From the Montessori Room: Calendars, Decorations, and the Golden Beads!

THE MONTESSORI CHILD RINGS IN THE NEW YEAR WITH MATH, LANGUAGE, THE ARTS AND HANDS-ON LEARNING!


Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

DEVELOPING AN UNDERSTANDING OF TIME
The New Year is always exciting and full of wonder...just what young children enjoy most. However, time and its passing, is an abstract concept that young children often don't understand until they've had a little more of life's experiences. 

A calendar can offer a somewhat concrete experience for children to mark the passage of time and show the quantity of days leading up to a special occasion. 

In the Montessori Preschool classroom, I have found that having a "Leader" each day works really well. The "Leader" makes sure that all the little daily procedures are carried out and being the "calendar person" is an important one of those procedures.  And, when the New Year rolls around, everyone is really thinking about the calendar!
   

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company


MATHEMATICAL THINKING
Calendar activities can offer children not only experiences with the concept of time, but also math, language, and creative thinking skills development.
By observing a pattern in the calendar number cards, children can practice recognizing patterns and making predictions. These skills are important in the development of mathematical and creative thinking.
During the first months of school, simple patterns help the children succeed at recognizing and predicting patterns. In the Montessori approach, one variable changes as in the calendar pictured below: red flower-yellow flower-red flower-yellow flower, etc.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

As the year passes and the children gain skills in pattern recognition, the calendar cards can offer progressively more complex patterns for the children. 

The photo below shows a calendar pattern for January. Since our group was really fascinated with the Continents of the World, I created pattern cards that reflected the seven continents in the order they occur in the song our class sang daily: North America-South America-Europe-Asia-Africa-Australia-Antarctica-North America-South America...etc. 


 Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I like the pocket style classroom calendars. (Click here for the link: Pocket calendar at Amazon.) The pockets are the right size for pattern cards, both commercially made and your own handmade ones. They also hold the Montessori colored beads that can be added each day to show the quantity for the numeral of that day of the month! For example, on the 14th of January, the Leader puts one ten bar and four units into that pocket.


Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

ART & AESTHETICS
At the end of each month, the children can remove the pattern cards and then attach them in numerical order on a long strip of paper. We have always used adding machine tape and this little activity was a big favorite of the 4 and 5 yr olds in our group. When it was all done, we would hang it along the edge of the ceiling like a decorative "trim". As the months went by,  the progression of pattern cards of this lovely "calendar wall trim" created a beautiful timeline that further re-inforced the children's growing understanding of time.  

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

 DECIMAL SYSTEM
An exciting Montessori Math Activity that happens only once a year is the fun golden bead arrangement that represents the quantities of the numerals in the New Year. 

The Montessori golden bead materials offer concrete experiences with  the decimal system: units, tens, hundreds, and thousands. 


Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Making the year 2016 with the golden beads brings up the importance of zero as a place holder. The zero in the hundred's place shows that there aren't any hundreds in the numeral 2016, but we still need to put a number in the hundred's place. Yay, for zero!  With golden beads, the number 2016 reads: 

  • 2 thousand cubes
  • 0 hundred squares
  • 1 ten bar
  • 6 unit beads
Sorry, but I just don't have a photo to show this year's quantities laid out with the golden bead materials! But,  I found this darling video from The Pinay Homeschooler's site that is a very clear and accurate lesson in the Montessori golden beads. Here's their fabulous  Youtube Channel link: here, as well.



LANGUAGE
Many cultures of the world recognize the Chinese Zodiac and I think children especially like the idea of the animals that symbolize each year. 2016 is a year of the monkey! In my Preschool classroom, I  always set up a "glitter letter" table where children create the letter of the week using glue sticks and glitter. During January, the glitter activity is replaced by a new "station" where the children can use a Chinese style paint brush and black paint to create the character that represents the animal of the year. Wow, the calligraphy for monkey has lots of interesting lines!


Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

"READING" NUMBERS
A fun learning experience for young children is to "read" the new year in numbers. You can create what I call "number puppets" (numbers mounted on sticks) and one child, or four different children standing in a line, can hold the numerals in the correct order to represent the new year.

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

LET'S DECORATE WITH PAPER CHAINS!
The classic Montessori activity of taping or gluing pre-cut strips of colorful paper together to create a paper chain is a very popular activity for decorating for the New Year or simply to cheer up the surroundings on wintry days. 

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

The four year olds in our group have often gotten quite elaborate with the chains by adding feathers, paper flowers, sparkly beads, glitter...the list goes on!


Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

CELEBRATE WITH MUSIC & "NOISE"
Once you have your decorations up, it's fun to put on your favorite lively music and dance! Including confetti, ribbons and noise makers adds to the festive mood. 


Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

I like to collect noise makers, hats, and paper sparkly ribbons from past New Year's Eve celebrations and bring them in for the Preschoolers when classes resume after Winter Break. Then, I place them on a rug  in the middle of our circle---enough objects so that each child gets something to hold, make noise, wear, or toss in the air. The little children really enjoy choosing something to ring in the New Year.  We have our own kid-friendly New Year's celebration right in our classroom!







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