Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Summer Session concludes at Juneau Montessori School

Some of my students enjoying the school's garden. I have easy access to it, as do my students, as there is a door to the garden in my classroom. I often opened it during the summer session and let the children flow inside and outside picking raspberries along the way.


I taught the last eight days of the summer session. Basically, the summer session is an extension of the school year and so it is simply Montessori all year round. One of the most amazing contrasts between the way the school operates here and those I have worked at on the East Coast is that the children and teachers go outside almost everyday - and it rains almost everyday here. Forget staying inside when it sprinkles...nope. Children laugh and play outside when it is pouring rain and they are rarely sick. It reveals how we adults condition children to the outdoors editing their natural instincts to play in the rain and the snow based on our preferences. What makes going outside so successful - attitude and gear. Rain gear is playground attire.

Although I was only a lead in the classroom for a week and a half, much work was done. I have several photos to share. Some of the pictures highlight lessons and materials you have seen me post previously, but at a different school - Blue Hill Montessori School in Canton, MA. There is a wonderful sense of continuity about that. My readers can see the thread that runs through the narrative of this blog - the Montessori materials and the method. These are not limited by geography but instead echoed across the globe. Montessori schools are found all over the world. There is a comfort to walking into a school in Warsaw, Poland and in Juneau, Alaska and viewing the pink tower for both teachers, students and parents.

So let's begin. My first lessons were with the botany cabinet. Yup - leaf drawing and illustrating. Most likely you have seen photos of this work before, but isn't it beautiful work.

Next, I presented two lessons. One was on the short chains and the geometry cabinet.

The second was on the jeweled tower and the glass bead squares.

Here a child received a lesson on squaring chains. She was absolutely captivated by the work.

Five "squared" equals twenty five. The visualization of this mathematical equation always impresses me. It has an architecture to it. The construction of multiplication. It's eye candy for this theory head.

Volcanoes. Every child and the adults in the classroom wanted to see this work again and again.

First I demonstrated how the geometric solid - the cone - illustrated the shape of a volcano's form.

Then we put vinegar and baking soda together -

The next day I extended science to include art - I showed the children how to make paper volcanoes:

The student is drawing lava rocks around his volcano -

The piece is almost finished. He worked on it steadily for more than an hour -

Like so much of the work in the classroom, this project provided opportunities for mentoring. Here the student that created the volcano above shows another student how to make lava paper strips -

Finally, the writing component. I asked the student, who in the above photo was mentoring a fellow student, if he would be so kind as to write a chapbook on how to make a paper volcano for the other students to use. He obliged. Below is the first page of the six page chapbook:

On the last day of summer camp, the mother of one of the students visited and told stories about salmon fishing. I spent my lunch hour putting together some arts and crafts projects to compliment her stories. First, I laid out sheets of paper printed with images of several types of salmon for the students to illustrate. Next, I gave each student a circular, paper image of a salmon to cut out, punch a hole in and then thread string through. The students loved their handmade salmon necklaces.

Lastly, they made canoes and illustrated them using a salmon motif. I helped with the people - drawing them (we were short on time).

I cut vertical slits in them so that the oars could slide up and down as if they were actually rowing in the canoe.

The work was truly beautiful:

One student's finished work -

A second student's work below -

And of course there was a lot of walking on the line:

Walking on the line with a lit candle:

A lot of food work:

The classics - pickle work and jam spreading

And too, pizza making, mixing together the ingredients for bread pudding and making homemade granola. These were made on different days to be used as afternoon snack for the elders (3rd year students, and a few second year ones also) and rising nappers.

My new lead assistant captivated the children with a demonstration on how to cut a pineapple. She also informed the students that determining a pineapple's ripeness was done by pulling on its leaves. Here a child does just that.

There was sooo much more good work done in those few days. The new school year starts Tuesday, August 22. The day begins in the classroom at 7:30 am and ends at 3:30. Coffee is always brewing in the staff kitchen!

Am I happy here at Juneau Montessori School in Douglas, Alaska? Oh yeah!