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Teaching

Product Reviews

Book Review: Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash

By Anitra

One or more of the products mentioned in this post were provided to facilitate a review.  This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see disclosure policy for more information.

 

I’m here with another great book review!! I’m so excited about being able to review books from authors that I am not so familiar with, and that write amazing and interesting children’s books that have great content and story lines younger kids can relate to.  With that being said, this leads me to my next review of Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash.  It is written by entrepreneur and philanthropist Alan C. Fox.  Alan C. Fox is a successful New York Times bestselling author of numerous relationship books.  Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash is his first children’s book, and is based on a true story; his true story of how he grew a gigantic banana squash when he was younger!  Alan C. Fox is also the editor of a poetry journal called Rattle, and each year they publish a book of poems written by children.  For more information about Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash and Alan C. Fox, please click here.

 

Benji & The 24 Pound Squash

 

Benji & The 24 Pound Squash is about a boy that has been patiently ,(rather impatiently) waiting for the time to be right for him to plant his banana squash seeds.  When the time is finally right, Benji, with the help of his mom, go out and plant the seeds, water them, and cover them with dirt.  Poor Benji impatiently watches and waits for the seeds to sprout for weeks.  He goes to visit his garden daily until he sees a sprout, and in no time his seeds have grown into a giant banana squash…a 24 POUND squash!

 

 

 

 

I read this book to my class of preschoolers who range in age from three years old to six years old.  I read the book right before we talked about and carved our pumpkin.  After reading the book and then carving our pumpkin to examine and learn about the parts of the pumpkin, we discussed the seeds, and the process of growing a squash and a pumpkin.  This book tied in nicely with learning about pumpkins and the pumpkin life cycle theme we are doing!  It would also be great to tie in with spring time planting and growing of plants and vegetable as well.  I particularly enjoyed the ending of the book, where Benji and his family decided to cook and eat his giant banana squash.  The book does a great job tying in the concept of garden-to table.

 

       Here is our pumpkin and a small squash from my classroom.

 

Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash has bright, colorful illustrations and an overall great story.  I will definitely use this book in the future as part of many of my curriculum themes.  This book teaches children about the importance of care, patience, love, and perseverance!

 

I hope you enjoy this book as much as my class and I did!

Enjoy!

 

Anitra

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Montessori Extras

Birthday Celebrations-Montessori Style

By Anitra

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see the disclosure policy for more information.

 

Who doesn’t love celebrating their birthday?!  Kids and adults alike love celebrating their born day.  It is a very special occasion that is shared with family and friends in a variety of ways.  Children in a Montessori classroom have a very unique way that their birthdays are celebrated and shared with the classroom .  It is termed the Celebration of Life; in which we celebrate and share aspects of each year of their lives on Earth. Each child excitedly waits for their turn to do the Birthday Walk each year on their birthday.

 

 

 

Montessori Walk Around the Sun Activity

 

 

The Montessori Walk Around the Sun is composed of a painted wooden sun with twelve points on the ends.  It also comes with twelve wooden months of the year cards for each of the twelve months.  The sun has a space for a candle as well, which is not included. Add a birthday and the Montessori Walk Around the Sun is ready for use!  For the activity, I put out the sun on a work rug, and have the children repeat after me saying the months of the year as I place them around the sun.  They have learned and memorized the months of the year this way!!

 

 

 

 

 

The Celebration of Life…

In a Montessori classroom, birthday are a tradition.  During this special ceremony, the child stands next to their birth month and holds a globe; which represents the Earth. They (as the Earth) walk around the sun.  Each trip around the sun represents one year that the child has been o the planet.  I begin the Montessori Walk Around the Sun by explaining to the children that we are the Earth and that the Earth goes around the sun.  I tell them that it takes the Earth three hundred and sixty five days to go around the sun, and every time it does, you get one year older; I also add, (except for Ms. Anitra who is 21 forever!) Haha!!!

 

                                 

 

I also ask that the parents send in photos from each year of their life, either as single, individual photos, or as a prepared birthday poster.  I also send out a form for parents to fill out that documents any significant milestones, firsts, or trips that they would like shared during the birthday celebration.  I’ve had some parents get quite creative with the birthday boards they’ve prepared!!

 

Along with the birthday walk and the picture board, I have a special song that we sing as the child walks around the sun.

