Friday, May 27, 2016

Herb Garden Adventures

Herb Garden Adventures

Children are active learners. Montessori principles encourage children to participate in both outdoor and indoor activities as part of the hands-on approach to learning. The use of herb garden adventures inspires children to learn about nature and the natural world around them. From outdoor garden plots to small containers within the classroom, children love to play in the dirt.

Highly trained Montessori instructors aid children’s natural curiosity by providing the right tools to learn about the natural world. Starting from a simple seed to watch the tiny sprouts, each step in the natural process is a chance to learn.

Starting with Seeds
Seeds are the best way to inspire children to learn about the growing process. The germination of seeds can be done in a variety of ways to help children view the emergence of a plant.
  • Begin by placing seeds on a wet folded paper towel or cotton ball.
  • Gently place the seeds and water source into a plastic bag.
  • Remember to place the seeds outward for optimal viewing.
  • Keep seeds moist but remember not to overwater.
  • Depending on the amount of sun the seed bags can be taped to the window to provide maximum exposure.
In combination with the plastic bag process, seeds can be placed into planting flats or small pots to ensure proper growth. The simple process can inspire children to learn about the importance of the sun, water and soil to herb plants. Each step allows children to pursue the activities further with more opportunities to learn. The prepared learning environment may have books and other activities relating to the care of plants.

Care and Maintenance
Along with growing the seeds, incorporating care and maintenance of the plants can be part of the learning experience.
  • Children can track the progress of plant growth. Measuring the height of plants allows students to view how plants are growing each day or week.
  • If transplanting the herbs outdoors, allow the children a chance to track insects in the plant beds. Keeping a record of insects gives children a chance to explore different species within the area.
  • The importance of worms is part of the herb garden planting process. Worms help move the soil which increases air and water.
  • Children can learn the importance of keeping the soil free from debris to allow for maximum plant growth.
The ongoing teachable moments of herb garden adventures can only be enhanced by the children’s natural desire to learn. Each step in the care and maintenance process of the herb plants is a hands-on learning experience. Allowing the children to learn through the use of their senses, aids in the development of cognitive skills, physical growth, social interaction and critical thinking.

Extension of the Herb Garden Adventures
By introducing herb gardening into the classroom curriculum, children will want to continue to learn about plants and the natural world. The idea a small seed produces a tasty herb, vegetable, fruit or a towering tree will peak children’s curiosity to continuing learning. The introduction of composting and the care of the environment can be part of the extended curriculum. The Montessori instructors will observe each child’s interests to help build upon their natural desire to learn about a specific area pertaining to the herb garden adventures.

As a parent, if you would like more information on how gardening helps children learn, please contact the Montessori School of Pleasanton for a tour. Our staff will be more than happy to answer all your questions on how your child can benefit from our children's primary program.
Farm Themed Activities

Farm Themed Activities

Children have always been intrigued by farms, especially the baby animals and the delicious food that can be grown. Watching vegetables erupt from seeds and fruits arrive from blossoms on trees are amazing events and teach many types of lessons.

There is a wide variety of wonderful activities that can provide the farm experience and give a taste of real life, and they are always welcomed by the students. Here are some that you can use and which will hopefully encourage many more creative ideas.

A Real Animal
  • If you can’t have a living animal on the school property for lack of space, you can have the students “adopt” specific animals and have a continuing project of bringing in pictures and articles from home that they find in magazines and newspapers. You can then discuss those with the class and ask appropriate questions.
Imitate an Animal
  • Children can gallop and make appropriate animal noises as the teacher calls out “stop” and “go”.
Planting Seeds (Science Project)
  • By planting a variety of vegetable seeds, children cannot only observe the growth, but they will also see how there are different rates of sprouting. For example, beans and corn are the fastest to sprout, a tomato is third, and watermelon would take the longest.
Pairing Up
  • Cut out pictures of animals and also have miniature plastic or other material versions of them that the children can pair up.
Cards and Counters
  • Have cards of an animal with numbers on them and have the students use corn kernels or other markers to put that amount on the card.
Where Do the Animals Belong
  • Cut out all kinds of animals and locations and have the students then put the animals into the appropriate farm, zoo or ocean.
Practice Addition
  • Cut out many frogs and lily pads. Put numbers on the different pads. Then have the students put the correct number of frogs on each pad.
Cow from a Milk Jug
  • Make a cow by painting a one gallon milk carton white. Then add black spots. The lid becomes the nose by adding two nostrils. Glue on some googly eyes and cardstock ears to complete the project.
Farm Field Trip
  • The most exciting would be a trip to a working farm, especially one that teaches educational classes. You might find one where the students can hand milk a cow and also observe how much faster a machine can do that chore. Perhaps they could learn about chickens, their habitats, how they lay eggs, and how the eggs are gathered.
Contact the Montessori School in Newark today to learn more about our program and our Newark Montessori Daycare.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Montessori Inspired Rainbow Activities

