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Let’s Celebrate – keeping traditions alive in a virtual world! June 1, 2020

Filed under: community,Community Building,Montessori education,Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 10:34 pm

We did it! We graduated 30 students in three virtual ceremonies attended by family members from across the USA and the globe. Teachers delivered gift bags to every graduate the day ahead of the ceremony, containing graduation caps, diploma, a peacock feather and books.

Parents sent in cute photos that were put into a PowerPoint for a virtual procession, to be screenshared while Pomp and Circumstance played. It was so fun to watch the graduates reactions as they saw their photo show up on the big screen!

We tried to replicate our traditional ceremony because many of this year’s graduates had watched their older friends in their Montessori class graduate in previous years, and they knew the program – procession in wearing caps, Pomp and Circumstance, welcome speech, and the story of how peacock feathers became a traditional gift for graduates of the Montessori School of Pullman (To remind them that they should all be proud as peacocks of their growth, leadership and friendship over their years at Montessori). This was followed by individual comments by the teacher, sharing the strengths and gifts each child brought to the community. Each graduate received cheers, applause and Zoom reactions! We ended with a living room dance party to ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams.

It was a group effort. Best comment, “Our graduation was so much fun – we had photos, peacock feathers and a living room dance party!” We certainly made the best of a challenging situation. I also believe that we can always learn and grow from challenging situations – for sure, from now on, we will have some virtual aspect of our graduation ceremonies so that distant family members can join in, from wherever they are in the world. It was a joy to see grandparents cheering for their grandchildren!

Congratulations, graduates! The event brought us excitement and happiness!

As well as graduation, we have also celebrated birthdays online via Zoom. Again we tried to replicate our traditional event, but added some fun collaborations that were made possible via Zoom. Families screenshared photos as they told the story of the birthday child’s life, or they held actual photos close to the computer camera! We sang the traditional Montessori birthday song as the child carried a globe, or a ball (whatever was available to represent the Earth) around the sun. We sang the Happy Birthday song, and the child blew out the candle. The elementary aged students loved to send birthday messages via the chat feature, and we also collaborated via google docs on a birthday card that was screenshared at the event, and then sent to the child’s family. We also captured the event in a few screenshots to be shared with the family. And as it was a party, we usually ended with a living room dance party – that is becoming a new tradition!

As a staff we have enjoyed a surprise baby shower, and a going away party via Zoom. It is vitally important to maintain connections, relationships and celebrate important events during this period of social distancing. If you doubt its importance, just take a look at these smiling faces!

When it comes down to it, this is all about maintaining relationships!


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.


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

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

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,Inc

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.


Visiting Middle Creek Montessori, Bozeman, Montana September 23, 2019

When you work in a Montessori School that is remote from other Montessori schools and training centers, you take every opportunity you can to visit other Montessori schools when you travel. It is a great way to gather new ideas to take back to enrich your own school. I am so happy that I got the opportunity to spend a whole morning at Middle Creek Montessori in Bozeman, Montana, as this school embodies everything I think is essential to Montessori. This is a school I would have loved to attend as a child, and a school where I would love to send my grandchildren!

The school in a nutshell: about 140 students, ages 2 through elementary, about 27 staff, non-profit status, and a campus of about 9 acres, that includes classrooms, playground, barn, amphi-theatre, fire-pit, woods, creek, labyrinth and gardens. The school has been in operation for about 20 years.

Here are three beautiful things about Middle Creek Montessori!

First, I loved the campus, with its emphasis on the outdoors. Every classroom had an accessible outdoor area, whether it was a patio or deck, where children could work outdoors during class time. Every class also had huge windows, lots of natural light, and great views of the outdoors. The outdoor environment included barns, home to goats and chickens, gardens, a labyrinth for walking, an amphi – theatre, a creek and woodland area. With the sunflowers, the red barn and the mountain murals painted indoors, the school was just absolutely Montana!

Second, I loved the focus on peace. Every classroom had a peace corner. The walkways were lined with pinwheels for peace. There was evidence of active work on peace in all of the classrooms. The labyrinth was also a way to encourage reflection and meditation in an active way.

Thirdly, I loved the emphasis, especially in the elementary program, on freedom within limits, and freedom with responsibility. Children were using workplans to make sure that they were working in all areas of the curriculum. Classroom meetings encouraged cooperation and group problem solving.

I would like to end this post by thanking the staff of Middle Creek Montessori for the amazing work they do each day to ensure their students love school and learning. I would also like to thank the staff for my warm welcome. Your school is amazing!

