Favorite Geography Extensions

Proudly showing off their completed globes

One of the best ever geography extensions is making a globe. This makes for a great end of year work, as it is a multi-step, multi-day project. Children are ready for this work after building their attention spans, their hand-eye coordination and geography knowledge all year long.

Materials

  • Paper mache (You can find a simple recipe to make homemade paper mache here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ba2ePeEiF2E)
  • The colored globe, for reference
  • A balloon for each child interested in making a globe
  • Newspaper cut into strips
  • Construction paper for the continents – white, orange, pink, red, green, yellow, brown
  • Continent shapes from the world puzzle map to trace around
  • Pin poking materials to perforate around the traced shapes (You can find pin poking materials here: https://www.montessoriservices.com/wood-handled-puncher You can use thumb tacks for this work, too)
  • Blue paint and paintbrush

Directions

  • Step One
  • Make paper mache paste.
  • Blow up a round balloon to match the size of the colored globe.
  • Demonstrate dipping the strips of paper into the paste, using your fingers to remove excess, and pasting the strip on to the balloon. Continue covering the balloon until it is completely covered.
  • Leave the covered balloon (the globe) to dry until the paper and strips feel dry and hard. You can balance the globe on a paper bowl on a shelf while it dries. Air drying the globe may take several days, so plan ahead.
  • Invite children to make their own globe shape.
  • Step Two
  • Demonstrate tracing around each continent shape on the colored construction paper, matching the color of the continent piece to the colored paper.
  • Demonstrate pin-poking (some call this paper punching) each continent. Many children will already know how to do this from making two-dimensional maps, and will not require this demonstration.
  • Invite children to pin poke the continent shapes. Have a special container for each child’s continent pieces – e.g. labelled ziplock bag, envelope, etc.
  • Step Three
  • Once the globes are dry, they can be painted blue to represent the ocean. Leave the globes to dry once again.
  • Step Four
  • With the colored globe available as a guide, demonstrate placing the colored paper continents onto the colored globe to find the correct side of the continent to spread the glue, and then glueing the continent in place on to your painted globe. Some children may need the help of a friend or teacher to accomplish this step.
  • Step Five
  • Leave the globe to dry once again.
  • Further Extensions
  • Older students might make a globe showing world biomes. Use white paper for the continent shapes, and color/draw the biomes on each continent piece – forest, desert, grasslands, tundra, grasslands, etc.
  • Consider making a globe to show major rivers and mountain ranges, or climate zones, etc.
Map of the world work made from felt.

Here is another favorite geography work – a map of the world made out of felt. You can make just one felt world map to be added to the geography shelf for the children to use.

One of the teachers at the school where I work enlists the help of parent volunteers to make felt world maps for all of the children who are graduating, and they receive their map as a graduation gift during the graduation ceremony. Parents trace and cut out enough pieces for each graduate. Some parents just use scissors, but parents have also cut out large numbers of each shape at one time using a laser cutter.

After practicing laying out the continent pieces on the blue hemispheres, children can be invited to sew the continent pieces onto the blue felt to make a permanent map. For those children who have been introduced to embroidery, they can embroider ‘The World’ and their name using a simple chain stitch. They can also embroider around each hemisphere to make their map even more decorative.

Felt continent pieces

With thanks to Ms. Jane and Ms. Jackie from the Montessori School of Pullman, for sharing these geography ideas, and with thanks to whoever shared these ideas with them! I invite you to share some of your favorite geography extensions, too.

The End of Year Wobbles!

A graduate from 2020, graduating via Zoom

Updated and edited from an initial posting in 2012!

This school year has been unlike any other, with pandemic precautions forcing us to reimagine many of our traditions, including graduation, and end of school year celebrations. However, one thing remains the same. As the end of the school year approaches, we notice a few children having a case of what we call ‘the end of year’ wobbles!  Some children are preparing to leave the safe, secure, familiar feeling of their classrooms, where they have grown and learned for three, and in a few cases, up to seven years and move on to elementary school.  They are going from being the big fish in a little pond to the little fish in a much bigger school.  Many of our four-to-five year olds are preparing for kindergarten.  Many will begin riding the school bus on a daily basis.  Change is unsettling, exciting, and a little scary.

Our soon to be graduates often go through a heightened flurry of activity.