Montessori Inspired Rainbow Activities

Rainbows are a simple way introduce colors to children. The natural occurrence can inspire children to learn about rainbows, colors and the world around them. Children love to learn. Each question represents a chance to expand your child's knowledge base. As parents, introducing colors into the conversation helps your child learn a whole new vocabulary. At Montessori, instructors use rainbow activities to inspire continuous learning beyond the basic colors.

Introduction of Colors
The introduction of colors is implemented throughout the classroom. Rainbow activities are often a focus for children to learn about the basic colors. Instructors use the basic colors to discuss the world around them. For example, red is for a firetruck. The basics help younger children learn the correct vocabulary for the colors. Colorful objects are placed in different areas to inspire conversation and exploration.
  • Color swatches can be placed in a basket for children to explore.
  • Adding food coloring for each color of the rainbow to plastic containers filled with water and a variety of objects.
  • Free play boxes representing each color may be set throughout the classroom. By examining the color matching objects, children begin to understand colors surround them every day.
The representation of colors in the classroom is done in a variety of ways. As students continue to explore the world of colors, other activities are added to continue the natural learning process.

Benefits of Rainbow Activities
Along with learning colors, younger children will in numerous other ways from rainbow inspired activities. Examples include:

Fine Motor Skills
  • Large colorful beads can be put on shoe laces or placing smaller beads on matching colors of pipe cleaners will increase fine motor skills. The development of muscles in the wrist and hands will help in other future activities including handwriting skills.
Color Development
  • Mixing watercolors with the use of plastic eye droppers to learn how each basic color can create new colors. The simple task of mixing colors help with creative, psychological and social development. Sharing the details of new color mixture developments with fellow students helps with critical communication skills.
  • Placing color swatches into sequence identical to the colors of the rainbow. The sequencing activities help children with scientific inquiry skills and promote literacy.
Sensory Activities
  • Sensory tubs filled with bright colored rice allow children to learn different textures through exploration. As other children join at a sensory tub, the development of social and emotional skills occurs. Children learn to share and work together to form new types of color mixtures. As the children discover, communication skills are being fine-tuned.
Critical Thinking Skills
  • Large rainbow patterned squares are placed on the floor in sequence. Children are given a variety of cut-outs in the form of color foods or other objects to match the with correct square. The activity requires critical thinking skills to be correctly completed. Critical thinking skills have long term benefits. Children learn to internalize the process to match colors. The activity can inspire questions and further research about specific colors or objects.
The simplest rainbow inspired activity will benefit the child cognitively, physically, emotional and socially. Montessori instructors carefully analyze each student’s progress to help guide children to further exploration in a specific learning activity.

If you would like to learn how Montessori-inspired rainbow activities can benefit your child, feel free to contact the school for a tour. The knowledgeable instructors and staff at the Montessori Children's House will be more than happy to answer all your questions, including any about our daycare with potty training.
Lego Math

