Casa North Update: Week of February 2, 2014

CN WkFeb2 2015 tooth

“Look, I lost a tooth!” Big moments abound in a Montessori Casa environment.

It was one of many big days in Casa North for the girl above, who lost her first tooth. We sat down with Casa North assistant Shalyn this week to get the full story, and to find out what else has been going on in Casa North. This was Shalyn’s first time doing the update, so she was a little bit nervous; be sure to tell her what a great job she did because she tried her best. 😉

“She came in returning from her trip to Florida letting us know that she had lost her first tooth,” said Shalyn. “This is a big deal for our children. We usually see them in Casa losing their first tooth, sometimes their second. Some of the other big moments that happen in a Casa environment are things like putting sounds together, and realizing that they have put sounds together, and they can read! Same goes for math and other big jobs in the classroom.”

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We’ve had a lot of snow lately, and while most of us grumble about shoveling the driveway, one young Casa North boy embraced the challenge.

“We had some shovels delivered to Casa North and the children try to get many of their jobs done in the morning so that they get an opportunity to go outside,” Shalyn explained. “Even though it’s cold, they still love going outside and shoveling and playing in the snow, so it’s great to have the environment to do this in. He was very determined that even though there was a lot of snow and he is a little guy in first year that he could shovel off this deck all by himself. He was very successful. It did take about half an hour, but he did manage to do it. This is a Practical Life job and hopefully, with all this snow, the parents at home also involve their children in things like this because they love to help.”

CN WkFeb2 2015 chains

Both wanted to count the Montessori chains, but there’s only one mat! Shared real estate, never been attempted before. Cooperation at work.

A groundbreaking event took place in Casa North recently when some students wanted to work with the same chain material at the same time. There are a number of chains, but only one mat upon which to lay them out and work with them, so they took a stab at sharing the mat with two chains at the same time.

“They split the jobs and the tasks accordingly — counting their tickets out and making sure that they were organized. The two boys had all of their parts of their job in one space and the other boy having all the parts of his job in another space. They’re working cooperatively and not bothering each other as they’re very in-depth in their counting. Sometimes they will work together on one chain, but these boys decided that they could manage and we were able to trust them with this challenging task.”

CN WkFeb2 2015

Big work completed! All the way to 100.

Another exciting math moment happened for two Casa North children this week:

“We have more cooperative work here,” said Shalyn, “a second-year girl and a third-year boy working together counting the tiles all the way up to a hundred. They split this job in tens, usually, so one person will count one row and the next person will count the next row, and then there comes a point where one sometimes gets stuck and the other’s there to assist. This is the Hundred Board; all of the tiles start in a box and they have to empty the box onto the mat and sort the tiles in the appropriate tens rows, so all the teens together, all the twenties together, to make it easier for them to identify what goes into each row instead of sorting through a hundred tiles to find the right one. This is a big moment, especially for second years when they can complete this by themselves.”

CN WkFeb2 2015 wash

Montessori Casa Practical Life at work — washing the floor.

“There’s no Swiffer in Casa North,” Shalyn pointed out in explaining this Practical Life job that involves some very old materials and techniques. “Our friend here is using a brush and a sponge and a bar of soap to scrub the floor. It’s really important for the children at this age to realize that the classroom is theirs. So, if it’s dirty they clean it; if they make a spill they clean it up; if shelves are dusty then they are responsible to clean them and make sure that their environment is how they want it to be presented.”

The old-style materials are used, rather than more efficient contemporary appliances, for a specific reason:

“This is another process,” said Shalyn. “This student had to be at a good level of concentration and skill in order to complete all the steps, to get to a satisfying product. First she has to use the white jug to fill the basin with water, then she has to get the soap wet, then she uses the scrub brush to scrub an area on the floor, then use the sponge to wipe up the soap, and then use the cloth to dry it off.”

CN WkFeb2 2015 guitar

Casa kids are always looking for something new to polish. Strata: Montessori Adolescent School’s guitar got some love this week.

The floor wasn’t the only thing to get a shiny new lease on life this past week.

“Polishing is a very big job in our class right now,” said Shalyn, “from glass polishing to wood polishing, silver polishing, and brass. This one in particular is wood. As much as possible,  we ask the children to choose objects from our environment first and if they would like to continue the polishing job after they have done some objects from our classroom, they wander down the hallway and, for example, this guitar is from the adolescent classroom, so she had to go all the way down to their room to get this object, bring it back, polish it, and make sure it was not dripping in polish after she was finished with it.”

CN WkFeb2 2015 box

Some early work with an early Montessori Casa material, the Boxes and Bottles.

The very young fellow above is working with a Montessori material called Boxes and Bottles. You can see how this material prepares children for later materials in this week’s Casa South update.

“He’s working with the jars and lids job,” Shalyn explained. “This job helps with gross and fine motor skills, learning how to twist all the lids off, sorting them all out, putting them back on, and making sure they are all placed back appropriately. It looks here like he’s seeing which ones fit inside each other, so a bit of discovery at its best. In particular, these fine motor skills — to twist things off — it helps them with being able to open their own lunches, helping their friends with other jobs in the classroom that need opening and closing, twisting and tightening. We have jobs like Smelling and Tasting Bottles, Screwdriver, Nuts and Bolts, even things like the polishing bottles that need to screwed on properly so the polish doesn’t spill all over the place.”

CN WkFeb2 2015 fracsnflowers

Fractions and Violins.

“The third-year girl on the left is working with our Orchestra Cards,” said Shalyn in explaining the table of diverse activities by children of different ages taking place above. “She was discovering different instruments with strings versus wind instruments. Here she was writing out the names, so she’s transcribing from print capital letters to lower case cursive letters. She’s also extending this into drawing the instruments that she has written about.

“Our friend on the right is working with the sensorial Discovery of Fractions Lesson 2. This tray starts with sixths and has sevenths, eighths, ninths, and tenths. He’s exploring which shapes fit into another.”

CN WkFeb2 2015 conts

Discovering iconic cultural images to extend their knowledge of the different continents.

“These boys are discovering our Continent Folders,” said Shalyn. What are Continent Folders?

“Inside, these folders have pictures to do with the specific continent that they are exploring. They have landmarks, some of them have different types of clothing, and different foods. They would use this discovery when they are working with the Oceania map, discovering the different territories and provinces, maybe they can pinpoint where some of the landmarks are. ”

Thanks Shalyn! Good job.

In addition to our note in the recent “Events and Information” newsletter, Casa staff have asked that children refrain from bringing any type of Valentine’s Day card or treats to school. Doing so causes a significant disruption to the Montessori work cycle. Thank you for understanding.

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