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April 2017

Learning About โฒ Time with Fractions Extension

Today, we are continuing to learn about time (see the initial lesson here). Learning how to tell, read and write time is very important, especially as children are getting older. Since there are only a finite amount of hours in a day, I teach my children to spend time wisely: if we waste time on something frivolous, we might not have enough time to do what really matters to us. To make this abstract concept more concrete, today, we are using this beautiful hand-made wooden fractions set (buy here) to represent hours and minutes.

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Originally, Egyptians divided the clock into 12 hours of daytime and 12 hours of night-time (or alternatively 10 hours between sunrise and sunset, an hour for each twilight period and 12 hours of darkness), as evidenced by various ancient sundials found marked with hours. So, a clock's dial displays twelve hours, and we can illustrate each hour by 1/12 fraction. Also, each hour has 60 minutes, and if we use 1/12 fractions, each fraction represents five minutes. Furthermore, using 1/4 fractions, a quarter of an hour is 15 minutes. There are four quarters (4 x 1/4) in one hour. Lastly, two quarters make half an hour which is 30 minutes. To illustrate this concept, we are using a wooden Time Learning Puzzle (buy here) made of non-toxic finish, which teaches a child basic time telling techniques with a rotating hour and minute hands. We are also using an Activity Clock, the Winner Of The 2006 Silver Award Practical PreSchool UK (buy here). 


DSC_0015A quarter past 8, is 7 o'clock and 15 minutes, which is 1/4 of on hour. 

DSC_0015A quarter to 4, means 3 quarters (15 minutes each) have passed since 3 o'clock: or 3 o'clock and 45 minutes.
DSC_0015"Half past" - means 2 quarters (15 minutes each) have passed or 30 minutes. 
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1/12 fraction can either represent 1/12 of 60 minutes which is 5 minutes, or 1/12 of a clock's dial, which is 1 hour. 

To learn more, we read About Time book (buy here), which tells an intriguing story about inventing the art of telling time. At first, no one knew the difference between a minute, an hour, and a day. Then people started creating tools to measure time. First, they used the sun, the moon, and the water, but soon they started building clocks. This book is a good introduction to a broader subject of time, including history of time making, and exploring various timepieces through the ages from an Egyptian shadow clock in 1500 B.C. to electric clocks in A.D. 2000.

For more about fractions, read here a post "Fractions -Montessori Math Lesson" and for more about time, read here a post "Learning all about โฐTime."

How do you teach time to your children? Julia is seven, and she still needs lessons like this to reinforce her understanding of time.


๐Ÿ•‰Zentangle Mindful ๐Ÿ–‹๏ธArt for Children

Have your children tried Zentangle? It is a mindful form of art, an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. Zentangle Art increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being. With the Zentangle Method, a child can create beautiful images from repetitive patterns. And even though the process is sufficiently structured and organized with specified series of steps, it results in a creative expression that transcends its own rules. Creating Zentangle art also provides a fun way to relax and intentionally facilitate a shift in focus and perspective. So, encourage your child not to have a preconceived idea about a final result: Zentangle creation should not be restricted by one's expectations.

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Untangle kidsโ€™ creativity with this fun and inspiring Zentangle for Kids book (buy here) which illustrates step-by-step methods to help children create beautiful pictures and scenes through drawing abstract, structured patterns.  
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"Zentangle is more than just art, it is a graceful form of expression, which brings you in the moment and keeps you in the now, while allowing for self-expression. It is also good for your brain, because it makes you concentrate, which comes easy because I enjoy Zentangle so much!" - Julia.

DSC_0055All you need to create beautiful Zentangle art is 3.5" square paper and specialized pens (buy here). 
DSC_0052The book also offers special project pages on how to turn tangle artworks into decorations, cards, and gifts. 

DSC_0055Repetitive, simple steps, which are part of the Zentangle Method support relaxation, focus, and inspiration. Julia had transformed this practice into a wonderful daily ritual. Creating artistic designs is part of our human heritage. In a time of the current technocratic age, simple strokes engage your child in a comfort and familiarity wof basic creativity, which is timeless. As such, the Zentangle approach provides a counterbalance to our increasing use of technology, returning children to a fundamentally human behavior of manipulating symbols and putting marks on paper.

