Posts filed under Resources

Books to Love at School and Home

Books are a beloved and important way for children to explore the world around them.  In the Montessori classroom for children under 6, there are specific criteria for books, including: 

  • Books that have a variety of styles of prose and esthetically appealing illustration styles.
  • Books that relate to the child’s own life and expand their understanding of the experiences of others.
  • Books that can be looked at or read independently.
  • Books that convey a sense of joy and appreciation for life and the world around them.

To get more insight into this topic, we recently had a conversation with Sarah Rinzler, a self proclaimed bibliophile and recent MNW graduate, who became “hooked” on Montessori when looking into preschools for her son. Sarah, who is currently an assistant at Chestnut Grove Montessori, shared some of her tips and insights about embracing books with children both at school and home.


What do you see as the characteristics of a really great book for a Montessori Children’s House classroom?

I will admit that I do “judge books by their covers.” Or at least, it is the cover art that first draws me to a new book. Beautiful, interesting, unique illustrations are important to me in choosing books. Attractive pictures are more likely to entice children to explore with books on their own, especially if they are not yet reading. I also strive to find books with a variety of art styles and which depict the wide array of settings and cultures present in the child’s world and the world as a whole.  

Selecting books with rich language and vocabulary is also important, but variety is important too so I want to strike an overall balance with some books with simple text, others more poetic or rhythmic. I also look for books that are funny! There’s nothing better than making a group of children laugh.

In terms of a book for the classroom, it’s almost always essential that the book to be based in reality, with context that the children can relate to. I don’t discount books that have fantastical elements like talking animals, princesses or superheroes, but if I did read this type of book I would be sure to consider my audience and have conversations with the children about which themes are realistic and which aren’t. I don’t believe that a child who reads “The Cat in the Hat” will believe that cats can talk that Thing One and Thing Two may one day show up at his doorstep, but I would take a moment to acknowledge this.

I also prefer books whose goal is not to “teach a lesson.” Children don’t learn how to act from hearing a story that tells them how to behave; they learn from their own experiences.


You wear two hats, one as a mom to a 5 year old and one as a recently trained Montessori who is entering the classroom. How do you decide if a book is a good fit for the home vs the classroom? 

In the home, I personally feel that we don’t need to shield children from fairy tales. I think it’s a losing battle, because at some point or another they’re going to be exposed to them. At Nana’s, for example, at a friend’s house, at the library, it’s going to happen. They will find a book that teaches them that all girls aspire to be princesses who wait around for their whole lives for a knight in shining armor to come and make them happy! And I actually think it’s great when that happens, because then you have a golden OPPORTUNITY to talk about the ideas in those books, and talk about why you may not (or maybe you do!) agree with that philosophy on life.

So much of Montessori education is based on the idea of exposing children to situations that will give them the opportunity to practice cognitive and social skills so that they develop independently. We sort of guide them into these situations that secretly turn out to be “learning experiences.” We can’t teach them self-control, for example, but we can put them in situations in which they need to control themselves. They learn self-control by experiencing it. Along those lines, books and stories can help them experience some things about life that can translate really well into opportunities for helping them learn about life.

This can lead to some great, and sometimes hilarious, conversations about life and how to treat people and how not everyone is nice all the time. My five year old son told me that he thought Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker in James and the Giant Peach were so mean because their underpants were too tight. It’s kind of silly, but the point is that, here we see something happening that we don’t like, and don’t want to see in our children. So, let’s take this chance to talk to them about it. Now, that doesn’t mean that we will read these kinds of books at school. All of this stuff I’ve been talking about really applies to YOU at home (families and caretakers), and what kinds of stories YOU are comfortable sharing with your children, and how much “real life” YOU want to dive into with them. 


What’s your favorite way to find new, wonderful books?

In general, as I mentioned, I wander around and pick up books that appeal to me aesthetically. My favorite haunts are the Library, Kids at Heart, and Powell’s. I do have enough of a collection now that I will also explore what’s new by my son's and my favorite authors. I pass around books and recommendations with my parent friends (this is such a great resource!) and always look for used copies at bookstores and online. 


Dip into a treasure trove of book ideas for the Montessori 3-6 environment by visiting our Primary Course Assistant lists on Powells.com -  Casa Friendly Books to Share

Posted on September 26, 2014 and filed under From MNW Staff, Primary, Resources.

Explore Our Library

Did you know that Montessori Northwest has built one of the largest Montessori libraries in the world? Did you also know that it's open to the public? You can search through over 900 titles, including:

- Books that are no longer in print or accessible. Some, especially a few foreign language titles (Spanish and Italian), can only be found elsewhere at the Library of Congress or in Italy.

