Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Simple Cup Cakes

Little-N's cousins will be coming to visit today so we've been busy making cupcakes.
Here's a really simple recipe for soft tasty cup cakes.

110g Sugar
110g Butter
2 eggs
110g Flour
1 tsp of baking power
1tsp of Vanilla sugar
Mix all ingredients and place in a lined cupcake tin. Cook for 20mins at 160'c.
We made simple icing from icing sugar and milk. Then sprinkled with hundreds and thousands.

Monday, 29 December 2008


Today we had fun with a spiramouse [an automatic Spirograph], its really easy to use and Little-N enjoyed the beautiful patterns he could make. The spiramouse is quite cool as you can place up to 13 pens at the same time to make all sorts of patterns. All you do is place the pens, press a button and watch.

Even Annabel [the cat] enjoyed it.
Little-N choose coordinating colours and when finished doing all the patterns he could fit on a single piece of paper, he cut them out and we made window hangers.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Origami star tree

I really shouldn't be blogging now, I'll be leaving for Cairo tomorrow morning and I'm not even ready [and seem to be going down with a cold]. BUT I couldn't resist sharing these beautiful Christmas trees with everyone. I wish I could take credit for them, but I won't I'll be honest. These cute trees were made by one of our teaching practice [intern] students as a gift for the school. We both share an interest in origami and made loads of stars months ago, however she spent 10 hrs last night [yes of course she doesn't have kids] making this big tree and a little one for each child. Just in case you didn't recognise this, each tree is made from mini origami stars.

These are extremely simple to make. All you need is lots of strips of papers varying in width slightly and some glue. You can find a tutorial for the star folding here and here. Make as many stars as you wish, then stack them and secure with a little glue. We told the children that all they need to do is build it like the pink tower. With the large tree we added some glue, glitter and golden foil. Don't you think they look great??

Thursday, 11 December 2008

End of Term 1

The time has past so quickly and i find myself preparing for the end of term. I don't know where all these weeks have gone, they've vanished. But I have enjoyed every bit of it, every moment and chance I spent with my class I cherish. During the end of term parents meetings I received lots of positive feedback from the parents, each one of them said I change their child for the better.
During this term the children have really progressed holistically and everyone who is around them can see it. I am honored to have been part of their lives and shall continue to do my best in the months that come.

Our last week of school didn't go as well as we wished due to an outbreak of the Noro virus. The school was closed for 3 days and now we only have half the teachers and children to attend the last days party :(. Once school is over I'll be heading to Cairo for Little-N to see his dad. It's going to be an exciting trip and I'll be going round to visit some Montessori schools while I am there.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Geometric Star Card

On Monday it will be Eid, many of the children in my class are Muslim and will be celebrating this festival. I needed to come up with an Eid card making idea that was original, fun and linked to something we have already been working on. After a lot of thinking and brain storming, I settled with an Islamic geometric star pattern for the card's design. The children have already developed a good understanding of how shapes fit together by working with the constructive triangles and pattern blocks. Many already make geometric patterns while working with the pattern block, so although this star might seem a bit complicated it's actually quite easy for them.

I designed a sheet with shapes that I can print off for the children to cut out. You can print the sheets from here. Each page needs to be printed on a different colour card inorder to have a multi coloured star. The cutting needs accurate cutters and great fine motor skills, so if the children aren't quiet ready for that then get an older child to help you cut a prepare them for the younger children.

Once all the pieces are cut, you simple start sticking them into place. Start with the octagon and then stick the small triangles around it and finally the large kite shape. Little-N found the shape arranging very easy and was very happy with his end result. We added some glitter and text to finish it off.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

About the EYFS

I posted earlier about the EYFS but didn't explain what it is. EYFS stands for Early Years Foundation Stage and is basically a quality framework for the provision of learning, development and care for children between birth and the academic year in which they turn five (0-5). In the UK we have to work within the guidelines of the EYFS and the development matters and we must provide proof of the child's achievements through observations, videos, pictures and samples of work. At the end of the school year we have to send off each child's scoring and have completed an EYFS profile which will prove the child's achievements and explain their level. So basically were testing the children without the children knowing. I don't like the EYFS and the time spent on doing it, however we don't have a choice.
You can find out more about the EYFS here.

Answers to Qs about the map work

First if all I'd like to really thank everyone for leaving comments on my blog. It's great to know what people think. I had a few interesting questions from on of my reads and I think its better to answer it in a post. The questions are to do with the Europe Map post.
The Qs are in green.

What would you do next?

