Monday, 7 May 2012

Flying a Harris Hawk

Today Little-N has had the amazing experience of flying a harris hawk. At first he was a bit scared and alarmed by the weight of the bird. The trainers were very encouraging and by the end of his session he was confident holding the bird. His love for birds of prey has lead him to learn the English and Latin names of many species. I'm thinking of registering him on a junior falconry course next month but  I'm not sure if it's too early for him to start serious bird training!

Vertical and Horizontal Lines

Little-N has been working with line activities in the geometry curriculum. He has learnt about vertical and horizontal lines. 
A bowl of water with a floating stick  is used to demonstrate a horizontal line. A plumbers line was supposed to be used to demonstrate a vertical line. I didn't have a plumbers line, instead I used a padlock on the end of string [not clear in the picture but he got the idea].

Once Little-N was clear on the differences between vertical and horizontal lines, I gave him a load of his pictures to sort into vertical and horizontal pictures.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Little-N turned 8

Today Little-N turned eight and of course we had to celebrate with a bird themed cake. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

My New Elementary Classroom 2012

When we first opened our Montessori school in September we had one big classroom catering for children aged 3-6 years. I presented new activities to the 5/6 year old children and another teacher presented to the 4/5 year old children. This was a big change for me as I have been working in a Montessori elementary classroom for three years and preferred working with some of the 9+ children I taught. Going back to the younger classroom has been very interesting and allowed me to view the Montessori continuum through different eyes. I have also been warmed by the loving relationships and bonding that happens with the littlest of the children who joined us.

At the start of the year I hoped that Little-N [aged seven] would have settled in the 3-6yrs classroom and found his place. I set  up his own work area towards the back of the classroom. However he ended up staying out of the classroom, sitting at the back by himself for the majority of the time. He was a bit of a loner usually spending the whole day doing his own thing hidden from the classroom. As the second term progressed it was clear that most of the six year olds were ready to move into a separate environment. We were not ready to formally separate the ages till the end of the year. I wanted the younger children to have full benefit from observing the older children working and I also wanted the older children to benefit for the responsibilities and help that they provided for the younger children. This worked for a good 6 months, however the six year olds reached a point where they needed separation, they needed their own space to focus and do more intensive activities.

One Friday evening I decided that it was the right time to separate the classes. Using tall free-standing shelves I managed to create a separate area, which is joined yet separate in many ways. I set this new area up as an elementary classroom and was excited to see the children's reaction. At that time I presented [taught] to six children aged 6+ and four children aged 5.75years but not yet 6. We had a bit of a dilemma since the children who have not turned six yet were really supposed to stay in the younger class until they turn six and begin to show signs of readiness to move. The problem was that I presented to the five year olds too and if I was to move to the elementary classroom there would be no one who could present their advanced activities in the other class. We planned that the six year olds would move straight into the elementary classroom and the children who were five could spend time in both classrooms. This way they could stay in the 3-6 classroom and also have me present to them. However we found that these children who were five, almost six, wanted to spend the whole day in the elementary classroom. It was difficult for me to be between both classrooms and maintain quality in both.I expected that the youngest of the five year olds would spend the majority of her day in the younger classroom, however she amazed all of us with her maturity in the elementary classroom. A week or two later it was very clear that all of these children wanted and needed to be in the elementary classroom and although the five year olds should really stay in the younger class it was not possible due to circumstances.

Today I have 10 children in my elementary classroom, Little-N who is eight next week, a boy who is turning seven in a few weeks, 4 six year old children and 4 children who will be turning six in the next month or two.
All the children are part-time except one child. Most children attend between 3-4 days a week and many are homeschooled on the other days. I present new activities to the children and work with them individually and in groups. I also have an assistant who oversees the classroom making sure everything is running smoothly and guides the children when needed. I teach in the elementary classroom Monday - Thursday and only have two children on Friday so that I can spend the day focused on managerial work and mentoring teachers in the younger classroom.

The elementary classroom is set up with minimal materials but has a lot more space and resources than I had in the previous Montessori school I worked in. New materials and activities are added to the classroom daily and it has been amazing to see how my classrooms have changed over the last three years. In my previous I felt like I had so much and was adding more here and there. Today with all the materials I have I still feel like I have so much more to add. Every child I have taught has inspired new activities and allowed me to improve and change some of the previous activities. Little-N studies the material at depth and this has made me look deeply at each elementary activity and ensure that everything he needs for his deep studies is available. My classroom is functional but no where near finished so I will not be posting pictures yet.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


I love geometry and love to share my love of it with the children I work with. Below are a few photographs of group activities about pentagons. Some of these activities were inspired by work I saw on The Moveable Alphabet.
 Looking at photographs of pentagons found in nature.