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Deliberately relaxing and intentionally directing your attention while creating beautiful artwork is an empowering and uplifting experience. Your child's creativity has no limits, and with Zentangle Art, such personal creativity will flourish, inspiring expression while blissfully keeping the child in the eternal moment of Now!

For more about our โ˜ฎ๏ธPEACE Education, read here "๐Ÿ•‰Mindfulness with Children."


Fractions (Montessori Math Lesson)

Understanding fractions is an incredibly important concept as it forms a basis for later higher math, chemistry, physics, and many practical life activities. When Adrian turned two, we started talking about fractions in the kitchen while cutting an orange in halves, or cutting a pizza into quarters. Such real life models aid a child in visualization of a complex mathematical concept, such as fractions. Over time, once the terminology and visual modeling is mastered, you can move into simple fraction math and fraction reduction or simplification. Fraction exploration is best started with fractioning a circle, and tactile Montessori materials will help develop a firm understanding of fractions.

Today, we are learning fractions by using a beautiful hand-made fractions material (buy here), which is laser cut for precision and can be made to order from sustainable alder wood or maple. Each set is coated with an acrylic laquer for durability and wipe-clean use. Each fraction slice on one side is engraved with the value of the fraction. A frame allows a child to build a circle and then pop it up and build an equivalent fraction for comparison.

DSC_0018We pretend that the circle we are fractioning is a ๐Ÿ•pizza pie. Place all fractions mixed up in a basket. After showing a child "one whole pizzaโ€ pick a ยฝ slice and say:

โ€œThis says one- half or ยฝ or 1 cut into two. How many pieces do we need to make one whole pizza?" โ€“ โ€œWe need two pieces to make a whole - we need two one-halves.โ€ Have the child find the other one-half.

DSC_0018Pick a 1/3 slice: โ€œThis says 1 cut into 3 pieces or one-third - 1/3." Have the child find the other two pieces that say 1/3. 
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1/3

1 whole (top number/numerator) is "cut" into 3 pieces (bottom number/denominator which tells us how many pieces was the whole divided).

DSC_0018Have the child place the whole non-cut pizza/circle on top of any fractioned circle. 
DSC_0018Now we have four animal friends - we need four slices (one for each).

 "Let's find a piece that says 1 cut into 4 or 1/4 or a quarter. How many pieces do we need? The bottom number indicates the number of equal parts into which the unit/our pizza is divided." Have the child find all four quarters or 1/4.  "Is the pizza made out of quarters the same as a non-cut whole pizza?"  Have the child again place the whole pizza/circle on top of four-quartered pizza.

DSC_0018Now, we have five friends hungry for pizza. Adrian noticed that the larger the bottom number, the smaller the pizza slice each friend is getting.
DSC_0018You can also present a 3๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ๐ŸŒ  Three Period Lesson (see details here):

(P1) This is 1/3; (P2) Show me 1/3;  (P3) What is this? 

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As an extension, ask the child to build a "whole" from different fraction combinations.

Using fraction models, while demonstrating the written form next to it, visually illustrates the meaning of numerator and denominator. For example โ€œ 1 over Xโ€  or 1/X:

                                            1 WHOLE (Pizza)/numerator

                                                        "over"/divide/cut pizza intoโ€ฆ

                                            X BOTTOM Number (denominator) tell us how many pieces the pizza is divided

Also, it is important to explain that any shape can be fractioned, not just a circle. 

DSC_0018Besides pizza, fractioning a "chocolate bar" which can be a rectangle or a square.
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This Montessori wooden Shape Fraction Sorter teaches a child shape, color and size recognition as well as early geometry by developing an understanding of geometric fractions.

Similar Montessori Wooden Shape Board/ Fraction Sorter (is available here), which fractions a circle, a triangle and a square. I also like this Geometric Puzzle, which introduces a child to shapes and fractions by having a written representation of fractions -whole, half and quarter - engraved onto the puzzle tray.

DSC_0057Fractions in a pentagon shape were tricky, as pieces had to be rotated exactly to fit in.