“Oh my gosh, it seemed like I had forever to paint a map of the world, count to a thousand, complete my book of division work, read all of the Bob books, write my story . . . and now there are only four weeks left!”

As change approaches, children may go through a heightened need for hugs and conversations and reassurance.

As a parent, if you look back at times of change in your own life – leaving home to go to college, getting married, becoming a parent – you’ll perhaps recognize those feelings we call ‘the end of year wobbles’.  Lots of emotion, lots of excitement, all mixed together with a sprinkling of butterflies and nerves.  You might even be having some of these feelings, too, as you watch your once so little child, now with a big kid smile, walk proudly forward to receive a graduation diploma.  Treasure each stage and age, because before you know it they’ll be walking across a high school stage to receive a diploma, and worries about the first school bus ride will be replaced with worries about the first time driving the family car!

MSoP News ~ May 2021

Guest Blog by Ms. Jackie Farrand

As we welcome May the classrooms are buzzing with children working and enjoying time with their friends. Shoes are changed more quickly as we eagerly go out to enjoy the sunshine. We are enjoying the signs of life as the ladybugs return to the play structure, the trees sprout new bright green buds, and beautiful dandelions decorate the grass.

Soon, we will finish up big projects, pack up cubbies, graduate some children, and celebrate the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Whether your child(ren) joins us for a fun summer school session or takes time off, it is Summer on the Palouse. We would like to offer two Montessori inspired tips for summer break. One, set a routine. You do not need a detailed schedule. A simple routine helps the child know what to expect and makes transitions smoother. For example, after breakfast we clean up and head out for an outing. Two, follow the child, and I would add- Follow the family. Find the balance that works for all. Is it keeping busy or just a few activities per week? Involve everyone in making plans.

Whether you are planners or prefer to be spontaneous, here are some fun and low cost summer fun ideas to get you started.

Practical life is what you do daily. Make some fresh squeezed lemonade, a refreshing frozen banana ice cream. Have your child make and pack a picnic lunch or snack for the park. Give them real tasks. Plucking dead flowers off the petunias and pulling weeds are tasks my kiddo loves. Tip- Weeds are easier to pull after it rains.

Explore the Palouse- walks/scooter/bike rides on the Chipman Trail, pick fruits and flowers (Bishop Orchard (apples), Nelson’s Orchard (cherries), Stratton’s Cutting Gardens(flowers)). Pick some new local parks to visit. Explore a county park: Idlers Rest, Kamiak Butte, and Klemgard Park.

Cherry picking – you can also pick flowers and blueberries right here on the Palouse.

Do a tasting tour. Answer the question, who has the best ice cream on the Palouse? If you make a chart and take notes, boom you’ve done language and science. If you don’t, you still enjoy tasty treats. (Sweet Mutiny, Ferdinand’s, Rolly’s, Neill’s, Panhandle Cone & Coffee) If you drive out to Deary, ID, Pie Safe Bakery and Kitchen has awesome ice cream.

As for us, we’ll pick a couple ideas from above and round out our summer with lots of reading outside, bike rides, helping with summer school, and practicing our cheese board skills. What are you looking forward to doing? What is your summer tradition?

*Please check places for any Covid hour changes or requirements. For places not directly linked, check Facebook for their business page.

For a link to one of Ms. Bev’s favorite walks on the Palouse to do with children, check out this previous blog post from Ms. Bev https://wordpress.com/post/bevfollowsthechild.wordpress.com/196

MSoP News ~ April 2021

Happy spring!

April is a busy time at MSoP. This week we tried dyeing eggs for Easter using natural dyes. We used red cabbage, onion skins and beets. You can find the recipes for natural egg dyes here: https://www.myfrugalhome.com/how-to-dye-easter-eggs-naturally/ Eggs and colored eggs are a part of Easter celebrations, but also other spring celebrations, such as Nowruz, which is the Iranian New Year, also known as the Persian New Year, which begins on the spring equinox. Eggs are a symbol of new life, and as the weather warms and the day lengthens, we are all ready for new life – leaves opening on the trees, nests filled with baby birds, seeds sprouting . . .

