Have yourselves a multi-cultural holiday

December 21, 2009

In staying with the idea of cosmic education, I cant stress enough how important I think it is to discuss ALL of the holidays of the season- not just the one you and your family celebrate. Many children are in schools and city's with children who come from different cultural and religious backgrounds that only acknowledging your traditions can be a disservice to your child or students. I speak from experience-teaching in a classroom with kids from Sweden, Iceland, Mexico, England, Japan, and the United States- NOT acknowledging all of the season's holiday's can make children feel alienated or the ever dreadful feeling of being "different". My suggestions for how to honor all of the holidays are simple:
-If you have a christmas tree in your classroom, also have a menorah and a Kinara (similar to hanukah's menorah).
-If you are singing holiday songs, find songs for each holiday. One of each is plenty-no need to go overboard.
-Have your students bring in traditional foods or symbols of the holiday they celebrate.
-Invite parents or grandparents to come in and speak to the class about their family traditions.

With that said, Happy ChristmaHanuKwanza!

Common Threadz- clothing for the greater good

December 20, 2009

Photo Property of CommonThreadz

Supporting charitable organizations and giving back, however large or small, is something I have been passionate about for the last year or so. There are several organizations I could speak for hours on, but for the sake of this blog, I want to share the amazingness of Common Threadz. The mission of the organization reads as follows: CommonThreadz is a nonprofit helping orphans & vulnerable children in developing nations to reach their full potential through the empowerment of the children, their caretakers & the local grass roots community organizations that support them.

One way the Org. raises money is by designing high quality, eco-friendly t-shirts for both kids and adults. So here is my challenge to you this holiday- give gifts that give back.

http://www.commonthreadz.org/shop/kids_all.php

Fun snow experiments & activites

1. Bring a cup of snow inside and have your child guess how long it will take for it to melt and if old enough, at what temperature?

2. Make your own snow cones! Using the snow from outside (it's clean enough, right?) add 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cups water and 1 package of unsweetened kool-aid. If you want to try an organic version try 1/2 bag of frozen organic fruit (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry etc) 1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup or alternative sweeteners like organic brown rice syrup or agave nectar. Make sure its sweet enough for the perfect taste. Blend fruit and syrup mixture together and pour over snow. yummy!

3. Fill a spray bottle with water and add food coloring to make any color mixture your child desires. Bring the bottle out with you and have your child draw pictures and write words in the snow.

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!


Every kid likes to play in the snow, so bundle up and get out there! Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate when you get back in. Such an amazing way to spend a day with your kids.

Send coffee in the classroom photos of your kids playing in the snow!

All Natural

December 19, 2009

Loving the natural products for baby and tots at Abe's Market. Perfect for last minute holiday shopping! Abes Market

School Spotlight

The New School Montessori
Cincinnati, Ohio

School Philosophy:
We believe in fostering the whole child by providing an intellectually rich and challenging curriculum in a safe, caring and joyous environment. The overall purpose of our program is to provide consistent structure within which children can become self-disciplined learners. It is only through free choice that the will of the child develops. Our teachers guide children to make thoughtful choices in their work, their movements and their social interactions.

The New School Montessori is an independent Montessori educational center dedicated to serving students in three preprimary levels and grades one through six. The New School Montessori provides a developmental curriculum based on the observations and philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori. Ours is a program that “follows the child”. To nurture and develop each child’s innate love of learning we seek the natural inclinations of children at each age level, and then we match subject matter, which will enthuse and stimulate them.

The New School Montessori embraces diversity. We admit students of any race, color and national or ethnic origin.

The New School Montessori supports a curriculum of peace education and incorporates this curriculum into all aspects of a student’s education.

Beautiful.

