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Montessori ☮️PEACE Shelfie (Grace &Courtesy, Gratitude, Pillars of a Peaceful Character)

Montessori education has been referred to as "peace education" and even Gandhi praised Montessori's approach to world peace. "If we are to teach real peace in this world... we shall have to begin with the children."—Mahatma Gandhi. So, how is PEACE cultivated in a Montessori environment? Maria Montessori believed in freedom of movement, the power of observation, and the need to "follow the child." So, since children in a Montessori classroom are free to choose an activity and work at their pace, as well as are free to move around the classroom, the teacher's main goal is to make sure that children are engaged in their prepared environment and offered an opportunity for immense concentration. "Work cycles" are valued and protected, allowing children to experience the sense of security, satisfaction, and joy from their uninterrupted work.

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Also, through Grace and Courtesy lessons, children are given tools for peacefully resolving conflicts and thus cultivating a peaceful, productive and harmonious environment for learning. Children are proactively shown by example how to respect a classmate's work, how to carefully walk around a work rug, or how to interrupt politely.

Moreover, by teaching children gratitude as a part of peace education, we can ensure that they have all the tools they would need to meet every situation with a mindset of abundance, appreciation, and joy. Gratitude is a powerful mindset of "having enough" which brings the fullness of life, and we as parents and teachers can play a vital role in helping our children learn a lifelong appreciation for what we already have, rather than what we do notMontessori pedagogy defines gratitude as an active appreciation for the everyday elements that nourish the whole child — including their growing bodies, minds, and spirits. Despite the obvious benefits that gratitude offers developing minds, neuroscience proves just how effective daily gratitude can be: improved physical and psychological well-being, higher self-esteem, and even longer lifespans. Exercises in Grace and Courtesy reflect Montessori's method of “peace education” when children are shown ways to roleplay situations to use “please” and “thank you” or to offer help to a friend in need, as well as using manners at the right time and place. With regular gentile reinforcement, simple scenarios would prompt children to exercise grace, courtesy, and gratitude when the situation requires. So, to help children slow down and plant a seed of gratitude, we can create a PEACE shelf or a corner which would provide a child with a space for regular self-reflection.

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Our ☮️PEACE shelf is an inviting place where Julia and Adrian can go to throughout the day to check-in with themselves and observe their ever-changing emotions. With a zen garden to touch and feel, a mindful puzzle to assemble, a smelling box to sensorially stimulate the olfactory sense of smell, children know that they have a place where they can quiet their mind and focus on the present moment.

What is on our ☮️Peace Shelf:

  • Pewter Labyrinth (buy here) with a stylus for 'walking' it. Tracing the labyrinth path is an ancient meditation form often described as a path to wisdom and peace and commonly used as a tool for personal reflection, psychological and spiritual transformation, and comfort. A child would run a fingertip or a stylus along the grooved path. And because labyrinths are right-brain activity enhancers, tracing a labyrinth path is calming for both: adults and children. 
  • Tibetian Singing Bowl (made in Nepal) with leather wrapped wooden stricker (buy here) is one of my children's favorite meditational tools. Once they had learned how to make the bowl "sing" the healing sound is nothing I have heard before.
  • Four Pebbles to accompany a book A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles (buy here - read about it here);
  • Wooden hand-made Dove puzzle (buy here) which symbolizes peace and harmony.
  • Wooden Mandala puzzle (buy here) is hand-painted in ecological colors, presenting an intricate combination of beauty and aesthetics for children to work on peacefully. (Each puzzle is unique and made to order.) 
  • Tibetan Buddhist Wooden Prayer 8 mm Beads Wrist Mala Bracelet (buy here or similar here) is handmade in Nepal and is of exceptional quality.
  • Scented Calming Box (see below);
  • Thai Blessing Zen Buddha statue (buy here or similar here) is a perfect addition to our peace corner as it diversifies our peace education, opening doors to discussing an inspiring story of a prince who renounced the glory and riches in a pursuit of enlightenment. 
  • Zen🕉 Garden Meditation Sandbox (below/buy here) is a type of Mindfulness Meditation: a miniature version of the traditional Japanese meditative garden, where assorted objects provide visual interest and a counterpoint to the garden's serene patterns. (More about Zen Garden here.)

