Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Our Cosmic Journey...

We ended the first week of school with the presentation of the First Great Lesson by our third years.  This has become a tradition in our class which the first and second years eagerly look forward to each year.  Last year, we had the fun idea of presenting the charts on our projector so they could be seen more easily.

The First Great Lesson is our springboard into lessons on space, stars, gravity, the Earth, rocks and minerals, volcanoes, mountains, the water cycle and more.  This year we also did some nebula art...



When do you present the First Great Lesson?  What special/different traditions have you added?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Transitioning to Lower Elementary- Who's Your Buddy?

The first day of school was momentous for one third of our class-  it was their first day in Lower Elementary!  We have found that the first year students' transition is to Montessori as beginning Kindergarten is to traditional schooling.  The first year students, having spent three years in their comfortable Primary classroom, have to leave the nest and hesitantly flap into our classroom- well, some glide in confidently, but the majority are cautious and slightly nervous.



After observing the difficulties of the transition for a few years, we decided to  pair up our first year students with a third year "buddy" to help them acclimate to the new environment.  While our Lower Elementary class retains many similarities from Primary, just navigating the new room and finding lessons can be daunting.  Our third year buddies relish their leadership role and gain important skills in patience and mentoring.  After the first week or two, the first year students gain confidence and rely on their buddies less and less.

Third year buddies helping new first year students during the first week of class.


 We'd love to hear how you help your first years transition to Lower Elementary!

Kick It Up a Notch!

Extension work can be one of the more dynamic parts of a Montessori classroom.  A few years ago we started calling our extension work "Kick It Up a Notch" work in honor of those young inventors Phineas and Ferb.  It also exactly describes what the purpose of an extension of a lesson is- to take the vocabulary learned or the basic concept and to elaborate, take it further and add some critical thinking components to it.

This second year student is working on a Kick It card for the Mesozoic Era of the Timeline of Life.



I feel that the ideal is to always let the student choose what he/she wants to do to "kick it up a notch", but we have found that sometimes students avoid extension work because they can't think of what to do.  To help with this, we started making Kick It cards that we place with each lesson.  Each card has customized suggestions for extensions for that particular lesson.  We tell the students that these are just some ideas to get their juices flowing- we love it when they come up with their own extension ideas.