“It was great meeting all the new parents and getting to talk about their children and how well they’re doing in the classroom, how well they’re adapting to all our routines, all the jobs they know,” said Casa South guide Pat. “Everybody has been very industrious, working very hard. The third years have been awesome examples for the other kids; the second years are stepping up into their new roles.”
Casa South is one of the only places where you can sit under a tree indoors to read a book.
“The tree’s name is Benji,” Pat explained, “short for Ficus Benjamina, its Latin name. Children love to dust him, water him, and take care of him; and read under his lovely branches.”
“That is an absolutely beautiful example of the focus and concentration that a child can have,” said Pat of the girl pictured above. “We have the Montessori Geometry Cabinet, where they trace the shapes with their fingers, and this one [the Botany Cabinet] is finer — they can’t get their finger in it so they have to use a stick, which they hold like a pencil, so they get the pencil control in there, while they’re learning the shapes of the Botany Cabinet — leaf shapes. They’re getting a tactile impression of a leaf shape before they’re told the name of the leaf shape.”
“The funny thing is, he’s not supposed to be working with this material,” Pat explained about the new Casa student above. “One of the hardest things for the first years is to only do the jobs that they have been shown, and to stay away from the lovely, beautiful, colourful beads that are hanging in the cabinet. It’s the design of Montessori materials; they are so inviting. Kids want to use them, but we have to make sure they are developmentally ready for the material before it is presented to them.”
Once Casa children have completed their writing work, they have the opportunity to draw pictures at the top of their pages, hopefully related to what they have written.
“They will have written words,” Pat explained, “words that they have chosen. I do an example and they copy it. They’re writing words independently, choosing what they’re writing, which is very important for Montessori because writing is something that you do from within you, which is why we do it first, whereas with reading you have to figure out what someone else is saying to you, which is far more complex and why we do it second. There is also a wonderful social aspect here, too.”
“That is the 8-Cube Chain,” said Pat. “That came out of the cabinet that the first year boy above was exploring. Once children are developmentally ready they get to do things like this. The cool thing about the Cube Chains is, the 1-Cube Chain is one, obviously, and by the time they get to eight it barely fits in the classroom. They get exponentially larger and larger.”
The long strip or chain is the cube unfurled.
“He makes the best cords,” exclaimed Pat of our young friend above, “and pride in his work! He will come and show me how tightly he wound that cord; and the s-hook — basically, you twist it and you put an s-hook in the centre, then you fold the ends up and the s-hook will turn. So, if you’ve twisted it really tightly, the s-hook will spin like mad, so he does it as tightly as he can and he always comes to show me.”