“While preparing snack today, the tray arrived with the grapes in a heap,” said Casa North Assistant Shalyn last week. “My friend above began to pull them off the stems and lined them up in rows. After the last grape was in place he simply looked at me and told me ‘Great, now they have their own space!’ If that isn’t a great Montessorian in the making, I’m not sure what is.”
“This shows their level of comfort in the environment,” said Casa North guide Dylan of the two girls above working, and singing while they do so. “The fact that they are able to concentrate and learn and enjoy themselves, they’re not stifled in any way. Some of the kids practice ballet in class, in moderation.” The girl above was not singing in a way that disrupted anyone else.
“That’s commonplace in our class,” said Dylan of the musical nature of Casa North. (Remember a previous update that had a table of Casa North boys working away while singing “Jingle Bell Rock.”)
“Right now, these two boys are doing division paper work that no-one’s ever done in my class, they just want to learn all of the division tables” said Dylan. “They decided they wanted to write about bears and carnivorous animals. They have to write their words first and then they draw the objects or animals they’re learning about.”
This was a completely self-motivated, self-directed, and self-completed project said Dylan. At this level they will copy phrases and sentences directly from a book, “which is still pretty complex,” said Dylan, “going from printing to writing [in cursive]. It’s not an easy task.”
“This is totally run by the kids now,” said Dylan about the French Bingo activity in Casa North. “It used to be Shalyn and I being the bingo caller, and now the kids know it so well they can manage the job by themselves. It’s now a self-sustaining activity. It’s all nouns.”
“This is a new presentation,” said Dylan. “The great thing about the three Casa environments is that we are all so open-minded with suggestions and we talk about trial and error and what we like and don’t like in our rooms. There are certain things I have learned from Pat and use, and this one’s called Cleaning Metal Insets — they draw on the frame and on the shapes. Pat invented this job and we’re now implementing it in our class and the kids are loving it. There’s a scientific process involved: there’s two scoops of baking soda and then they drip drip five drops of vinegar on it — and the kids go ‘Wow, it’s bubbling!’ and we say ‘That’s science!’. He’s assembling the solution and then he’s going to use it to clean the metal insets.”
“I challenged them,” said Dylan about the boys working on labelling the countries of South America above. “I asked them, ‘Do you know South America?’ — ‘Yaaahh’; ‘Do you know all the countries?’ — ‘y…uhh…’ A year ago they couldn’t do this because they couldn’t read the long names, like Venezuela, Uruguay, or Paraguay. So they took the whole continent apart and they are labelling each country, which is interesting because they’ve isolated the differences and there’s no control [a correct map to check against] at this point, all the shapes are just blank on a mat, which is great because you want the kids to not concentrate on the colour [which is how they might have memorized them during previous work with the material] but on the shape of a country or continent. We use different books and atlases to show them — they might think North America is always just orange, for example. We have a topographical map and a climate map they love.”
“The kids interests come in ebbs and flows,” said Dylan,”and geography is big right now. All the mats are being used because everyone’s using maps. These two were learning just how many states there are in the United States — everyone knows where Florida is; they all love Florida because probably half of them have been there and they talk about it.”
“That’s great. I love this picture — an action shot,” said Dylan regarding the mopping above. The girls spilled the water from the Montessori Land and Water Forms material while putting it away.
“Land and Water Forms are an introduction to different forms. A lake is surrounded on all sides by lands; an island is bounded by water. They pour water into the forms to visualize that. Here it seems maybe a dam broke or there was a tsunami.”