Sunday, November 18, 2018

5 Books to Teach your Child about Thanksgiving

Teaching children about Thanksgiving is not all about the holiday. The goal is for children to learn about giving and sharing and develop an understanding of how doing nice things for others can make you feel better about yourself. Perfect for story time or hours of reading alone, this selection is perfect for readers ranging from preschool up to around grade 5.

1.     Clifford's Thanksgiving Visit By Norman Bridwell
The Big Red Dog is back for another adventure. This time, Clifford has been left at home while the family goes on a holiday trip, and he decides to visit some family of his own. This is the story of how Clifford visits the big city and learns some important lessons about being grateful for what we have.
2.     The Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern
Designed for young children, this book explores the first Thanksgiving. It presents readers with some of the problems faced by the original settlers and looks at how the Native Americans stepped in to help ease the burden. This is the story of Plymouth Rock interpreted for eager young minds.
3.    Thanksgiving in the Woods by Phyllis Alsdurf
Written for grades Pre-K to 2, this book tells the true story of a family who takes the Thanksgiving holiday in a different direction. All about sharing, caring, and being grateful for what we have, Thanksgiving in the Woods will delight small children while providing them with important life lessons to learn from.
4.     Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp
Designed for ages 4 to 8, this is an entertaining look at Thanksgiving told from the perspective of the Iroquois tribe and told by a Mohawk chief. The link includes lesson plans which parents and teachers can use to build on the concepts of sharing and caring.
5.     10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston
This book for small children incorporates a rhyming look at Thanksgiving with learning to count backward. Small children will be thrilled at the antics of these turkeys as they get into all sorts of fun activities as part of turkey life during the Thanksgiving season.

The discovery of Thanksgiving does not have to end at the books listed above. Instead, use these books as an opportunity to teach your children the joys of libraries and book clubs and an endless supply of books covering everything imaginable.  At the Montessori School of Fremont, our teachers and staff use books and activities to instill knowledge into our students, including those of various holidays and traditions.  We celebrate the diverse backgrounds of our students and families.  To see a Montessori classroom first hand, contact us today to schedule a tour.

Nature Walk: Helping Elementary Students Learn in the Outdoors

Getting elementary students outside is beneficial on several levels. The fresh air is good for the body, peaceful surroundings encourage focus, and there is a lot that nature can teach us. The best locations are away from buildings and in an area where your outdoor forays will not distract other classes in the school. Be sure to take along a field guide to learn about different plants and animals, but give the elementary students opportunities to explore and learn in their own ways as well.

Benefits of Nature

Children spend less time immersed in nature today than they once did. Some of this is due to the growth of residential areas, and some are related to advances in technology, but the result is an effect on children’s learning patterns. Exploring the area, collecting insects, or discovering the different kinds of flowers, children gain valuable knowledge about flora and fauna as they apply academic studies to real-world situations. Other benefits can include a reduced obesity, greater attention to details, or incidental progress in math skills and personal vocabulary.

Helping Children Focus

Becoming a part of the natural world has been shown to have positive psychological effects. Elementary students tend to be able to focus on academics studies better after spending time in nature, scoring better on memory tests and concentration. The reasons behind the increased clarity are still being studied, but the results have proven to be more than coincidence can explain: A couple of outdoor classes throughout the day can make a big difference.

Nature Science Through Exposure

Of course, nature does have a lot to teach children. Schools can team up with state forests, wildlife refuges, or other animal sanctuaries to help children learn about the plants and animals in their region and the importance of preserving habitats for animals to live in. A butterfly hunt in the city park or leisurely strolls along multi-use paths are both good ways to expose your elementary aged children to the complexities of life, its cycles, and how different species depend on each other for survival.

Nature as Part of the Curriculum

Holding classes outdoors is as old as education itself. Before there were schools, young children tagged along with their parents and picked up information about nature and their world throughout the day. Ancient scholars are said to have given lectures in public places such as parks or near streams or pools. 