“The Earth goes round the sun, the sun

The Earth goes round the sun.

The Earth goes round the sun, the sun

And (Child’s Name) turned one!”

 

Continue until the child’s current age is reached.

The children love joining in to sing this song!  I’ve even gotten in on the fun of the Birthday Walk!!

 

 

 

 

Birthday’s are a special time in a child’s life, so why not make it a day to remember!  The Montessori Walk Around the Sun teaches science, months of the year, history, and traditions all in one  It is that amazing of a thing to celebrate your child’s birthday Montessori style!

 

Anitra

 

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Geography

How to make Geography a fun learning experience!

By Anitra

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see disclosure policy for more information.

Geography…a study of the physical features and places of Earth.  This is a subject that is normally introduced and taught around the third grade.  Elementary students begin learning about Geography after they have been living in the world for about nine to ten years.  Why is it that introduction of Geography is not until they have entered elementary school?  Do school districts think that the study of Geography and the world around us is not important enough to be introduced until third grade?  Or is it that the school officials have decided that children are not capable of comprehending the subject of Geography until they are ten years old?  In my opinion, learning about the world around you is just as important as reading, math, and science.

In a Montessori primary classroom, the study of Geography is introduced and presented in a way that is appealing and fun to young children.  It is engaging, hands on, and is relatable to their own life and their families.  Our world is so diverse; as are most classrooms, so why not teach about the diversity of the children in a classroom?  Yes, they are young; but they also are smart beings that know a few things about their home, family, and their culture.  When we talk about certain continents and countries, I ask the children if they have ever been to a particular country, tasted a particular food, or heard of a particular animal.  Many times, there are at least two to three children who will raise their hands and say that they have experienced something from a country.  By doing so, it involves the children in the learning, and shows that their experiences are important as well as their family or culture.

The Montessori method provides numerous activities that make it easy to teach children Geography.  In the primary classroom, there is the land and water globe, continents globe, puzzle maps for each continent; as well as puzzle maps for the United States and the world.  There are other materials that can be found from various companies that sell Montessori materials as well.  You can get as detailed as you would like with the materials, depending on the age and developmental level of the children in your classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puzzle maps are a great way to incorporate Geography into a Montessori classroom.  I use the puzzle maps with the control charts.  There are two types of control charts; one with the countries labeled and one without. I use on of the control charts and hang it on the wall to use during circle time, and the other control chart is used alongside the puzzle map.

I introduce one continent each month starting in December.  I normally start with Antarctica, and discuss the animals of Antarctica.  January is the study of Asia, February is the study of Australia,  March is the study of Europe, April is the study of Africa, May is the study of South America, and June is the study of North America.  With the other continents, I discuss the animals, famous landmarks, food, and culture associated with each one. I also have the older children; 4 1/2 to 6 year olds; use the pin poker to poke out each of the continents.  They also make an “Animals of ______ Book” for each continent as well. 

 

 

“Animals of ______ Book”

 

 

 

 

Each of the older children also have a “Continent Folder” that they use to save each of the continents in.  In June, after we have studied North America, they then put their globes together using the continents that they pin poked, and they label them and the oceans.  They each get to cut out two blue circles for the oceans, and use the world map with labels to write on their own globes.  They love completing their globes, and are always excited to reach that point in the school year!  They look forward to it all year long!

 

 

Pin poking Europe

 

 

Geography Folders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Completing the globes

 

There are many Montessori companies that sell Geography materials.  There are also numerous websites that offer free resources for Geography works as well.  The key is to do a little research, find out what you think will work best in your particular classroom or home school, and remember to take into consideration the ages and stages of the children you will present the works to.  Another key thing is to make it fun, inviting, and engaging; and the kids will have a ball learning about the different continents, countries, and cultures of the world!

Anitra

 

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Montessori Extras

Incorporating Yoga in the classroom…Namaste!

By Anitra

Years ago, while looking for teaching resources, I came across an interesting find.  I found a book about introducing yoga to young children.  I found The Yoga Kit For Kids by Imaginazium. It came with:

  • 25 yoga cards
  • 24 page activity and instruction book
  • Music for Yoga CD

The individual yoga cards teach a simple yoga pose on the front, and a poem describing the pose on the back.  It also comes with a CD with two tracks on it.  One is a gentle, slow tune; and the other one is a little more quick and upbeat.  There is also an instruction book with pictures as well.  At the time, I wasn’t really that in to yoga, but decided to purchase it anyway.  It seemed fun and inviting, and just different enough that it kind of intrigued me.  Over the years, I used the yoga cards periodically, but never on a consistent basis.  But when I did used them, the children seemed to enjoy participating.