And now, for all of us who don’t have access to 9 acres and creeks and woodlands . . . We all do the best we can, with the resources available to us. The school where I work, the Montessori School of Pullman, is amazing, too. We are housed in a community centre, close to downtown, and have access to our local library, trails, a university campus, and lots of community resources housed in the community center – the orchestra, community band, dance and yoga and art centers . . .

So, let’s all go out each day and make the most of what we have available to make our schools amazing places for our students and families! And I extend a warm welcome to anyone who would like to tour my school. Let’s share to spead our best ideas!


Big Kids’ Wander Week June 13, 2019

Filed under: friendship,Montessori education,nature,Observation,outdoor education,Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 11:41 pm

OK, this is me in my element, out and about with a bunch of awesome kids. We have walked, on average 4.5 miles a day, so by the end of the week we will have walked over twenty miles together. That means a lot in terms of bonding with our peers! We really see how the kids start looking out for each other, including carrying a water bottle for a friend who is tired, or pointing out to a friend where she or he needs to apply sunscreen. When you are out and about with kids, you don’t need to have a lesson plan, other than being open and aware to what catches the attention of the children. Everything is a learning opportunity. So far, what has caught the attention of the children includes:

  • opportunities to climb
  • hunting for shade (We have experienced record breaking heat during this week!)
  • bugs, especially viewed through a magnifying glass
  • signs to read – detour, no parking, danger, speed limits, one way . . .
  • landmarks we recognize – the clock tower, Webster science building (What the kids call the pumpkin tower, as every Halloween, pumpkins are thrown from the top of this building, the tallest building in Pullman!), the WSU visitor center
  • plants and trees we recognize – lupins, poppies, lavender, willow
  • the sound of the clock chimes – we are beginning to use the chimes to tell the time of day!
  • seeds that hitch a ride on our clothes and backpacks
  • Seeds, in general

Vocabulary involved in the above interests is vast! We have talked about- lupin, poppy, rose, lavender, willow, habitat, predator, prey, shade, shadow, clock tower, chimes, time, seed dispersal,

As far as planning goes, these are important details for teachers:

  • Before you leave, check that every child has lunch and a filled water bottle.
  • Bathroom and water fill opportunities – essential that you know where these are, and that you check that facilities are open, and water fountains are operational.
  • Bring plenty of snacks – children will get very hungry.
  • Bring sunscreen.
  • Bring a few books for a rest time in the shade.
  • Schedule frequent water breaks, and plan for frequent water bottle refills.
  • Plan for frequent bathroom breaks.

These are our ground rules for the week:

  • Hold hands gently as you walk hand in hand with your partner.
  • Stay within your boundaries while playing.
  • Listen to your teachers and come when you are called.
  • Look after your own belongings – backpack, lunch, water bottle, sunscreen . . .
  • Leave nature in nature!

We sometimes underestimate the capabilities of children. I encourage us all to test the capabilities of children through an extensive outdoor activity! Your children will amaze you!


Montessori Outdoor Science School 2019 (MOSS) Day Five May 24, 2019

Research presentations

Well, today the rain that was forecast for the whole week finally came! We only ventured out to complete our weather forecast. And our young scientists predicted the weather accurately.

“Well, the sky is covered by a heavy blanket of grey cloud – nimbostratus clouds – that means continuous rain.”

“And there is almost no wind, so that means the rain is here to stay. There is no wind to blow the clouds away.”

That made it easier to relocate today’s planned activities to our classrooms. We spent some time looking at maps, and finding the places we had visited during the week. We also caught up on recording the birds we had noticed during the week. We had seen fourteen of the eighteen birds in our birding books, and the children could remember where and when we had spotted the birds.

“We saw the quail crossing the road yesterday on our walk to the park.”

“The hawk was on the pole by the bridge.”

“The violet-green swallows were on the island in the pond and under the bridge.”

As well as the birds in our birding book, we also saw crows, a wood duck and a heron.

We then divided into our groups to continue working on our research projects. We were mostly working on completing our tri-fold displays for our presentations scheduled for 1:00PM. There was a whole lot of writing, drawing, coloring, cutting, gluing and decorating going on. We also practiced verbally presenting the material.

We were so happy to have so many families show up to join us for our indoor picnic, followed by the presentations. We had parents and grand-parents, and siblings, so we had a full house! As teachers, we are so thankful for the awesome support we receive from our families.

So, what were the questions our students worked at answering using the scientific method?

  • Are there fish in the ponds at Sunnyside Park. We found virtually no macro-invertebrates in the pond, so if there were fish in the pond, what did they eat?
  • How many food webs can we observe at Sunnyside Park?
  • Are there more animals at the big pond or the small pond at Sunnyside Park?
  • How are bugs attracted to people?