- Rare translations, like the Kalakshetra versions, which you cannot find on Amazon. In fact, after searching local library websites, we discovered that most don’t even have the Clio Series or the Montessori-Pierson versions in their holdings. We are the keepers of the knowledge!

- Many practical texts for parents, from how to set up the home environment to sensory integration to dyslexia. We also have the latest psychological, sociological, and neuroscience literature.

- A huge repository of periodicals, including: the NAEYC Journal, the NAMTA Journal, AMI Communications, EAA Newsletters, and Forza Vitale! Our AMI & NAMTA periodicals go all the way back to the 60’s! 

- A special Assistants to Infancy section in honor of and memory of Karin Salzmann (1934-2013), with books from her own library and donated by her family.

The MNW library is open to teachers, students, parents, and the general public, from 8am-4pm, Monday through Friday. Most books can be checked out for up to three weeks. If you have any questions about our library or are interested in donating books, please contact us at info@montessori-nw.org.

 

Posted on September 10, 2014 and filed under From MNW Staff, Resources.

Simple Uplift for Math Memorization Tables

Here’s a brief how-to from Primary Course Assistant, Corinne Stastny, for creating sturdy petite folders for Memorization tables, that are ready to be used, or perhaps set aside for a child to finish another day. Nothing like adding a little pizzazz to this otherwise rather staid looking area of the Casa!

Materials: Double stick tape, practice paper, final paper (card stock works well and/or something with a different color on front and back), color printer, and a corner rounder, if you like.

1) Practice with some simple paper first so you can create a template that works well for your materials. Basically, I use a template similar to this one: envelope. Play with the dimensions a little so it will hold a full set of papers nicely (not too tight/narrow). I like to have a high enough back that the papers are supported and don’t curl.

2) Print the cover with the words if you like and cut to size.

3) When ready, cut out your shape from your good paper. I like double stick tape to secure everything. And also delight in using the crafty corner-rounding tool MNW’s buddy Sally C. brought back from Japan.

xacto.jpg

4) As a final touch that ensures durability, laminate the whole thing when you’re done. Then, use an exacto knife to basically surgically reopen the mouth of the packet (see photo right). Many thanks to Shannon W. for this tip! When using laminate, trim close, but not too close to the edge of the paper. Slightly round the corners as these can be quite sharp.

Looking for ways to enrich your Elementary environment? Check this out: Elementary Material Making Workshop with Gloria.

Posted on September 9, 2014 and filed under From MNW Staff, Primary, Resources, Materials.

Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind.

Here's a great article originally published in The Washington Post.  (full story here)

Earlier this year, Amy Joyce wrote about teaching empathy, and whether you are a parent who does so. The idea behind it is from Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist with the graduate school of education, who runs the Making Caring Common project, aimed to help teach kids to be kind.

About 80 percent of the youth in the study said their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others. The interviewees were also three times more likely to agree that “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”

Weissbourd and his cohorts have come up with recommendations about how to raise children to become caring, respectful and responsible adults. Why is this important? Because if we want our children to be moral people, we have to, well, raise them that way.

“Children are not born simply good or bad and we should never give up on them. They need adults who will help them become caring, respectful, and responsible for their communities at every stage of their childhood,” the researchers write.


The five strategies to raise moral, caring children, according to Making Caring Common:

1. Make caring for others a priority

Why? Parents tend to prioritize their children’s happiness and achievements over their children’s concern for others. But children need to learn to balance their needs with the needs of others, whether it’s passing the ball to a teammate or deciding to stand up for friend who is being bullied.
How? Children need to hear from parents that caring for others is a top priority. A big part of that is holding children to high ethical expectations, such as honoring their commitments, even if it makes them unhappy. For example, before kids quit a sports team, band, or a friendship, we should ask them to consider their obligations to the group or the friend and encourage them to work out problems before quitting.
Try this
• Instead of saying to your kids: “The most important thing is that you’re happy,” say “The most important thing is that you’re kind.”
• Make sure that your older children always address others respectfully, even when they’re tired, distracted, or angry.
• Emphasize caring when you interact with other key adults in your children’s lives. For example, ask teachers whether your children are good community members at school.

2. Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude

Why? It’s never too late to become a good person, but it won’t happen on its own. Children need to practice caring for others and expressing gratitude for those who care for them and contribute to others’ lives. Studies show that people who are in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving—and they’re also more likely to be happy and healthy.
How? Learning to be caring is like learning to play a sport or an instrument. Daily repetition—whether it’s a helping a friend with homework, pitching in around the house, or having a classroom job—make caring second nature and develop and hone youth’s caregiving capacities. Learning gratitude similarly involves regularly practicing it.
Try this
• Don’t reward your child for every act of helpfulness, such as clearing the dinner table. We should expect our kids to help around the house, with siblings, and with neighbors and only reward uncommon acts of kindness.
• Talk to your child about caring and uncaring acts they see on television and about acts of justice and injustice they might witness or hear about in the news.
• Make gratitude a daily ritual at dinnertime, bedtime, in the car, or on the subway. Express thanks for those who contribute to us and others in large and small ways.