Fast forward to about two years ago.  I had always noticed that every year, around the end of March all the way through the end of May, the children in my classroom would start to get a little rowdy.  I asked around and other teachers had similiar experiences in their classrooms as well.  The children would be louder than normal, not as focused, and would have a slightly difficult time “relaxing their bodies” as I say.  I had the idea to incorporate the yoga for kids cards into our morning, as a way of starting off our day on a good note. Obviously when I mentioned this to my Assistant Teacher she thought I was nuts, but I told her that it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try, and what if it actually worked…

In my classroom, we go to the playground first thing in the morning before we start the traditional “Montessori Work Time”.  We are outside for about 30 to 40 minutes, and then come in, do circle time, and begin the Montessori Work period which lasts for 2 hours.  When I decided to introduce yoga, I decided that it would be best if it was done immediately after the children came in from the playground.  As soon as we enter the classroom, I leave the lights off and instruct all of the children to go find a space on the blue tape(our circle time is designated by blue tape).  I turn on the slow, gentle music from the yoga CD, and instruct them to lay on their backs, relax and close their eyes.  I then tell them that this is a no talking time, and to just listen to the quiet music and wait for instructions.

After about 2 minutes, I turn off the music and choose 3 to 5 yoga cards for them to do.  I hold up the card for them to see the pose, and once everyone is in the pose, I read the poem on the back.  Some of our favorites are Mountain, Tree, Peacock, Mouse…and my personal favorite, Do Nothing Doll!  I always end our yoga session with the Do Nothing Doll pose.  The children enjoy doing yoga and ask on a regular bases if we can do yoga!  I have noticed that by starting our day with yoga, they seem to be more focused, relaxed, attentive, and calm.  SUCCESS!  We now do yoga 2 to 3 times a week. NAMASTE!

Anitra

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Sensorial

Knobless Cylinders-A twist on a Montessori classic

By Anitra

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see the disclosure policy for more information.

The Montessori classroom has different areas that each have a different focus.  The Sensorial Area of a Montessori classroom introduces concepts that focus on all five of the child’s senses.  The purpose of the work in the Sensorial Area is to assist and prepare children to be logical, perceptive, and aware of their environment and world.  It teaches such concepts as discrimination and order; visual discrimination in differences of dimension, width, length, size and color.  Tactile works are used to determine variations in roughness and smoothness, just as in the works that determine varying tones using their auditory sense.  Other works narrow in on the gustation or the ways in which we determine the basic of taste.  There are many Sensorial works that focus on just one of the senses, where many of the works encompasses two or more of the senses.  Like any of the other areas in a Montessori classroom, the works are placed and introduced in developing order; from concrete to abstract; and from simple to complex.

I have decided to discuss one of the “classic” Montessori Sensorial activities.  The Knobless Cylinders are a staple in a true, authentic Montessori classroom.  The work consists of four wooden boxes; each with a different colored lid.  The colors of each box are red, yellow, green, and blue. Each box contains a set of ten cylinders in the designated colors. The red box contains red wooden cylinders that vary in diameter.  The yellow box contains yellow wooden cylinders that vary in height and diameter.  The green box contains green wooden cylinders that vary from height and diameter.  The blue box contains blue wooden cylinders that vary in diameter.

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

The purpose of the Knobless Cylinders is to determine the differences in similar shapes.  It also helps with hand eye coordination and small motor skills.  I choose to add a bit of a “twist” to this classic Montessori work, and have added felt mats to use for each box.  I found inexpensive felt mats in the corresponding colors, and when I introduced this work initially, I included the felt mat.

I personally feel that it gives the child another way of keeping their work area tidy, and keeps things nice and orderly.  They must take each of the items to their rug individually, and begin with unrolling the felt mat first.  They then open the box, and place it on top of the lid. they may then choose to order the cylinders, use the control cards, or build a tower.  Once they are done with the work, they must take each of the items to the shelf individually, and make sure to roll up the felt mat as well.