Our students used many tools to answer their questions – fishing nets, binoculars, magnifying glasses, timers, clipboards, paper and pencils to record data. Some of them presented their data in tables or pie charts. Some of them used math skills, such as using addition and division to find an average. Each group successfully used science vocabulary such as hypothesis, prediction, materials, method, observations, data, results, and conclusion. I am so tickled to hear our students use words such as ‘prediction’ or ‘hypothesis’ in their daily conversations! As our presentations were put together under a time crunch, we absolutely accepted developmental spelling. As a teacher, I much prefer that a six to seven year old is unafraid to sound out hypothesis than all words are correctly spelled! ‘Hipothesis’ is a very close approximation to the correct spelling, as is ‘qesten’. (Note to self – give lesson on ‘u’ after ‘q’ in most English spelling of words beginning with q. Give lesson on ‘ion’ spellings. This is how Montessori teachers work.)

So what were their conclusions?

  • There are fish in the pond. We used oats as bait and almost caught some fish in our nets. The fish are surviving partly on food thrown into the pond to feed the ducks. There may be few macro-invertebrates because the fish eat them.
  • The groups observed several food webs. They also noted that they saw more land food webs than aquatic food webs. This was due to poor water quality in the ponds and a lack of aquatic macro-invertebrates.
  • There were a lot more animals observed at the big pond. There is more water and more food at the big pond, and the island in the big pond provides a safe habitat for many animals.
  • Bugs use their senses, just like people do. Bugs are attracted by sight (color), smell (sweat, perfume, shampoo), taste (blood) and touch (body heat).

The kids really enjoyed using a microphone to make their presentations. The audience asked a lot of thought provoking questions. Everyone then spent time looking at the presentation boards. And so ended a very happy, positive and productive outdoor science week.

Thanks for following us throughout the week!


Montessori Outdoor Science School (MOSS) 2019 May 20, 2019

Filed under: Community Building,Montessori education,outdoor education,Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 9:29 pm

Day One ~ habitat essentials and food webs!

Bird watching by the pond

As this was day one, we started the day with a review of our rules that we had agreed on, based on the advice of the older students who had participated in Moss previously:

  • Use your senses. Leave nature in nature!
  • Walk with your partner.
  • Take care of your belongings.
  • Listen.
  • Stay within the designated boundaries while exploring.
  • Come as soon as you are called.

We also completed backpack checks. Do you have a water bottle? Lunch? Magnifying glass? Binoculars? Supply bag of pencils, crayons, erasers, a piece of string? Pages for today’s work? Is there anything in your pack that you don’t need to carry?

We completed a weather check, because no self-respecting environmental scientist would head out without checking the weather. We are not only relying on weather forecasts and apps, but making our own predictions, using our own knowledge of clouds, a cloud chart, a storm tracker book, a thermometer, a rain gauge and a wind vane. With just light stratus clouds, sunshine, and gentle winds out of the north, we successfully predicated a fine day. However, the cloud cover built up over the day, blocking out the sun, so the day gradually got cooler. By the end of the day we had a much heavier blanket of cloud. We are predicting some rain!

We are off to explore and learn!

When we first arrived at the park we spent five minutes just sitting and using our senses. We heard red-winged blackbirds, quail, ducks, the ruffle of bird feathers, felt the breeze, could smell lilacs, and saw turtles sunning themselves on logs, a family of ducks swimming together, and swallows dipping low over the water to catch bugs. Then we changed perspectives. First we looked close, using our string to circle off a small area for exploration, followed by looking far, and drawing what we saw from a distance. Scientists not only use their senses to record impressions (data), but also must change perspectives, looking both close up and at the big picture.

Aquatic macro-invertebrate hunting in a tub of pond water

We tried an aquatic macro invertebrate hunt, looking for critters in a tub of pond water, but we were disappointed. From the whole group we only found what might have been a leech and another critter that looked like a bug. Why, we wondered, was there so little pond life? We thought about poor water quality, and maybe the recent floods in the area. The pond water really did look murky. We will hunt again at different locations, and hope for better luck.

