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Virtual Montessori in the time of Covid-19 May 24, 2020

This is guest blog by Michelle Ulgasan , better known as Teacher Mitch. Teacher Mitch is the current secretary of the Montessori Institute of America (MIA), a well known and respected teacher trainer, and a classroom teacher. Thank you, Teacher Mitch, for sharing how you and other MIA schools in the Philippines worked together to connect with families during the extended closure.

MIA Montessori Schools in the Philippines goes Online

Written by: Michelle Ulgasan

Classes in the Philippines were suspended since the second week of March.  After the suspension, an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was declared in the National Capital Region where most of the MIA schools are situated.  The supposedly 30 days ECQ, led to an extension and now we are almost on our 3rd month.  After the first month, the owners of the MIA schools started to come together to discuss how we will face the challenges of this pandemic, including thinking of ways in which we can sustain the school’s operational expenses while we are not able to receive children physically in school.  It was at first unimaginable how we can bring the Montessori Way online.  Through the sharing of ideas and practices we do in our physical classroom, I would say somehow we are able to deliver a program where respect for children and individual differences is carried out.  The following schools offer online programs to our Montessori children.  

Menti Assorbenti Montessori is offering online classes to the children since April.   This program is called “Online Playdate” where the children come together to see their classmates.  Since the school year closed abruptly, the children were not able to say goodbye.  The joy on the children’s faces on their first day to see each other via the Zoom meeting room was priceless.  We could really see how much they miss each other.  Our activities include processing the situation we are in, the safety measures we need to observe, a lot of show and tell where all the children always have an opportunity to speak and share something in class.  We do art, storytelling, singing, dancing, and gross motor activities.  We also invite people from different parts of the world to show our children how it is like at their place.  We are very grateful to have the support of the MIA community who willingly accepted our invitation.  Special mention to the following: Ms. Beverley Wolff for the wonderful story about the continent and also for sharing about the USA.  Then we have Ms. Wenru Sun who shared with the children the beautiful places in China and the many delicious foods they have.  We were also joined by Ms. Janet Duffy who shared her adventure in South Africa and Ms. Ann Tran who showed us beautiful Vietnam and the many ways you can use the lotus plant.  We are glad we are able to pull this through.  Of course, this will not work successfully without the support of the parents at home.  This new norm has actually strengthened our relationship with the parents and has formed many friendships with other people who are very much willing to help our class.  

facebook.com/MentiAssorbentiMontessori

email: admin@mentimontessori.com

Macquarie Preparatory School offers a one on one program to the children where they provide Practical Life activities, Language, and Math.  The owner of the school, Mrs. Kristine Tagle shares about how they conduct their online classes.  They utilize zoom to continue on with the learning. They create a replica of the Montessori materials to make the children still see the materials they use in school while they are doing online.  She also had parents pick up some materials from school.  The children will use these materials as manipulatives during their online classes which helps them to concentrate. They also use a zoom powerpoint for phonemic awareness. This is presented similarly to how the Montessori sound buckets are used.  They also offer assistance to parents on how they can guide their children at home and how to keep track of their progress.   She gives them access to the school’s online library and sends out videos of practical life activities where the children will also try to do at home.  She hopes that her program will help others and be inspired that our Montessori method can make it on the digital platform.

Macquarie Preparatory School

facebook.com/MacquariePreschool

admin@macquariepreschool.com

Maria Montessori School of Mt. Carmel started their online classes this month of May.  Mrs. Rosellie Azores shares two of her activities during their class.  Here, the teacher is showing the children the life cycle of a butterfly during storytime.  The other photo shows the teacher telling the story of the Invisible String by Patrice Karst.  She feels this is appropriate to tell the children because it talks about being connected by the invisible string that is love despite being apart especially now that we can’t go out to meet our friends.  The teachers are happy to see the children once again and vice versa.

Maria Montessori School of Mount Carmel

facebook.com/CarmelMontessori

carmelmontessori@gmail.com

Palm Springs Montessori Integrated School will start their online program this coming June.  Mrs. Dahlia Manantan, the owner of the school decided to take their class online to be able to continue the children’s learning as they stay safe at home.  The teachers are all busy preparing the lesson plans for their online classes.  As much as they want the children to be physically back in school, safety is their priority.   They are embracing virtual learning to deliver the Montessori program for their 3 to 6 years old online.  

Palm Spring Montessori Integrated School

Facebook.com/PalmSpringsMontessoriIntegratedSchool,Inc

psmlci@yahoo.com


It has been declared by our Department of Education that our schools will be allowed to open in late August.  Hopefully, there will be a vaccine for this deadly disease soon.  Many parents of these preschoolers are hesitant to send their children back to school.  This pandemic has brought so much change in everyone’s life.  We are glad that our Montessori teachers are resilient and are ready to take on the new challenges this situation demands.  We all pray that soon COVID 19 will have its cure.

