“It’s been a lovely start to a new school term,” said Elizabeth this week. “Everyone enjoyed the break and here we are into the first real hint of winter. Cold days outside and lots of lovely, bright, cheerful, happy things happening inside.”
Some of the Casa East children began receiving new presentations this first week back.
“He’s received his first Glass Polishing presentation,” said Elizabeth, “and he was just thrilled to finally put his hands onto one of these baskets. He has continued to polish every morning since. He’s been so excited by it, and discovered some things are not made of glass and lots of things are. We have four polishing baskets. We start with Glass Polishing because the sequence of movements is not as great as the more advanced things like Silver Polishing.”
Another first presentation this week was the Montessori Binomial Cube introduced to the young boy above. Elizabeth explained why these initial presentations are so exciting for first-year Casa children:
“They have seen some of their peers working with these materials and now, finally, I get to put my hands on it, so it’s really joyful. This is him working independently of me now. I have given him the presentation, I’ve worked through it with him, and now I’ve left him to explore and work alone, and you can see that his concentration is quite complete. This will lead to a lot more work they will do building binomials and trinomials in another exercise that will come quite a bit later, things like the Decanomial Square.” (See this update from last spring for an example of the Decanomial Square).
You may remember an update from November where we showed you the new Montessori Ellipse Casa East’s Stef brought to the classroom. It has been a great addition to the environment that sees a lot of use.
“She’s a third-year student,” said Elizabeth, “and she just models so beautifully how to walk calmly, and now she’s carrying an object, she has the bean bag on her head, and she’s oblivious to anyone or anything else that’s happening in the room. Her concentration is complete; we’ve got gross motor movement. We talk about the need for gyms and children needing to be in gym. Really, our environments satisfy every need that we have for the child between three and six, and walking on the line is one of those examples of gross motor-controlled movement.”
Later in the week, the same girl explored some of Casa East’s familiar Montessori math materials.
“She’s working with the Teen Beads and putting them into sequence with the Hanging Bead Frame,” Elizabeth explained. Although this is not a new piece of work for her, Elizabeth points out that it is a familiar, “comforting material as she comes back into the environment after a two-week break.
“There’s also so many lovely, new presentations that take them into more advanced, complex math concepts. We have division, and several of the children, including the girl above, all working alongside each other now know that division means sharing equally, and to do that with the Golden Bead material, it’s one of the big lessons where they get to move and share out equally amongst each other. Then we take it to working individually again. We had one boy this week dividing a four digit number into a divisor of seven. It was a huge number with tons of exchanging down, and at the end of it all he was absolutely accurate. That’s the purpose of what math does in Montessori. We start with the simple and move to the complex. This week we’ve had dynamic division; we have had multiplication by huge multiplicands and multipliers, and lots of subtraction.”
“This is nice,” said Elizabeth. “We have had some sequence cards that have just been three steps, so it might have been a picture of a child with an empty thread, and the second had just two beads on it, and then the third picture is the thread filled with beads. Now we’re moving into sequences that have six cards, and this is nice because it’s a sequence of a small child going out to play and making a snow angel. She has loved this and has taken it out every day since. You will see them practice on the floor in the classroom, and I’m sure they go and find a spot to do it outside too.
“Another extension we have on a snow-based theme, we have so many cutting exercises — snipping, cutting on a straight line, cutting a zig zag line, cutting a wavy line — and now we have a more intricate cutting, which for a first-year student would not be appropriate, but for a third-year student whose hand is that much stronger, they’re folding paper that follows a guide. They cut away the black part of the paper once it’s folded to make a really intricate snowflake, but their hand has to be quite strong to have success.”
The slideshow above shows a Casa East boy exploring geometry in a couple of different ways this week.
“He’s starting to make some lovely discoveries,” said Elizabeth of the work being done. “With the Constructive Triangles, he now knows that he’s making the same triangle. You could see, it was almost like a little light bulb went off when he picked up the solid equilateral triangle and superimposed it over the green and realized ‘Oh! It’s the same.’ Then he held it over the yellow, which is three triangles, they’re obtuse angled isosceles, and it was the same; and then the four equilateral triangles that make up the larger, red equilateral triangle, and you could just see his little brain thinking ‘Wow! I get this now!’ It’s lovely to see.
“Working with the Tangram puzzle, I think that could challenge anyone who’s never seen it complete. It’s a bit of a challenge. Once the children have mastered it, you can see the little book under his arm, there are many puzzles that he could build. You can build every letter of the alphabet, and they’re hard. I have to use the guide to do them. You think you’ve got it but then there’s one piece that doesn’t fit. It’s challenging. He enjoys that.”
Another new presentation this week resulted in the beautiful picture above.
“She’s really focused and enjoying her moment with her paper, making her picture for mommy and one for daddy, two paintings, it has to be two of everything that she does, two pastings or two colourings. She was really enjoying this. She was sitting in the best spot in the room with the sun shining down on her. She’s very happy and content.”
All of the Casa staff would like to remind you to be sure to send weather-appropriate clothing to school with your children every day.
“Just a friendly reminder to please make sure your child comes to school every day with boots, snowpants, hat, mittens, scarf, neck warmer, whatever it is that they need,” said Casa East’s Elizabeth. “Even though some days you may think, at home, it’s too cold to go outside, it is a decision that is made at the school at recess time, based on the windchill at the school, so every day we need to be prepared, and know that the school will make the best decision for the children on any given day.”