Each child used a few pentagons to make patterns.

The children took turns to place pentagons on this pattern.

After the group I set this activity up on the shelf so that the children can take the pentagons out themselves and create their own patterns.
I have a few more pentagon activities that I will be doing with the children after Easter.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Little-Ns Own Origami Creations

Little-N loves origami. He has worked on some basic models and folds over the years. This year he has taken origami to another level and is now creating his own models. Below is a swan model that he made up.
 Little-Ns origami swans.

A row of Little-Ns swans in his room.

Little-N showing some of his friends how to make his origami swan.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Peeling and Cutting Carrots

Little-N enjoys cooking and preparing food. I noticed that he didn't peel vegetables properly so I reintroduced him to the carrot peeling activity.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Obsession With Birds

Eight months later and Little-N is still obsessed with birds. At the moment Little-N is interested in passerines ; perching birds. He can identify many local birds and will identify the hidden birds by their songs and flight pattern. As usual he spends plenty of time drawing birds and making his own little bird books. Here are a few recent pictures of Little-N working on his bird books.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Parts of The Line

Little-N has been working with line activities in the geometry curriculum. Below is the first activity where he learns the names of the different parts of the line: origin, ray, endpoint, line segment.
Here he uses a string to represent the line and labels the parts. 

Here Little-N is using the parts of the line cards.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Point, Line, Surface, Solid

Here is Little-N working with a geometry activity. The golden beads are used to represent a point, line, surface and solid.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Small and Large Bead Frame

Little-N has worked with the stamp game and small bead frame for years and can already work out long addition and subtraction sums without using materials.  Recently I've been preparing him for multiplication on the small and large bead frame. To prepare him he has revised the following activities.
Long addition and subtraction  using the stamp game.

 Long addition and subtraction using the small bead frame.

Addition and subtractions with millions using the large bead frame.

Little-N worked on these activities well, soon I will be introducing him to multiplication with the bead frames and checker board. 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Wasp studies

Yesterday morning this wasp appeared in the children's cloakroom at school. At first it wasn't moving and appeared to be dead. I was worried it would still sting me so I trapped it in a petri dish with  the intention that if it was dead I could maybe keep it. It didn't move straight away so I taped the petri dish and left it for a while. It started to move and I realised that it was still alive and knew that Little-N would love some time to observe it.  

Little-N kept it on his desk next to him and began to research in his books to find out about the wasp. He was fascinated when he saw it open and close its mandible [mouth].

 He then worked on drawing this very detailed picture of a wasp and labelled the different parts.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Birds: Ornithologist to be?

Little-Ns big interest at the moment is in birds. For the last three months everyday has included independent research and studies about birds. His favourite birds are birds of prey, specifically falcons. His interest began to develop from watching flight patterns of birds in our area. It was further developed one day at school when he was sitting by himself reading in my classroom as I rushed around my school managing and teaching children. He found this little bird book in a cupboard:

We also had some RSPB bird posters on the wall. He suddenly rushed up to me and said his favourite bird is a Merlin. I had no clue what a Merlin was and he soon filled me in with too much information about a Merlin along with a hand drawn picture.

Over the next few days Little-N went through every book at school, home and the library reading about birds. Here are some of the books he read:

This book is amazing. He read it so much it's falling apart!

These are really good for taking on outings.

Birds of Britain  Essential Guide, with lovely fold out pages about birds.

 A very detailed book about birds of prey.

This book has amazing maps of birds.
This book is fantastic, his favourite with so many beautiful pictures.

Along with the reading comes a lot of independent research and pictures:

Here is a picture of a Merlin that he drew:

Here is what Little-N calls a 'fact file' about gyrfalcons, this is all his independent work that I often don't know about until he's completed it:

Here is a book he made one day while I was out working:

This is an example of one of the pages inside:

He has made so many bird books and drawn so many bird pictures. Even today I came home to another bird book he made :) I'm so happy with his independence and ability to sit and work on his projects without my help. 

Reading about birds had exposed Little-N to Latin as many birds have Latin names that are included in his books. Somehow he has found away to learn the Latin names of birds and some other Latin words. I'm so surprised that Little-N is walking around saying 'Falco rusticolus' apparently that's the Latin name for a gyrfalcon!

He read about the RSPB bird reserves and asked me to take him to visit one. I found one 15mins away from my home so we went for a quick visit. He loved it!

Little-N is keen to join the bird spotting club in our local park and has already identified all the birds we've seen while cycling through to school.