Fraction models (whether cards or Montessori materials) can be used as a visual and tactile aid as the child moves into comparing and ordering fractions, adding and subtracting, as well as multiplying and dividing fractions. Through concrete representations, preferably while utilizing familiar objects such as animals figurines, a child will perceive learning as desirable and enjoyable. This was a fun learning through play experience, as Adrian really enjoyed cutting a pizza and feeding his animal friends!

For more on fractions, read a post "Learning Fractions with LEGO" here.


Learning Right vs Left Concepts of Laterality and Prepositions

How do we learn left vs right? The process has been linked to the concept of laterality, which is an internal self-awareness of the left and right sides of the body. Laterality is also linked to an awareness of a body midline, which is an invisible line that divides our body in half. We first teach children the concept of left and right using their own body such as right and left hand/foot before moving onto objects such as shoes or mittens. 

DSC_0062I try to use as many different scenarios illustrating right vs left, as well as teaching prepositions such as above, under, on and so forth.  A box with an object that can be placed inside is a perfect illustration as you can also teach in and out

DSC_0066Around three years old, children normally develop hand dominance. Julia is "lefty" and Adrian is "righty". The trick that have worked with Adrian is "You write with your right hand."  -  "Raise the hand you write with -  this is your right hand. The other hand is left." Since Adrian turned three, we have been doing a lot of right vs. left activities, and now at three-an-a-half, he is very confident of concept right vs left, as well as prepositions. 
DSC_0062Adrian really liked a little doll and an arm-chair since he can role-play and the doll is relatable. We are also using this activity with a basket and a styrofoam ball to learn prepositions, words that describe the relationships between objects such as under, behind, above, on, etc. Learning words that have different functions is a key to understanding language. You can use picture cards that show the location of a ball in relation to a basket: in, on, above, behind, in front, beside, under

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We also use a lot of prompts, such as Raise you right hand, Tap you head with your left hand, Touch your right cheek with your left hand and so forth.

How do you teach your children prepositions and the concept right vs. left?  


Earth Day ๐ŸŒ Activities Roundup

โ€œThe land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.โ€  Dr. Montessori.

April 22nd is ๐ŸŒEarth Day! Senator Nekson declared this day a National Holiday so that we can educate our children on the importance of conservation and caring for our environment. There is still so much to be done in terms of reducing pollution, making sure we all live in harmony with every living creature, and conserving our valuable resources.

DSC_0037So, we talked about recycling, upcycling, reusing, reducing, and protecting.

We ๐Ÿ“– read Earth Day inspired books:

DSC_0024See here a post about an inspiring I Cherish Planet Earth Book.

I Cherish Planet Earth  book (buy here) is about appreciating and preserving nature and our planet. It celebrates Earthโ€™s life and beauty in all its glory. The book contains many affirmations, and it is an inspiration to learn about and care for all life, from the tiniest flower to the greatest forest. The book also comes with matching memory game.

DSC_0005See here a post about Earth Day ๐ŸŒ Books ๐Ÿ“š  We are ๐Ÿ“– Reading. 

Since children have little experience, they tend to view the world in the present tense. However, when children study nature hands-on, for example by caring for plants, learning answers to questions like "How long does it take for the flower to bloom?" allows them to expand their perspective to include the past, present, and future. Children can then project the Earth into the future and envision possible "futures" based on where we are now. Finally, as children gain love and an understanding of nature, they can project themselves into the future and consider how their actions would help build the future they dream of most. 

IMG_5920From a flower spike to full blooming orchids!

Read here how Adrian takes care of his orchids in Caring for Orchids (Earth ๐ŸŒ Day Inspired Montessori Practical Life Activity) post. 

DSC_0026-2 Read here more about "Pink Tower - Brown Stairs Extensions."

DSC_0026-2 Earth Day is everyday!

DSC_0183 We also went around our neighborhood and collected litter. 

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Despite global warming, increasing human population and depletion of natural resources, there is so much that have been done already: from conservation legislations to global change of consciousness regarding caring for our planet, to a shift towards renewable sources of energy. "One drop raises the sea" - I tell my children, so one person, one child can make a difference, even if at first it seems insignificant. Any change will have a cumulative effect if many children learn early on to love and cherish and appreciate our home, our Mother Earth, and respect all living things, from the tiniest flower to a massive humpback whale since we are all interconnected - a one big family!

Happy ๐ŸŒEarth Day!