This Zen Garden is also an easy DIY, and all you need to participate in the art of Zen gardening:

  • purified sand (you can also use salt, sugar, polenta or any other tiny grain),
  • small objects: e.g. marbles, polished rocks (we also added a starfish, shark tooth etc.),
  • a small rake,
  • and a tray to contain everything.

 

Dealing with Conflict

Children are born mindful, and with wisdom we can keep this skill alive: 'Montessori is wonderful in this way'. - The Dalai Lama.

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In Montessori ☮️PEACE education, when two children are experiencing conflict, it can be difficult for each child to truly listen to what the other child is saying. To assist with this, one child can hold a symbol of ☮️PEACE, which generally, in a Montessori classroom, is a🌹 rose (we are using a handmade ❤️heart; a 🕊dove can also be used). A child holding it would state why s/he is upset and then pass the ☮️symbol to the other child who then has a chance to respond, passing back and forth until each child had expressed their feelings and felt adequately acknowledged. Finally, reconciliation would end with a handshake signaling ☮️ PEACE. So, when Julia and Adrian would have a disagreement, I would gently remind them to go to their ☮️PEACE corner and retrieve the ❤️ and speak their hearts💖. They would then sit across from each other on the rug and express their frustrations. Let me tell you, it always works and the PEACE is signaled with a hug. (You may download Peace Table Cards with instructions on how to deal with conflict for free here - I had purchased them from here.) 

 

Building A Peaceful Character

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A Peaceful character of the child develops since birth when s/he observes unconditional love, tender care, patience and absence of violence. And "violence" needs not be physical, which is very obvious; at times, phycological violence (taking on a verbal form) can be even more detrimental than physical since it is inconspicuous. Leading by example, by being kind, tolerant and loving, we can show our child that this world can be trusted, that the child can feel safe and secure in it, both outside and inside. And, as the child gets older, you can discuss the pillars, on which a strong loving and peaceful character can be built. 


DSC_0013We are using finger puppets to represent each foundational pillar. 
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The six pillars of a Peaceful Character are (download the pdf here or click the link here):

  • Respect
  • Caring
  • Fairness
  • Responsibility
  • Trustworthiness
  • Citizenship.

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We can help build a peaceful world by building our own character with values and qualities that would shape our finest thoughts, actions/reactions, and feelings.

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One of our PEACE materials is a scented calming box. You can add anything that might calm your child like a cinnamon stick or pieces of lavender, or scented dried fruits. For some reasons, this is the first material both of my children open when they retrieve our PEACE box from the shelf.

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  “Peace is what every human being is craving for, and it can be brought about by humanity through the child.”  - Maria Montessori.


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Our ☮️Peace Inspired📚Books:

  1. Silence Book (buy here) gently encourages children to stop, listen, and reflect on their experiences and the world around them.
  2. If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World's People (buy here) explores the lives of the hundred villagers. Children will discover that life in other nations is often very different from their own. If the World Were a Village is part of CitizenKid: a collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens.
  3. The Listening Walk book (buy here) is one of the children's favorite! Discover your world filled with wonderful and surprising sounds which otherwise get drowned-out in our noisy environment.
  4. A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles book (buy here) shows a child a concrete way to be mindful by connecting to a pebble representing an image of nature.
  5. Meditation Is an Open Sky book (buy here) offers a terrific introduction to simple child-friendly mindfulness/meditation exercises.
  6. What is God? book (buy here) is an eloquent introduction to the ideas behind God and various religion, which brings forward complex ideas in a way children will understand. It is written with a simple clarity and beautifully illustrated with just the right blend of seriousness and humor.
  7. Maria Montessori: A Biography For And By Children book (buy here) is written in a simple child-accessible way and is full of children's drawings depicting the life of Maria Montessori.
  8. Mindful Movements: Ten Exercises for Well-Being book (buy here) offers children gentle series of physical movements based on Yoga and Tai Chi movements, as an approach to Buddhist teachings. Mindful Movements book is a great meditational "yoga" manual: simple enough for a child to follow and substantial enough to provide a simple base for meditational movements.

DSC_0014 For more book ideas, see here "☮️PEACE Education•Have you Filled a Bucket Today? 📚Book."  

IMG_9207Read here 🎥 "Emotions (Body) •Feelings (Mind) ✂️DIY 😃😮😡😢☹️😆Puppets ♻️🚽Craft."

