Friday, February 27, 2009

Things Moms Love


A brand new site for Moms (and Dads) with adorable kid tips, fun links, and, last but not least, they have shared our Montessori House DVD set with their readers!

Check out Things Moms Love here

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Montessori Math: Free Links for DIY Materials for Home Classrooms

In case you missed these great links at Montessori for Everyone's site, here are some super useful (and free!) links for math, language, geometry, and much more...check them out

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Montessori Math DIY Project for Kindergarten and Preschool: Numbers and Cards

Montessori equipment can be super expensive, so we wanted to share this great and cheap DIY project for Montessori math.

Material needed:
1. 55 identical disks
2. Write the numbers 1 through 10 on ten different blank rolodex cards (use a green magic marker)

You can store the beads in a small box with a lid and put the cards next to it on a small tray. Your child can work with this exercise on a mat on the floor or at a child-sized table.

Spread the cards out from left to right in order from one to ten. Read the "one" card aloud. Put one disk under that card. Repeat with the other cards. Now put all the disks back in the box and let your child try alone!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New York Times Online: The 3 R’s? A Fourth Is Crucial, Too: Recess

Finally, the importance of recess and outdoor play is becoming mainstream! Another wonderful article by one of our favorite journalists, Tara Parker-Pope, at the New York Times online edition.

Some key points include:
New research suggests that play and down time may be as important to a child’s academic experience as reading, science and math, and that regular recess, fitness or nature time can influence behavior, concentration and even grades.

A study published this month in the journal Pediatrics studied the links between recess and classroom behavior among about 11,000 children age 8 and 9. Those who had more than 15 minutes of recess a day showed better behavior in class than those who had little or none. Although disadvantaged children were more likely to be denied recess, the association between better behavior and recess time held up even after researchers controlled for a number of variables, including sex, ethnicity, public or private school and class size.

The lead researcher, Dr. Romina M. Barros, a pediatrician and an assistant clinical professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said the findings were important because many schools did not view recess as essential to education.

“Sometimes you need data published for people at the educational level to start believing it has an impact,” she said. “We should understand that kids need that break because the brain needs that break.”
Check out the entire article here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Montessori Made Easy: Five Servings of Fruits and Vegetables

Your child's recommended five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables can provide a great Practical Life and Social Skills project, too!

Here is a quick project:

1. Let your child pick out three fruits or vegetables at the store or at home

2. He or she can wash, dry, peel, chop or break apart everything into bite-sized morsels

3. Your child can put everything in a big bowl for serving at mealtime or prepare smaller bowls and pass them around to family members on a tray.

Voila! A great fun and healthy Montessori at home project. Do you have a special recipe or cooking set up for your Montessori child at your home? Send a comment and we'll share it with everyone.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Montessori Homeschool Schedule for Toddlers through Kindergarten

A lot of parents have written in asking us about an ideal classroom schedule for children under seven, so I wanted to put a few thoughts here on the most important aspects of a well-rounded curriculum for this age group.

First, go outside and be active! An ideal schedule has the children outdoors and active at least twice a day with a combination of physical play such as climbing on monkey bars and riding trikes and group games such as foot races and soccer(aka football for those of you outside the US).

One tip for homeschooling parents is that this outdoor play period is a great time to outsource teaching, if you need a break and can afford the help, because a teenager or even older elementary school student can be a wonderful inspiration for active play.

Second, bring one or two active play projects indoors (especially if you are loathe to go out in the rain). Old staples such as ring-around-the-rosy or musical chairs are fantastic.

Third, leave long periods of time for concentrated work. Even very young children have the ability to concentrate for longer periods of time than one usually thinks. Let your child move at his or her own pace and become fascinated with a particular project that catches his or her fancy. Because young children go through phases, a certain piece of equipment may become a favorite for weeks on end. This is fine!

Fourth, don't worry about variety in the curriculum over short periods of time. A lot of Montessori schools have adopted weekly curriculum schedules because parents want to see that the school is "doing something" (never mind that the children are five years old, but I digress). Your goal should be introducing a well-rounded curriculum over a longer period such as one or three months. If your child falls in love with science experiments and art for a month straight, there is no need to start forcing him or her to put aside the paints and microscopes and bring out the math equipment. Of course, if you are following our curriculum, you will see how we incorporate all types of material into, say, science or art projects.