Enjoying outdoor story time

After play time and lunch, everyone listened to a non-fiction story about orphan fawns. This was in preparation for an environmental game called ‘Oh deer!” Four children were chosen to start as deer, and the other children were necessary resources – food, water, shelter. The children used hand signals to show what they were looking for (if a deer) or were (if they were a resource). (Hands to tummy to signal food, hands to mouth for water, and hands over head to signal shelter). Resources scattered. Deer and resources turned their backs on each other, and decided what they would be for that round – in search of water, for example, or the resource of shelter. At a given signal, the deer turned around and searched for the resource they were searching for. When they found the necessary resource, they came back home with their resource. Each resource ‘found’ became a deer, to signal a healthy and productive year – the deer herd had increased! In our year 2, the herd increased from 4 to 8. The next year there were sixteen deer, but only two resources available, so there was a massive die off of the herd. Only 2 deer remained. We played the game for many rounds, seeing the herd grow and decline based on available resources. We added a predator – a coyote – to see what would happen. The ‘deer’ all said that it was more difficult to find resources while also paying attention to a predator.

“Resources’ spread out for deer to find.

After discussing what we had learned from the game, and giving real life examples of this cycle, we worked on food webs. After all, a big part of the game we played was based on the food web – deer in search of food (grass and leaves and other plants), and coyotes hunting for deer. One group’s food web began with a fly, eaten by a robin, eaten by a big bull frog, eaten by a big fish, eaten by an osprey, eaten by an eagle, which when it died, was eaten by a fly! The food web was a circle.

Our final activity of the day was birdwatching. We used our bird identification book, and binoculars to identify birds. The big hit was seeing a heron fishing in the pond. We also saw mallards, red-winged blackbirds, robins, violet-green swallows, crows, and heard quail.

Probably the most memorable event of the day was the finding of a dead baby bird. The bird had been beheaded, and we found the head, too. We saw ants and flies feeding on the dead bird. We thought that maybe the baby bird had been attacked by a predator. The food web isn’t always pretty!

Getting outdoors for a whole week of environmental exploration and science isn’t only a great learning experience, it’s good for us physically – see below! And for all of my teacher friends looking to end the year on a high note, I encourage you to plan a big experience like this. It is fun for teachers and kids alike! And if we hope our students will work to find solutions to our environmental problems, we first need to help them to care deeply about our Earth!


Montessori Outdoor Science School Day Four ~ Presenting our inquiry projects May 4, 2018

Yesterday afternoon each group chose a topic they wanted to explore more and designed an inquiry project to answer a question.  This morning, each group worked hard to find ways to communicate their project and findings to the other groups and their parents.  The three groups of first-third graders incorporated the scientific method, and used vocabulary words such as question, hypothesis, method, data, conclusion.  The children incorporated drawings, charts, bar graphs, and maps into their display.  They also worked as a group to decide who would explain what part of the project to the audience, and practiced making the presentation.

That’s a whole lot of learning ~science, vocabulary, visual communication, math, graphing, teamwork, cooperation, making choices, making a presentation . . .

So what did the groups choose to focus on?

IMG_3630 (1)IMG_8141 (1)IMG_2073IMG_4570

Bird song, water quality, insects, beaver habitat!  The variety of topics reflects the different aspects of the four-day experience that caught the attention of the different groups.  Student-choice, student-led inquiry, teamwork!

Above – a few details from the kindergarten research project.

A few more details!

Of course, the day wouldn’t be complete without some time for the kids to do what they do so well – enjoy being kids in nature!


As educators, we saw so much intense growth this week! The children certainly deepened their understanding of eco-systems, the major theme of the four-day outdoor experience, and of processes such as decomposition and the life cycle, and of habitats, and of scientific vocabulary and the scientific method.  However, we saw a lot of growth outside of science learning, too!  Leaders emerged, friendships deepened, children grew in their resilience and ability to be responsible for all of their belongings for a whole day.  The children developed good teamwork, too.

Several of the children were really sad, and some even moved to tears as our experience together came to an end.  But as one child said, “I’m really sad, but never mind, there’s always next year to look forward to!

Many thanks to the McCall Outdoor Science School outreach program, and our four, fabulous outdoor educators! IMG_5468 (1)Cheers, from all of us at MOSS!



Montessori Outdoor Science School Day Three ~aquatic ecosystems, plus the scientific method May 3, 2018

Welcome to our outdoor classroom, day three!

This morning we were all about the river!  I love it when children make connections.  When one of our educators mentioned aquatic ecosystems, one of our kindergarteners piped up, “Oh, like our aquatic center, where we swim.  It’s water!”

Activities this morning included testing water quality using technology (water temperature, PH of water, amount of dissolved oxygen in water), learning about water sheds, hunting for macro invertebrates (macro – opposite of micro, meaning big enough to be seen without a microscope, and invertebrates – without a backbone) and using either an app that asks questions (How many legs? How many tails? Does it have a shell? etc.) or a classification chart to identify the macro-invertebrates we caught in the creek, and learning about aquatic habitats for animals.  We searched for evidence of beaver activity.  The kindergarteners also drew pictures of animals that lived near this creek in their habitats.  The habitat needs to supply food, water and shelter.  We drew beavers, quail, fish, swallows, deer . . . and more.  The KG kids also got to feel a beautiful beaver pelt!