3. Expand your child’s circle of concern.

Why? Almost all children care about a small circle of their families and friends. Our challenge is help our children learn to care about someone outside that circle, such as the new kid in class, someone who doesn’t speak their language, the school custodian, or someone who lives in a distant country.
How? Children need to learn to zoom in, by listening closely and attending to those in their immediate circle, and to zoom out, by taking in the big picture and considering the many perspectives of the people they interact with daily, including those who are vulnerable. They also need to consider how their
decisions, such as quitting a sports team or a band, can ripple out and harm various members of their communities. Especially in our more global world, children need to develop concern for people who live in very different cultures and communities than their own.
Try this
• Make sure your children are friendly and grateful with all the people in their daily lives, such as a bus driver or a waitress.
• Encourage children to care for those who are vulnerable. Give children some simple ideas for stepping into the “caring and courage zone,” like comforting a classmate who was teased.
• Use a newspaper or TV story to encourage your child to think about hardships faced by children in another country.

4. Be a strong moral role model and mentor.

Why? Children learn ethical values by watching the actions of adults they respect. They also learn values by thinking through ethical dilemmas with adults, e.g. “Should I invite a new neighbor to my birthday party when my best friend doesn’t like her?”
How? Being a moral role model and mentor means that we need to practice honesty, fairness, and caring ourselves. But it doesn’t mean being perfect all the time. For our children to respect and trust us, we need to acknowledge our mistakes and flaws. We also need to respect children’s thinking and listen
to their perspectives, demonstrating to them how we want them to engage others.
Try this:
• Model caring for others by doing community service at least once a month. Even better, do this service with your child.
• Give your child an ethical dilemma at dinner or ask your child about dilemmas they’ve faced.

5. Guide children in managing destructive feelings

Why? Often the ability to care for others is overwhelmed by anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings.
How? We need to teach children that all feelings are okay, but some ways of dealing with them are not helpful. Children need our help learning to cope with these feelings in productive ways.
Try this
Here’s a simple way to teach your kids to calm down: ask your child to stop, take a deep breath through the nose and exhale through the mouth, and count to five. Practice when your child is calm. Then, when you see her getting upset, remind her about the steps and do them with her. After a while she’ll start to do it on her own so that she can express her feelings in a helpful and appropriate way.

Posted on July 25, 2014 and filed under A-to-I, Elementary, Primary, Resources.

Why You Need to Know About OMA's Sub List

Maybe an illness is working its way through your teaching staff, leaving a handful of them home ill, and you don’t have enough coverage. Or, you enjoy the rush of an early morning phone call and the anticipation of spending the day with a group of children you've never met before.

If you’ve found yourself in either of the above situations, you might be interested to know that the Oregon Montessori Association (OMA) maintains a list of substitute Montessori teachers. All OMA member schools receive a copy of list. And, individuals who are looking for work as a substitute can have their name added to the list. 

OMA works to increase the vital presence of Montessori education in the Pacific Northwest through workshops, lectures, e-mail newsletters, community outreach, strategic relationships, and more.

To learn about the how you can tap into this great resource for substitutes, please contact OMA at info@oregonmontessori.com or call 503.688.0526.

Posted on July 10, 2014 and filed under A-to-I, Elementary, Primary, Resources.

Volunteer Sign-Up for Relief Nursery...

We have received many inquiries from people looking to be involved with MNW’s new collaboration with the Volunteers of American Relief Nursery. Below is the information you’ll need to move forward with that process!

 All volunteers that work at the Relief Nursery are required to be registered with the Online Central Background Registry—ensuring the safety and wellbeing for the children. You might consider this the first step towards becoming a volunteer.

 If you are not already registered, it’s easy and can now be done online. Follow this link to learn more about the Registry.

Once you’ve started that process, you’re ready to contact the Relief Nursery directly. Our contact there is Anne Rothert. She can be contact either by phone (503.236.8492 x1761) or by Email (arothert@voaor.org). From there you will slate a time to come in and fill out some preliminary paperwork, learn more about the organization, and move ahead with becoming a volunteer.

We thank you in advance to your interest in this exciting endeavor!

A Poem for Our Elementary Graduates

Elise Huneke-Stone, Montessori Northwest's Director of Elementary Training, composed a poem for the two elementary courses she's had the privilege to lead.

"It really speaks to us, because almost every line and image can be sourced back to one of our Montessori elementary key lessons." says Elise. 

We thought you might derive meaning from this composition as well. A selection from the poem is included below. Following the link on the bottom of the page will download a printable PDF version.