See The New School Montessori's flickr page for photos. I've never seen a more beautiful campus....
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tnsm/sets/72157622020318164/

Music for the child AND adult

Top 5 Suggestions:

Holiday Pick! - The Polar Express Soundtrack
http://www.amazon.com/Polar-Express-Various-Artists/dp/B00063F8B2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1261252031&sr=1-1

Jack Johnson's Sing-A-Long & Lullabies for the film Curious George
http://www.amazon.com/Longs-Lullabies-Curious-George-Johnson/dp/B000CR7RDE

Various Artists Sing Me to Sleep, Daddy (perfect for nap time!)
http://www.amazon.com/Sing-Sleep-Daddy-Various-Artists/dp/B000003OLK

The Beatles 1 and The Beatles Love Albums
http://www.amazon.com/Beatles-1/dp/B00004ZAV3/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1261251757&sr=8-1-spell
http://www.amazon.com/Love-Beatles/dp/B000JK8OYU/ref=pd_sim_m_4

Toy Story Original Soundtrack
http://www.amazon.com/Toy-Story-Original-Records-Soundtrack/dp/B000001M2S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1261252328&sr=1-1

Happy Holidays!

Had to share a few of the sweet gifts my students gave me...

Cosmic Education

December 18, 2009

The idea that we are all connected to each other and everything in this universe is hard to grasp, yet it is the basis of the Montessori philosophy. Maria Montessori says "Let us give the child a vision of the whole universe...for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one unity." Most children have a hard time understanding anything outside of the present, directly involving them. Can you imagine the possibilities if our kids are more aware and empathetic of events happening in other parts of our world? While cosmic education is implemented in Montessori Classrooms, all types of programs can instill a sense of unity. Ask your students or kids if they know where the apple they are eating came from? Simple questions that require investigation and thought are the easiest ways to make our kids more aware of the world they live in. Try it.

Art Education



Via Ed.gov
The arts are essential to every child's education, which is why the arts are one of the core academic subjects in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Some schools, facing tight local budgets, are cutting arts programs and blaming the cuts on NCLB. In a letter to state and local superintendents, Secretary of Education Rod Paige said that cutting arts is "disturbing and just plain wrong."

Similar to English, math, science and the other core subjects, the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) are challenging subjects with rigorous content and achievement standards at the state and national levels. They require highly qualified teachers who challenge all students, not just those who are considered artistically talented, to perform works of art, create their own works, and respond to works of art and the ideas they impart.

In addition to studying the arts for their own sake, experiencing and making works of art benefits students in their intellectual, personal, and social development, and can be particularly beneficial for students from economically disadvantaged circumstances and those who are at risk of not succeeding in school. Research studies point to strong relationships between learning in the arts and fundamental cognitive skills and capacities used to master other core subjects, including reading, writing, and mathematics.

A taste of some montessori materials

*dressing frame puzzle
*knobbed cylinders
*moveable alphabet
*hundreds board

Simplicity of a montessori classroom


Side Note...




I got a puppy AND a husband!

Wash hands!


easiest way to prevent influenza - soap and water.

A depiction of the Montessori classroom

December 17, 2009

Traditional preschool classroom vs. Reggio Emilia vs. Waldorf vs Montessori vs the list goes on...obviously Im biased to one over the others. let me tell you why:

After working in a montessori environment for three years, I see the positive affects the method and atmosphere have on a child's life. The sense of empowerment, accomplishment and pride are invaluable. Here's how it works - Put simply the child comes into a prepared environment consisting of seven focus areas- sensorial, math, language, art, geography, botany and science and practical life. All the materials in each area are designed for the children to use without much assistance from their teachers, which gives them an incredible confidence, enabling them to complete "work" (what we call montessori activities) on their own.

To give you a picture, here's what you might see:
A child comes into the classroom and gets right to work- choosing whatever they would like to work on from any of the seven subject areas. They choose push pining from the language shelf. Push Pining is an activity designed to help a child prepare for writing readiness because the use of the three finger pencil grasp is required to hold the push pin and is also an activity that builds concentration and focus. The child walks to the language shelf, with two hands picks up the try that holds the materials needed to complete this work, brings it to a table and without much chatter, gets to work. The design they choose to push pin is a snowman outline on a red piece of construction paper (its around the holiday season). To the child, they have chosen a fun activity which will result in them being able to take home a snowman they have created on their own. To the teacher, this child has just proven the ability to hold a pencil correctly implying they are ready to start writing letters and numbers. Once the snowman is completed and punched out the child will stand, push in his chair, walk over to his mailbox or cubby, put his finished work inside, walk back over to the table to collect the tray, and return it to the shelf where he got it - all without any assistance from his teachers. amazing right? Typical in the Montessori Classroom.

Everything in the montessori classroom is connected and serves a purpose- Just like in our world - we are all connected. What a beautiful message.....
 

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