Monday, April 27, 2009

Montessori Sensorial Work: Geometric Solids

Geometric Solids introduce your child to new vocabulary, while encouraging tactile exploration and practice.

A basket of Geometric Solids includes ten standard shapes: cube, sphere, cone, cylinder, rectangular prism, triangular prism, ovoid, ellipsoid, triangular-based pyramid, and the square-based pyramid.

Some sets include additional shapes such as the hemisphere and different sizes of cylinders.

1. Material needed: A basket of Geometric Solids
2. A small mat for floor work

1. What to do: Invite your child to try this new exercise.
2. Ask your child to bring the mat to the floor and unroll it.
3. Bring the basket of shapes and sit down next to your child on the mat. Remember to sit on your child's non-dominant side (on the left side of a right-handed child).
4. Take out the cube, sphere, and pyramid.
5. Hold the cube and tell your child, "This is a cube" as you hand the cube to your child.
6. Let your child take a moment to hold and feel the cube.
7. Repeat these two last steps with the remaining two shapes.
8. Ask your child to "Please show me the cube."
9. Repeat the question for the other shapes.
10. If this is very easy for your child, then introduce the remaining shapes.
11. Otherwise, move to the third part of the exercise, asking your child, "What is this?" as you point to the cube. Repeat this question and answer process for the other two shapes.
12. If you have moved to new shapes, use the "What is this?" question and answer session at the end of the exercise for all the shapes.
13. Remember to give your child time to hold and examine the shapes. The tactile part of this exercise is very important.
14. Your child can roll up the mat and put it away, while you put away the basket of shapes.

Learn how to teach your child other Montessori exercises using our Montessori curriculum newsletters.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Building Writing Skills for Kindergarten through Elementary School: Creative Writing

Creative writing can take many forms and all of them are good!

Your child can start by creating his or her own sentences to go with the Grammar Sentence or Reading Analysis formats. This is often fun for children because they can see the types of sentences and think of other words that would fulfill the role of article, adjective, conjuction, adverb, and noun... or an action word plus a subject and two direct objects!

Away from structured time, your child can work on creative projects such as crafting and writing holiday cards with inscriptions. The use of language can focus on poetry, rhyming, storytelling, or anything else that captures your child's imagination. Art work suits creative writing nicely, too, and can incorporate everything from origami and mosaics to photography and drawing.

Your child can also write short book or movie reviews, postcards or emails to family members, short stories, trip reports after a family trip, and any other interest-related piece of work.

Our New Blog for Infants and Toddlers

We will devote our original blog, hosted on blogger, to Montessori for Infants and Children. Check it out!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Montessori and Baby Health: Screening Babies for Broken Hearts (New York Times online)

A very useful article appeared in the New York Times online edition today. It is called "Screening Babies for Broken Hearts" and is in Tara Parker-Pope's column. Written by pediatric cardiologist Darshak Sanghavi, M.D., it outlines simple steps you can take to have your newborn tested for a life threatening heart problem.

Instead of trying to summarize the medical information, I put the key information below and encourage everyone to read the article in its entirety here.

Recently, researchers have identified a promising new method, called pulse oximetry, to screen all babies for heart defects. Taped briefly to a newborn’s foot, a small sensor painlessly beams red light through the foot and measures how much oxygen is in the blood. It takes about a minute. (Picture E.T. the extra-terrestrial’s finger lighting up, and you get the idea.) If the screening test is abnormal, doctors perform a confirmatory ultrasound of the heart. Last year, Norwegian doctors published one of the largest clinical trials of this strategy, and checked half of all babies born in the country.

The results were impressive. Within a few hours of birth, pulse oximetry detected three-quarters of critical heart defects that had been previously missed. For every 2,000 newborns screened with the toe light, roughly one with a critical heart defect might have been prevented from going home. The cost-benefit ratio compares favorably to current practices of newborn screening for PKU and hypothyroidism. In January, Swedish doctors published an even more methodical study of almost 40,000 newborns, and showed that oximetry entirely eliminated death from missed critical cardiac defects.

Of course, as with any screening, the technique may miss some defects and also involves some unnecessary, though benign, testing of normal children. But these false positive rates were low (only about 1 in 1000 in the Swedish study), and triggered only about two instances of extra, non-invasive testing for every serious heart defect that was picked up. Many parents and doctors caring for children with critical heart defects subscribe to some variant of the “one-percent doctrine.” If there is even a small chance of catastrophe—like the sudden death of a newborn—they feel justified to push for preemptive action, especially when it’s a harmless and inexpensive screening test.

While the screening test is not done routinely in the United States, some hospitals have adopted it, mostly in Texas and Florida, where some small trials have been conducted. But parents can ask doctors to screen their babies for heart defects using pulse oximetry. It’s essentially free since it needs no specialized equipment other than the oximeter, which is present in every hospital already. A specialized doctor isn’t needed; the test is quite simple, and a nurse can do it if the pediatrician orders it anytime after birth, but before discharge from the hospital. Hopefully they won’t mind doing it. Personally, I do think parents should request it. I did for my kids.

Another great article in Parker-Pope's on Health column!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Montessori and Counting: Preschool and Kindergarten

In response to a question we got about teaching math to children in Kindergarten, I wanted to remind everyone not to introduce math or counting using money!

Why not? Because money has a nominal value. One penny equals one. But one dime equals ten pennies. Definitely not the way to start counting!

Start math with the Sandpaper Numerals, Spindle Boxes, Red Rods, and Red and Blue Rods. They are all designed to give young children hands-on exposure to counting, quantities, and relative sizes of numbers.

Here is our Sandpaper Numerals reprint:

The Sandpaper Numerals are designed to be traced in the direction they are written. Your child uses his or her pointer and index fingers to lightly explore the configuration of each numeral.

You will see that the set includes 0 through 9 (as do the Spindle Boxes). The concept of ten and teens will be introduced in the next stage.

You can use cardstock, fine-grained sandpaper, and stencils to create DIY Sandpaper Numerals (or you can usually find a good used set online).


And here is a link to another DIY counting exercise:


When your child can count to 1,000 easily and understand the link between quantities and counting, start teaching about money.

Montessori for Everyone has a great exercise for this one at a very good is called "Money Matching Cards"