Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Feast 2008!

Every year since November 2003, I have had a Thanksgiving Feast at Montgomery Academy. The past few years, parents, siblings, and alumni have been invited. It is generally held on the Thursday before Thanksgiving and I provide the turkey, dressing and gravy. The parents provide the rest of the food. This year, they brought rolls, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, noodles, mashed potatoes, and cherry, apple and pumpkin pie.

Here is the report (with pictures) of Thanksgiving Feast 2008.

The parents arrived, and then we sing two songs - "Over the River" and "One Little, Two Little, Three Little Turkeys." Then the eating began.

After the singing - smiley faces
After the singing - silly faces!
Mr. F carving the turkey
Jelly Bean - she came to the feast
as a sibling and alumni!
The girl in the pink is an alum,
and the two girls next to her are her sisters.
A Mommy, a student,
and her sister (who is also an alum)
A student giving her Mommy a hug
A student and her Mommy
A student sitting at the table - notice our art
projects in the window
The little one that I babysit
and his Mommy and Daddy
A student and her Mommy
A DaddySuper
Dessert being served
It was all SUPER delicious! Thanks to everyone!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What we've been doing lately - November 10-14

Working with the tree blocks

Necklace work

Our version of the geometric demonstration tray

Using the hole punch - the art shelf is a BIG favorite around here lately

Friday, November 21, 2008

November Field Trip - Animal Hospital

One of our Parent Helpers was in charge of organizing our field trip for November. I gave her a list of what we were studying this month, but I told her to feel free to do whatever she wanted.
So she picked going to an Animal Hospital, and it was SO great! The staff was very helpful and answered all of our questions. And at the end, they gave us treat bags with coloring books and balloons and a little animal stuffed animal.

Here are pictures from the day:

Using the stethescope in the exam room

Flower getting weighed on the large animal scale

Looking at x-rays

Getting to pet a puppy

Thank you for a great field trip!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Little About Waldorf

Today I will be posting about Waldorf Education. The differences in the method when applied to preschool-aged children and school-age (7-18) children is quite remarkable, so I will be talking about the two age groups separately. This information is taken from Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching From The Inside Out and Beyond the Rainbow Bridge: Nurturing Our Children From Birth To Seven.

Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Waldorf method, however did feel that all children need to be engaged in three distinct ways: head, heart and hands. Through multi-faceted, multi-sensory learning experiences, children develop three distinct capacities - for thinking, for feeling, and for intentional activity. So all teaching throughout childhood is done is a way to engage children in three different ways.

Rhythms are also an important component of the Waldorf method, although rhythms can also be incorporated in the home environment as well. Rhythms give children a sense of security. In schools, there is built into the schedule "breathing in" and "breathing out" times to maintain a balance for the children of active and thinking times. Rhythm is also a great aid to discipline. If children feel secure in knowing what is coming next, they are more willing to "go with the flow." Rhythms at home can include routines for waking up and preparing for the day, bedtime routines, and marking changing seasons through activities. For example, in the autumn, you can pick apples and bake apple pies. Celebrating festivals at home also builds memories for your children. When they see you preparing for a certain holiday, children are filled with thoughts of the celebration from last year. These holiday celebrations give them confidence that these special times come around every year.

In early childhood, from birth until age 7, the young child is primarily active. It is through activity that the young child is most easily engaged and most easily taught.

In the Waldorf preschool the students enter a room that looks more like a home than a classroom - part kitchen, part playroom. The lighting is subdued, the curtains and walls a delicate color and the furniture simple and natural. Most toys and play structures are wood, and carpeting encourages children to find a place on the floor to play.

In the Waldorf approach, early academic instruction is absent. The children are placed in a learning environment that provides many natural opportunities for leaning. If children learn to count or to memorize a song or poem, it is out of their out impetus and occurs naturally when they are developmentally ready and not through direct instruction.

Play is a key component of the Waldorf early childhood program because it promotes well-rounded, three-dimensional development. Play develops emotional maturity through social interaction. Another benefit of play is the development of thoughtfulness and attention. The third beneficial aspect of play is activity. And when children are out of doors, nature can provide the toys - bark, acorns, leaves, flowers.

Work is also an important component of early childhood programs. The children participate in activities such as baking, cleaning and washing. Participation in work enables the children to learn important skills early on that are necessary for life. They learn to do their fair share and help others.

In addition to all the benefits of work to children, there is one factor that is a crucial aspect of the work done. Meaningful and purposeful activity done in the presence of young children also provides them with actions to imitate, an irrepressible urge in young children. It is through imitation that young children learn most of the time. Rudolf Steiner brings the importance of imitation into focus: "Two magic words - imitation and example - indicate how children enter into a relationship with their environment."

Grade School
Needless to say, the urge to be active does not disappear when a child enters first grade. Rather activity recedes in importance over time and is gradually supplanted by a growing inwardness during the grade school years.

For grade school, the day begins with an extended lesson, called the "main lesson". Students study main lesson subjects intensively for three or four weeks, and then new subjects are taken up. In the middle part of the day, classes that engage feelings - painting, singing, foreign language, as well as traditional subjects are done. The afternoon is a time when lessons require more activity, such as crafts, art and p.e. are schedule.

Children are introduced to letters in 1st grade through stories interweaving the spoken word with visual illustrations. Letters fill the room with sound, and will be painted large with fantasy before being drawn small. The letters are carefully drawn and written, accompanied by related words, and recorded in blank books. By allotting time for this work and by saving this work in bound books, the children are receiving the message that what they do is of great importance.