Lego Math

Math is a subject that many students struggle with, yet the concepts are all around us. Recently, many innovative teachers have realized that Lego bricks make the perfect way not only to teach kids math, but also to show them how math is a part of our everyday lives. Here are five math concepts, ideas that many kids struggle with, which you can use Legos to illustrate on a kid-friendly level.
  • Fractions: The different colors and sizes of Lego bricks enable you to create a visual representation to show kids how fractions add up to make a whole, and as their skills progress, how they can add them to make other fractions. For instance, if you call a 2-by-8 brick a "whole," then a 1-by-1 makes 1/16, a 1-by-2 makes 1/8, a 2-by-2 makes 1/4, and so on. Use contrasting colors to demonstrate the concept at a glance.
  • Square Numbers: Lego bricks offer a perfect way to demonstrate square numbers. Just have your child make a square where the number of pegs down each side is the number they are squaring. Then ask them to count the total number of pegs in the square.
  • Area and Perimeter: Like with square numbers, Lego bricks give kids a visual representation of a concept, a way to count out the answer, and -- as their math skills improve -- a demonstration of how the formulas for perimeter and area actually work. Using the base pieces, create squares, rectangles, and nonconforming shapes with the Legos, and ask your child to find the perimeter and area. You can also do it in reverse, and ask your child to create a shape that has a specific perimeter, area, or both.
  • Multiplication and Times Tables: Lego bricks make a perfect way to demonstrate multiplication in a way that kids understand better than just rote memorization. If you're teaching the two times table, for instance, make a rectangle with two rows of three or four pegs. Explain that "2 x 4" is the same as two rows of four pegs, and ask your child to count the pegs to find the answer. Then add a 1-by-2 brick to quickly add one peg to each row, and ask again. Repeat with each number, and then repeat the entire process with each times table.
  • The Mean or Arithmetic Average: Lego brick towers make a great way to demonstrate the concept of the mean, or arithmetic average. Give your child several towers of Lego bricks: for instance, a tower of four bricks, a tower of three, and a tower of five. To find the average, have your child combine all of the bricks into one tower, and then split them equally into the same number of towers they started with. In this case, there are 12 total bricks, to make three towers of four bricks each -- demonstrating that the mean is four.

Tips for Lego Lessons

With Lego math, expect that not all of the lesson will be focused study. This is okay because the entire purpose of using Legos to do math is to make it fun. Have a plan for what concepts you want to teach, but allow time for free play initially. Then you can transition more naturally into the lesson at hand.

Kids learn best when their imagination is given free rein, their curiosity about the world is encouraged, and concepts are taught in ways that relate to real life. If this sounds like the kind of education you want for your child, you will love the Montessori approach. Contact our Mission Valley Kindergarten to schedule a tour of our school.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Quiet Time Activities

Quiet Time Activities

Quiet Time Activities

When kids stop taking their daily naps, quiet time activities are the perfect replacement for them to get needed down time. They are great solutions for your child when you can't get them to lay down for a rest. Activities should be simple and not involve a lot of energy.

Life often finds us getting caught up in hustling about from one activity to another as we try to maximize the amount of activities we can get out of each day. This constant movement can have a negative impact on your child. Montessori preschool teachers find it important to implement "quiet time" into their day with children. It provides the kids a time to just "be" and slow down.

Your preschool child needs time to stop and just gather his or hers thoughts and look at what they are experiencing. They need a time to just sit rest and quietly observe and explore their world. When a preschool age child is given a balance between activities and quiet time it helps them feel more relaxed throughout their day. With the relaxed feeling comes an opportunity for being able to learn better. It will improve your child's ability to understand information easier when it is presented to them.

Silence Game

The Silence Game is a favorite in the Montessori classroom setting to help your child relax and receive some quiet, down time from his or her learning time. It takes practice as preschool aged children have relatively short attention spans. They will find it hard to stay still for more than 30 seconds. They can learn with practice to relax, absorb and appreciate what is around them.

To play the game, choose a time when children are calm and tell them you are going to play a game. Let them know it is the Silence Game and it means they have to keep their bodies still and their voices quiet: no talking. They have to listen very carefully for their name and when they hear it; walk quietly to the person who calls their name.

You will notice how quietly the children walk towards the person. If some of the kids are having trouble staying quiet, make sure you call the names of a few quiet ones as this is sure to get their attention. You will soon see how aware the kids become when they find out the game is going to be played; as well as, how quiet the environment around them becomes.

Activity Bags

Grab a stack of bags and fill them with different types of activities. Three ring pencil pouches are the best to see what is in each bag and gives your child a chance to pick one that holds a particular interest for them. Place a piece of card stock in each to give it some stability.

Ideas to put inside the bags:

  • Fun designs can be made with pipe cleaners.
  • A magnifying glass with a variety of small objects to look at and discover.
  • Cookie cutters can become great stencils when included with crayons.
  • Aluminum foil can make great reflective art when combined with markers.

Montessori schools use these types of activities to encourage your child to relax which enables them to learn. If you are looking for quality afterschool care in Milpitas for your child, contact Daystar Montessori today. Our mission is to encourage your child's development by giving them an awareness of their environment and independent thought. See how we can help your child grow and become a self-directed learner.