This month we tried to understand how roots, stems and leaves grow? We started with a lesson on parts of the plant and needs of the plant.
We became scientist this month. We did the walking rainbow experiment to understand how the capillary action works and how the roots and the xylem in the stem helps bring the water and the nutrients up to the leaves.
Children love playing with flowers. They enjoyed dissecting a flower and learning about the parts of the flower and their functions.
From flowers we moved on to play with leaves, we learned about different kinds of leaves and we used them to paint and create art work.
Children got exposed to different parts of the plant that we eat. They got introduced to the rhubarb as the stem, broccoli as a flower and carrot as a root.
Children loved reading books on plants, a couple of books that touched their hearts were `Sylvia’s spinach’ and `The Peace Tree from Hiroshima’.
Verde children made beautiful succulents terrarium this month. They painted a recycled glass jar and potted their succulents. It was a fun project!
There is something about animals that children naturally gravitate towards. It is so easy to get their attention when you start talking to them about animals. We started off by revisiting the facts and differences about animals and plants. Then we moved on to learning about vertebrates and invertebrate animals. Snails, Slugs and Earthworms found their way into our classroom in a jar. Children enjoyed watching them.
While we learnt the story about the Fish, Frog, Turtle, Bird and Mammals, and how they came into existence, we also learnt about their body parts.
Children had fun putting their creative hats on and making these animals with different recycled materials like clay, ribbon, pencil shavings, eggshells, bottle caps and anything we could get access to.
This month we changed our end of the day circle and we started doing Yoga at the end of the day. We did a lot of animal poses like dog pose, eagle pose, cat pose, butterfly pose and many others besides the ones mentioned here.
We read a lot of stories this month on how animals live in harmony with each other. How we people need to learn to live from these animals! Animals were here before us and they know better on how to live in harmony with this world.
The end of this unit was wrapped up with more art like the animal aboriginal art.
In this unit we shared with children the story about how 248 million years ago, the continents looked a little different. The continents where all together like a one big supercontinent, called Pangaea.
Pangaea was home to first dinosaurs and mammals. Over time the continents split and became what is now, the seven continents.
This month, every week we learnt about one or two different continents. Each week we learnt about the biomes in that continent and the animals that live in that continent. When we got to Antarctica we did some fun science experiments with ice.
This whole month, children did a lot of sewing work. Some did sewing of the entire world map and some did sewing of each individual continent and made a booklet. It was real fun to share with Children folk tales and stories from each continent. They really enjoyed these stories from all over the world.
Maria Montessori was a citizen of the world. Her timeless and enduring work shows us that children nurtured in body, mind, and spirit, would guide humanity toward a more peaceful world. Dedicating her life to the spiritual renewal of humanity through the child, her vision was based on creating an environment where children could fully realize their potentials as individuals and members of communities. As Montessori wrote in The Secret of Childhood, “It is the spirit of the child that can determine the course of human progress and lead it perhaps even to a higher form of civilization.”
Peace education in a Montessori classroom begins with being sincere and vulnerable. Sharing stories and acknowledging the fact that everybody makes mistakes, but the beauty lies in accepting it and working towards making the situation better.
As a part of the peace curriculum we revisited some of our grace and courtesy lessons. We reminded ourselves that we are living in a community and we need to treat people with respect, kindness and love. We also reminded ourselves that we are sharing resources with others and we need to live in harmony with plants and animals. Children learnt about `The Inukshuk’, that are the stone figures that represent a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds and food cache. It is a representation of a product of cooperation, teaching us that as good as our individual efforts may be, only together can we do greater things and bring peace.
All through the peace unit we read stories about peaceful heroes and also read about how some children were making a difference in the world.
We talked to our children about our love light and how sometimes hard feelings cover our love light. At those times we may get mad, sad, angry or frustrated. To make our love light shine back again, we can either take three deep breaths; do silence; meditation or yoga. We worked with children on another peace tool called pebble meditation. Children collected four pebbles for meditation and made peace bags for their pebbles. Meditation takes practice and it is hard for our young friends to do it. But it was our attempt to sow seeds of good thought and practice.
"Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment." - Maria Montessori
Montessori believed that Child is a `Sensorial Explorer’ and through the child’s senses he understands the world. Sensorial experiences are the first steps in organizing his intelligence and adapting to the environment. Through these sensorial experiences the child develops:
A Keener eye – visual
A Keener ear - auditory
A Keener sense of smell – olfactory
A Keener sense of taste – gustatory
A Keener sense of touch and feeling - tactile
In this unit, it was our attempt to develop the five senses. We started off with the auditory sense. We played the silence game and experienced different kinds of sounds with various musical instruments. As a practice we are doing silence circle every day in the morning. We read a lot of books so children understand the difference between loud outside noise and soft inside voice.
For visual we did a spaghetti art with different colors. We even used toy cars and let the children roll the car wheels on a splash of colors. Children had fun making those tracks and seeing what happens when the colors mix.
For touch we had the rough and smooth boards lesson available. We also had other extensions available for rough and smooth surfaces like shells and textile.
For the sense of smell, we had smelling bottles on the shelf.
Last but not least for taste we had four kinds of fundamental taste available for children. We also ended the unit by celebrating Chinese New Year and Valentines, which allowed children to taste different kinds of food and see different colors with different crafts.
“The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.”
- Maria Montessori
We started off this unit understanding where our trash goes and what is a landfill? Children were troubled to learn that if more and more trash gets created we will have more landfills and we might run out of land for playground. And when they heard about a turtle dying because it had eaten a trashed plastic bag they were horrified.
Their next logical question was, `What could we do about this’ and ‘How could we help?’ This made us look closely into our trash and see what is going into the landfill. When we sorted things in our trash we realized that we could Reduce, Reuse and Recycle to reduce the trash. But there is one more thing we could do to make our world a better place. We could `Upcycle.’