A Cosmic Education by Elise Huneke-Stone

For Montessori Northwest Elementary Courses 1 and 2, and for the rest of us who are part of this line. 

This is a line, and this is a line.
Pronouns shadow the shape of their antecedents,
liquids fill every hollow, the river carves and carries,
you listen to the stories that others have heard before you.
On their convergent lines, the children of geometry smile,
and the fundamental needs of humans are met
in the voice of the verb, on the agent of an arrow,
on a tiny drop of heat and light,
in the little life cupped in the seeds we sow.

Elementary Workshop Weekend!

Elementary Workshop Weekend:  Stories and Self-Construction

download a flyer download a printable registration form

Montessori elementary children explore the legacy and creative power of language.  Montessori adults, too, can learn much from an in-depth investigation of stories and the roles they play in development and in the transmission of culture. The stories we tell the children as a framework for Cosmic Education, the stories the children tell us, in their journals and in our conferences with them, and the stories we tell each other in our class meetings or gatherings: All contribute greatly to shaping the Montessori elementary experience, and contribute to optimal development for the children.   

In this weekend workshop, we will examine the Great Stories (including the Great River, from the Bergamo tradition) in terms of how they contribute to children’s intellectual and emotional well-being. Participants will also explore practical ways to start and sustain the children’s journals and individual conferences, and to help the children develop these Tools of Responsibility in accordance with their growing independence and self-awareness. The workshop will conclude with a focus on how to implement a developmentally appropriate class meeting that meets the children’s social needs and empowers them as citizens in the “practice society” of the Montessori elementary community.

Intended Audience

Elementary Teachers and Assistants 

Schedule

Friday, October 10, 2014 6-9PM

Saturday, October 11, 2014 8:30AM-4PM

Sunday, October 12, 2014 9AM-12PM

Cost

$250 Early Bird Discount (before Sept 26th) / $285 full price (On or After Sept 26th)

10% discount for schools registering 3 or more attendees - Lunch included

REGISTRATION CLOSES WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8

download a flyer here / download a printable registration form here

housing and travel information here

Continuing Education Units

This workshop earns both Oregon Registry and Washington STARS/MERIT credits.

Registration Online Here:
Add To Cart
Posted on June 27, 2014 and filed under Elementary, From our Trainers, Resources, Workshops.

Montessori Environments for Dementia Conference

The first International Montessori Environments for Dementia Conference is being held in Sydney, Australia!

The Montessori approach aims to support the full development of the human being. It is a person-centered approach that draws on the capacity of human beings to learn and develop from within. If we provide the appropriate support and the best possible environment, we will continue to be amazed at the incredible capability to learn at any age. Whether it be infants, children, adolescents or the elderly, all human beings seek to be independent, to participate in meaningful activity, and to make a contribution. Montessori provides the practical ways to support this at all stages of life.

The International Montessori Environments for Dementia Conference promises to bring together some of the international leaders in the field, covering some really interesting topics. Here are just a few of the workshop titles:

  • Dementia Specific Residential Gardens
  • Engaging People Living with Younger Onset Dementia with Their Community and the Workforce
  • Creating Memory Books
  • Art Therapy – A Restorative Model for People Living with Dementia
  • Changing the World for People Living with Dementia with the Capability Model that Includes Developing
  • Roles and Activities for Residents that Reflect the Montessori Principles
  • Individualized Music: Bringing Out the Person Not the Illness

For more information on this interesting event, visit their website here.


Posted on June 27, 2014 and filed under Resources, Public Event.

Congratulations to our Recent Graduate!

Congratulations to recent MNW Elementary Graduate, Robert Rivera, for receiving a scholarship from the AMI MES Fund!

AMI/USA established the MES FUND, INC., the first financial aid fund to benefit AMI teacher trainees, in honor of Margaret Elizabeth Stephenson, who devoted her life to AMI teacher training in the United States. The fund, which is administered and supported by AMI/USA, honors her legacy and extends her contribution to touch future teachers.

The fund awards partial scholarships in the form of tuition reduction towards AMI training in the United States to selected students. AMI/USA hopes, through their support of this fund, to ensure that qualified individuals seeking AMI training will be able to pursue that dream, regardless of their financial circumstances.

We found his quote particularly inspiring:

“I’ve had the privilege to create a community who strives to prepare children to create our world’s future. My trainer, Elise Huneke-Stone, was trained by Miss Stephenson, and I’m honored to continue this cosmic legacy. Dr. Montessori’s vision, Miss Stephenson’s dedication, and Elise’s passion have shaped my love for our work. As I join the community at the International Montessori School Hong Kong, I hold in my heart that the MES fund has made this dream possible.”

