Recently, my children and I stopped to take a walk around a small lake. As we were walking, we found a circular abandoned garden with large hedges around it, shielding it from view. The garden had been divided into sections, but there was nothing growing.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my family recently moved to a new house and I have had a great time setting up a classroom in the basement for my children, ages 9 and 6. Today I'd like to cover what I've done for their language studies; while this is in a home classroom, it's very similar to what I did in my school classrooms, just smaller.
Recently I posted a link on Facebook to United Montessori Association, an online Montessori training program. To my surprise, several people left negative comments, along the lines of “Can’t agree with online training…sorry.” and “Online training is not possible…it requires a lot of practical learning”. I realized as I read through the comments that I actually don’t know very much about how online training works - and I decided to find out more.
I've written about arts and crafts many times; it's a favorite subject of mine, and has always been a focus in every classroom I've had (at schools and at home). I've always made sure that children have plenty of time for art, as well as all the art supplies they might want: paint, colored pencils, clay, markers, and plenty of paper. One area that's always scared me, though, is that of drawing or sketching. It's not my strong suit, yet it's something that I want my children to know how to do. That's why I was so excited when I picked up a copy of Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes.
A few weeks ago my family and I attended a large homeschooling conference in St. Charles, IL. This is the 13th year this conference has been held and it is attended by hundreds of homeschooling parents and children. The featured speaker this year was John Taylor Gatto, a former New York state public school teacher who now speaks out against traditional schooling. He challenged us to completely re-think our view of education and what's really important for children to learn.
If you've been following my blog for awhile, you'll know that one thing I love about Montessori is how we use small objects to enliven our materials. There are some great ways to use objects, especially in the Language area, so I had some fun today taking pictures for all of you. Hopefully you'll find a few new ideas here.
As with many curricular areas, geometry in Montessori is quite different than it is in traditional education. Almost all of the study is hands-on, using wooden shapes and nomenclature cards to teach geometric concepts. This is very important when it comes to geometry, as research shows that it takes children a long time to be able to picture shapes correctly in their minds, and even longer to be able to mentally "rotate" them. Working with them in a hands-on manner helps immensely.
I've been wanting to do this post for awhile, since so many of you ask me about how to organize materials - both behind-the-scenes and in your classrooms. I'm going to share some of my favorite ways of organizing and storing materials, and hopefully you'll come away with some new ideas (and of course, share your own!)
One of the neat things about Montessori is how "customizable" it is. I doubt that any two Montessori classrooms anywhere are identical - not only do the materials and the set-up vary, but the way everything is done can differ greatly. This can be a negative, too, but right now I want to focus on the positive aspects of it. When I was knee-deep in the Montessori training (you know, making materials day and night, talking non-stop about Montessori theory), I asked my husband this question: "What do you really think of the Montessori method? Is it a viable way to teach children?" I figured by then he had heard enough to form some kind of opinion. His response: "It really depends on the person doing it."
The wide range of glorious Montessori materials is one of the best things about the Montessori method, but putting it all together in a classroom so that everything is neatly arranged (and easy to find) is a challenge. I often get questions from both parents and teachers on how to arrange a classroom, and I've blogged about it quite a bit, but the posts are spread around so I'm going to bring them together in one giant post.