We also joined with Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, our neighbors in the Gladish Community and Cultural Center, to plant blue and silver pinwheels to bring awareness that April is child abuse prevention month. As we planted our pinwheels around the grounds, we talked about our shared vision of our world as a place where all children can feel safe and supported by their families and their communities. You can read more about this campaign here: https://preventchildabuse.org/resources/pinwheels-for-prevention/

What else is happening in April?

Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

We will be taking school photos on April 14th, something we weren’t sure would happen this year. Ms. Alicia who works at our school and is a professional photographer took a course in modern school photography to prepare to take our school photos this year. Individual photos of the children will also be placed in a grid to form a composite class picture – a great way to have a class photo without crowding everyone together for one picture.

We will offer vacation care for some of our students during our spring break. We will spend extra time playing outdoors, including a picnic snack time and lunchtime. We will be making bird feeders to hang from a tree near our parking lot, making pretend binoculars and spending time bird watching, going on a nature scavenger hunt and enjoying lots of stories and art activities. Here’s a link to show you how to make a simple bird feeder: https://www.honeyandlime.co/how-to-make-a-bird-feeder-fun-summer-crafts-for-kids/

April 10 -16th is the week of the young child, and we will be celebrating our young children with lots of posts about the wonderful world of the young child and their amazing brains, using the hashtag #woyc21. You can find resources for celebrating the week of the young child here: https://www.naeyc.org/events/woyc

As a staff, as we plan for summer and the next academic year, we are spending time considering lessons we have learned from the pandemic, and ideas we will keep and ideas we will gladly ditch, once it is safe to do so. Last year, our graduation ceremonies were held via Zoom, with graduation caps, peacock feathers (a traditional graduation gift at our school, because our graduates should be as proud as peacocks!) a book and the diploma, all in a gift bag, being delivered by the teachers to all of our graduates’ homes. This year we hope to hold the graduation ceremonies in person, using a large event space within our building. Families will all have their own tables and snacks, and tables will be very well spaced apart. However, Zoom allowed family members living throughout the states, the middle-east, Asia and Europe to join the ceremony, and it was wonderful to see grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends of our graduates. Will we able to hold a hybrid ceremony, with close family guests in attendance, but with a Zoom link open for more distant family members? Will we film the ceremony and share the Youtube link with our families? The pandemic has really highlighted the importance of our family, and with travel restricted, we have had to learn to use technology to maintain our strong family connections.

Our elementary students are also preparing for a Science Fair to be held April 19th -23rd. This is such a fun learning experience. Families will be invited into the classroom via Zoom to watch their child present to the class, and on the final day, science fair displays will be in the long hallway for families to visit, while still maintaining physical distancing. Our younger students will also have the opportunity to have a walk through with their teachers. Seeing the work of older students is inspirational for our younger children.

As a family, just as we are doing as a staff, this might be a good time to reflect on what you will keep from the pandemic and what you will ditch as soon as you are able! We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

MSoP News ~ March 2021

Welcome to March at MSoP. March is a busy month at school, with tours being given to prospective families interested in enrolling their children in the 2021- 2022 school year. We are planning for summer camp, too, and accepting summer camp applications from our currently enrolled families. During the month of March we also wrap up parent-teacher conferences, and complete staff evaluations.

It’s now nearly a year since MSoP closed down, due to the pandemic. That seems both a long time ago and just like yesterday. We are so grateful for the continued support of our families. You really helped us survive during the months of no tuition during April and May, and helped us reopen our doors to in-person learning on June 1. We are also very thankful for all of the precautions families and teachers have taken to keep our community safe. We have learned a lot during this time, including the need for flexibility. This month, as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, I know I will look back on March 17th 2020, and remember it as the first day of our school closure. As a school community, we have not only survived, but thrived. Families, you have done an amazing job of shepherding your youngsters through this challenging time. Thank you!

Today, with the sun shining and a high of 54 degrees, spring seems very close. Our current students are enjoying lots of outside time. This Friday we may even have a picnic lunch! Our students are showing amazing growth in so many areas. I love hearing our students read, and seeing the fine maps they are producing, and all of their very creative art and building work.

I am showcasing some of the work produced by our students in Aspen class. This is map work produced by students aged 4 – 6. Wow!

As spring approaches, our plants in the classroom get some extra attention using this plant care kit. Plants can be watered, and also the leaves, which can get dusty, can be washed until they shine!