When children are given more opportunity to experience nature, they are better able to understand the bonds between living things, historical advances in science, and much more. The reasons for encouraging elementary education outdoors are numerous while the disadvantages are few.

The Montessori School of Pleasanton emphasizes teaching elementary students through nature and outdoor learning.  Learning through our surroundings helps students better understand the world around them and how all things work together.  To learn more about Montessori Education, contact us today.

Indoor Science Activities: Fun with your Preschooler!

It is never too soon for your children to start learning how science works. Preschoolers may require a little help and a lot of supervision when they perform simple science experiments, but watching their efforts produce visible results is a great way to get them interested. The experiments described here require common household ingredients, a little time, and a lot of observation and discussion.

Homemade Lava Lamp

The simple way to perform this experiment is with a clear glass or jar, some food coloring, about a cup of vegetable oil, and some water. Put the oil in the glass container. Mix drops of food coloring with small amounts of water. Drip the colored water into the glass container. Since oil and water do not mix, the water will retain the color and move in bubbles or streams through the oil. For more movement, break an original Alka-Seltzer into small pieces and drop one into the container. Where oil and water will separate, the carbon dioxide of the tablet bonds to the water molecules and lifts them in the container.

Experimenting with Sound Waves

Two tin cans and a length of string is always an entertaining and informative science experiment for preschoolers. To make it easier for the little ones, use two lines with a can at both ends, one for speaking and one for listening. Use a nail to make a small hole in the bottom of the cans, slip the string through it, and tie a large knot at the end of the string. Experiment with how the quality of the sound is affected by how taut the string is pulled and how the sound stops completely when the line goes limp. What if someone touches the string while it is being used?

Watching Beans Grow

Planting beans in a clear plastic cup gives children the ability to watch beans sprout and roots grow through the soil. Variations include growing a potato from eyes in a cup of water, or any number of vegetable or flower plants. The biology of watching roots growing through soil is an excellent example of how tiny seeds can transform into larger plants, and helps children gain an understanding of living things and where food comes from.

These ideas are just a sampling of the science experiments you can do with preschoolers. You can either perform these basic experiments or try different things like swapping the oil and water quantities, using different types of string between the cans or comparing different types of seed to see which ones sprout and grow the fastest. The important thing is to introduce your preschooler to the wonders of science and how we can use it to better understand the world we live in.

Montessori education teaches students through hands-on activities and encourages families to do the same at home.  To learn more about Montessori education and to schedule a tour at the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus, contact us today.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Giving Back: Ways to Volunteer in Any Community

The strength of a community depends on the interactions within it. Whether you are volunteering your skills in your child's Montessori classroom, assisting those less fortunate, or simply making your community a better place for everyone, your contributions have profound effects on the local quality of life. Opportunities to volunteer can be found in many places. To give you some ideas on where to start or little ways to play an active role, we have provided some suggestions where volunteers are in high demand.

Schools Need Helping Hands

Education is a community effort. Schools are always in search of people willing to devote a little time for everything from sorting and stapling to event monitors. Ask your child’s teacher or contact the school's leader to find out how you can be of service.

Seniors Need Love Too

Senior citizens are often eager to receive companionship or assistance. Many elderly residents do not have family in the area and spend a lot of time feeling lonely and alone. You can help them by going for walks (or pushing their wheelchair along the path), playing games, or just listening to memories of times gone by.

Food for Thought

If the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, then providing assistance to local food banks, meal services, or homeless feeds will earn you a place in someone’s fondest memories. Whether you are cooking, filling trays, or putting together holiday meal packages for the needy, your time and effort is a great way to make your community a better place.

Serving Your Community

Most communities offer a wealth of opportunity for anyone who wants to play a part. Community centers for example, rely on volunteers to assist local residents with everything from filling out paperwork to checking out a book at the library. Libraries are another excellent place to volunteer your time, putting book returns back on the shelves, helping people find pertinent information, or reading storybooks to young children are all examples of tasks performed by volunteers at local library systems.

