“Two weeks later — what a difference!” said Casa East guide Elizabeth this week. “The little ones are starting to gain confidence and understand the routines of the school and the classroom: taking off their shoes, hanging up their coats, changing into indoor shoes, managing their work and starting to create for themselves their own little work cycles, and being able to express themselves and be understood — their thoughts and needs.”
“The shark tracing you see above was a beautiful moment,” said Elizabeth.
“I had shown him the Parts of a Shark, but we didn’t have the paper for that material, so it was really nice for him to see how his hand control has reached the point where he is able to trace. I showed him that little trick of using the window for the natural light to come through and he absolutely loved it. That piece of work is beautiful.”
Elizabeth also noted that the older children are embracing their roles in the environment.
“The helping of little ones is happening spontaneously,” she said. “This morning one of the older girls was helping someone with the last button on a sweater. It’s nice. You give them the message and now you’re starting to see it happen.
That same older girl also had the chance to share a new moment with Casa East assistant Stef, who completed her Montessori training last year and is presenting the Montessori Roman Arch material to her.
“That was a first for Stef too,” said Elizabeth. “It was nice for the student and also nice for Stef who gained some experience in presenting it for the first time.”
“The work cycle is starting to become more purposeful,” Elizabeth continued. “Now that we’ve covered the review we’re moving into new materials and I’m finding that the work cycle, this week especially, has been much more settled. It’s now humming with activity, and lots of different activity.”
“This was so beautiful,” said Elizabeth of the girl working with the Parts of the Fish material above. “This was new work for her. She came to me and said ‘I’ve done all the tracing and all the shading’ and I told her the next step is that you’ve learned the names of the parts and now we need to write those onto your work.
“She said, ‘I don’t know how to write the “p”.’ So I said, ‘I’ll be happy to help you but you’ll have to wait because I’m just about to start another presentation.’ When I went over to her, it was all done. I asked Stef if she had helped her and she said no, not a word. She had figured it out! It was really lovely to see.”
The young chap above is new to Casa this year and is being presented a job that helps children begin to develop sensori-motor coordination skills by using a tack to punch out a shape on a piece of paper.
“He’s just so settled,” said Elizabeth. “He’s the youngest of his family and he’s so confident. He just fits in so easily to the routines of the classroom.”
“She’s a great little girl,” said Elizabeth of the older Casa girl above. “She’s very cautious in her work, so when she thinks something is going to be difficult she has a little reluctance. I said to her ‘You won’t know unless you go and try and see if you can remember.’ And, oh my gosh, she did the first one and she said ‘I do remember!’ and she was so thrilled.”
Elizabeth explained that there is a progression of four charts that become increasingly more abstract as children start to understand the math facts in their heads. The fourth board is blank and the children fill it in with tiles (see the Casa North update for an example).
“This is the Montessori Geometry Cabinet,” Elizabeth explained. “We were learning all the differences with the polygons. We were counting all the sides on them.”
Elizabeth noted that this Montessori material is not necessarily always an introduction to geometric shapes.
“The first way he would have used that material is literally just a matching game. Now, we are doing the language. You don’t necessarily do the language the first time you present the material because it is just a visual matching of a shape to the frame. He’s learned the shapes and now I want him to learn the names.”
The first year Casa girl is also participating by observing.
“She watches everything I do,” said Elizabeth. “Everything that she’s watching, she’s so purposeful. She’ll say to me ‘Why didn’t he know the nonagon?’ ‘Where’s the decagon?’ She’s taking in a lot. I once had a little boy who did that for the first six months of school, then all of a sudden he walked in one day and Boom! He just touched everything. I’m not going to thrust it on her. If she wants to watch whatever I’m doing, it’s purposeful.”