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Experience the great outdoors! October 19, 2016

img_3689I recently talked with a friend about experiencing the fullness of life.  When we live mostly indoors, either in central heating or air conditioning, in a very comfortable zone, we dull our senses.  I remember hiking on the moors in North Yorkshire (think Wuthering Heights), on a blustery day, with winds chasing rain showers and clouds, and meeting an old guy who greeted my friends and I with, “It’s cracking up here!”  (Cracking, think Wallace and Gromit movies, and Wensleydale cheese being ‘cracking good cheese’), and thinking, “Yes, it is cracking!  I feel so alive!”  So, that’s what I love about our River Walk.  Our senses come alive.  “Look at the trees!  They look like rainbows.”  “Smell!  It smells so good!”  or “Yuck, the mud smells so bad!”  “Listen to the water!”  “Ouch, this tree is so prickly!”  “Look at the river shining.  It’s like silver.”

I love that the children pushed themselves to walk a little further than was comfortable (about four miles) and braved crossing plank bridges across the river.  We spotted ladybugs gathering for hibernation, identified all of our favorite trees (Oak, Aspen, Willow, Maple and Spruce), and also experienced a little local history ~ the site of the first Artesian well, a comparison of the university  100 years ago with today ~ and viewed some local art (a mural by Pat Siler, a local artist).  We estimated.  “How far do you think we have walked so far?”  “How many ladybugs did we see?”  “How many toadstools do we think are right here?” “How tall is the Willow tree?” We measured the circumference of trees.  We compared – leaf shape, bark.  But above everything else that I loved today is that we spent  an amazing day together as friends.  Five hours together went so quickly!  It was cracking!  I leave you with an invitation to get kids outdoors as much as possible, and photos of our day, because a picture is worth a thousand words!

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Observation March 22, 2016

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We talk a lot about the importance of observation for the teacher, but perhaps overlook the importance of observation by the child of another child at work.  The two children watching in this photo are using an amazing amount of self control to watch another child at work without touching the work, or interfering in any way.  With hands in laps, they are respectfully watching, and perhaps gathering ideas for their later exploration and work with these materials.  They are indirectly practicing an important executive brain function skill, impulse control.  This is really challenging, even for adults!  Just think of a time you were either asking for help with a new computer skill, or trying to show someone else how to do something on the computer.  This is so difficult to do without the person in the teaching mode taking over the keyboard!

For visual learners, this may be a very important way to learn – by watching.  Montessori education respects the diverse ways children learn, and encourages children to find out for themselves what works best to facilitate their best learning.  This is a skill for life.