This Land is Your Land

City and county parks are often understaffed and overworked. Picking up trash along roadways, dressing the part for local reenactments, and providing beverages to event participants are all examples of volunteer efforts that contribute to a stronger community. Your local parks and recreation department can help you find the perfect fit for your volunteer efforts, or contact the local Better Business Bureau to find out what types of nonprofits may be looking for volunteers in your area.

Volunteering in your community is a win-win opportunity. It benefits the community and the people who live in it. But it also benefits you in many ways. There is a special feeling that comes from knowing you have helped someone achieve a goal that could not have reached on their own and personal satisfaction in making the community better for everyone.

Montessori Children's House teaches its students the importance of community.  Each day, students work together, guiding each other as they learn and explore.  Contact us today to learn more about the hands-on Montessori Method.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Fall Crafts to Try with your Kindergartner

Fall is an amazing time for crafting with your kindergartner. Fall introduces new colors with the changing leaves, new activities such as harvesting vegetables, and this season has several exciting holidays. Together, these create a lot of fun opportunities for your little one to get involved in crafting and connect with the season. Many fall crafts also fit within the classroom, such as Montessori schools, where the craft project can be part of a larger activity learning about the background theme of the crafts.

Harvest Crafts
One of the most fun crafting projects and also most emblematic of fall is the pumpkin. Pumpkins are harvested in the fall and are a big component of fall activities, including pumpkin carving and making pumpkin pie. For kindergartners, a great pumpkin themed crafting project is to cut strips of orange construction paper and glue them into circles. These circles can then be glued together in the shape of a pumpkin and topped off with green strips of paper for the stem.   

Leaf Crafts
The leaves changing color is a big component of the fall transition to winter. It’s great to have your kindergartner get outdoors and be able to use what they find outside in crafting projects. One project is to get sticks from the outdoors and add their own leaves. First, glue a stick to construction paper. Then, with small pieces of paper, bunch the paper into small textured round pieces in the shape of a leaf and glue them individually to the paper. The result is a real stick with paper leaves! Another project is to collect colorful leaves and glue them to a string to make a wreath. A third leaf activity is to gather acorns and color the acorns with fall themed watercolors.

Holiday Crafts
Turkeys are the favorite mascot of Thanksgiving, and there are a number of great turkey craft projects for your kindergartner. One great project requires paper plates, googly eyes, and red, orange, and brown construction paper as well as fall themed acrylic paint and a sponge. Use the sponge to place dabs of color onto the paper plate. Then, cut out a turkey head in brown construction paper, topped with an orange nose and red snood (the red part of a turkey’s throat). Finish by adding googly eyes to your turkey.

The Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus teaches students from age 3 through 6.  Using the Montessori Method, children learn through hands-on activities and are encouraged to explore through creative means at their own pace.  To learn more about the Montessori Method, contact us today.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Assessing your Elementary Student after the First Semester of School

Montessori elementary schools do not use a list of topics that all children must learn at the same time. Montessori student assessments cover many non-academic aspects of education as well, limiting the value of traditional report cards. Instead, parent-student-teacher conferences are arranged where the student guide can give you first-hand observation information on your elementary child’s development.

Montessori Teacher-Guides

Montessori teachers are known as guides and play a different role than traditional public school teachers. In addition to meeting state-mandated criteria, guides routinely monitor other aspects of your child’s education. Social, physical, and mental development are all considered part of the child’s total education, and the guide is charged with encouraging development and charting progress.

Parent-Guide Conferences

The guide will discuss your child’s progress at parent conferences. This includes developing issues and discussion on anticipated progress. Guides will also talk about student learning outcomes - your student’s educational plan and progress in many different areas of education and development.

