Wednesday, October 29, 2008

He's writing!

I introduced the Movable alphabet to the children today, intending it be mostly for Gene right now, but the girls were welcome to use it as well. He didn't seem very interested, because he had used it last year a bit and had grown tired of it. But, he has sure come a long way! I started using it nearby once I saw that he was just sitting down and looking bored, and sure enough he came over to see what I was doing. I had written a few words, which he read and then asked if he could help me. He helped me put the letters away, and then I quickly turned it over to him. I told him that I would ask him a question, and he could try to write the answer. Here are the questions I asked, and then check out his answers! This is his very first writing, besides writing his name.

Questions: What is your name? What is your favorite food? What is your favorite animal? What is your favorite color?


Helping Out

At two different moments during preschool today did I notice a spirit of generosity and helpfulness that I (unfortunately) don't get to witness as much as I would like. But the Montessori classroom is supposed to foster this helpfulness in children, and I am excited to see it in our classroom.

Norah was using the bathroom and asked for me to get her a wipe. I have a basket of pre-folded wipes that sits on the back of the toilet, and she had forgotten to get the basket down before sitting down. Before I could help her (and I am intentionally slow to help when I know that I am not REALLY needed) Lucy jumped up and went to help. She was extremely polite and gave the basket to Norah, "Here you go that better?" And then when Norah was getting down and starting to struggle with her pants, Lucy again offered her 2-year old wisdom, "Do you need a little help with that? It might work if you sit down." It is SO much better to hear it from a fellow classmate than from me, the all-knowing adult. I much prefer it this way, because Norah did sit down and did get her pants back on by herself, and was very proud of herself for doing so. I wasn't needed at all!

Later in the day Lucy was working on sweeping beans on the floor (she had quickly mastered sweeping cotton balls on the table and the floor so she could sweep beans) and they had gotten all over the place. Gene was near and offered to help. They both worked together for quite a while to get the beans back in a sweepable pile. If I had asked him to, he probably would not have been so cheerful or stayed with Lucy for so it is, it was his initiative and they were both pleased with themselves when the beans were back in the pile.

Prayer in School

So I haven't posted for a LONG time, but that may just be the ways things go around here! I will try to do better, though, because it is really nice to keep up with a blog that actually keeps up with itself- i.e. I love reading the blogs that post at least two or three times a week. So that will be my goal...and posting really does help to organize my thoughts about school and show the progress that is being made by all the children. So, here is a short post about how we incorporate prayer in our school-day.

We begin every circle time with a short prayer for the day, and then the Glory Be. Everyone knows that prayer now, and I may change the opening prayer now to the Our Father (or another short Catholic prayer) so that they have a chance to learn something new. But we ARE in the midst of learning something new prayer-wise every day...the Nicene Creed. I decided that was one prayer Geno probably did not know all the words to, or at least what it meant (he picks up on oral words so quickly, especially at church, that I'm never sure just what he knows). So they could all learn it together. We have learned one new line or part of a line every day, and always say it twice to incorporate the newest part...I am very impressed with them! We are about halfway through the prayer now, having just added the part stating "through Him all things were made". At the rate we're going, everybody will know the entire prayer by Christmastime, or shortly thereafter. It is really neat to see them learning it so quickly, and I am excited to teach them more. It is so easy at this age!

Friday, October 3, 2008

What a Wonderful Friday!

We had a great day at preschool today...what a good feeling it is to see the children all working and then putting their work away and choosing something else... They are all becoming accustomed to the way the classroom works, and it is a relief on my part to see the pieces falling into place. Not that school will ever run perfectly smoothly, but today I realized how good it can be, and WILL be:)

Two new works were on the shelves today- crayon rubbing and breaking styrofoam. I had been wanting to put crayon rubbing out for a while now, since we have a bunch of chunky crayons that don't have labels on them and would be put to good use, and I would also like to have the children rub over leaves pretty soon. I put out a piece of rough sandpaper(very rough- the kind that is used to attach to a floor-sander) and the children chose a piece of paper to put on top and then rubbed a crayon over the paper.

The pictures that resulted had a lot of dark dots, and then lighter dots and splotches...not extremely beautiful, but I'll see if there is more interest before putting out some leaves.

The breaking styrofoam work is having a trial run on the shelf, and may be pulled and replaced with something else. We got some styrofoam peanuts in the mail the other day, and I thought the children would enjoy a chance to break something apart (making a neat sound in the process) in a controlled activity. I planned to use the small pieces in a pasting activity (maybe making snowmen in the winter). However, it became obvious rather quickly that when the pieces were broken into extremely small pieces, they were hard to get in the bowl (static cling!), and eventually there were small peanut pieces ALL over the table and floor. So, we'll see.

Here are some other new works that have been put out recently:

Putting rubber bands on a dowel gives the children good practice at using rubber bands. They have to open them up wide enough to fit over the end of the dowel, and then scoot them down so that more will fit on. A fairly popular work...and once they master this, they can go on to doing work that requires putting a rubber band onto a pack of picture or word cards.

Spooning rice looked enticing to the children, and a couple of them tried it, but it was hard to keep on the spoon, and even harder to pick up all the individual pieces of rice. So next to it I placed:
Spooning beads- The beads are larger and easier to pick up when spilled. When a child masters this work, they will then be ready to try spooning rice again. Until then, it can rest mess-free on the shelf.
The pasting tray has offered a great opportunity for the children to practice their pasting...and they are getting rather good at it. There are cardboard circles (roughtly 6-8 inches diameter) under the basked of shapes, and the paste is in the jar with the white lid. A child can choose a q-tip, dip it in the paste, and then brush it on a shape before applying it to the cardboard. A popular work, that has been used almost every day.

These are some examples of the pasting that has been done so far. There have also been projects with many shapes all of the same color.

Geno working on a pasting project.

This is "cylinder block #1", and it is basically a puzzle. Match the cylinders to their holes in the block. There are a total of 4 cylinder blocks, with cylinders ranging from thick to thin (#1), tall to short (#2), large to small (#3) and I can't describe #4...the first cylinder is tall and skinny and the last is short and fat... There are lots of activities to do with the cylinder blocks, and my favorites so far involve using more than one block and mixing all the cylinders up, and then trying to find the respective holes without any mistakes. This generally appeals to 2 year olds, but the older children have also shown interest.

Norah has enjoyed working with the bean bowl...she chooses it at some point almost every day.

What a good week. We have had 14 days of preschool so far...I can't wait to see what we do in the next month!