Interested in learning more about this scholarship and there other recipients? http://amiusa.org/financial-aid/

Primary Weekend Workshop Announced!

REGISTRATION FOR THIS WORKSHOP IS CURRENTLY FULL. CLICK HERE TO GET ON THE WAIT LIST.

SELF-DISCIPLINE AND JOYFUL LEARNING:NORMALIZATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY MONTESSORI CHILDREN’S HOUSE

download a flyer / download a printable registration form

Normalization is a key element of Montessori theory for successful early childhood education. Montessori’s writings indicate that we do not need normalized children to do our work. Instead, our work is to help children achieve normalization. She identifies normalization as ‘the most important single result of our whole work’ – the result that makes all other personal, social, and academic achievements possible; and she assures us that if we understand how to ‘normalize the conditions’, then joyful engagement, spontaneous concentration, self-discipline, literacy, and practical mathematics are within the potential of every child, and social cohesion is within the potential of every group.

In this weekend workshop, we will explore Montessori’s theory of normalization in relation to the materials and activities found in a Montessori 3-6 classroom: how to first offer motives for concentrated activity leading to normalization and then turn this point of arrival into a point of departure through the materials for development in Sensorial, Language, and Mathematics.  Observation, friendliness with error, and indirect preparation will give further focus to this exploration across all of the areas and all of the ages in the Children’s House environment.

Intended Audience

Primary Teachers and Assistants

Schedule

Friday, October 10, 2014 6-9PM

Saturday, October 11, 2014 8:30AM-4PM

Sunday, October 12, 2014 9AM-12PM

Cost

$250 Early Bird Discount (before Sept 26th) / $285 full price (On or After Sept 26th) - Lunch included

10% discount for schools registering 3 or more attendees - Lunch included

download a flyer / download a printable registration form here

housing and travel information here

Continuing Education Units

This workshop earns both Oregon Registry and Washington STARS/MERIT credits.

REGISTRATION FOR THIS WORKSHOP IS CURRENTLY FULL. CLICK HERE TO GET ON THE WAIT LIST.

Summertime and the Montessori Child

Here's a great article from our friends at MariaMontessori.com

For children who are at home during the summer break, parents will wish to work diligently with slowing the pace of life.  Children will savor the leisurely passage of time in which they can relish individual choices, uninterrupted play, ample rest and sleep, unhurried meals and unplugged screens.  Here are just a few ideas of how a child can fill her long lovely summer days and return to school refreshed, nourished and eager:

  • Read beautiful, appropriate books (remember, the school has book lists to offer).  For the older Children’s House child, begin a chapter book that will develop into a repetitive ritual that she will look forward to and remember with warmth and happiness.  Have long leisurely conversations about the characters, the places visited, the sights and smells.  Provide large blank sheets of paper and crayons or watercolors and invite the child to illustrate parts of the story she remembers. Collect these into a handmade book of illustrations.
  • Resist the need to provide a playmate or to be a playmate for your child on a regular basis, but instead, honor her ability to find her own entertainment and source of activity.  Play-dates are fine for an occasional get-together, but children really do enjoy their own company when given the opportunity to figure it out and enact upon their own ingenuity.  The child’s play will reflect what is going on in her world, for this is the source of her imaginings.
  • Do not be afraid of boredom, for this is the passage to imaginative, interesting activity of the child’s own choosing.
  • Provide long extended periods of outside play with freedom to construct, dig, shovel and explore to heart’s content.  Resist staging and choosing for the child and instead, encourage the blossoming of his own imaginative play efforts.

Read the remainder of this article, and many others, at MariaMontessori.com

Posted on June 19, 2014 and filed under A-to-I, Articles, Elementary, Primary, Resources.

17th Century Learning

It's always fascinating to see the context of our work. Below is an excerpt from a great article regarding what many consider to be the first picture book dedicated to the education of young children, Orbis Sensualium Pictus – or The World of Things Obvious to the Senses drawn in Pictures, as it was rendered in English in 1705.

The researcher Charles McNamara explores how the book can be seen to be as much about the invisible world as the visible--a theme that probably resonates with a lot of Montessorians.

John Comenius’ Orbis Sensualium Pictus (or The World of Things Obvious to the Senses drawn in Pictures) is, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “the first children’s picture book.” Originally published in 1658 in Latin and German, the Orbis — with its 150 pictures showing everyday activities like brewing beer, tending gardens, and slaughtering animals — is immediately familiar as an ancestor of today’s children’s literature. This approach centered on the visual was a breakthrough in education for the young, as was the decision to teach the vernacular in addition to Latin. Unlike treatises on education and grammatical handbooks, it is aimed directly at the young and attempts to engage on their level.