 

Winter Celebrations December 2, 2019

At our school, we are big on traditions.  Traditions and annual events help children learn about the calendar, and help build memories, anticipation and a sense of belonging through shared experiences. Here I share some of our winter traditions.

Below – some images from our Santa Lucia celebrations. Note how easy it is to make the costumes! We use old white sheets and a yard of cheap red fabric to make the robes, and added a red rope or felt sash for a belt. No sewing necessary. We bought the Santa Lucia crown from Amazon, but we’ve also made a paper version for free. The candles are from the dollar store, and are battery operated.

At the Montessori School of Pullman, where I work, we enjoy many cultural celebrations with our students during this month.

In December, in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are growing shorter, and the nights longer.  Is it any wonder that many cultural celebrations around the winter solstice feature candles, for humans need a reminder that light and warmth will return, as the seasons change?  For elementary students, a focus on the celebrations of light can fit into their history study of the Fundamental Needs of Humans, for light and warmth are fundamental needs, as is the need for community.

This year we will learn about the original St. Nicholas on Friday, December 6th, and how children in Europe celebrate his day. 

This celebration centers around a special community circle, the sharing of the story of the real St. Nicholas, a look at maps to see where his day is especially celebrated and a sharing of traditions. The children notice than in the paintings of Saint Nicholas, he looks a lot like Santa Claus – he wears a big hat, he carries a staff that looks a lot like a big candy cane, he brought good things to eat and gifts of money. Just like children in Europe, we leave a shoe at the door and are delighted to find a small gift – a cookie and a tiny candy -cane. As a follow up work children are invited to color, cut out and glue their own St. Nicholas stand up figure.

On Friday, December 13th, we will celebrate St. Lucia Day, and learn how this special day is celebrated in Sweden.  Again, the celebration centers around a special community circle, and involves maps, dressing up as Santa Lucia, Star Boy and the tomten, a sharing of a special treat, listening to stories about the tomten (a mythical character, rather like a gnome or house-sprite!). Following the circle, children are invited to make traditional tree decorations enjoyed in Sweden – the flag, stars, yule pigs . . . . Children may try on the special clothes, draw their own pictures of Santa Lucia or color pictures. The children love to see photos of the parades, and share their own memories of parades, especially winter parades. When we learn about cultural traditions from far away, children often notice both the differences and similarities. See photos at top of post!

We will learn about Hanukkah, and light the Menorah candles.  We also enjoy making and eating latkes, and playing the dreidel game.

Towards the end of our time together at school in December, all of our students are invited to ride on the Polar Express, at least in their imaginations.  The teachers will read the story to the children about a child visiting the North Pole via a ride on a special train.  The child receives a special gift – a bell from a reindeer harness – but loses it on the way home.  The next day, the child opens a tiny box to find the bell and a special note from Santa. We love to act out the story, with all of the children having an opportunity to participate – coming to school in PJs, pretending to fall asleep at school during a giant slumber party, being invited on board the train, singing songs while on the train, fixing problems during the ride (maybe fixing the track, or shooing a reindeer off the track.) Our visit to the North Pole includes a special snack of hot chocolate, a sweet mandarin orange and a cookie, and a visit with Santa.

Children are invited to play all of the special roles, including Santa, the elves, the train driver, the conductor, the engineer, ticket office staff, special helpers to fix the train, or shoo reindeer off the track. There is no audience or rehearsals. This is a large-scale, hour long improvised drama, that allows children to use their imaginations to experience a beloved children’s story.

During December, we will celebrate the winter solstice, the official first day of winter.  This provides a wonderful opportunity to involve science, and demonstrate the movement of earth around the sun. We also have a tree that our children decorate completely with hand-made ornaments.

Our final event is a winter singalong, when parents are invited to hear their children sing a mix of winter songs. We love to feature songs about snow, and include ‘Light a Candle for Peace’, one of our school’s all-time favorite songs.

After we return in January, our winter celebrations will continue with Kwanzaa. 

Other families and schools enjoy other traditions. My grandsons’ school has a special Nativity play each year, for example. I would love to hear about the traditional celebrations of your family or school.

Sharing lots of cultural celebrations with your children introduces them to the rich diversity of cultures on our earth, but also helps them discover our common humanity, too.

 

An International Celebration November 16, 2019

Filed under: celebrations,community,Community Building,cultural studies,Diversity,Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 11:11 pm

Two of our school’s values are diversity and community. I think we managed to celebrate both values with an International celebration.

Each of the five classrooms focused on a different country, and families used a map to travel around the world, in their imaginations, and visited the USA, Bangladesh, England, Australia and Argentina. At each stop, there was an activity/craft for families to enjoy, plus food to sample. A favorite spot on the trip around the wold was the International Tasting Room. Families brought a dish representing their culture to the potluck. The Montessori School of Pullman holds this event in November, a traditional time in the USA for families and friends to gather and share good food and good company!

This was an opportunity to focus on diversity. We sampled food, music, crafts, and traditional clothing, representing various cultures. It was also an opportunity to celebrate community, as we came together to share good food and good company.

