Julia 5 years Feed

Microscope Study

Who would not be interested in seeing the unseen? In seeing the whole new world unfold in something perceived obvious and conspicuous?   

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From ancient times, humans wanted to see things far smaller than could be perceived with the naked eye. In the XVI-th century, such curiosity had led to the construction of a magnifier composed of a single convex lens, which in turn led to the development of the duo scope microscope, as we know it today.

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Julia was first introduced to a microscope when she was 4 1/2 years old.  We have been using the Duo Scope Microscope, which features three objective lenses: 40x, 100x & 400x magnifications (the eyepiece/ocular lens is 100X). Until the child is comfortable with the concept of focus and magnification, I think it is a good first microscope. It has two light sources:

  • to observe a solid item like a shell, use the light source above the stage;
  • to observe a transparent item like a prepared slide, use the light source below the stage. 

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To introduce the correct terminology, we made a  Microscope Nomenclature Book. Julia had fun making the booklet, especially weaving a colorful red cord. Why use Montessori Nomenclature?  "Children gain a much clearer and deeper understanding of our world when they have vocabulary to put with movements and images. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but add a label and now you're talking! From a very young age children ask what things are called."

We also purchased a Creepy Crawlies 5 pc  glass slide set (above) and Extraordinary Ordinary 5 pc glass  slide set (below).

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At 4 1/2 years old, Julia at first needed help focusing on a object (she would have to move the "stage" to the lowest point, look through the ocular lens and then slowly move the "stage" up until the object is in focus). Patience is crucial in this process as it is very easy to miss the "focus" point while staring at a blur ... so she had to get used to the process and know what to expect. But the reward of seeing the mysterious world of magnification was so worth the effort!

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The book What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew? is a great introduction to the world of the microscope for a younger child (around 2 years & up). Adrian really loved this book as it explains the concept of relativity in simple terms: things are perceived as big or small only when we have a reference point: the question is What are we comparing it to?  For example, a pygmy shrew (the smallest American mammal weighing about 3 gr and about 8 sm long of which the tail takes up 3 sm) can be perceived as small if compared to an elephant, but big if compared to a ladybug, who in turn is huge compared to protozoa, one-celled animals, and so forth.  

Elephant -do Pigmy yes Ladybug

 And what about journaling the observations? Below, Julia at 5 1/2 years old, is recording her observations of a raspberry, an ant-prepared slide, and a sliced blueberry.

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blueberry

 


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While specimens spark great interest in older children, younger ones might gravitate more towards objects that are familiar and/or found in nature. Some of the items we have been observing are: sea shells, plant parts, flower petals and leaves (fresh or dry), pine cones, nut shells, shark teeth, coins.  Other interesting items might be: tree bark, fruit peel, dirt speck, fabrics, salt, sand  etc... Also, ask your child - what would s/he want to observe up close ... may be own hair, fingerprint, nail? 

DSC_0023-001We have collected few prepared slide-sets, but I would only introduce those slides with which children are already familiar. For example, we have a Set of 25 optic glass prepared slides (including plants, insects, and animal tissues), which comes in a wooden storage case. This set is a little advanced as it is intended for use in biological education, but some slides such as a root of a bean, an onion skin or human blood smear might be of interest even for the little ones. 
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At 6 1/2 years old, Julia is able to independently focus on any object, including the 3-D objects.

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closing one eye facilitated his ability to focus & see the inside the microscope

Adrian, at 2 1/2 years old had to get used to looking through the microscope's ocular lens. He could not see anything at first, but there was so much excitement when he was finally able to see the object in focus magnified!
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With Adrian, we are only using the 40X and 100X. He is getting accustomed to moving the stage to the lowest point, looking through the ocular lens, and then patiently and slowly moving the stage up until the item is in focus. Prepared slides or two-dimensional images are easier for a young child to focus on. 

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The World of the Microscope book is very detailed, has a lot of technical explanation and offers many experiments: from looking at an onion skin, to one's own hair, to making a smear from inside of a cheek, to looking at growing crystals found in food. The book is very captivating and will engage your child for a long while. You can also choose a simpler activity at first, and then gradually move to the more complex ones.  