The Orbis was hugely popular. At one point it was the most used textbook in Europe for elementary education, and according to one account it was translated into “most European and some of the Oriental languages.” Its author John Comenius, a Czech by birth, was also well-known throughout Europe and worked in several countries as a school reformer. His portrait was painted by Rembrandt, and according to an 1887 edition of the Orbis, Comenius was even “once solicited to become President of Harvard College.” Even if he is less celebrated today by name, his innovative ideas about education are still influential. In his Didactica Magna, for example, he advocates for equal educational opportunities for all: boys and girls, rich and poor, urban and rural.

Illustration for the sounds, from the 1705 English edition of Orbis Sensualium Pictus

Despite his progressive aims and lasting educational influence, Comenius does not come off as a thoroughly modern schoolmaster. When we turn to the first page of the Orbis, we find an opening sentence that would seem peculiar in today’s children’s books: “Come, boy, learn to be wise.” We see above the text a teacher and student in dialogue, the former holding up his finger and sporting a cane and large hat, the latter listening in an emotional state somewhere between awe and anxiety. The student asks, “What doth this mean, to be wise?” His teacher answers, “To understand rightly, to do rightly, and to speak out rightly all that are necessary.”

The first chapter of the Orbis looks to the third of these goals in what reads like an early version of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Children learn how “to speak out rightly” by imitating animal noises. These two pages are a trove of Latin onomatopoetic verbs and peculiar renderings of animal sounds: cats cry out “nau nau” instead of “meow meow,” and we learn that “the Duck quacketh," “the Hare squeaketh," and “the Crow crieth.” This introduction to animal noises is familiar territory for modern educational toys. The teacher explains that first the student must learn “the plain sounds…which living creatures know how to make, and thy tongue knoweth how to imitate.” After mastering these noises, the student and teacher “will go into the World, and we will view all things.”

After thirty-five chapters on theology, elements, plants, and animals, Comenius finally introduces man. He again opts for the Biblical account and addresses Adam and Eve before more immediate topics like “The Outward Parts of a Man,” where we learn that women have “two Dugs” and that below the stomach we find “the Groyn and the privities.” The anatomical terminology is vast, including words for each finger and for a number of bones in the body. But amid instruction on the corporeal and familiar, Comenius again injects the abstract and invisible into his picture book with Chapter 43, a discussion of “The Soul of Man.” A dotted outline of a human, opening his arms as if to welcome the students’ gaze, stands at the top of the page. Despite this illustration, Comenius’ discussion of the soul is not dumbed down for children. He lays out the categories of souls for his young students: the “Vegetative” soul of plants, the “Sensitive” soul of animals, and the “Rational” soul of man.

Illustration for “The Soul”

Opening illustration of Master and Child

Opening illustration of Master and Child

The final page, mirroring the first, again shows the teacher speaking and the young student listening attentively. But in his second appearance, the student says nothing: we might say Comenius’ lesson was not a matter of dialogue and discussion but of assiduous memorization. The teacher, too, seems to have changed his approach. He tells the student, “thou hast seen in short, all things that can be shewed,” but he recommends that the student also “read other good Books diligently” so that he may become “learned, wise, and godly.”

Read the original full article here.

Gandhi Speaks at Montessori Training College

Speech At Montessori Training College 
Mohandas K. Gandhi

London , [ October 28, 1931 ]

(Note: Dr. Maria Montessori met Mahatma Gandhi in the beginning of October, 1931 in London. And on October 28, 1931 Gandhi spoke at the Montessori Training College in London where Dr. Montessori was also in attendance. What follows is the text of Gandhi’s Speech, which was published in the weekly newspaper, Young India, on November 19, 1931. For further information and/or discussions on this topic, please contact Shall Sinha at shall@ssinha.com )

Madame, you have overwhelmed me with your words. It is perfectly true, I must admit it in all humility, that however indifferently it may be, I endeavor to represent love in every fiber of my being. I am impatient to realize the presence of my Maker, Who to me embodies Truth, and in the early part of my career I discovered that if I was to realize Truth I must obey, even at the cost of my life, the law of love. And having been blessed with children, I discovered that the law of Love could be best understood and learned through little children.

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Were it not for us, their ignorant poor parents, our children would be perfectly innocent. I believe implicitly that the child is not born mischievous in the bad sense of the term. If parents would behave themselves whilst the child is growing, before it is born and after, it is a well-known fact that the child would instinctively obey the law of Truth and the law of Love.

And when I understood this lesson in the early part of my life, I began a gradual but distinct change in life. I do not propose to describe to you the several phases through which this stormy life of mine has passed, but I can only, in truth and in perfect humility, bear witness to the fact that to the extent that I have represented Love in my life, in thought, word and deed I have realized the “peace that passeth understanding”. I have baffled many of my friends when they have noticed in me peace that they have envied, and they have asked me for the cause of that priceless possession. I have not been able to explain the cause by saying that, if my friends found that peace in me, it was due to my attempt to obey this, the greatest law of our being.