A plus of being close to the river was we had another beautiful location for morning snack and lunch, and a perfect day to enjoy our picnic!  We love our favorite, enormous willow tree!

After lunch and recess, each group worked on an inquiry project, thinking about what they wanted to learn more about and choosing a question they could answer through nature.  The older students followed the scientific method – asking a question, coming up with a hypothesis, thinking about how they could answer the question, what data they needed to collect, and how they would present their project.  For the kindergarteners we kept it simple.  What did we want to learn more about?  What did we want to find out?  How could we find out the answer to our question?

Now, I can’t tell you what each of the four groups decided to study because that would spoil the surprise for the presentations of our research tomorrow!  But I will leave you with these photos of the kg kids collecting data!  What are they trying to find out, I wonder?  Presentation of research is at 11:00 tomorrow at the Sunnyside Picnic Pavilion.  Picnic to follow.


Montessori Outdoor Science School Day 2 ~ Ecosystem day at Kamiak Butte State Park May 2, 2018

Filed under: learning,Montessori education,nature,Observation,outdoor education,Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 9:00 pm


Welcome to our outdoor classroom, day two!  We hiked the Pine Ridge Trail at Kamiak Butte County Park, and focused on comparing ecosystems.


The south facing slope of Kamiak Butte is sunny, open, and at this time of year covered with wildflowers.  I chaperoned the kindergarten group today, and we learned to identify arrowleaf balsamroot (part of the sunflower family), yarrow, indian paintbrush, and vanilla smelling ponderosa pines.


We also enjoyed listening to a book written by scientists, members of the National Forest Service.  The book asked us to consider, “Why do we cut down a tree?”  At first the kindergarteners were appalled, “Cut down a tree?  Never!  Trees give us oxygen.”  The book gave us insights into why trees might need to be cut down – damaged and dangerous, diseased, overcrowding and causing a fire danger, or to supply us with wood for products we use.    We decided to use our senses on the rest of the hike to observe the ecosystem, and also to spot trees that might not be healthy.  We found hollow trees, trees that were damaged and broken, and even trees that were lying on the ground and decomposing.  I heard that word a lot!  “This tree is decomposing.  It’s turning back to dirt!”

The kindergarten group hiked to the very top, and ate lunch with an amazing view.  We also got to feel the pelt of a coyote, an animal that lives at Kamiak Butte.  We saw chipmunks, lots of butterflies and bugs, smelt the warm dirt and the Ponderosa pines, felt soft leaves, and heard birdsong.


Meanwhile, the groups of older children were sampling the ecosystems, and collecting data.  How many rocks, pine cones, flowers, sticks, bugs, etc. were contained within a circled off part of the ground?  This activity was carried out on the south side and the north side, and the children made comparisons and drew bar graphs in their nature journals to report what they noticed.  They also used hand lenses to get an even closer look!


The kindergarten group just verbally reported the differences they saw – one side was sunny, the other side was gloomy and dark, one side had lots of flowers, the other side had moss, fungus and ferns and not as many flowers, one side had only a few trees, the other side was the forest.  Because kindergarteners are filled with curiosity, and a sense of wonder and awe, we spent four hours on the trail!  We stopped to look at so many things, and the children called out to one another, “Good observation!” and “Good eye!”  The loop we hiked was 3 and a half miles.


Were we tired when we finished our hike?  Nope, we then spent thirty minutes of free play on the climbing structures, but also building nests for chipmunks and squirrels, collecting pine cones, finding worms . . . just being kids out in nature!

We used some technology tools today – hand lenses, binoculars, a gadget to measure wind speed, probes to sample dirt, and measure soil temperature and moisture levels, and the highlight for the KG kids, an app that recorded and identified and played bird songs.  When we played the chickadee’s song, we were surprised to hear two chickadees call back to us!31632031_10156298995276774_4545326570385965056_n

We ended our day with a hike to find a Douglas fir tree and collect the cones.  We listened to a legend about the cones, involving how the mice sheltered in the cones during a big forest fire.  Can you see the rear legs and tails of the mice hanging out of the cone?


We also learned that a Douglas Fir, unlike a spruce tree, is friendly, not prickly.  Its needles are soft.  So we all got close to our Douglas fir tree, and that’s another plant we learned to identify today!


Tomorrow we will explore another ecosystem during a river walk!  I can’t wait!


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