Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Captivated by the Winter Olympics

For the past two weeks, the children and teachers at our little yellow school have been caught up in the excitement of the 2018 Winter Olympics.  These Olympics brought joy to our days.

From Culture to Arithmetic to Language, interest in the Olympics permeated our classrooms.  It all began with the question "Where in the world is PyeongChang?"  We used our atlas along with the Puzzle Map of Asia to find South Korea.  The Asia map has been in constant use over the past two weeks with children labeling the names of the countries in Asia.

The Puzzle Map of Asia

Hard at Work

Many stories were written about the games and the medals Canada won.

Our favourite activity occurred each day at circle.  That is when we would track the progress of our Olympic team on a simple wall graph.  

Our Graph

The wall graph provided the children with the opportunity to collect data and organize it.  Through our graph, the children were able to:

~  collect information
~  count and sort
~  read graphs
~  make observations from a graph
~  ask questions about graph results

They spent much time counting and discussing the medals Canada won.

Discussing the Graph

While we learned a lot about South Korea and the different sports, it was the stories of the Olympians that taught us some very important life lessons.

Dedication - All of the Olympic athletes on our screens displayed dedication.  Most began their training as children and put in countless hours of practice to be among the best athletes in the world.  Our students were particularly interested in the story of Olympic darlings Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.  Our beloved Canadians began skating together in 1997.  Twenty years later, they leave these Olympics as the most decorated figure skaters in history with five Olympic medals each.

Perseverance - All of the athletes have persevered through good times and bad.  The story of Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris's comeback from near death resonated with our students.  With his accident occurring a mere 11 months before the Olympics, Mark refused to give up and landed on the podium with a bronze medal.  Very impressive!  Mark's perseverance was referenced by India's Prime Minister in a speech to young students. 

Teamwork - In the Olympics, there are individual sports and team sports.  It was inspiring to see veteran speed skaters Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais, medal winners at previous games, supporting and guiding the new young stars of the sport.  It was also great to see athletes from different sports coming out to cheer on their fellow Canadian athletes.  This also resonated with our students as this happens in our Montessori classrooms each and every day.  We are always here to support, guide and cheer one another on.

Good Sportsmanship -   In each Olympic sport, there are those who receive medals and those who do not.  As Canadians, there were some losses in key sports that we did not anticipate.  Despite this, our athletes always tried their best and were gracious in both victory and defeat.  They set a wonderful example.

At the end of these games, our wall graphs showed us that Canada won an impressive 29 medals - 11 gold, 8 silver and 10 bronze!  We placed third behind Norway and Germany for the most medals won.  This is our highest tally ever at a Winter Olympics!

Hooray, Canada!

Thank you to PyeongChang and the people of South Korea for being such gracious and elegant hosts.  A huge thank you to all of our Canadian Olympic athletes on a wonderful Winter Olympics!  We kept you in our hearts and in our thoughts.  You brought light into our wintry February days and made Canada proud!  Congratulations!

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Math ~ The Multiplication (Bead) Board

Multiplication work is always a favourite activity in our classrooms.  The second and third year students have been working with a flurry of multiplication materials - the golden beads, the multiplication bead bars, the stamp game and the multiplication operations boards to name a few.  The clear favourite is the multiplication (bead) board.

The multiplication (bead) board is a square wooden board with one hundred little dimples carved into the wood in rows of ten.  Across the top of the board are the numbers one to ten.  There is a small grooved circle to the left of these numbers in which a small red marker rests when not in use.  Half way down the board on the left hand side is a little slot for a number card to be slid into.  A cut out circle window allows the number to be seen.  The white cards are numbered one to ten.  There are also exactly one hundred small red beads for counting.

Before I get to how this material is used, it is important to discuss the language used.  It differs slightly from more traditional methods.  The language is the key.  Instead of saying multiplication is two times four, we would say that multiplication is a number taken many times.  In this way, we would say two taken four times.

So how does this material work?  When this material is introduced, the child would be given a multiplication booklet consisting of ten pages.  Each page illustrates a multiplication table one to ten.  (The child in these photographs has already completed a book and wanted to work on his ten times tables.)

In this first photograph the child is working on ten taken three times (10 x 3).  The side window has the number ten in it to indicate it is the ten times table.  The child begins by setting out ten beads under the number one.  They then set out ten beads under the number two and then the number three.  The little red marker in this picture is at the top of the board above the three.  This tells the child where they must stop when setting out the beads.  Next they count all the beads laid out and write their answer ten taken three times equals thirty.

The second photograph shows the child moving on to ten taken four times.  The little red marker is now above the four.

The greatest challenge of this work is in the counting.  The child must be able to count up to one hundred.  The other challenge is making sure the beads are placed securely in the grooves.  If they are not, they have the tendency to roll off tables and all over the floor.  The other children in the classroom are only too happy to help look for the little red beads.  When you see a group of children crawling on the floor looking for red beads, it is time to step in and thank them for their great help.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Crystal Hearts ~ Valentine's Day Science

The children at our little yellow school are so excited about Valentine's Day!  What better way to enhance our celebration than with a fun and easy Valentine themed science experiment!  Here is our crystal heart adventure.

We began by gathering our supplies - construction paper hearts, a cookie sheet, salt, measuring spoons, a measuring cup and hot water.

Ready to Go

We filled the measuring cup with very hot water.  The children took turns mixing salt into the water to make a solution.  



When the water could no longer hold anymore salt, our solution was ready.  We poured just enough of our solution to cover the construction paper hearts.  Here is what happened.

24 Hours - Crystals are forming yet there is still a lot of water.

48 Hours -  Most of the water has evaporated and crystals have formed.  The hearts are still very wet.

72 hours -   Our construction paper hearts are dry and coated in large and small crystals.  They now have a pink tinge.

