The primary classroom is generally a quiet, harmonious environment where concentration and independence can deepen and grow.
The children’s activities centre around the focus areas as described below. A constant thread is an ambiance where children can be spontaneous and learn through activities which interest them, thereby awakening spirit and imagination. Our school provides a collaborative environment that is paramount to the Montessori multi-age classroom. Older children build leadership skills as they help their younger friends; conversely, the younger students observe and learn from their older counterparts while gaining exposure to activities they will soon be doing themselves.
Creative, time-tested Practical Life activities are offered to assist the child in developing a sense of order, concentration, independence, respect for others, grace and courtesy, fine motor skills, confidence and self esteem. The activities include many of the tasks children see as a part of the daily life in their homes. There is a growing pride in being able to “do it for myself”. Practical Life begins as soon as the young child enters the Montessori classroom and continues throughout the curriculum to more and more advanced appropriate to the oldest students in the school.
Examples of our Practical Life Work:
Pouring, sorting, polishing, sewing exercises, hand washing, fruit slicing, tracing, magnetic work, pairing, buttoning, tying, snapping, zipping, table washing, table setting, sweeping, cutting, pasting, folding, flower arranging, social graces, (please and thank you), (getting a teacher’s attention), sharing an adult, sharing materials, putting things away, perceptual motor activities, keeping track of own belongings, working carefully and neatly.
Our sensorial area of the classroom involves working with specially prepared Montessori apparatus and materials that assist the child in his or her refinement of their five senses. The children will be presented with endless opportunities to support their sensory development. Each of the sensorial materials isolates one defining quality such as color, weight, shape texture, size sound and taste and smell. The children are also met with a rich vocabulary in the process as they learn to discriminate perceptually, using their visual sense. These exercises tend to fascinate children because they are difficult enough to represent a real and meaningful challenge. They are then better prepared for future learning in mathematics, language, and science and making sense of life’s experiences. The children also really enjoy being able to repeat this work as often as desired.
Examples of our Sensorial Work:
Pink tower, knobbed cylinders, red rods, geometric cabinet, geometric solids, binomial cube, broad stair, knob-less cylinders, color tablets, constructive triangles, fabric matching, sound cylinders, sensory boards.
Math is introduced individually as the child demonstrates interest and readiness. It is very important to match each child’s ability to the appropriate materials so that his or hers learning experience is positive, rewarding and provides optimum learning at each stage of development. Introduction to numbers begins with a clear, sensorial impression (sandpaper numbers), manipulation of objects (cards and counters), movement and activity on the part of the child. As each math concept is internalized, your child simply weans him-herself naturally from concrete objects and progresses to the abstract level that is required for advanced math. Here again, the child uses real objects to figure out the answers so that they have an understanding the process that is taking place, not just memorizing formulas.
Examples of our Math Work:
Red and blue number rods, sandpaper numbers, spindle boxes, cards and counters , numeral printing, exploring the shapes of numbers through play clay, numeral symbols, white boards, chalk boards, golden bead material, the decimal system (units, tens, hundreds, thousands), teen and ten boards, linear counting with beads, addition strip boards, etc.
Dr. Montessori observed that the young child has a love of words and sounds! Therefore she developed a phonetic approach to teaching reading and writing skills. The children are introduced to the letter sounds through the sandpaper letters (tactile). They trace each letter as they say it’s sound ( ssssssss is for “s”). Later they put these sounds together to form words with the moveable alphabet. The children will learn to write, and as a natural consequence to read. Learning proceeds at its own pace ~ sometimes in methodical steps, sometimes in creative leaps, but by providing many opportunities for exploration with-in the language curriculum the process becomes a delight for the children.
Examples of our Language Work:
Readiness lessons include gross motor skills, fine motor skills, practical life activities, sensorial activities, push pinning, matching activities, vocabulary enrichment, eye spy games, sequencing cards. Reading readiness lessons include: sandpaper letters, object boxes, classified cards, moveable alphabet, pink language, (three letter phonetic words), blue language material,( four letter phonetic words), journal writing, story time, printing practice, mosaic letters and words, metal insets, moveable alphabet, sound of the week.
SCIENCE, NATURE, CULTURE
We are passionate about sharing nature with the children. The children gain awareness of the world around them by exploring other countries, their customs, food music, language and animals. This helps raise their consciousness about other people, to gain an understanding and tolerance and, therefore, compassion for all other people in the world. The children are introduced to the concept of living and non-living things, to energy, to space and time. In botany and zoology the children learn about the parts of a flower, leaf, tree, and animals. In geography they study land and water forms, the continents and individual countries. Observation skills are used to explore earth’s resources. Encountering something new in nature sparks the child’s curiosity and leads to a spontaneous lesson as the child asks, “ What is this? What is this called?"
Examples of our Cultural Enrichment Work:
Colored globes, sandpaper globes, puzzle maps, land and water form puzzles and water trays, parts of a volcano , parts of the earth, planets, animal kingdom, plant kingdom, insects, dissection of seeds and flowers, germination, pollination, root systems, growing and caring for indoor and outdoor plants, life-cycles, working with a magnify glass, science experiments, cooking, dress-up cultural days, etc.