It was in 1915 when I reached India , that I first became acquainted with your activities. It was in a place called Amreli that I found that there was a little school being conducted after the Montessori system. Your name had preceded that first acquaintance. I found no difficulty in finding out at once that this school was not carrying out the spirit of your teaching; the letter was there, but whilst there was an honest - more or less honest - effort being made, I saw too that there was a great deal of tinsel about it. I came in touch, then, with more such schools, and the more I came in touch, the more I began to understand that the foundation was good and splendid, if the children could be taught through the laws of nature - nature, consistent with human dignity, not nature that governs the beast. I felt instinctively from the way in which the children were being taught that, whilst they were being indifferently taught, the original teaching was conceived in obedience to this fundamental law. Since then, I have had the pleasure of coming across several of your pupils, one of whom had even made a pilgrimage to Italy and had received your personal blessings. I was looking forward to meeting the children here and you all and it was a great pleasure to me to see these children.

I had taken care to learn something about these little children. I had a foretaste of what I saw here, in Birmingham , where there is a school between which and this there is a difference. But I also saw that there also human nature was struggling to express itself. I see the same thing here and it was a matter of inexpressible joy to me that from their childhood the children were brought to understand the virtue of silence, and how, in response to the whisper from their teacher, the children came forward one after another in that pin-drop silence. It gave great joy to see all those beautiful rhythmic movements and, as I was watching those movements of the children, my whole heart went out to the millions of the children of the semi-starved villages of India, and I asked myself as my heart went out to those children, “Is it possible for me to give them those lessons and the training that are being given under your system, to those children”?

We are conducting an experiment amongst the poorest of the children in India . I do not know how far the experiment will go. We have the problem of giving real vital education to these children of India 's hovels, and we have no material means. We have to fall back upon the voluntary assistance of teachers, but when I look for teachers, they are very few, especially, teachers of the type wanted, in order to draw the best from the children through understanding, through studying their individuality and then putting the child on its own resources, as it were, on its own honor. And believe me from my experience of hundreds, I was going to say thousands, of children I know that they have perhaps a finer sense of honor than you and I have.

The greatest lessons in life if we would but stoop and humble ourselves, we would learn not from grown-up learned men, but from the so-called ignorant children. Jesus never uttered a loftier or a grander truth than when he said that wisdom cometh out of the mouths of babes. I believe it; I have noticed it in my own experience that, if we would approach babes in humility and in innocence, we would learn wisdom from them.

I must not take up your time. I have simply given you what is, at the present moment, agitating me, namely, the delicate problem, considered in human terms, of drawing out the best from these millions of children of whom I have told you. But I have learned this one lesson - that what is impossible with man is child's play with God and, if we have faith in that Divinity which presides over the destiny of the meanest of His creation, I have no doubt that all things are possible and in that final hope I live and pass my time and endeavor to obey His will. Therefore, I repeat that even as you, out of your love for children, are endeavoring to teach those children, through your numerous institutions, the best that can be brought out of them, even so I hope that it will be possible not only for the children of the wealthy and the well-to-do, but for the children of paupers to receive training of this nature. You have very truly remarked that if we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won't have the struggle, we won't have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which, consciously or unconsciously, the whole world is hungering.

Reposted from the Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace website

Posted on June 10, 2014 and filed under A-to-I, Articles, Elementary, Primary, Resources.

Press Release: Heavily Decorated Classrooms Disrupt Attention and Learning In Young Children, According To New Carnegie Mellon Research

PITTSBURGH—Maps, number lines, shapes, artwork and other materials tend to cover elementary classroom walls. However, new research from Carnegie Mellon University shows that too much of a good thing may end up disrupting attention and learning in young children.

Published in Psychological Science, Carnegie Mellon's Anna V. FisherKarrie E. Godwin and Howard Seltman looked at whether classroom displays affected children's ability to maintain focus during instruction and to learn the lesson content. They found that children in highly decorated classrooms were more distracted, spent more time off-task and demonstrated smaller learning gains than when the decorations were removed.

"Young children spend a lot of time — usually the whole day — in the same classroom, and we have shown that a classroom's visual environment can affect how much children learn," said Fisher, lead author and associate professor of psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Should teachers take down their visual displays based on the findings of this study?

"We do not suggest by any means that this is the answer to all educational problems. Furthermore, additional research is needed to know what effect the classroom visual environment has on children's attention and learning in real classrooms," Fisher said "Therefore, I would suggest that instead of removing all decorations, teachers should consider whether some of their visual displays may be distracting to young children."