I came across these felt mat years ago, and have used them faithfully ever sense.  Sometimes, I find that it is ok to add to the Montessori works; as long as it is not a distraction or takes away from the purpose of the work.  As long as the children enjoy using them as well, there is nothing wrong with adding a little fun and variety to a classic Montessori work.

Anitra

 

 

 

 

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Montessori Extras

New Subscriber FREEBIE!!!

By Anitra

Everyone likes FREEBIES, right?!  I know that I do.  Being new to blogging, I am just getting my feet wet with getting my name and my content out in the world.  I know that many of you can relate to being a “newbie” to blogging, and can understand the need to succeed in something that you have created.  I put a lot of thought and my heart and soul into each blog post, in hopes that the world will see my passion for what I do.  The word Momtessorian is who I am to my core; I value and cherish everything that comes with being a mom…the good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly!  As a Montessorian, I have an immense responsibility to teach the future doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists, engineers of the world… and it is truly an honor.  For years I have dedicated my life to teaching children that are not mine, but I feel that once a child has been in my classroom, they are a part of me.  I hold a special place in my heart for every child that has been in my class throughout the years.

I decided to open my heart up to the outside world, and tell you a little more about who I am, and what chronicles of a momtessorian is all about; in the hope that you will see how dedicated, sincere, and genuine I am as a person, blogger, mom, wife, and educator.

Thank you for reading, and as gratitude for allowing me to be me, I am offering the new subscriber freebie that I named above.

I hope you enjoy your freebie and all I have to offer on documenting my journey of chronicles of a momtessorian!

Anitra

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Classroom Content Teaching

Teaching young children 101-Learn to laugh at yourself!

By Anitra

Early on in my life, I knew that I wanted to be a Teacher.  I would play “school” with my stuffed animals in my bedroom, I wanted to be a Kindergarten teacher. I would play that way for hours.  When I first started going to college, I began taking Early Childhood Education classes, and figured out early on that I wanted to work with younger, preschool aged children.  When I discovered the Montessori method and took the training, I discovered that I had definitely found my niche.  For me, my Montessori instructors were fun, lively, silly, and complete down to Earth people.  They showed me that teaching young children takes a very special individual, who has a special heart.  Teaching young children is not for everyone; not for the weak at heart; you will get sneezed on, coughed on, hit, kicked, and have a sad child screaming in your ear that they want their mom!  You will also be so loved, get endless hugs, called “mom” accidentally, and get the most fabulous homemade drawings you’ve ever seen!

Want to know the secret to being a successful teacher of young children?  Wait for it…BECOME A PRESCHOOL TEACHER!

Hahaha!  Good one, right?  No, but seriously, I think that sharing my experiences to help others become successful preschool teachers is the least I can do.  I had people who shared their amazing experiences with me at the beginning of my career, and it has helped me and mold me into the teacher that I am today.  Proud; I sure am.  I take great pride in what I do, and I love each and every child that is in my class (past, present, and future) as though they are my own.  They all have a special place in my heart forever…

I assure you, if you adopt these simple tactics, your days of teaching young children should become easier, more fun, and hopefully more memorable!

Teaching Young Children 101

1. Learn to laugh at yourself!– young children like when you can laugh if you make an “oopsie”.  It is important for them to see that no one is perfect, and it is ok to make mistakes. Trust me, I make these on a daily basis, and when I do, I just LAUGH…seriously. Like the saying says; “Laughter is good for the soul”; try it sometimes!

2. Don’t take yourself too seriously!– ask anyone who knows me, I am a kid at heart! I love to do fun things in my class. Have fun with them, smile, be silly, do anything except BE SERIOUS!!!

3. Relate to their interests– one of the best things a teacher can do is to be interested in what the children do or enjoy.  Do you know how many cartoons I’ve watched? A million; I know all about Doc McStuffins (one of my favorites actually), Littlest Pet Shop, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Imagination Movers…I could go on for hours.  The important thing is that they LOVE when I can talk with them about these things! It makes them feel so special!

4. Have fun and don’t be afraid to join in– Halloween; dress up! Join in on any of the activities or celebrations the children have.  Just like you would encourage children to join in on the fun, it is always a good idea for you as their teacher to do the same!

The important thing to remember is, yes; you are there to teach them, but you are also there to teach them to have fun and enjoy themselves!  They are kids after all!

Anitra

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