Working with peers is a big part of Montessori education. The multi-age groupings at each level allow children to experience a variety of benefits. Shy first-year kids have the opportunity to observe older children working with the materials to get an idea of what’s expected and what’s to come. Third-year kids have the chance to give presentations to the younger children and to model leadership behaviour that allows a continuity of culture in the environment. Plus, it offers a diversity of friends to sit outside with on a sunny day.
Also in the Casa South outdoor environment is our labyrinth — a very, very popular activity now that the days are beautiful. Walking the labyrinth is akin to the Ellipse you see on the floor of every authentic Montessori Casa environment. The purpose of both the ellipse and the labyrinth is to help the children develop motor skills — specifically balance — but also works to put the child into a state of concentration and focus. When discussing the need to focus or concentrate with the children relative to other work in the environment, Montessori guides can refer to their experience on the ellipse to remind them what concentration is, and what is expected.
Back inside, we are still working hard with other traditional Montessori materials. The children above are working with the Stamp Game material, which helps them to visualize the relationships between the numbers in our decimal system. Here, they are working on multiplication, but the material can also be used to learn all of the mathematical operations.
Here, the 9-Square Chain is being put to use. This material helps children practice skip counting, in this case relative multiplication by 9. The children also read the tickets that are used to label the chain in order show their degree of mastery. It also allows the children to see the patterns that emerge when working with numbers.
The young boy above is proudly showing off one of his snippets — a result of a cutting activity that helps to develop and refine the fine motor skills required for later writing work; children are required to hold scissors in one hand and paper in the other. We also use the snippets produced for our sweeping jobs, which helps the children learn that everything in a Montessori environment is purposeful.
Finally, and don’t all rush in at once, but our good friend and class pet, Riddle, is hoping to get away for a while this summer and visit a few of his Casa South friends at their homes. If you are interested, please speak to Pat. In the past, a number have families have worked out a schedule to share and care for the pets over the course of the summer.