Summer is just getting started for many of those in England, whilst Schools in Scotland have been off since June and will be making their return to school next month. We have had a much more flexible few months over May, June and July, with trips to Scotland and Cornwall and a few days out as well and very little of what people would consider “formal” education. At the age L is, that’s more than fine, there are so many ways to learn new things and so many new things to learn, we like to stay flexible to try new things.
Over the month of July, particularly since returning from Cornwall, it started to become clear that routine and structure were something L was missing in her life and her behaviour has been directly impacted. I didn’t see it at first and we have had some real challenging moments, but when it clicked I decided it was time to get back to Tot School and up my game a little.
This year L will be continuing many of the works she started the previous year, but this year will prove a bigger challenge as we tackle new subjects and have more formality with ‘lessons’.
We started the morning off with a Lesson on Geography after we had got up, eaten breakfast and gotten dressed. The lesson involved discussing The Globe and our Earth as well as Land, Air and Water. I had two bowls set up one with dirt in and the other with water and we explored the globe; where the water was and where the land was. The bowls allowed her a tactile lesson on the cool, smoothness of the water and the rough, dryness of the dirt. I explained that air is all around us and we practised blowing on each other to feel the air move around us before I demonstrated an experiment.
The experiment was to show how trapped air in the form of a bubble resisted water and kept a tissue in a cup completely dry despite the bowl being filled with water all around. After I demonstrated, it was L’s turn to try.
She seems to really enjoy this activity and was delighted when she managed to do the experiment herself with successful results.
She spent some time taking the cup out and putting it back in to create the bubble and talked a bit about the resisting force of the air bubble against the water.
I then presented the Land, Water and Air cards to her. I had pre-filled 3 spice jars, one with dirt, one with water and an empty one with air. These serve as a solid visual for Land, Water and Air whilst working with the cards. After demonstrating the first couple, L happily continued the work with no assistance.
When our lesson ended and L put her experiment away, it was time for her Uninterrupted Work Cycle. If you would like to know more about the Work Cycle and how it works and what it looks like, Montessori Child have a fabulous article they wrote a few years ago which explains it beautifully and clearly, which I found absolutely invaluable when I was first trying to get to grips with this Educational Philosophy. You can find it here.
As Maria Montessori observed in her classrooms and many Montessorians since have also observed, is that children often choose something old and familiar to work with when they start their work cycle. It’s a subconscious objective of the child to do a work that gives them self confidence to proceed through the rest of their day as they know they will succeed in this task. It is also a warm up of sorts to get their brain into the right gear for the prolonged work cycle.
True to form, L chose her first work which was the Pink Tower. L has been doing this work for over a year now.
It is still not a mastered work, but she has made a lot of progress both building it up as a tower and building along the mat from biggest to smallest. She is proficient enough that she is able to work with both the Pink Tower and the Brown Stair together. Today she built both up as towers side by side, then built them along the mat, using both together. You can see a video of this on our Facebook Page.
Once she had familiarised herself with a work she knew and had put it away, she indeed moved onto more challenging works for the remainder of her work cycle. First she chose the Golden Beads.
We have touched on the Golden Bead work before a few times and was pleasantly surprised today to see her really getting the concept. She had remembered the names of each piece – Unit, Ten, Hundred and Thousand, with only a little prompting. We then proceeded to count. In the picture above you can see L counting out 10 single units which equal 1 tens bar. She repeated this for the tens to hundred and hundreds to thousand where she finished the work.
Without prompting she was off finding a new work and came back with her peg board. She made some patterns with no identifiable shapes or symmetry, but the exercise was good for fine motor practice as she placed all the pegs on the board and then took them all out and put them neatly away. This required a lot of focus from her to use all the pegs in the box and then put them all away one at a time as well. A great little lesson on practising concentration.
L finished her morning cycle with another familiar work that she enjoys which is her Orchard Toys Opposites Puzzle. There is a wide array of opposites including “near” and “far”, “together” and “apart”, “wet” and “dry” and many more.
Tomorrow we will continue our lessons looking at Living and Non Living things that are in our world and see where the morning takes us. I’m delighted by her enthusiasm to be back.
Tune in next time!