The Farm

I like the idea of doing Unit Studies as it’s a way to allow me to introduce multiple subjects under one heading.  Pumpkin 1 is interested in animals so I decided to go with The Farm for our first unit study.  We had a planned trip to a farm with the Early Years Center, however that was a disappointment.  It was freezing cold and Pumpkin 2 got fussy and I wasn’t about to nurse him in that freezing weather so we left early.  Pumpkin 1 did get to see a real tractor though which she was excited about.

I printed off some free farm animal nomenclature cards from here and laminated them.  I already had Schleich farm animals from my home daycare (I love these, they’re pricey but they’ll seriously last forever, unless your dog gets one, yea, that’s happened.  I put them in the dishwasher regularly and the colour doesn’t come off at all).  I got out the Fisher Price barn I had and purchased a little tractor.  Pumpkin 1 quickly picked up matching animals to the cards and I was surprised at how much she enjoyed doing it.  She likes to put the wrong animal on the card and say, “Nooo” and then move it to the right card. I didn’t do the word cards yet but I might soon.  Even though she doesn’t know her alphabet, it can’t hurt to see the word with the animal and begin to associate it.  I’m also teaching her French (as I learn it myself) and so I worked on naming them in French with her too.  We sing Old MacDonald and a song I found to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” that goes “Dans la ferme il y a un….”  I have some books about the farm I’ll read to her, in French and English.  I plan to do the unit for about a month.  I’m thinking of a farm sensory bin and a corn pit in an inflatable pool.

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Cursive before print?!

So the Montessori method of education teaches sounds of letters before the names, lower case before the upper case, writing before reading, and….I just learned….cursive before print!  At first I thought it was crazy.  No one uses cursive nowadays, they don’t even teach it in some schools anymore, and it’s so much more difficult.  Everything a child sees is in print, so why teach cursive first?  This is take from the following interesting article:

AMI is highly supportive of using cursive as the primary mode of writing in the Casa. Using cursive instead of ball and stick print is not an antiquated notion but a developmentally appropriate method of writing for children under the age of six. All children starting from around the age of two-and-a-half scribble using broad, loopy, continuous motions that are similar to the motions used in cursive writing. By introducing cursive instead of print, Montessori guides are matching the child’s natural movements rather than the unnatural, straight marks needed in ball and stick style writing. Unlike printing, cursive appeals to the child’s innate tendency towards perfecting his/her movement and refines fine motor skills, manual dexterity, and hand-eye coordination. In addition, cursive letters are easy for children to learn and difficult for them to reverse. Whereas the ball and stick letters “b” and “d” are easily confused and reversed, the cursive letters “b” and “d” are much clearer. Children are also better able to read cursive words because they are joined together creating a clear distinction as to where a word starts and ends. Printing does not provide this control of error. It has also been observed by multiple Montessorians that children who begin writing in cursive have little to no difficulty deciphering other forms of writing, including handwritten printing and words printed from a computer. Children who begin with printing, however, have a rough transition into cursive and do not seem to recognize it as legitimate writing. With a foundation in cursive, children in the Casa are able to adapt to any writing style with ease.

It’s actually kinda convincing.  It’s something I’m going to have to read more on.

Read the full article here

Here’s an article about the cognitive benefits of cursive writing

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or experiences.

Great sites for inspiration

These two sites have tons of great activities you can do with children from babies to preschool.  They’re  more in the Reggio Emilia school of thought on education but they compliment the Montessori activities.

When I decided I wanted to do Montessori with my children, I was overwhelmed.  There are so many materials (expensive ones too) and ideas that I didn’t know where to begin.  What activities do I focus on with my daughter?  What materials should I purchase?  What ones can I make?  I didn’t know where to start.  But I found this “curriculum” (if that’s the right word for it)  I ordered the e-book (at only $10)  and it’s AMAZING!  It has everything I was looking for.  The philosophy of Maria Montessori, what I should buy, what activities to do at what age, other materials that are great, books, even aps to download for children.  And tons and tons and tons of DIY activities.  There are also links to blogs and stores.  I highly recommend it for anyone who is thinking of doing Montessori at home.

This morning we played with the Magnetic Mighty Mind.  It’s great for working on shapes and matching.  I like the magnetic set because the pieces stay in place for little hands.  I gave her a cookie sheet to play on.  The set comes in a tin and you can put the cards in the lid and work on it as well.  I was surprised because last time she played with it she didn’t get the matching concept, but today she was doing it.

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