Our curriculum sign up is here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Risks Linked to Asthma Rise: Household Cleaners and More

Another great article by a favorite journalist, Tara Parker-Pope, in the New York Times online edition today discusses the links between asthma and household cleansers (plus other things your child might be exposed to).

Since I have always though the hygiene hypothesis was a bit ridiculous, I was glad to see this article! I am also very allergic to air fresheners and similar products, so it all makes intuitive sense.

Here are some of the highlights of the article:
For years the hygiene hypothesis has been used to explain stark differences in asthma rates around the world. In Western countries, asthma rates are about 50 times higher than in rural Africa, for instance. The hygiene hypothesis suggests that Westerners have less exposure to bacteria, viruses and parasites, altering the immune response and increasing risk for allergic diseases.

But Dr. Harold S. Nelson, professor of medicine at the asthma and allergy specialty hospital National Jewish Health in Denver, says the hygiene hypothesis doesn’t fully explain rising asthma rates in the United States and industrialized countries. The incidence of asthma has doubled in the United States since the 1980s.

In a recent talk at National Jewish Health’s annual Pulmonary and Allergy Update conference, Dr. Nelson noted that lower levels of vitamin D, exposure to spray cleaning compounds, and a wider use of acetaminophen in place of aspirin have contributed to the asthma epidemic.

The concern with household cleaners is that the spray mist can be inhaled and irritate the lungs, increasing risk for asthma. The biggest culprits appear to be glass cleaners and air fresheners. A major European study of cleaning product use in 10 countries found that people who used the cleaners four days a week faced double the risk of adult asthma. Weekly use increased risk by 50 percent. Australian researchers have also found a link with household cleaning sprays and asthma in children.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A New Puzzle Challenges Math Skills: From Japan

We found this great article by Will Shortz in the Feb 8th online issue of the New York Times.

The puzzle requires tons of math skills practice and provides a fun and enjoyable way for children to gain the necessary repetition in the exercises to remember basic skills.

"The rules are simple: Fill the grid with digits so as not to repeat a digit within any row or column, and so the digits within each heavily outlined box (called a cage) go together using the arithmetic operation shown to make the target number indicated.

Two new KenKen puzzles will be presented in The Times each day from Monday through Saturday. The first is a four-by-four-square puzzle that increases in difficulty from easy to medium as the week progresses. The second is a six-by-six-square puzzle that goes from medium to hard.

KenKen was invented in 2004 by the Japanese educator Tetsuya Miyamoto, who founded and teaches at the Miyamoto Math Classroom in Tokyo. Students attend his class on weekends to improve their math and thinking skills. Mr. Miyamoto said he believes in “the art of teaching without teaching.”

He provides the tools for students to learn at their own pace using their own trial-and-error methods. If these tools are engaging enough, he said, students are more motivated and learn better than they would through formal instruction.

About 90 minutes of class time each week is set aside for solving puzzles, usually designed by Mr. Miyamoto. The most popular one has been KenKen."

Read the original NYTimes online article here.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Montessori on Teaching Math to Children

Have you ever had a teacher, parent, or spouse who was unable to explain something in a clear and concise way? Here is a great quote from Dr. Maria Montessori in which she discusses the need for clarity and simplicity in presentations:

"I remember being present at an arithmetic lesson where the children were being taught that two and three make five. To this end, the teacher made use of a counting board having coloured beads strung on its thin wires. She arranged, for example, two beads on the top line, then on a lower line three, and at the bottom five beads. I do not remember very clearly the development of this lesson, but I do know that the teacher found it necessary to place beside the two beads on the upper wire a little cardboard dancer with a blue skirt, which she christened on the spot the name of one of the children in the class, saying, "This is Mariettina." And then beside the other three beads she placed a little dancer dressed in a different colour, which she called "Gigina." I do not know exactly how the teacher arrived at the demonstration of the sum, but certainly she talked for a long time with these little dancers, moving them about, etc."

"If I remember the dancers more clearly than I do the arithmetic process, how must it have been with the children? If by such a method they were able to learn that two and three make five, they must have made a tremendous mental effort, and the teacher must have found it necessary to talk with the little dancers for a long time."

Quote from The Montessori Method by Dr. Montessori.