“Our third year children have now begun to give Sandpaper Letter presentations to the first year,” said Casa South Montessori guide Pat. “It’s amazing to see how this simple act helps to create a caring and responsible community.”
The third year Casa child above is receiving a presentation from Casa South assistant Serena called Arranging Flowers. Each Montessori Casa environment receives fresh flowers each week that are used for this activity, and a flower in a small vase is placed on each table.
“Arranging flowers is about beautifying your environment,” said Pat. “It’s about fine motor skills, sequencing, mindfulness. It’s a very long sequence of steps.”
Casa South had a Montessori-guide-in-training visit the classroom last week, where he gave some presentations under the watchful eyes of some Casa experts.
“We welcomed Michael as our student-teacher from the Foundation [for Montessori Education],” said Pat. “He spent some time getting to know the children and gave a few presentations. He will be coming back in November to give even more presentations — the children are already looking forward to his return.”
“She’s copying a book out,” said Pat of the girl above, “and she’s a beautiful example of a senior Casa child that comes in and needs zero direction. She just comes in and does her work. She may not get done all of the things I need her to get done, but because she’s so focused on her work I just let her do what she needs to do.”
As to why it is so important to take this approach with children, Pat said, “You want them to have a balance, but if they feel the need, the intrinsic need to sit and be motivated to do that, with that kind of concentration, there’s no way I should break that up.”
“The bells are an awesome introduction to music,” said Pat. “It’s a C scale, so the bottom bells would be middle C on a piano. That’s a major scale set out [in the picture], we also have the accidentals but I don’t have them set out right now. It’s great ear training for them. They learn the names of the notes and, in the end, they actually write their own music.”
Pat also pointed out an interesting relation between the work with the bells and literacy education in Casa:
“Because music is a language, it follows exactly the same sequence as learning language does. You introduce the actual sounds — the sound of the note, then you give the name of the note, and then how it sounds correctly, so you take out some vowels and mix them up and they have to re-arrange them and put them back in order, and then they move on to write and read.”