The children were fascinated by the results!  They each took home a heart to show their families.

How did this happen?  This experiment is all about chemistry.  In the simplest terms, chemistry is about the changes that occur when substances are mixed together.  In this experiment, salt and water were mixed together to form a solution.  As the water evaporated, the sodium and chlorine atoms found in the salt were no longer separated by water.  They began to bond together to form crystals.

We all enjoyed this amazing chemistry experiment!  Thank you to www.littlebinsforlittlehands.com.

The Children's Montessori Academy

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

If I were trapped in a snow globe... ~ Stories by the Children

Earlier this month, the children at our little yellow school made snow globes for craft.

Our Snow Globes

While the children were making their snow globes, there was much discussion about what it would be like to be inside a snow globe. 

We invited the children who are using the Printed (Story) Alphabet to write an ending to a story starter about being trapped in a snow globe.  They were very excited to get started on their stories!

The Printed (Story) Alphabet

Story Starter - If I were trapped in a snow globe.....

Once a child had settled on an idea, they worked with the Printed (Story) Alphabet to bring it to life.  Here are some story endings in progress.

I would put snow everywhere.  Then I would break free.

I would use my super powers to break free.

They then wrote their ending on story starter paper.  Here are some of their stories.

If I were trapped in a snow globe.....

I would make a snowman in my backyard with my sister and my daddy.  We would go snowboarding.

I would make a snow angel with my brother.  We would make an igloo to keep warm.

I will make a nine centimetre long house.  I will go to the store because I need to buy some food.

I would dance and also I love snow!

I would find Frosty and have a big snowball fight.  After we would make sparkly rainbows!

I will make hot chocolate and play with a snowman.

I would have hot chocolate.  I would go sledding with a snowman.

I would have a snowball fight and I would have a Christmas tree.

I would crack the glass and escape! It is cold in there!

The children shared their stories with their classmates.  Whether they were embracing life within a snow globe or trying to break free, we had a great time listening to the stories.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Montessori Arithmetic - A Brief Overview

At our little yellow school, it is amazing to witness the variety of Arithmetic activities being worked with in the span of a day.  From the tiny beads of the Multiplication Bead Board and Golden Beads to the ever changing Cards and Counters to the Bead Cabinet where number chains hang like beautiful necklaces, the materials attract the children with their shapes, colours and sizes.  When working with these activities, the children feel that they are doing very important and big work!  They just can't get enough of these materials.  I understand how the children feel as the Arithmetic materials are among my favourite.

In the Montessori classroom, it is not unusual for the children to sit and observe when someone is receiving a lesson.  Last year something amazing happened when I was presenting the Fraction material to the graduates (those children who would be leaving us for grade one).  I called the graduates to the mat and began the presentation.  During the presentation, the classroom became quieter as children left their work and came to observe.  By the end of the lesson, the entire class was gathered around the mat watching and listening.  It was definitely an amazing experience that illustrated the power and the beauty of these materials.

The Montessori Arithmetic curriculum is divided into five sections - Numbers 1 to 10, The Decimal System, Teens and Tens, Memorization (Arithmetic Facts) and the Passage to Abstraction. The beauty of the Montessori Arithmetic materials is that they build sequentially on previous learning, are self-correcting, isolate the concept being learned and introduce the concrete before the abstract.  A very brief description and photographs of a few exercises from each section follows.

Numbers 1 to 10  - This section forms the foundation for all math work.  Here the children learn the quantities 1 - 10 and the concept of zero.  The children then learn the symbols and the sequencing of those numbers.

The Spindle Boxes - Matching Quantity and Symbol to 9

Cards and Counters - Matching Quantity and Symbol to 10
The counters are changed frequently.

The Decimal System - This section introduces the children to the names of the decimal categories (units, tens, hundreds, thousands) and their relative proportions.  The children will form large numbers with this material and experience the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Teens and Tens work parallels the Decimal System.

Introduction to the Decimal System Materials - Beads and Number Cards are introduced separately.

Exploring 'Hundred'

The Golden Beads - Formation of Complex Numbers

The Golden Beads - Addition

Teens and Tens - This work parallels the Decimal System and focuses on counting beyond 10.  The child is introduced to numbers 11 - 19 through the Teen Boards and numbers 11 - - 99 through the Ten Boards.  The child will also be introduced to linear and skip counting.

Teen Boards - Matching Symbol and Quantity

The Hundred Board - Linear Counting to 100
Linear Counting Beyond 100

The Bead Cabinet - Skip Counting the Squares and Cubes of Numbers 1 to 10
The Bead Chains - A Section of the Cube of 5 Chain

Memorization - The purpose of these exercises is to help the child memorize math facts in all four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division).

Subtraction Finger Chart

The Multiplication Bead Board

Passage to Abstraction - The child uses the knowledge gained from the Golden Bead Material and the memorization of facts and is lead to the point where s/he can do operations abstractly.

The children are introduced to other mathematical concepts such as Fractions, graphing, money and measurement.

Montessori Fraction Circles - The Denominator

Fractions - Making a Fraction Booklet

Graphing - How many syllables are in your name?
Graphing - How many people are in my family?
Baking - Using a Measuring Cup

This brief snapshot of the Montessori Arithmetic curriculum illustrates just how attractive and inspiring the Montessori Arithmetic materials are.  The children are able to move through the curriculum exploring, understanding and mastering the concepts at their own pace. In the Montessori classroom, math is exciting and fun!

Children display a universal love of mathematics, which is par excellence the science of precision, order and intelligence.

- Maria Montessori