To manage the event, each class was only responsible for decorating their classroom to represent their chosen country. Administration, in conjunction with a local sorority, also having diversity as one of their values, and with the help of parent volunteers, prepped all of the activities. (Big shout out to Chi Sigma Alpha!) Parents contributed dishes to the International Potluck. Sorority members helped with cleean up.

I highly recommend planning an International Celebration event at your home/school. I encourage a multi-sensory approach, involving music, food and an activity!

 

We are the kids of the Montessori School of Pullman and we approved this message November 9, 2016

Filed under: Community Building,cultural studies,peace,Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 9:12 am
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We are the kids of the Montessori School of Pullman, and we approved this message!

Our primary students, ages 3 – 6, are currently inspired to learn about North America, and many of them are busy making North America books (see photos above, for cultural work about North America)  Our elementary students have been focused on the election for President of the United States of America.

Today, on election day 2016, as President Barack Obama comes to the end of his second term, the kindergarten and elementary students gathered in small groups to discuss their platforms for when they run for president, some time around 2044 and 2048.

“What are the biggest problems facing our nation?”

We have some strong environmentalists among our children. 

“Our biggest problem is water.  In some areas, we don’t have enough water and other places are flooding.  This is bad for people and animals.”

“Everyone needs clean water.”

“We need to plant more trees.”

 We also have children who are very concerned over helping others.

“There are people with no homes and not enough good food.”

“Some people don’t have enough money.”

“There are too many people in jails.”

Other children are most concerned with peace. 

“Crime is a big problem, and violence. “

“What is something we should change about our country?  What is something that would make Americans have a better happier life?”

This is where we heard our children who strongly believe in social justice come through.

“Everyone should have the same rights.”

“We need to use our words to solve our problems not our bodies.”

“We need to change our world through peace.”

Other ideas for improving the lives of Americans:

“We need to recycle.”

“We need to pick up litter.”

“We need to plant more trees.”

“We need to build more homes.”

“Don’t quit!  People need to keep going.”

“Everyone should go to a good school.”

And finally, What would you do if you were president?”

“I would help everyone who needs help.”

“I would give people money who need money.”

“I would give money, food, clothes and homes to the poor.”

“I would build a ginormous reservoir and connect it to all of the pipes.”

“I would help people go to school.”

“I would make it so that everyone can come into America.”

I love to hear the ideas of our young problem solvers.  Maybe one day in the future, one of our students will be asking for our votes.

 

 

Children’s House Montessori School. Lewiston ~ revisited May 19, 2016

Filed under: cultural studies,Montessori education,Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 6:40 am

It’s been two years since I last visited Ms. Megan’s school, Children’s House Montessori School, in Lewiston, Idaho.  Megan has owned and operated the school since 2011.  The school began in a gas station that was creatively converted into a wonderful space for children that was very quickly outgrown.  Then, Megan moved her school into the old library in Lewiston, a very gracious building, with some parts dating back to the early 1900s, in an amazing location next to Pioneer Park in Lewiston.  It was nice to revisit the school and see how plans and dreams Megan had for the building two years ago have come into being, and that the school is growing and thriving.  Congratulations, Megan, and best wishes for your future success.

So, when I visit a Montessori School I like to focus on three beautiful things about the school.  This is what I see as making the school unique.

First I love the location.  (Isn’t that what realtors say?  The three most important factors in real estate are location, location and location!)  The school is in Pioneer Park, so as well as the playground (which in itself is awesome, and includes lots of natural elements like rocks, planting boxes, places to dig), the children have access to the park for outdoor play.  The park contains a bandshell that I know is used for both impromptu and scheduled performances by the children.  The outdoor space is used a lot for community gatherings.  The school sits high up above the valley, and from the school you can see trains and tugboats, and osprey . . . and the school receives a lot of natural light through beautiful windows that frame the view.

Second I love the focus on the cultural subjects.  it was very obvious from my observation in the K-I classroom that they were studying Africa ~ Masai shield art project, research and building models of pyramids, books about Africa in the library area, models of African animals on display, research on African animals.  Similarly, downstairs in the 2 – 4 classroom, it was obvious that the children had been focusing on Greek mythology.  They are working on making costumes for plays based on Greek myths that they were going to perform for the younger students, and all of the families.

I am having a hard time deciding on # 3 – was it the strong sense of community, the creative use of space (loved the variety of work stations in the K-1 classroom, including a tray table, and a small coffee table with cushions), the welcoming atmosphere, the artwork on the walls . . .I think I am going to have to go with a beautiful phrase used by Megan.  “Trust my words on this.”  Used sparingly, for very important information, especially concerning safety, this is a powerful phrase.  Today, during my visit, Ms. Megan was talking about fire safety.

Please trust my words on this.  If you live in the Lewiston Clarkson Vally, check out Children’s House Montessori School.

I leave you with some photos of my favorite details of art within the school.  ( I feel that I have totally worked around my own three beautiful things limit with this post!)

 

 
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