The practical life work, which was mostly red, pink and fluffy last month for Valentine’s Day, has been replaced with lots of green and shamrocks. Changing up the materials and containers for scooping, tweezing and pouring keeps the practical life exercises fun for the children.

Parent Education~ Montessori Math

The Montessori math materials include hands-on concrete representations of our decimal system – the Golden Bead materials – as well as colorful bead bars and many other materials for teaching numeracy, place value, skip counting, and introduction to the mathematical operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

The math materials are introduced in a way to gradually move the child from the concrete to the abstract – that is from a reliance on using the hands-on materials, to being able to do math ‘in your head’ or with paper and pencil. Each math lesson is built on what the child learned in previous lessons, in a very organized and systematic way.

Here, Ms. Sudha, one of our Montessori teachers who has Montessori training to teach 3 – 6 year olds, as well as 6 – 9 year olds, plus a Washington State Teaching certificate, introduces us to some of the math materials she uses in her classroom for 3 – 6 year olds.

Thanks, Ms. Sudha, for the virtual tour of the math materials

Kindergarten and Beyond

This post is geared towards helping families with children who will be 5 on or before August 31st, 2021, to find out more about getting ready for kindergarten. The post also introduces families to the options that are available for children aged 5 and older in our community.

The Montessori School of Pullman hosted this Zoom meeting, and representatives from the Pullman School District and Pullman Community Montessori gave guest presentations.

In many preschools at this time, teachers are assessing individual children’s readiness for kg. We use this simple checklist, that covers key readiness indicators in the areas of interpersonal and self help skills, communication, fine and large motor, literacy, science and math. Please remember that if your child has not mastered all of these skills, you can continue to provide opportunities for practice through the coming months. As an example, if your child does not yet use large muscles with confidence, you can schedule time outside to practice throwing and catching a ball, climbing at the park, or using their balance to ride a scooter. If your child struggles with taking turns and sharing, this can be a great time to start playing some simple board games.

One of the most important areas for readiness is in the area of social and self help skills. A child who struggles with these skills may benefit from the gift of an additional year before moving on to kg. Otherwise, a child may struggle with transitions, have melt downs and feel out of depth. One option is to give this child an additional year in the 3 – 6 class. We call the third year in the 3 – 6 class the leadership year. This year of being the oldest child in the class can help the child mature, grow in confidence and strengthen social skills. At the end of this year, families can assess whether the child would benefit from KG or is ready to move into first grade.

You can see the complete checklist of kg readiness skills here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1hEOu75qUEQrW1vbdmTz-_5tVXGmpWsKNUInEK8njRM0/edit?usp=sharing

So one option for KG is to remain at the Montessori School of Pullman.

Our application forms are available here: https://www.pullmanmontessori.org/kindergarten Please note that the KG option is now only in the 3 – 6 year old room.

Do you want to know more about a typical day for a kg student in the Pullman School District, check here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1g3B5FKCCzNoF8awQj946rdv6OVggI7-4cwQMMDBKXjs/edit?usp=sharing

Do you want to know more about enrollment at Pullman Community Montessori? You can access enrollment information here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vwsbz-4Q5_4o-syCi64ms4kmETh9r_26/view?usp=sharing

To end with, here are some KG students working hard at the Montessori School of Pullman. KG is a year rich with learning experiences, and we wish you the very best for your child for their KG year and beyond!

MSoP News ~ February 2021

Our teachers are very resourceful when it comes to putting together interesting activities for their students to explore. For the practical life area of the classroom, changing out the containers, the type of spoon, the material that can be transferred, as an example, gives a spooning activity brand new appeal for the children. In January, there was a lot of silver and blue on the shelf. Now in February, the practical life shelves are full of reds and pinks, and some soft fuzzy materials and, of course, hearts.

By refreshing the shelves on a monthly basis, teachers are encouraging students to work on their independence and fine motor skills throughout the year. You can see the result of this fine motor work in the development of your child’s writing and cutting skills. Thanks, teachers!

We will celebrate St. Valentine’s Day at school on Friday, February 12. Children may bring cards for their classmates. For Aspen and Willow, children may write their own name on the cards they bring to show who the cards are from, but please don’t individually label who the cards are going to. Maple students may individually address their cards, because they can all read and write names independently. Please do not send candy or trinkets. The gift of a card is quite enough to celebrate friendship. Aspen and Maple classes would like a couple of parents to volunteer to bring a special snack. Willow afternoon class will cook and prepare snack on Thursday the 11th to share with friends on the Friday. Thanks.

