Friday, 27 February 2009

TH H T and U mat

Recently I made an operations mat to be used with the golden beads and stamp game. This mat is great fun for the children and helps them to easily place the quantities in the right columns. What I like about using this mat, is that it helps prepare the children for doing the operations paper.

Today as one of the children was working with this with the golden beads, she kept referring to the headings on the columns to make sure she has the beads in the correct place. This really helped her to continue through the activity with very little help from anyone.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Living and Non-living

A few children in my class needed a recap on 'Living and non-living' before moving onto some of the further science activities. We decided to do the activity outside. The children went on a hunt to  find living and non-living things in the garden.

Luckily we have a good selection of bugs living in the garden and the children happily picked them up so that we can place them under the 'living' heading. 

Next we will be discussing the characteristics of living things.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Insets for design Art

Recently we started taking the 6-9yrs art curriculum. Art in the montessori classroom has three stages.
1]The development of technique using a variety of tools and media.
2]Developing an appreciation of art and of the natural world
3]Freely expressing ideas and feelings through artistic productions.
Montessori stressed on the importance of the first stage. Here are two quotes that explain the montessori approach to art and creativity.

'To confer the gift of drawing we must create an eye that sees, a hand that obeys, a soul that feels, and in this task the whole life must co-operate. In this sense, life itself is the only preparation for drawing. Once we have lived, the inner spark of vision does the rest.'

'give the technique and fundamental facts that are necessary, and then we allow the child to develop by himself along these lines, and await the result.'

One of the first techniques the children are taught is tracing with the insets for design. This is usually first taught in the 3-6 classroom to prepare the child for writing, however in the 6-9 class this activity is revisited with the intention of creating elaborate geometric designs.

There are several rules when designing with this activity. 
1] The shading should be done by drawing lines close to each other, starting from the left to the right. As the child's skills improve the lines will get closer together and will look more like a solid block of colour. Children are not supposed to colour as usual [back and forth] with this activity.

2] Children should not cross any lines when shading. This becomes harder as the child draws more shapes and the area for shading becomes smaller.

The combination of patterns that can be made with these shapes are endless, however if the children do get bored from them there are alternative shapes that can be purchased. The children can also move onto using the fraction squares for creating designs.

After a child has created a design he should be encouraged to reflect and evaluate his work.

I'll try to upload some more pictures of designs that can be made with the insets for design. My children at school seem to be making so many designs but taking them home to soon for me to take pictures.

Friday, 6 February 2009

DIY Decanomial Squares

I posted a few weeks ago about the decanomial squares activity. I explained that I made one from foam, here are the pictures. In the top picture i have all the true squares stacked in order. Each square is the same measurement as one side of the pink tower. The colours are that of the short bead stair. This activity is an example of how mathematical ideas are absorbed by the children from very early on. Having already been familiar with the pink tower and short bead stair, the child who works will this will already have a sense of the size and order of these squares. From this activity the children will absorb the squareness of numbers from 1 -10, and if you have a very mathematical child they will be able to tell you that the squares are as follow 1x1 2x2 3x3 .....8x8 9x9 which is 1,4,9... 64,81.  
Here I have the squares stacked by matching one corner. A montessori child will automatically be able to tell you that that looks just like the Ariel view of pink tower when it is built by matching one corner. Maria Montessori speaks about the direct and indirect aims of the sensorial material used in the early childhood classroom. Many of the indirect aims are absorption of mathematical concepts through concrete materials. I can fully see and understand the later benefit of these sensorial materials because as a child i worked with them and they gave me a different insight into the world of numeracy. 
Here is a picture of the decanomial squares when layout in the sequence. Each piece represents a specific equation or area. There are several different ways of showing a child this layout, each presentation will provide the child with a specific understanding of the squareness of numbers. I see it beneficial to show the children all the different ways of laying out this activity. 

Believe it or not but this activity as simple and colourful as it may look, can be used to find out the square root of large numbers such as 3136. If you have mathematical children who have worked through the montessori materials well, they should be able to work out the square root of 3136 simply by using this materials [Something even PHD students may not be able to do!].

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The Prismatic Scarf

I needed to knit a blue scarf to wear with my many blue outfits this winter. I thought of knitting the 'so called scarf' but my mother has knit that so many times that I felt my scarf wouldn't be original enough for me. So i went on a scarf pattern hunt and came across this pattern. I really like the stitch and it's very easy to do, however i don't think my yarn was good enough for it. It needs a short colour repeat yarn to really show off its beauty.

I used a long random repeat yarn in blue. As with most of my yarns, I got this from Cairo for a couple of pounds, its great quality, 100% wool and comes is so many colourways. I have a green colourway that I'll be using to knit Little-N a jumper soon.

Monday, 2 February 2009


Recently the children in my class have been weaving with paper, felt and wool. I start the children off with simple paper weaving, then felt weaving and then I move them onto string weaving on a weaving loom.

To make the felt mat, you need an A4 piece of felt and felt strips. Fold the A4 piece in half lenght ways and starting from the folded end cut straight lines up to the top making sure you stop before the edge. My slits were about 1 inch apart. This is the same technique used when making a paper lantern. Next give the children strips of different coloured felt and show them how to weave those in. I used a stapler or pegs to secure the felt strips in place while weaving. After all the strips have been weaved in, sew the edges. This is Little-N's mat, he decided to make a pattern with his colours.

Those children who were successful on weaving a felt mat soon moved onto making a weaving loom. I decided that I want each child to have their own loom they can work on when they wish [instead of just one classroom loom]. I made a cardboard loom for each child following instructions found here. The older children made their own looms with a few directions from me. Everyone seems to doing a bit of weaving daily. I'm using all my left over yarn from knitting projects in my weaving loom and its nice to see how I can have bits of all my projects in one weaved mat.