For more about our ☮️PEACE Education, read here "🕉Mindfulness with Children." 

For more on Gratitude and Thanksgiving, read here "🙏Thankful 🌳Tree🍂 • 🦃Thanksgiving Inspired ✂️Craft."

For more on Thanksgiving-Inspired activities, see here "🦃Thanksgiving Inspired Homeschooling 101 Unit Study." 


Our 🌸Spring Inspired Learning Space

As seasons change, from winter to spring, Adrian is becoming more and more aware of the surrounding environment, and awareness leads to questions❓ Why do seasons change? Are seasons ever late? When will it be 🌨winter again? So, I dedicated a shelf to 🌸🌳🍂☃️ seasons, where Adrian can observe nature and reflect on it hands on. 

"How does the child assimilate his environment? It begins with a knowledge of his surroundings... This is an intense and specialized sensitiveness in consequence of which the things about him awaken so much interest and so much enthusiasm that they become incorporated in his very existence. The child absorbs these impressions not with his mind, but with his life itself." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 22.)

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To represent the current season - Spring, I found this beautiful Wall Art Canvas Claude Monet reproduction: Irises in Monet's Garden 16 x 12  for $13 (see here, they have different sizes). I intend to change these reproductions every season. For the summer, I am considering the Water Lilies by Claude Monet Oil Painting reproduction (see here).

DSC_0102I laminated Seasons Cards, so that Adrian can do seasonal matching activity.

DSC_0102To the message board on the left (see similar here), Adrian can pin the current season's card.

"From the age of three till six, being able now to tackle his environment deliberately and consciously, [the child] begins a period of real constructiveness." (Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p.  152.) 

Below is our geography area, (cherry-color shelves buy here), where I organized animals by their continental habitat, according to Montessori continent color-coding.


DSC_0038On the bottom shelf, we also have the Language Tower and some sensorial materials. 

DSC_0032Tigers live only in Asia.

Tigers are an endangered animal. Larger subspecies, such as the Siberian tiger, tend to live in northern, colder areas, such as eastern Russia and northeastern China. Smaller subspecies live in southern, warmer countries, such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan,Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. India has more tigers than any other country in the world.

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Here, we have South America tray, Europe and forest animals (see post here), and Land-Air-Water Activity.

DSC_0040Giraffe is one of Adrian's favorite animals. (See a post about 💚African Savanna Animals here.) 

DSC_0035North America and Farm Animals (see a post here) and U.S. Landmarks🗽 (see a post here).

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The "prepared environment" is Maria Montessori's concept that the environment should be designed with the child in mind. Montessori’s idea of such environment was that everything the child comes in contact with would facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child. A thoughtful, inviting and well-ordered environment would give the child an opportunity to experience a combination of freedom and self-discipline, where a child is free to choose and work on activities at his/her own pace.  “The child can only develop fully by means of experience in his environment.  We call such experience ‘work’.”  (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 7, p. 88.)


Easter 🐣 Inspired Learning Space & Easter 2017 Activities Roundup

Happy 🐣 Easter! 

Easter is a time to celebrate new life, and spring in all its glory. We give thanks for having peace and for our family, for beautiful blooming flowers, for newborn animals, for sunshine and warm breezes. 

DSC_0003We love decorating our Learning Space in the spirit of a holiday!

DSC_0022The Egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century. Eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of fasting, and then eat them on Easter as a celebration.

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DSC_0022Rabbits (buy Rabbit toy here) are known to be prolific procreators, so since ancient times, rabbits have been a symbol of fertility and new life. According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants, whose children would make nests for the Hare (called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws") to lay its colored eggs. With time, the custom spread across the U.S.,  and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries would also include chocolate, while decorated baskets replaced the nests. Children would often leave out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.


DSC_0022I love creating little nature corners for children to explore, and Spring is a perfect time to do it.

What is on our nature shelf:

  • Easter Nest Wreath handcrafted in USA from California-grown oak moss, lavender, pink globes, white ammobium and Santa Cruz oregano (buy here). The wreath fills the entire learning space with divine smell.
  • Our Easter Steiff Bunny is lovingly stuffed and stitched by hand by artisans in Germany of soft, fine mohair and cotton, with an embroidered nose and safety eyes (buy here). Each bunny has an expressive face and one-of-a-kind personality.
  • Sprig Book (buy here) from Four Seasons Book Set.
  • An orchid, which Adrian mists daily.
  • An April Month poster to reinforce to concept of passage of calendar months.
  • Celebrating Easter book by National Geographic Kids (buy here) we read for the Easter holiday.