MUSIC AND CREATIVITY
As with everything in the Montessori classroom, the children are given a sound foundation first and skills are gradually added. The preliminary exercises of movement provide the children with the knowledge of moving in different ways and the opportunity to practise them. Some examples include walking quietly inside, walking and stopping at the sound of the bell, stopping in their own space, walking around another child’s floor work mat. The children continue to explore a variety of musical concepts and elements such as rhythm, pitch, intensity of sound, tone quality. Aside from the more theory based lessons there are many opportunities for the children to experience music individually, in small groups as well as within the whole group. Playing circle games, singing songs, action songs, stories, poems, etc. Music will find it’s way through all aspects of our classroom.
Opportunity for art should always be part of the classroom and not only a special event or project. The children are encouraged to choose art activities throughout every day. Some of the art activities use standard items such as an easel and paint, colored pencils, scissors, glue and push pins, etc. Lessons in art are presented to the children in a special manner for a special gift, class presentation, lessons in geography, etc. The materials in the classroom have the potential to draw the children in and want to make them stay awhile, explore a little, try new things, create and wonder. The materials are chosen for their aesthetic qualities - What do they look like? What do they feel like? Smell like? Do they have unique qualities on their own? Children love to stumble across and explore beautiful things. With guidance and support, the children can be trusted to work with breakable items like vases, and mirrors. They learn to handle delicate items like glass beads, flowers, etc.
MOVEMENT AND OUTDOOR PLAY
Purposeful movement is an integral part of the Montessori curriculum. A thoughtfully designed yoga curriculum for our classroom will be beautifully welcomed. As a system of lifelong learning and evolution, yoga invites us to keep discovering. The children will also enjoy physical activity through song and dance and they begin learning the importance of cooperation and fair play ~ jumping, climbing, skipping, hopscotch, relays, playing with balls, running, etc.
The benefits of outdoor play are basic. If children are not able to explore and engage with earth’s elements, how can they begin to understand the world that they live in? We want the children to embrace their outdoor learning environment. The colors change, the temperature changes, the feel of the outdoors changes all the time, and that in itself creates a more sensory outdoor experience and offers greater challenges. The outdoor classroom also provides the children with more freedom to explore in our garden area.
Gardening encourages the children to learn about the world around them and instills in each of them a love for nature. It provides them with the opportunity to experiment and it promotes social interactions as they compare, discuss and describe to one another what they are doing and what they observe. The spring season, in particular, is such a wonderful time of year and every day the children will notice something different- bulbs sprouting leaves in the garden, tiny buds emerging on the tree branches, a new bird visiting the bird feeders, planting seeds and watching them grow.
GRACE AND COURTESY
Perhaps the most critical life skill of all for the children to master is the ability to work and play with others in a peaceful caring way. Treating others with dignity and respect are cornerstones of the Montessori philosophy.
Respect, peacemaking and conflict resolution are a daily part of the Montessori classroom. There is a peace area with beautiful, calming, enticing objects from around the world. The children are encouraged to touch the objects and gain insight into their differing emotions. It is also a place for the children to enjoy a peaceful moment alone.
-Peace is solving problems with words.
-Peace is taking care of everyone.
-Peace is wishing well for others.
-Peace is helping others understand.
-Peace is waiting your turn.
When we are peaceful, we feel safe and happy.
Examples of our Grace and Courtesy Work:
Properly greeting someone, introducing oneself, shaking hands, receiving visitors, apologizing, excusing oneself, watching and observing others, waiting your turn, interrupting/asking for help, respecting others and their space, using a quiet voice, speaking in a polite tone, saying please and thank-you, blowing one’s nose, coughing and sneezing, washing hands, offering food, being kind, making friends, etc.
~ The desire to be gracious and courteous is naturally present in a child.
FOOD AT THE DAFFODIL CAFE
At the Daffodil Cafe, we prepare, share a snack, eat lunch, practice grace and courtesy all while applying the skills learned in practical life. The children apply their practical life skills here, by serving themselves (scooping and tonging), setting the table, pouring their water glass, washing hands, and using real cutlery at lunch. The conversations at our mini school ‘restaurant’ are an important part of our day. Often there is a discussion of interesting global cuisine, family cooking moments shared, and discussion of favourite foods. We enjoy discussing recipes, counting ingredients and eating together in our ‘café’ and at our long table for celebrations.
As often as possible, Miss Hana, a former chef, will bring a culinary activity to help the children make something related to our current studies/ theme/ season. Ms Hana dreamed of having a restaurant named the daffodil café since she was a small child. We embrace her passion for food, farm to table and her global pallet as we engage in fun hands-on culinary learning year-round. Children can interact with food personally, learn about healthy habits, make culinary gifts to take home, food to enjoy as a class, and taste and explore many new flavours, textures and foods.
Examples of culinary experience at the Daffodil café:
Fresh Garden Salad rolls /Sushi
Homemade fresh pasta (spaghetti )
Barbecue sauce/Pasta sauce
Garden salad/Tabbouleh /Salsa/ Salad Dressing
Ice cream/ Whipped cream
Quinoa Bars/Crackers/Granola/Chia Pudding
At the Daffodil café, we eat our lunch on placemats, drink water from glass jars, snack from mason jars and use real cutlery. We warm up lunches in glass dishes in our microwave and never heat the plastic. The children sort their waste into garbage/recycling /compost. Respect and consideration for our planet is a foundation in our curriculum.
We prefer that parents send liter less lunches. This means that instead of sending a string cheese or a granola bar, these items are opened at home, or send cut cheese and the open bar directly in their lunch. We always put the main food in front of the children first and then ask them to move on to the other parts of their lunch. We believe in fostering a healthy relationship with food and the beautifully prepared lunches sent by families. The litter is unnecessary, but it also inhibits the culinary moments shared at the Daffodil café.