We are finishing our study of the solar system, and in April the focus will be on our own planet Earth, the only planet that supports life because it is a place where there is land, air and water. We have some fun land/air/water classification exercises using sets of small objects and sets of both large and small pictures. In separate exercises, the child can decide where each object or picture goes and then place it under the land, the air or the water column. We also will be using our Montessori maps and globes to help us find places in our world, and we will learn to identify the land formations (continents) that make up Earth. Other learning tools in our study of Earth include baskets of hand-sewn stuffed continents to be placed on a world map showing the Western and Eastern hemispheres. Last month we used a large and beautiful US map made by Mrs. Valentine to track the Robin’s journey up the east coast to New Jersey. So the children have some familiarity with our own continent of North America. We will also talk about the many bodies of water, large and small, that make up most of our earth.
A favorite part of our thematic unit on Earth comes later in the month and involves the identification of small animals who live on each of the seven continents. The children will be learning about these animals as they take them out of the baskets on the shelves and place them on the appropriate continent, each continent shown on our large and colorful world map, also made by Mrs. Valentine. This world map is color coded as are the continents to help the children remember which is North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Antarctica. We will be teaching simple facts related to each of these land masses including geography and weather. We will also be discussing ways to keep our planet Earth a safe and healthy place. There will be continent-related art projects, books and puzzles.
Practical Life as always is busy and bustling. We will be continuing the more recent exercises of color dropping and mixing on cards, silver polishing, dishwashing and shaving cream. We will be adding coffee grinding to the shelves which is a spring favorite. We buy whole beans and the children use a tray containing a mat, a small coffee scooper, a tiny dustpan and brush for cleaning grinds that sometimes spill onto the mat, and an old fashioned manual coffee grinder which we found years ago in Anthropologie of all places. We bought several. When one occasionally breaks, Annie’s husband is a whiz at fixing it….and lots of other materials here! Continent tweezing where the children tweeze colored beads onto small boards in the shape of each of the corresponding colored continent is coming to Practical Life as well. It’s a great exercise to enhance small motor control.
In Sensorial, the sound cylinders, a more challenging auditory discrimination exercise which helps us work on our listening skills ( teachers and children alike!) will be put on the shelves. Also we continue our work with the geometric solids by playing a special game with two or three children at a time. We lay a few of the solids (sphere, cone, triangular and rectangular prisms, cylinder, pyramid, etc.) on the mat. The teacher starts by taking away one as the children cover their eyes. They have to guess which one was removed out of the five or six on the mat. Then each child gets a chance to be the “teacher” and remove a solid. That is the best part of the game for them…being the “teacher”.
Language will feature naming and matching continents and tracing and coloring continents as well as categorizing our land, air and water pictures and objects as mentioned above. We will also be “punching” continents, again each in the color that corresponds to our Montessori world map. Also in Language, the children continue to enjoy matching their pictures with their names.
Our Robin has arrived in New Jersey and so, over the next couple of weeks, we will be completing our “Restless Robin” books and sending them home. On our walks to the playground, we are continuing to see that spring is unfolding. We see signs of this in the blooming flower beds and trees, the greening of the grass, the warmer temperatures, and the increased singing of our local birds. Our forsythia bushes on the playground have bloomed, and this month our daffodils, hyacinths and tulips will be popping up from the beds where we planted them last fall. As they bloom, we will be recreating them at the art table as we have done with the crocus, pussy willow and forsythia already. We realize from our circle lessons that the children are indeed fascinated by the changes that accompany each new season. Many have become careful observers of nature. Maria Montessori would indeed be proud of them as are we!