Thinking it’s been a while since the last Casa update? Remember, we are now distributing the update and “Events and Information” newsletters on a per week basis so that information from and about DVMS is easier to digest and keep track of. Casa updates are published on the first Friday of each month.
This beautiful picture was taken by Elizabeth on a sunny morning in Casa East recently.
“She’s using the Tangram puzzle,” said Casa East assistant Stef, who sat down with us this week to talk about what’s been happening in Casa East since the last update. “We discovered it was easier for them at the beginning to have all of the lines, the control sheet, at the level of difficulty they needed, so she can look and see where each of the shapes goes. At the end, the box is also one of the controls to get it back in. They’re having to extrapolate. It’s to scale, but they’re not the same size shapes [in the box and on the control sheet]. She has to look at the control and be able to figure out which triangle it is compared to the others. They also have to be able to follow a plan and visualize how the shapes come together, and how lots of triangles can come together to make other shapes and designs. Everything’s triangles!”
“Here’s an example of socializing through work,” Stef explained about the two girls above catching up on a Monday morning. “There’s freedom to socialize in the classroom. They’re both setting up their work but sitting next to each other. You can see how the work is prepared so it’s laid out nicely, everything is logical.”
Stef also pointed out that allowing for socialization as it occurs naturally is an important part of a Montessori education (whereas many of us remember being constantly told to be quiet and stop talking in school).
“What adult doesn’t talk a little bit throughout their work day?” said Stef. “The classroom is an extension of life and a big part of life is learning how to socialize, learning how to talk, learning how to balance your work and social engagements. Sometimes we might intervene a little bit and sometimes they just go back to work on their own.”
Casa East has been a busy balance the last few weeks.
“Lots of writing,” said Stef. “One morning I spent the whole time just working with children on letter formation. With winter coming on there’s also been a lot of new things to do with getting dressed, so practising our zippers; practising trying things before going to get help from an adult, or asking a friend. With the holidays coming we’ve done a few crafts and are having a great time singing many, many songs. We’ve been reading more storybooks than usual lately; lots of nice stories this time of year. We’ve also been doing lots of word study with the older children so they’re really becoming familiar with thinking about what sounds right and getting into a little bit more complex sentences where there are many digraphs and where they have to remember more rules at once. And flags of the world have been out a lot. It’s a piece of work where other children are inspired.” (See this week’s Casa North update for an example of some of the great flag work that has been going on in DVMS’s Casa environments recently).
“Here’s some other good examples of children’s work inspiring others,” Stef told us about the busy scene above. “Two girls wanted to do Parts of… . One mentioned it first then the other also wanted to, so they’re working side-by-side.”
“Two other girls wanted to do clock work but because one of them is yet to have a lesson with this material she was asked to just watch, which happened to some extent. She ended up getting her hands on it, which the other girl is OK with, so she’s getting to see how it works before she gets the presentation. It really shows that she is ready for it because she understands what the other girl is doing.”
In that same vein of preparing for presentations to come, the first-year Casa girl above is exploring her artistic side while being indirectly exposed to Montessori math materials she will work with in years to come.
“This is a nice example of her concentrating on her work in the midst of some higher level math with the decimal system. When the time comes, she’s been seeing these go on around her and it won’t be completely foreign. She sees it. She unconsciously knows, ‘If I keep working at what I’ve been shown, eventually I’ll be able to do that, even though I’m not ready for it yet.'”
Some of you may have already seen this great yoga picture Elizabeth captured recently on our Facebook page.
“Yoga is a great solitary exercise,” said Stef, “but they do love watching each other. Maybe before this she had been doing something academically strenuous. One of the terms we learned recently [at a professional development event] was ‘cup of concentration,’ and if you’ve used up a lot of it, yoga would be something that fills your cup back up. She would have the ability, after doing this, to concentrate again on something that’s more difficult, that’s challenging.”
Stef and a young friend both demonstrated some excellent concentration this week while working with scissors to cut on a line.
“He has been doing cutting on a line quite a bit, but I took this opportunity to re-present, after asking him if I could take a turn cutting one or two strips and he invited me. It was nice to see him watch so intently. We re-present because sometimes a child might have missed an important step, or for cutting in this case to keep your thumbs up and the point away. They’ve practised snipping, so when we see they have mastered just snipping strips of paper into little squares, then we invite them and show them cutting on the line as a daily life activity and fine motor skill development. There are more complicated cutting jobs and cutting out the shapes from the geometry cabinet so he could do a book of shapes later this year. After he’s mastered cutting on the line, anything he can trace he can cut out.”
“Again, working together is a nice aspect of this,” explained Stef of the work being done in Casa East lately creating maps of the world. “They can ask each other questions if they can’t remember the name of a continent; they’re learning the geography, the language, practising writing it out. They made the maps by tracing the hemispheres — we have a large circle — and then they use the Montessori Puzzle Map of the world to trace the continents. They’ve learned the names of the continents throughout the years that they’ve been here. They have to place the continents spatially, bring it over to their maps and place it in the right hemisphere or position.”