Aspen – Bring 24 cards

Willow – Bring 18 cards

Maple – Bring 10 cards

What else is going on this month?

  • We welcome Layla, Piper and Gwen back to school.
  • We welcome Luca and his family to our school. Luca has joined Willow morning class.
  • Lunar New Year celebrations, with a dragon parade, on Friday, February 19th. We will video and share the parades.
  • Parent-teacher conferences on the evening of Thursday, February 25th (and again on March 5)
  • Re-enrollment for already enrolled families for the 2021 – 2022 school year. We will have classes for students ages 2 – 6. New enrollment forms will be in cubbies very soon, and are due back at school on or before Friday, March 12. You can elect to either pay your deposit with the application form, or elect to be invoiced in June.
  • Board elections for Vice- President, Secretary and two member-representatives. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for people to approach about serving on the board, or if you would like to consider running. We meet once a month, via Zoom, for a couple of hours, on the third Tuesday of the month, between 5:30 and 7:30. Board members also spend an additional hour each month preparing for the board meeting – reading the minutes and the agenda, looking over financial reports.
  • ‘Have a Heart’ supply drive for our Gladish neighbors, Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse

All of this month we are collecting supplies for Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse (ATVP). These supplies will be available for community members at their pantry on the third floor, and will also be used to stock the shelter with much needed supplies. We are collecting: Toiletries, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, dish soap, toilet paper, sanitary products . Supplies needed for kids: toothbrushes, toothpaste, diapers, pull-ups, kid shampoo, packs of underwear and socks, etc.

MSoP News ~ January 2021

Best wishes for a year filled with good health and happiness.

The photo above shows a simple way to celebrate the New Year with fireworks art.

We are so happy to be back for the new semester. We started this semester with an inservice day for teachers. One of the most important aspects of a Montessori program is the focus on the prepared environment. That means the classroom has been carefully prepared to meet the needs and interests of the students enrolled in the classroom. Everything in the classroom has a purpose in mind. The furniture has been placed a certain way to enhance the learning environment. if the teachers notice a bottleneck in the flow of children, then they make adjustments. If the teachers notice that a learning area is being ignored by the children, then they change out the activities to draw children back to that area. That’s how we spent most of our inservice day, and ended by sharing our new ideas for learning activities and learning themes with the teachers from the other classrooms. The opportunity to share and collaborate are ways for teachers to build their mental storage of creative ideas for use in the classroom. As an example, if I was still teaching I would love to use the idea Ms. Lynn brought to the group of using child made ‘fortune tellers’ to practice math facts.

Thank you, parents, for accommodating our need for this inservice day. We appreciate it, and your children reap the benefits of some new and exciting activities to explore! Below is a sample of new activities from Willow Room. Willow Room uses the theme of bells for January (‘Ringing’ in the New Year) and also uses a lot of blue, silver, metal, glass and shiny objects in the Practical Life area, because these are cool colors and surfaces, and January is our coldest month! By adding a new material to transfer and pour, with a new sound, practical life attracts the children back to the shelves to explore. These materials helps the children develop fine motor control, concentration, independence and a sense of order, all skills we like to focus on as children return to school.

Willow Room is also preparing for a study of time, money, and weight as you can see from the math shelves. I especially love the chalk board clock, where children can practice writing in the numerals 1 – 12 in the correct place on the clock.

Willow classroom will also build a community book about the children in the class, highlighting ways they are different and ways they are the same.

Aspen Room will begin the semester with a review of the ground rules and lots of grace and courtesy lessons, and then will move on to a study of how animals adapt to winter (hibernation, migration, building a colony). There will be time to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., and then the children will move on to a study of their five senses.

Maple Room students will use the book ‘Martin’s Big Words’ (pictured above) to not only learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., but also as a springboard for a vocabulary study. What makes a word big and powerful? What words of Martin’s were big and powerful? What changes do we want to make by using our words.

The students are also working hard to master their math facts, whether in addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. As mentioned above, the class is exploring fun and creative ways to practice math facts.

You can make a fortune teller at home by following this YouTube video!

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