DSC_0022Easter is a time to celebrate new life and baby animals (Adrian is holding this wild rabbit toy).

Below is our Easter -themed activities round -up: 

ARTS/CRAFTS 

IMG_5757Read here a post Easter 🐣 Inspired Pipe Cleaner and Beads Craft for Children.

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See here📽 video of how Adrian made these Easter 🐣 Egg Decorations Foam Stickers.


MATH

IMG_5730Read here Easter Themed Numbers Activity (4 = 🐣🐣🐣🐣). DSC_0009Read here Easter 🐣 Inspired Tens Board post.

DSC_0027And, of course, bunny-pancakes Easter breakfast.

Happy Easter! Wishing everyone good health, happiness and peace.


St. Patrick's Day ☘️ Inspired Learning Space, What is on our shelves, Activities roundup

Happy ☘️ St. Patrick's Day!

Children have been so excitedly anticipating the holiday, and here it is. We learned that on St. Patrick's Day many people give cards or flowers to their family and friends. People also make cookies, cakes and other goodies to share with others. Some people wear green carnations or pin shamrocks to their clothing to celebrate the holiday. People dance Irish jigs and play games. Pipers and fiddlers play Irish tunes. There are green hats everywhere, people are wearing green costumes, green banners are hung on windows ... there is a lot of green - everywhere! People also decorate their houses with shamrocks, a plant with three leaves, looking like a clover. Shamrock ☘️ is a symbol of Saint Patrick as well as of Ireland. 

 We also read few legends about St. Patrick:

  • St. Patrick and the Poison: some people say that a wizard tried to kill St. Patrick by putting poison in his drink. St. Patrick quickly turned it into ice and tossed it from the cup.
  • St. Patrick & his Cloak: it is said that St. Patrick had a friend who borrowed St. Patrick's cloak. This friend was miraculously saved from the fire, without being hurt, by wearing St. Patrick's cloak. 
  • St. Patrick & a Shamrock: St. Patrick used a shamrock to explain to people about the Holy Trinity -  one God in three divine beings: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Growing at his feet was a shamrock, so he used this plant to explain three in one, one stem with three leaves. 
  • St. Patrick & the Fish: each year, on March 17th, fish rise from the sea. They pass before St. Patrick's alter in Ireland and then disappear back into the sea. 
  • St. Patrick & the Sunset: it is said that the sun did not set when St. Patrick died and that is shone in the sky for 12 days and nights.

Below I will show you a sneak peak into our St. Patrick's Day ☘️ Inspired Learning Space, as well as what is on our shelves. The links to all the activities you will find below. 

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DSC_0054Here, we have been using St. Patrick's Day symbols instead of spindles for a Traditional Montessori Math Activity "Spindle Box" (read here).  We made 🌈 rainbows from Montessori Color tablets (see below). Also, Adrian reproduced a 🍀 Lucky Four-Leafed Clover pattern on a Montessori 💯  Hundred Board (see a link below). 
DSC_0054On the left: Recycled Toilet Paper Roll☘️ Shamrock Person Craft (see below).  In the middle is our favorite at the moment My First Book 📘 of Baby 🐥 Animals (read a post here). And we used Montessori Knobless Cylinders to make rainbows (see below).
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DSC_0054Children love pipe-cleaners beading activities! (See below). We also used golden coins as counters while learning numbers. (Adrian would "trace" each number with a green dot sticker first.) See a similar activity with counters here.
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Below, I summarized activities by the curriculum areas.

 LANGUAGE

IMG_5113See here Books 📚 we are reading for St. Patrick's☘️ Day.

Also, please check here my 💖aStore🛍  "Books📚 we love ❤️ reading 📖" under sub-category St. Patrick's Day☘️ Books 📚.


PRACTICAL LIFE 

DSC_0038Read here St. Patrick's Day 💚 Inspired:☘️ Shamrock Pipe Cleaners & Beads Craft.