'Upcycling’ is the art and ccience of reusing discarded objects or material in a way as to create a product of a higher quality and value than the original. It is really finding a new purpose for your knickknacks, extra wood, nails in the garage and other unwanted materials around your house and making them into something fun or useful. We put this idea into use in our classroom by making ornaments with paper tissue rolls and making bookmarks with dried pressed leaves.
Upcycling is becoming a fast-growing trend since it is not only far less costly than purchasing toys from the store, depending on the extent of the project, it is also a chance to bring children in as, part of making old materials into something new. It is a great learning experience about using your imagination in putting things together and learning to care for the environment we live in by recycling. By creating something useful from discarded items, you are not only putting items to good use but also using less energy and saving money in doing so. Upcycling is in fact a greener way of recycling, as you are not using energy to collect, sort and process unwanted waste.
Industrialization brought with it productivity and abundance of materials. Since then human appetite for materials has been increasing by an insurmountable amount. So much so that the waste created from this increased usage has also been increasing at a staggering pace. This has resulted in other environmental, social and health problems. In our fast pace lifestyle we are forgetting to live in harmony with our own land. The purpose of this unit study was to help children understand that more isn’t always more beautiful. We all need to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. We all have enough resources and we need to share them wisely with each other and in turn take care of the planet we live in.
November felt like a very short month in Verde!
From the holistic view of body, mind, spirit and inter-connectedness of all living creatures in this universe this month we moved on to talk about living and non-living things.
We discussed what are the general rules in deciding whether something is living or non-living.
Children learnt the six rules to identify whether something is living or non-living. These include living things are made of cells; they obtain and use energy; they grow and develop; they reproduce; they respond and adapt to their environment. We also talked about how some non-living things like paper were living in the form of tree before they got made into paper.
Living things are categorized into plants and animals. Animals further were classified into vertebrates and invertebrate animals. We learnt about the vertebrate animals like Fish, Frog, Turtle, Bird and Mammal. Children loved the story of how each Vertebrate animal came into existence.
Through this unit the children learnt that all living creatures need food, water, shelter, warmth and protection. This shows that we are all part of the same family of life on earth and hence must live in harmony with each other. Hence all the more reason to use earth’s resources wisely.
Next month we dive into how we humans are using way too much resources and what impact it is having on out planet. We will continue to learn about solutions to protect our planet in January.
“Children have an anxious concern for living beings, and the satisfaction of this instinct fills them with delight. It is therefore easy to interest them in taking care of plants and especially of animals. Nothing awakens foresight in a small child such as this. When he knows that animals have need of him, that little plants will dry up if he does not water them, he binds together with a new thread of love today’s passing moments with those of the tomorrow” - Maria Montessori.
This month we introduced a lot of Yoga poses for Verde Children.
We started off with simple poses like the lion and the mouse pose, and then moved on to the mountain, volcano, elephant, dog and snake posses. All these posses lay the foundation for the Sun Salutation pose. Sun Salutation is a complete physical exercise for a child and even for an adult. Our Yoga curriculum was really an attempt to bring awareness among children that sometimes our body, mind and spirit needs to be nourished.
Yoga helps our body and mind to be calm and helps us bring the best in us. It is an attempt to help the child focus better. Next time if our wiggly bodies are too excited or need to take three deep breaths, we can remind them to say `OM’. We will be practicing Sun Salutation and other poses all through the year. We are very happy to share that our Yoga mat is coming out more often than usual.
We all live in the world of frenetic. The result is steady bombardment of sound and images on our children. Never before has this kind of mental peace been as important in the formation of the childhood. Yoga is one path to achieve focus and concentration, so that we can do our daily activities in a fulfilling way.
From the wholistic view of body, mind, spirit and inter-connectedness of all living creatures in this universe we are moving to the curriculum of `Earth and living things’ in November.
Our Verde children transitioned very well into the classroom routines.
Children put grace and courtesy lessons into practice everyday. They do not always remember the best ways to solve conflict but when reminded of the peace rose, they quickly went for the peace rose table to talk to each other. We are making great progress in using words to communicate when frustrated or when not feeling good.
All our special classes have begun and children are enjoying all of them. As we move into October, we will be moving into yoga and movement curriculum. Children are going to love doing the lion, elephant, dog, snake and all other poses.
I believe Yoga at circle time will help them bring their mind, body and breath together to really focus and concentrate in whatever they want to do during their school day.
All year round Verde children will have access to Yoga mat and Yoga cards and they will be using it when their wiggly bodies need a break from their work.
In May we studied South America. We started by locating it on the globe and identifying its neighbors: North America and Antarctica, and the surrounding oceans: Atlantic and Pacific. We also built the puzzle map and named each country of this continent and matched it with its flag. We look at different objects from South America and talked about their uses.
In our study of South America we focused on two native peoples living on that continent. The Yanomami people live in the Amazon rainforest, where it is hot and humid, so they don't wear a lot of clothing. They build a round house for the whole tribe to live in, they eat roots, berries and cooked plantains and hunt for animals. They build canoes to travel longer distances.
Quechua people live in the Andes mountains, some of them in very remote places. They live in houses made of stone and mud and keep llamas and use their wool to make clothing. The kids found it very interesting to see pictures of people from these tribes and get a small glimpse into their lives.
We also talked about South American animals that live in different biomes of that continent, and the adaptations they made to live in their environment.
May was also full of other events like the student-led visits, Mother's Day, the Kindergarten students joining Elementary population on a field trip to the beach, and the Kindergarten tea. We are looking forward to the last few weeks of school and the Kindergarten graduation.