Teaching Through Art
Drawing, singing, painting and poetry have their regular place in the educational program. The teaching of any subject, from science to history, can be enlivened and enhanced by incorporating art into the instruction.

The Roles of Stories
A story, particularly a told story, engages children completely. It stills them outwardly and activates them inwardly, filling their imaginations with pictures depicted in the telling of a tale. Fundamental mathematical processes are introduced through tales about gnomes. Science teaching is also enhanced through stories.

The Role of Music
According to Norman Weinberger, a professor of psychobiology, wrote that "music has the ability to facilitate language acquisition, reading readiness and general intellectual development, to foster positive attitudes, to lower truancy, to enhance creativity, to promote social development, personality adjustment, and self worth. In Waldorf schools, there are music specialists who offer singing and instrumental classes (everyone plays a musical instrument), as well as the classroom teachers who incorporate music into all areas of the curriculum.

The Role of Handwork
Girls and boys take woodwork and learn to knit and sew.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Little About Charlotte Mason

I use primarily the Montessori method and materials for the preschool, but I do use touches of other educational philosophies - Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, and Charlotte Mason. For Flower, I use less Montessori, and a heavier emphasis on the others. I've posted some about Reggio Emilia, so today I thought I'd post a little about Charlotte Mason. This information is from For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School.

The child needs to be taught the consequences of events that happened in history. There is a flow to all of history, and none of it should be told in isolation. The books should at first be so detailed that leisurely enjoyment of a whole period is possible. As a historical narrative is read, one can then write down events and names in the appropriate century. Also, one can have a graphic portrayal of one century or period in this way.

Charlotte Mason said "The object of children's literary studies is not to give them precise information as to who wrote what in the reign of whom? - but to give them a sense of the spaciousness of the days, not only of great Elizabeth, but of all those times of which poets, historians, and the makers of tales, have left us in living pictures."

Literature can help children think about what life is like before they live it as adults.

Charlotte Mason was aware of the powerful growth narration gave the child in verbal skills - first oral, and later written. To begin with, a small child tells back the stories he has heard. Then when the child has writing skills, he or she can use their writing to give back the narration. After a few years of this type of narration, the child is ready to translate his narration skill into the harder skill of transcribing his or her own thoughts and expressions in writing. Another powerful factor in this approach is that the child has had a daily diet of books written by person of well-above-average abilities of communication.

In Charlotte Mason's schools, the child was given an envelope containing six reproductions of works by a single artist each term. The child is given the first reproduction. He looks at it and you let him talk about the picture. Next time, the child notices more things. Then the child is given a piece of paper to sketch roughly what he or she remembers. Children will also continue to paint and draw their own original pictures.

Just as children learned about a specific artist each term, the children learned about a composer each term. Musical creativity is also encouraged through other instruments.

Charlotte Mason advised people to involve children directly with the world, letting them enjoy, wonder, and question themselves. She included direct observation and accurate recording from the earliest age. Charlotte Mason encourage people to give children plenty of time to play in the great outdoors every day. Books should be interesting to read and should follow things that they have already experienced firsthand.

Charlotte Mason wrote her own geography books which described places both at home and abroad in a systematic way, but with the literary interest of personal discovery such as a traveler would experience. This was accompanied by thorough map work. One should look for books that have a similar "traveler" feel to them to give a child a graphic and vivid picture of their own country, as well as world geography.

Charlotte Mason believed that the teaching of math depended on the teacher's ability to quicken interest and imagination about mathematics. Mathematics should be studied for its own sake, as well as to provide the root of knowledge out of which other branches of study depend. Mathematics should be a "hands on" experience before the abstract is mastered.

Physical Development
An ideal situation was outdoor space where children ran, climbed trees, splashed, crawled, rode, explored and played. She also said that they should be taught/allowed to do a variety of activities.

The child should also have as rich a variety of skills in crafts as possible. Girls and boys should share same activities in handicraft and work. They should be able to sew, cook, knit, embroider, work with clay, wood, metal. They should also know how to grow plants and benefit from having an animal to care for.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What we did last week - November 3rd through 7th

North America continent box
Making the Red Rod Maze for the first time
Block Tower
Fire Engine floor puzzle
Super and I - Sorry about Super's cheesy grin

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween at Montgomery Academy

We had a costume parade,
made some halloween snacks,
did some pumpkin bowling,

We had a great day!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What we've been up to - October 27-30th

Transferring with a spoonTransferring with tongs
pumpkin counting
another student doing the spooning activity
doing the necklace work
button collage
letter and object matching

Our Field Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Every year for the last three years, we have gone to a pumpkin patch, that is actually not a real pumpkin patch, but instead a bunch of pumpkins in the front of a local church. We go to it because it is close, and they have good pumpkins for a good price, and because it is usually so cold that we just hurry and grab a few pumpkins and head back for doughnuts and cider. Well, this year was no exception. It was overcast, very windy, and cold. So we hurried and picked out some pumpkins and went back for doughnuts and cider. But Mrs. F managed to get a few pictures of the day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our Field Trip to the Fire Station

We went to one of our local fire stations on October 17th.

But before we went, we saw a movie called Sparky's ABCs of Fire Safety.

Flower drew a picture of Sparky.
Here we are in the watch tower room with the public safety officer.
A fire fighter showed us what he looks like with all of his gear on.

Another fire fighter showed us about the equipment on a fire engine.

A fire fighter showed us some of the equipment on the ambulance.

We got to meet Sparky! It was so cool!

Thank you to everyone at the fire station for a great tour and teaching us about fire safety!