We overhear the most amazing conversations. On a daily basis, something new and inspirational always pops up. Today, without fail, one of our students happily exclaimed to his mother, "I'm the most important learner here." He was so excited to see her, and share with her the adventures of the day. With a gentle, reassuring smile, and a sense of things, she responded. "I think you're all equally important." What a strong, powerful message.
We've been dreaming about putting together a book to help children learn their shapes for many years, and we're so very pleased that Abrams Appleseed, and their incredible team, have given us this wonderful opportunity.
Shape Work takes the abstract concepts of geometric objects, and presents them in a fun, concrete, dynamic way. When learning shapes, Montessori students first develop an understanding of the spatial object, before learning their respective names.
Making direct links to the famous Montessori geometric cabinet (pictured above), this multi-faceted, interactive book will help your child learn their shapes. "Featured shapes include three triangles (equilateral, isosceles, right-angled); three rounds (circle, oval, ellipse); three parallelograms (square, rectangle, rhombus); and three polygons (pentagon, hexagon, octagon).
We're so very pleased to introduce Angela Leinen, the newest member of our Baan Dek team. Angela will be joining Ms. Wood in the Lotus Room, starting next Fall.
Before we tell you all about Angela, and why she'll make an awesome addition to our school, we thought we'd take this opportunity to describe our interview. After we exchanged the customary online formalities, we asked if she'd like to set up a time to meet. "Sure," she said. "I'll just need a little bit of an advanced notice, as I'll be driving down from Fargo."
"Fargo!", the team exclaimed. "Wow. That shows commitment!" Needless to say, we've really enjoyed getting to know Angela, learning about her travels and adventures, and hearing all about her passion for Montessori, foreign languages and music. Speaking of which, Angela is fluent in Spanish and Ukrainian. More on that later!
Here's a little bit more about her. Angela was born and raised in the farming community of Breckenridge, Minnesota, and completed her university studies at the College of St. Benedict. There, she pursued a degree in Hispanic Studies with a minor in music. She spent time abroad, in Spain as well as Chile. Most recently, she taught in a secondary school in the Ukraine, where she developed a love for borscht. You'll have to ask her about it!
We're so excited to have Angela join us!
As the end of the school year approaches, many families are busy preparing for Summer. We thought we'd put together a list of some practical tips to help with numeracy, besides just counting the days until it's time to go back to school.
Summer ushers in many delights, many of which are new adventures, like road trips or frequent visits to the farmer's market. Families sometimes visit baseball diamonds and meet up with friends at outdoor picnics. These are all great opportunities to put math to work.
What are some of the practical things that you can do to help continue the numeracy that was started at school? While we don't recommend worksheets, as they primarily focus on rote memorization, we do recommend real world math type activities.
Here's what we mean:
Let's say that you're headed on a road trip. Try some interactive and engaging games that focus on counting. For example, "Let's identify the numbers on license plates." Or, perhaps you have a certain exit you need to reach. Turning to your daughter, you ask, "Can you help me find exit number 77? It'll be coming up soon." From the picture above, "How many yellow vehicles are there? Let's count." This is the type of language we use, helping our students discover the answer for themselves.
"Son, can you help me count the red cards on the trip today?" Or, perhaps when you stop at the rest stop, you can assign your child a task, giving them responsibility and confidence, "Can you count to make sure all of the suitcases are here?" There are so many marvelous chances to engage math on a daily basis and summer is the perfect time to learn.
Let's switch gears, just a bit, to provide you with some more concrete examples. Picture another beloved Summer activity: the farmer's market. (Well, at least in South Dakota!) Environments like this are the perfect opportunity to put numeracy to work. You'll notice from the picture above, the floating market in Thailand. It's alive with the hustle and bustle of interactions and occasions.
Floating around, (or walking around!), exploring the vendors, you can challenge your child to help. As a matter of fact, you can empower them with a bit of support: "We're looking for Summer squash. Can you help me find three of them? I hear the radishes are delicious. Should we take five of them home?"
Additionally, the floating market no less than the farmer's market is a terrific setting to have your child be in charge of the money. They can help pay the vendors for their goods, counting the bills that are needed. "Can you hand the gentleman four of these?" These types of environments provide the space for children to engage with the real world, without the pressures of standing in line at a grocery store.
Summer is just around the corner. We hope you enjoy! Wait, how many days left until school starts again?!
Whether we know it or not, we live busy lives. Each, in our own way, we strive to accommodate, and sometimes even tackle, our overpacked calendars. Calendars can be extremely overwhelming, especially the digital sort, as they constantly beep, reminding us of a pending appointment, or perhaps one that we just missed.
Sometimes (and here you can read 'more often than not') we're in a hurry to get here or there: to the grocery store or the soccer game; to work on time, or home before our spouse arrives. It's become a commonplace occurrence: there just isn't enough time. How often do we hear that phrase repeated? "If only there was more time in the day." To be sure, there's just so much to do, and of course, we want to make sure that we have the time to do it all.
In a way, it's the exact same with children. They want, or should we say need, to have the time it takes to accomplish tasks they set out to effectuate. What do we mean by that? Well, in our estimations, the motor of education, for creating the environment to develop confidence, independence, and the ability to think for oneself, is driven by the time it takes to learn.
What does it mean to "take time"? Whose time are we taking? In this wonderful video, there's so much at work. What you'll see is a four year old student, taking the time to tie her shoelaces. It's only a minute, which means that she's practiced her heart out. Speaking of hearts, how about those green converse!
The majority of the import of the video is not actually what is depicted on the screen, but rather what falls outside the frame of the camera. Mainly, we're speaking about the space that was created to afford this four year old the time and confidence needed to complete her tasks: however simple or inconsequential they may seem to us. The creation of such a space takes patience, care, confidence and, in many respects the most important element, time. She felt comfortable enough to take the time the task required.
Putting on our Montessori hats, it's one of the many reasons we fell head over heels for this approach to education. Montessori creates a space in which time is allowed to blossom. The way Montessori was developed was according to the specific, individual, developmental needs of students. Which is to say, it's not based on a general, one-size fits all curriculum.
How is this different from traditional approaches? Well, for starters, in the conventional system, everyone is working on the exact same thing, at the exact same time. They're allotted x amount of time. When that time expires, it's time to move on. Take, for example, the issue of learning how to tie your shoelaces. While we've just witnessed the product of this students tireless efforts, and can imagine her teacher's fastidious, loving hands and voice helping her every step of the way, picture an environment in which halfway through the task, she was told it was time to wrap things up and move on to the next activity. What would that have done to her confidence?
As adults, and despite our best efforts to optimize our time by planning ahead, waking up early, packing lunches before we go to bed, we simply run out of time. One of the many, incredible benefits of Montessori is that it "gives time" to children. Montessori provides children with the space and confidence that they can take the time it needs for them to accomplish the tasks that they set out to achieve.