Student Learning Outcomes

SLOs cover many different developmental skills. Together, they form the basis for a well-rounded education which includes social values and independent reasoning. The basic skill sets evaluated include:

·        Sensory Perception - The use of sensory input relating to concrete and abstract experiences.
·        Practical Knowledge - The awareness of self and others. Basic social skills and problem-solving.
·        Language Skills - The ability to read, write, and comprehend written and verbal communication.
·        Mathematics - The use of inductive and deductive reasoning in practical and symbolic applications.
·        Science - The comprehension of the natural world and its order. Learning how to apply the scientific method to problem solving and evaluation.
·        Cultural Learning - The understanding of history and individual relationships to historical events. Includes learning the arts and humanities along with an appreciation for historical achievement.
·        Moral Development - The comprehension of “self” and responsibility toward others. Conflict resolution through teamwork and negotiation, including social etiquette.
·        Social Development - Learning to have a positive influence on one’s community. Cooperation, social sciences, and diplomacy in conflict resolution.
·        Executive Learning - The act of controlling impulses, efficient time management, memory, and adaptive cognitive behavior.

Standardized Assessments

Montessori schools must adhere to state laws on standardized testing. Other Montessori schools have adopted standardized testing to help students who transfer to public institutions at a later time. Academic research has shown that Montessori students do well on standardized tests despite the information being secondary to their educational programs.

Montessori schools do not have a fixed achievement schedule, so the progress of students will vary remarkably between individuals. Instead, attention is given to overall development. Before you are invited to a parent-guide conference, you will receive a full assessment based on your child’s SLOs, so that everyone will be on the page at the time of the meeting.

The Montessori School of Pleasanton invites students and their families to have an open dialog with its teachers and staff regarding a student's progress.  Families and the school play key roles in the continuing education of a child.  To learn more about Montessori Education, contact us today.

Family Friendly Fall Activities in the Bay Area

Fall is a great time to get the family out of the house. The San Francisco Bay Area provides a plethora of child and family-oriented events and places to explore. Many of them are open year-round or holding seasonal exhibits and activities as they occur. Whether you prefer the outdoors or an interior adventure, the items mentioned here are bound to interest your whole family.

San Francisco has Heart

You may have seen the hearts which have popped up in the area. An exciting family treasure hunt to locate the hearts is always fun, and a little out of the ordinary. The hearts exist for a good cause and are popular with Bay Area children. In addition to the excitement of searching for these unique items, your family will discover new places to visit, things to do, and places to shop. 

Goblin Jamboree

This year’s Goblin Jamboree has the theme of “Old West Ghost Towns,” and is sure to entertain the whole family. This annual Bay Area Discovery Museum event includes pony rides, train rides, a hay maze, a ghost town to explore, and more. When the Jamboree is over, the museum holds other exhibits and events throughout the year.

Children’s Fairyland

Any sunny day is a good time to visit Children’s Fairyland. Examine dozens of child-sized storybook sets laid out in colorful detail. Take a ride on the Jolly Trolley and slip down the Dragon Slide. Adults and children alike love the park’s lush gardens and butterfly habitat. The gardens were the original intent for the park, with the fairyland growing out of a love for the flora in children’s picture books. The combination of brightly colored plants and storybook settings is a memorable experience.

See the Light at CuriOdyssey

IlluminOdyssey begins the first week of November and runs until January. Built for kids to explore and experiment, this exhibit will entertain all ages with the history, variety, and possibility of light waves. Many of the exhibits are hands-on, and children can experiment with combining light with music, motion, and more. Learning never goes out of style, and admission to IlluminOdyssey is included in regular ticket purchases.

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Hay rides,corn mazes, and fall festivals are terrific ideas for fall family adventures. There are similar festivals just outside of the bustling city, giving your family an excuse to get away to fresh air and rural lifestyles. Children can pet farm animals, learn about life on the farm, and enjoy activities and refreshments built around country living.

San Francisco is a great place to be in the autumn months. Family activities range from personal outings to major commercial events. Whether you want to introduce your children to the arts or relive the awe of childhood discovery, what you are looking for is not far away.

The Montessori School of Fremont teaches children using the Montessori Method.  Like these family friendly activities, we encourage children to get hands-on with what they are learning and be curious and free to explore at their own pace.  To learn more about the Montessori Method and how it can benefit your child's learning, contact us today.