For the study, 24 kindergarten students were placed in laboratory classrooms for six introductory science lessons on topics they were unfamiliar with. Three lessons were taught in a heavily decorated classroom, and three lessons were given in a sparse classroom.

The results showed that while children learned in both classroom types, they learned more when the room was not heavily decorated. Specifically, children's accuracy on the test questions was higher in the sparse classroom (55 percent correct) than in the decorated classroom (42 percent correct).

"We were also interested in finding out if the visual displays were removed, whether the children's attention would shift to another distraction, such as talking to their peers, and if the total amount of time they were distracted would remain the same," said Godwin, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology and fellow of the Program in Interdisciplinary Education Research (PIER).

However, when the researchers tallied all of the time children spent off-task in both types of classrooms, the rate of off-task behavior was higher in the decorated classroom (38.6 percent time spent off-task) than in the sparse classroom (28.4 percent time spent off-task).

The researchers hope these findings lead to further studies into developing guidelines to help teachers optimally design classrooms.

The Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education, funded this research.

Last fall, CMU launched the Simon Initiative to accelerate the use of learning science and technology to improve student learning. Named to honor the work of the late Nobel Laureate and CMU Professor Herbert Simon, the initiative will harness CMU's decades of learning data and research to improve educational outcomes for students everywhere.

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Published in Psychological Science, CMU researchers looked at whether classroom displays affected children’s ability to maintain focused attention during instruction and to learn the lesson content. They found that children in highly decorated classrooms (bottom image) were more distracted, spent more time off-task and demonstrated smaller learning gains than when the decorations were removed (top image).

This article originally published on http://www.cmu.edu

Posted on June 6, 2014 and filed under A-to-I, Elementary, Articles, Primary, Resources.

Public Domain Review…A Great Resource...

As educators, we often find ourselves looking for unique and beautiful images to inspire the curiosity of children. In this vein, we wanted to highlight a great free resource.

Founded in 2011, The Public Domain Review is an online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to promoting and celebrating the public domain in all its richness and variety.

All works eventually fall out of copyright – from classics works of art to absentminded doodles – and in doing so they enter the public domain, a vast commons of material that everyone is free to enjoy, share and build upon without restriction. Their aim is to help our readers explore this rich terrain – like a small exhibition gallery at the entrance to an immense network of archives and storage rooms that lie beyond.

The galleries above are just a hint at the diversity and wonderment of this collection--We hope you'll continue exploring the Public Domain Review!


 

Posted on May 28, 2014 and filed under A-to-I, Elementary, From MNW Staff, Primary, Resources.

New Play Area to Open at Silver Falls, Oregon

Originally published in the Statesman Journal.

Officials at Silver Falls State Park are taking aim at the growing problem of "nature deficit disorder" in today's children with the creation of a new natural play area at Oregon's largest state park.

Described as a quarter-mile loop with adventure pods where children can safely climb a tree, hide in a cougar den, growl like a bear or weave a bird's nest, the natural play area is having its grand opening May 31.

"Connecting kids to the outdoors is a critically important thing to do, for a whole host of reasons," said Oregon Parks and Recreation director Lisa Van Laanen. "When you camp, picnic and play outdoors a lot as a child, it creates a lifelong love of the outdoors. And that's good for everybody."

The grand opening is 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 31, 2014, at the North Falls Group Camp area. There will be guided tours, refreshments and a short ceremony with a tree planting. Parking fees at the North Falls Group Camp parking lot will be waived for the duration of the event.

The play area has been more than five years in the making. Planners conducted design workshops in 2008 and 2009. Trail construction began in 2010.

The development unveiled May 31 represents phase one of development, with the possibility of another pod within the next year.

Additional information Silver Falls State Park can be found here.

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Montessori in the Square 2014


On July 30th, 2014, Montessori Northwest will once again offer “Montessori in the Square,” a public glass classroom event held in the heart of downtown Portland.

This highly-visible celebration of Montessori education will feature three large interactive Montessori classrooms, activities for children, and information for parents. Trainers and guides will be on hand to assist viewers with questions.

But don't take our word for it--see for yourself below.

This video from last year's Montessori in the Square provided by ChildPeace Montessori.

Frozen

It is inherent in the nature of children to love their time and place, and boy do they love the movie Frozen.

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In the spirit of exploring ways to channel children’s interest in support of each child’s development (see our Primary trainers’ blog post on popular culture and holidays found here), we were struck by how thrilling it would be for a child to discover that they can compose a song from Frozen on the Bells!

The famous ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

The famous ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Also, look at the amazing potential below for true stories about how beautiful structures can indeed be made completely of ice.  How else have you and the children channeled and enjoyed Frozen in Montessori environments?

Posted on May 21, 2014 and filed under Articles, Elementary, From MNW Staff, Primary, Resources.