 SENSORIAL 

IMG_5123Read here "How NOT to Catch a Leprechaun" with St. Patrick's☘️ Glittery Play Dough & 🔤 Alphabet Beaded Pipe-cleaner 🌈 Rainbow.

Leprechauns are imaginary figures from Irish folklore, the size of a thumb, mischievous but hard-working, earning their gold by making shoes for fairies. Leprechauns like nuts and dandelion tea. They live long lives - 200 years is not even considered of age. And, you can only catch a Leprechaun if you happen to have in a possession a very hard to find 🍀 four-leafed clover. 

IMG_5153 2See here a post St. Patrick's Day☘️ Inspired - 🌈 Rainbows from Montessori Color Boxes (Color tablets) & Knobless Cylinders.

It is said that Leprechauns hide their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 


MATH

IMG_5116 2Read here St. Patrick's Day☘️ Inspired Four-Leafed Lucky Clover 🍀Montessori 💯  Hundred Board. 


 ARTs/CRAFTs

DSC_0033Read here how we made these "cute" Recycled Toilet Paper Roll☘️ Shamrock People.
 

IMG_5175See here St. Patrick's Day Inspired Laminated☘️ Shamrock Puppet Craft.

I would love to know which activity was your favorite during this holiday!

Happy ☘️ St. Patrick's Day!

And, by the way, a Leprechaun ended up visiting us for a quick bite after all. Children were super 😜 excited to see that he ate all the nuts we left out for him and drank some of his favorite ❤️️dandelion 🍵tea, though spilling most of it. He also left gold dusted foot prints 👣 all over and two golden coins. We did not catch him on camera though 😬- leprechauns are quick, shrewd and camera-shy❌📸. 

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Have you been 🍀 lucky catching a Leprechaun? 


Valentine's 💗 Inspired Learning Space, What is on our shelves, Activities roundup

Happy Valentine's💝 Day. I hope you had a lovely celebration. Today, I will show you a sneak peek into our Learning Space (our classroom), as well as a summary of our Valentine's inspired activities. 

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When we moved into our new house (in September of 2016), and I walked into this room and saw these tall double windows and a cathedral ceiling, I knew it will be our learning space. Montessori classrooms are known for their light, airy and child-tailored environment, and I hoped to resemble it in our home-setting. (Adrian is sitting at a Safari table, on this chair. View Table/Chair Height Guide in this post.)
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We read this Valentine's book, which is perfect for a three-year old. The story of Saint Valentine is very sad, and this "Rookie" series book  has just enough information with big colorful illustrations on each page-spread.

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On this shelf we have:

  • Pipe-cleaner beading activity (read a post here, also see below),
  • Odd and Even activity (read a post here );
  • Polar bear unit study (in preparation for International Polar Bear day on February 27);
  • Penguin tray (read our Polar Regions Unit Study here).

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Below is a summary of our Valentine's inspired activities with links to their respective posts. I also organized the activities by areas of Montessori curriculum.  

PRACTICAL LIFE

Hearts from BeadsThreading (red and white) beads on pipe cleaners, making hearts. (Read a post here.) 


MATH

DSC_0024Read a post here about Valentine's inspired - Hearts 💯 Hundred Board.

 

DSC_0097 Read here a post on Odd and Even, and also see two videos where Adrian explains the concept he learned.

 

DSC_0046 Read here Valentine's inspired - Number Bingo for Early Math (Numbers 1-50)


SENSORIAL

DSC_0008Read a post about our Valentine's inspired Love ❤️️ Sensory Bin here.


ART/CRAFT

DSC_0041See a video of Adrian making a Threaded Heart Craft here. 

DSC_0007Read here Valentine's 💝 inspired - Blue Truck 🚙 Foot -Print Art Project (Sending Loads of Love 💗❤️️💕)

DSC_0003-2Julia and Adrian's feet Art Projects, along with 36 Classroom Valentine's Day Gifts (see below).

DSC_0066Read here a post about Classroom Valentine's Day Gift Ideas.

 I hope you liked our Valentine's inspired unit. I would love to hear which activity was your favorite!

p.s. Below are more posts about our Learning space:

  • Read here Evolution of our Learning Space post;
  • Read here Children's Space - Kitchen nook post (this post has Table/Chair Height Guide);
  • Read here a post about Adrian's Infant Space;
  • Read here about Our Christmas inspired learning space.