Next I would give Little-N the choice to further his study about Europe by going through the European folders. These folders are a bit like the continent folders except each folder would be about a country in Europe. The folders would contain basic information about the country and a few pictures or postcards.
Or.. I would invite him to work with the flag pin board where he will place the correct flags for each country in Europe. He already knows this comes next so I wouldn't actually have to invite him.
Or.. I would see if he was more interested in working with maps from other continent. I think that's where he's going as he has already learnt many countries from around the world.

At what point, as a directress do you step in to say "The next thing you could do is....."

I try not to step in and say anything, he knows what materials are available and each time he goes to work on a map he can see the countries folders, the pin map and the other continent maps. So he indirectly knows what he can move onto, eventually when he feels he is done with the Europe map he will take out another piece of material and ask me if he can do it. Sometimes he doesn't even ask he just does it and surprises me. The key is to let him direct his learning and not me, self chosen activities are what leads to great achievements. If I feel a child is lost and unable to guide himself then I would say something like 'would you like to try this?' 'shall I show you how to use this?'. Also if a child is unable to figure out when they have had enough with an activity I might try to redirect their thoughts allowing them to decide if they need to move on or not, but this hardly happens.

If there is something that I need a child to work on or a new activity I need to present I would invite them to work with me with it or ask them if I can write it on their daily plans. Usually they agree and would come to me and say 'What work is this, can you show me it.'

and how do you encourage the child to engage and when do you back off?!

I'll be honest here, it depends on what activity it is that they need to engage in. I understand how difficult the EYFS can be and the strange requirements it has. The children in my class are self directed, I had one child who wasn't for a long time but due to the ground rules and work of other children he seemed to find out where he wants to go. Since I have a small class size , the children quickly pick up on each others interests, so when Little-N was interested in dragons, castles and knights, so was everyone else. This helps to keep the children who dont know what they want, engaged in activities, Little-N is a big trend setter by the way.

As for backing off, I try to do that as much as possible. For montessori to work properly, for the children to really absorb the learning they need to be the active ones, sailing the boat as I put it. I'm just there helping them out. I try not to correct errors, for example the other day one of the children was working on the table of subtractions, instead he added all the numbers!!! I left him, when he finished and was checking his answers he realised what mistake he made. HE simply added a line to made the minus sign a plus sign. The next time he was working with subtraction he said to himself 'this is subtraction not addition'. You have to believe that the children CAN do it, you have to think it in your head and say it to your self. Children pick up on our negative thoughts and know when we don't think they know something, consequently they'll think they don't know.

Some reception aged children are unable to sail the boat, so for them I would offer more guidance but be very in tune with them so that I can help them work out what they want to learn.

I am very interested in this as we are balancing Montessori with EYFS and this can be the hard bit!!

Our school is being moderated this year for the EYFS and I am so happy. It gives me the chance to prove to our borough that Montessori is the best. As montessorians we have everything in place to easily complete the EYFS we just need to work on the paper work, cross referencing and child profile. I don't actually teach the reception aged children, Little-N is the only reception aged child I have, however he already has scores of 8 and 9 in most area's except for the writing. Due to the nature of my work I have a responsibility to make sure the teacher who is working with the reception children does her work properly.

We don't separate the EYFS from the Montessori, instead we cover everything in the work cycle using the Montessori materials. We have all the Montessori materials and activities mapped to the development matters and EYFS scales. So we actually only do Montessori, but we use the EYFS and DM terminology to show inspectors that we have covered everything and more. The key to the EYFS profile is in your observations, you have to really dissect them, squish out all the proof an observation holds and then link it to the scales on the EYFS document. Once you have done that you'll feel much better.

I hope this helps, and if you have any more Qs then plse leave a comment and I'll be more than happy to share what we do.

Addition with golden beads

Little-N has been doing addition with the golden beads. He is able to do mental addition with numbers up to ten. Now that he is quite confident with that I decided to extend his knowledge about addition and go beyond the ten. I made some addition questions for him to work on by himself. On the right of the mat above, you can see the question card 53+35. He collect the small number cards and then the golden beads for each quantity.
He then counted them together at the bottom of the mat starting with the units. He collect the large number cards. You have to use small number cards for the adding numbers and large number cards for the answer so that they children can see that we add two small numbers together to form one big number.

He then turned over the question card to see if he got his answer correct... and he did this time.
You can download the cards for this lesson from here. It contains a few equation cards that the children can work through when doing addition with the golden beads. Make sure you glue the correct answer cards onto the back of the questions.