“She’s reviewing quarter-to the hour,” Noeleen explained of the work being done above. “Time falls under the category of history in a Montessori environment because it is showing the passage of time, which is what history is. The younger students will work with this material a lot; it starts with o’clock, half-past, quarter-after, then quarter-to. The older students can go back and review before we move on to more abstract work with stamps on paper, then we do word problems.”
Noeleen also has a great suggestion for parents:
“At this age, parents, if you’re looking for something to buy for birthdays or Christmas an analogue watch is great — simple, simple, no extras, just a minute hand and an hour hand (a second hand’s great but not required). It makes a great present because they need it at this point to become aware of what time is.”
“This is more traditional history,” said Noeleen of the incredible material pictured above. “These are the Fundamental Needs cards that they work with. We’ve discussed, in year one, what the fundamental needs of humans are, then we move on to materials where they can look at the fundamental needs of civilizations. The top row is shelter, so they can go through and look at how shelters have developed throughout history and then we have little labels that match so they can decide is it early humans, is it the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Middle Ages , the Renaissance, or is it modern time.”
As to how Montessori students use the material, Noeleen outlined a couple of different ways:
“They can work on just housing, or they can take one period and explore how the early humans, for example, worked through all of their fundamental needs. There’s housing, social acceptance, clothing, defence, land transportation, water transportation, art, and a few other needs.”
There has also been a lot of language work in Lower South recently. You may remember the two students above working collaboratively in the last update. Here they are debating the order of words in an alphabetization exercise.
“The job itself is just putting words in alphabetical order,” said Noeleen, “but the debate that can go on… They rarely will come to me to ask how to sort something out, but the material allows for them to figure it out on their own. We have a control at the end if they want to go check; I don’t have to go and check it. They can go to the control booklet or get peers — the great thing is, these two are in year three so this is review for them, but they can go and check the year one’s work. We’re doing dictionary work right now with the year threes — what are guide words, where do you find them, what’s a part of speech in the dictionary, so this work reinforces that.”
“Two year one children had worked on this compound word job, but it was a toughie,” said Noeleen about the language material above. “They came to me and asked if I could help and I said ‘Why don’t you go and find some other students and see if they can help.’ So we had two third year students who volunteered, and they were all stumped. We went back and debated a bit more and once we fixed one they were able to figure out the rest on their own. It’s great because they can go off and explore compound words on their own, and they will come to me and say ‘Oh, you said a compound word!’. Then it leads to reading. This is an indirect learning of reading.”
Each card has two words printed on it that have to be matched to each end of other cards to form compound words, and there is only one correct way they all fit together, so like all Montessori materials, it is self-correcting.
“When children enter Lower Elementary, they go home every night with a reading folder. They’re encouraged to read every night and then it just takes off. The year ones, their reading is monitored daily. Either Catherine or myself will listen to them read daily. As they get older they get more independent and we have them read things throughout the classroom. These two, the older girls [above], I might just say to them, ‘Oh, I don’t have my glasses, could you read that to me?’ Indirectly, I’m having them read to me and I can keep track of how their level of reading is coming along. I also find that in second term, year ones, and especially year two and threes, the reading just takes off, and they love it.”
As you know, there are no tests or marks in Montessori, but that doesn’t mean the children aren’t evaluated regularly in other ways.
“This one form of testing with the Drawer of Triangles from the Montessori Geometry Cabinet. I started with just two or three students and then the others wanted to join in. We looked at the three types of triangles: scalene, isosceles, equilateral. I’ll point to one and they have to tell me what they are. It’s an indirect test. We keep doing it until they get them under their belts.”
The material above is not a Montessori material, but is something Noeleen found in an educational catalogue that she uses to help the students when they are learning about vertebrates versus invertebrates.
“We always say, it’s a vertebrate if it has a tail, that’s one clue, and also does it leave a skeleton when it dies? Then you realize a lot of children have never seen a snake skeleton. Luckily, we have a great biology display area in the hallway and they can look at the skeletons of things there, but they can also look at these x-rays. They’ve already reviewed vertebrates and invertebrates, this is an extension of that work, then we look at the five classes of vertebrates in depth, and then we start looking at the invertebrates in depth. Each x-ray has an information card that goes with it. The one that they love is the egg because you can see inside it, which is kinda cool.”
On Friday, November 14, 21, and 28, both Lower Elementary classes will be attending gymnastics lessons at Hamilton Gymnastics Academy. Students will be split into two groups (11:45-12:45 and 12:45-1:45) and will travel by bus to and from HGA. Please ensure they wear or bring gymnastics appropriate clothing on those days.