Friday, April 17, 2009

They Jump and they Leap

They jump and they leap. That was the only way I could figure out how to state the behavior of my older students in regards to their studies. The jumping refers to contemplative and speculative thinking. It refers to a mental exhale after months of inhaling.

I often think of the winter months as a time of mental hibernation. The children seem less motivated to work independently and thrive on new lessons. But, they may not choose the work after the lesson.

During the winter months our weeks are broken up by holidays and snow days. The flow of the classroom stalls and then re-energizes for a few days and stalls again.

Now, spring is here and all that was stored and observed is acted upon. The head of my school came into my classroom last week and said, "It is like a beehive of activity in here." It was exactly like that.

This week was the same. In the botany area of the classroom, two girls dissected flowers and then made their own perfume.

In another area, two boys were measuring the cubic volume of water held in various sized containers.

Another two girls were making their own Baric containers.


Then today, the last day of school before Spring break, the older children returned to the Montessori concrete materials with renewed focus and refined skills. This is the leap. They leap forward academically.

Zoe decided she would illustrate and label all of the "Animals of the Continents" booklets. She finished five. Each booklet had a least 6 pictures of animals in them.

Dylan, who was one of the boys measuring volume, sat with the metal insets and produced excellent work.

Jack, who also worked on measuring volume, returned to the stamp game and then used the constructive triangles to duplicate an image of a turtle.

This is a short list of the work done this morning. There are times I admit to wondering whether or not I should put more limits on my student's exploration work. That maybe the next time a child says that they want to make a material or build a catapult that I say, "I think you should spend more time working with the division board," But then I observe, again and again, children who have been allowed to creatively and constructively act on their own scientific or artistic ideas return to the concrete materials with such focus and attention to detail that I decide I should just keep on saying, "I love that idea. What supplies do you need."


Susanne said...

I love this post. Through your blog I feel like I've tapped into a stream that gives so much life to the Montessori environment. Inspired by it, I start to see some of these types of explorations begin to emerge in my own classroom. Thank you Susan!

melissa joanne said...

What inspiring insights!
Thank you!!

Emily R-B said...

i also love to see how the children emerge from their "mental hibernation" in the spring. i think this post is helping me emerge from my own mental hibernation after those long winter months. i'm glad i found your blog - it's just what i was looking for!