
For the older Upper Elementary child, the interpretation is often back to the impression of the work. He understands the work and many of the concepts literally and is now ready to put his individual stamp on Dr. Montessori’s work.
AV and JV had become interested in creating their own God With No Hands cards.
Well not cards in the case of AV. AV wants to quilt the felt to make a soft poster.
JV has been focused on a minimalist approach. JV is using cut paper. Elegant.
I find the child’s vision is very helpful for discussions of other Montessori lessons. It provides a window into the child’s thoughts, understandings, and tendencies.
I have observed some Montessori classes shading photo copies of the charts as line art sheets and making a book. I would find this difficult for me as a directress, because the meeting of the child with the story is personal and provides such a window into her soul. I wouldn’t want to miss those clues.
Our actual lesson and my charts are here. The core text is here.
This year we tried silk strips to our eggs. Mine was a very dark patterned tie wrapped around the eggs. Ms. JW did a step up by phoning the hubby. Mr. BW stopped by the Goodwill store on the way home. He chose great 80’s silks. Here is the recipe and the results:
BW’s mom sent over photos of his project. They installed it in their kitchen bay window.
We’ve been working through the classic Montessori botany lessons. Parallel to the impressionistic lessons the child is exposed to the botany books. These books are color coded and cover the parts of plants and types of plants. It does not teach how to classify plants. But it teaches you how to identify the parts of a plant that lead to classification.
BW began working on the parts of the leaf – elementary level. We added the venation of leaves because we needed a reason to use the nomenclature we were learning. Ms. JW popped outside during lunch and scoured the yard for different types of leaves – in venation and in shape (that’s next to examine).
There are four types of venation: Netted, Pinnate, Palmate, and Parallel. BW spent time classifying the leaves until he had it cold.
During this process Ms. JW and I saw how much he enjoyed it. We thought he might do well with another, slower time with the leaves. BW didn’t have much experience in Casa doing sorting work. He has trouble slowing down long enough to observe closely. To help him with this, we brought out the contact paper and rub-on letters. Over the next two days BW had sustained interest in this beautiful, artistic, informative way to remember the types of venation.
Here is what ensued:
Organizing the leaves.
BW joining the panels together.
It is work that requires an extreme attention to detail.
Learning how to space and place rub-on letters.
Hanging the nearly finished piece up for inspiration as the tedious process of writing the key of Leaf Venation.
We are working through the Montessori Botany Lessons using the Botany Charts. I’ve asked the children to create their own renditions of the charts. This helps me assess what they have taken from the lessons and helps them work through precision in the elementary.
Here is an excellent video discussing the purpose of the charts and the proper order for discussions: first the real world and then the impressionistic chart.
Along with these charts there are a series of demonstrations (not experiments). BW couldn’t bear to allow his bean seedlings to die. Initially we were looking at root hairs and the way they grow. To do this we inserted five seeds into a small glass beaker filled with sand. We covered the glass with dark papers and made sure the sand was damp. In no time, BW was excited. There they were – all five sprouted!
We’ve gone ahead and planted them in a pot. BW has named them and drawn a key so he can keep track of his names. He then measures growth each time he visits. This is where we are. He is carefully watching the growth of the plants. He is observing how beans grow their leaves. There was a near casualty to one of the five which has brought us to additional discussion meristematic tissue.
One of the outcomes of BW’s looking at the patterns in the Pythagoras Decanomial was a discussion about the proportion in living things. He was shocked when in passing I mentioned that one’s nose bridge is normally the same width as one’s eyes. We had to get a mirror. Our final outcome was to tape a sheet protector to the mirror and get and overhead pen to trace our faces ever so carefully.
BW’s mom is an accomplished artist and she and he analyzed where the eyes are located on the face. How many eyes tall is the face – how about wide.
She then pulled out a real ruler and actually measured the math of the face.
BW was amazed at the real measurements of a face vs. what he thought a face looked like.
We wrote them as both fractions and ratios.
How many heads is your body?
How many noses is your head?
Where do you eyes fall in relation to your whole head.
What is the same width as your mouth?
What is the same height as your mouth?
What about your eyebrows?
What about your ears?
DW working of Gift 4
I love the Froebel gifts. Although Friedrich Froebel is credited with the invention of kindergarten, his dream is not what kindergartens have become. Dr. Montessori was profoundly influenced by his work. If you read the “Froebel philosophy” of what he call occupations (Montessorians would call work) and purposes for learning, one can see the pairing of purpose in the child’s education. Quite a while ago, I purchased a set of his gifts. They informed the early architects in the Prairie School.
I have found them a great place for elementary children to relax after a challenging work. It allows for creativity with materials that I am uncomfortable allowing with Montessori work. They often take the principals they create in the micro out into the recess area. Children who are lacking fine motor skills as they enter elementary often find sewing, watercolor, and calligraphy difficult. The gifts allow the children to refine their motor skills and not be frustrated by embroidery or needlework.
There are rules to the blocks.
1. It must be brought out of its box as a whole.
2. Before it is returned it must be made into the whole again.
3. After mastering all the forms of nature, math, and beauty, the child may create anything. But, the child may not destroy the creation. He can only modify it by moving blocks around carefully.