Thursday, March 29, 2012

Harvest time

Some 10 weeks ago we planted some beets in our backyard. Our "garden" real state is very very humble, but we decided to give it a try and see what it might yield.

Armed with a package of seed and lost of hope, we planted carefully and hoped for the best.

We finally were able to harvest our "crop" and it was so much fun!! Even our 2 year old enjoyed plucking the plants out, and helping divide root from leaves... It provided a wonderful opportunity for plant observation and gave the kids a sense of pride in their "farming" qualities :)

Later on, we turned our harvest into these three different "products":

Beet salad: steamed beets seasoned with olive oil, chopped garlic and fresh rosemary from our garden.

Beet leaves casserole: Mix raw chopped leaves with eggs and cheese, bake for 40 min, and you are done. Delicious!!

Beet juice dye: Use the leftover red water from the cooking process to dye some cotton yarn. Fun!!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

A bit of art

Ok, it was that time on a rainy afternoon that you definitely NEED something to do. So we decided to start our "silhouette" project.

I started by giving a general explanation of the history of silhouette. Then we proceed with our version of this project, from Older and Wisor. I modify it to be a 4 minute version :) I followed all the steps, but instead of painting the silhouette black, I used black construction paper.
I taped the print directly on the paper and cut the silhouette directly. Instant gratification, almost :). But the children had a ball seeing their profiles and being able to instantly recognized themselves.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spelling ... and a great tool...

Today we were working again with our movable alphabet. It has become a really helpful tool whenever my 6 year old feels like writing without having to actually practice his handwriting...

It has been one of our most used Montessori  materials, and it definitely has a liberating quality to it. Since children this age (especially boys) are not particularly inclined to practice their handwriting, they need to find some other tool for those times when they feel like composing sentences or even short stories, and the alphabet certainly helps.

Here I have added some great resources explaining how to use it,  and some helpful extension activities for it:

Montessori Mom Movable alphabet

Movable alphabet Video

Simply Montessori DIY

Lesson Plan

Album page for movable alphabet

Thursday, March 15, 2012

All about plants

This year we started our Botany study, and we are including the classification of leaves by shape as used in Montessori schools. We build our own Botany cards.


This is how to make them:

  • Cut white cardstock into 18  5 x 3.5" cards (needs to be very firm, and with a non porous finishing if possible, since they are not to be laminated).
  • Using this control chart as a guide (Once in the page click on the image to see a bigger version), cut the shape of each leaf type in green felt (the shape size should be such that leaves at least a ¼ “ margin on the card.
  • Glue the shapes to the cards.
  • Make 2 labels for each shape.
  • Attach one label to the reverse of the card (This is going to serve as a control of error)

Work of the child
This work aims at a nomenclature acquirement, so you can basically work with the 3 period lesson with it. After that, the second set of labels can be use to identify each shape.Even though this material  cannot replace the puzzle, at least the use of felt gives it an extra tactile dimension, when compared with just simple laminated cards.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Writing in Ancient Egypt

For our second lesson in the history of writing, we focus on Egypt. First we made some natural dyes using only plant material.(These dyes can be used for other historical periods- even for prehistoric art)

These are the materials used:

Hot pink: Red rose petals
Green: Spinach (is a brownish green)
Yellow: Curry powder

The process is similar for all of them:

Collect the material, chop it fine (if needed), place in a saucepan and put enough water just to cover it. Boil for 15 min, then simmer until liquid has reduced to half. Strain.

For the other three colors we used black beans.

Lilac: Place half a cup of black beans in a bowl, and put enough water to cover them by an inch. Let it sit all night. That’s it.

Purple: Use the same process as in the lilac color, but add white vinegar to it. Reduce to half.

Dark Brown: Cook the beans in some water. Strain.

We also made our own “papyrus” paper, by cutting strips of construction paper and waving them. We use school glue generously all over it, to obtain a single sheet.

After it was dry, we wrote my son’s name in hieroglyphs. This site has a very neat “translator” where you can input any name and it will give you the “equivalent”. 

As a side project, we dyed some cotton yarn, to explore how the ancients may have "put some color" into their clothes. We got this sample page, that helps us documenting our hard work :)

It was a very interesting, hands on project!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The history of writing

This is our first activity in the series “the history of writing”. We are following along the history units of the history of civilization, focusing on a “hands on” approach to the subject of handwriting, as emphasized in Maria Montessori’s “Five great Lessons”.

In this particular activity we replicate “cuneiform writing” developed by the Sumerians around the 30th century BC.

These are the materials we used

-          A wooden dowel, one end shaped as a wedge
-          A print of the cuneiform alphabet
-          A package of crayola magic model sculpey (any type of modeling clay would work)
- A small cutting board
-          A tray to contain all the materials.

After a brief introduction and explanation, we explore together the cuneiform signs, noting that they are basically composed of two shapes repeated and combined so as to form all the letters needed for their language.

After practicing this two shapes on the clay, we smooth it again and my DS suggested trying to write his on name on it. 

We left it to air dry and continue discussing how the storage of these tables would have been. We ended the activity by watching some pictures of actual tablets. (found here)