Fun Facts about the history of the Microscope:

  1. The earliest microscopes were known as โ€œflea glassesโ€ because they were used to study small insects.
  2. The most famous early pioneers in the history of the microscope are Digges of England and Hans and Zcharias Janssen of Holland.
  3. But it was Anton van Leeuwenhoek who became the first man to make and use a real microscope. He grounded and polished a small glass ball into a lens with a magnification of 270X, and used this lens to make the world's first practical microscope - a powerful lenses that could see teeming bacteria in a drop of water. Because it had only one lens, Leeuwenhoek's microscope is now referred to as a single-lens microscope. Its convex glass lens was attached to a metal holder and was focused using screws. The magnification ratio of a single-lens microscope like the one invented by Leeuwenhoek is calculated in the same way as calculations are made for a simple magnifying glass. 250mm--accepted to be the distance of most distinct vision--is divided by the length of the lens.
  4. The first compound microscope  (ones we use today), which incorporates more than one lens so that the image magnified by one lens can be further magnified by another, was created by a father-son duo, Zacharias and Han Jansen  in the 1590s.
  5. Robert Hooke discovered cells by studying the honeycomb structure of a cork under a microscope.
  6. Marcello Marpighi, known as the father of microscopic anatomy, found taste buds and red blood cells.
  7. Robert Koch used a compound microscope to discover tubercle and cholera bacilli.
  8. German engineer Carl Zeiss revolutionized the quality of lenses in the 19th century.
  9. The smallest object observed through a light microscope was 500 nanometers long.
  10. In 2008 the TEAM 0.5 debuted. It is the worldโ€™s most powerful transmission electron microscope and is capable of producing images half a ten-billionth of a meter.
  11. Researchers used microscopes in 2013 to demonstrate how life could have started.

ENJOY THE WORLD of the UNSEEN!


LEGO - the Best Investment in a Toy

Although it is not a Montessori toy per se, in my opinion, it is a toy that every child should have. I was so obsessed with "organic" toys and toys made from wood - I was so set in my ways against anything plastic, that I have deprived my daughter during her first four years of life of pleasure of being creative and using her imagination with LEGO! (Yes, LEGO! She still enjoyed the wooden blocks, puzzles and so forth.. but there is nothing like LEGO!)

So, with my husband's persistence, I had given in, and for Julia's 4th Birthday, she received LEGO DUPLO Cinderella's Castle. Then for Christmas, she received DUPLO Ariel's Underseas Castle.  However, we realized that DUPLO series (2-5 years) was not challenging enough for her, so we decided to try FRIENDS Series (6-12 y). We started with a Rehearsal Stage, just to see how she would do. Well, alongside with BRIO toys, it was the best investment in a "toy"! I could not believe that my "always going/never sitting still child" would sit for 2-3 hours straight: assembling, tinkering, following instructions....  I applaud any "toy" that can develop stamina, instill persistence and meticulous attention to details, foster independent work and advance the ability to follow detailed and tedious assembly instructions, not to mention promote hours of concentration ... and then offer the joy of seeing the creation come to life! Just like when Julia had just finished building FRIENDS Dolphin Cruiser from 600+ pieces at 4 1/2 years old! And that was the beginning ... since then, she would not stop with LEGO ... Lol.

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p.s. Just to clarify, I am referring to the original LEGO (made in Denmark); the knock-offs did not work for us - don't try to save your money as you will be saving your aggravation :)

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Julia at 4 1/2 years independently assembled LEGO Friends Olivia's House

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Olivia 1 Olivia 2 

Adrian, on the other hand, was exposed to LEGO since birth. Since being few months old, we would position his floor-mat nearby, offering him a good observation point of Julia's meticulous work. He knew since then, that if Julia could be so engulfed in something for so long, it had to be good! He could not wait to try it out by himself. We started with really simple ones (which were a gift). In the beginning, he would just build tall towers ...

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With Julia's help,  the "dogs" emerged.

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 To LEGO DUPLO, Adrian was introduced at 2 years old. He started with Julia's DUPLO series. 

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Food for everyone - even for the horse:)

Adrian does not follow instructions, and every time, a new creation emerges ... Here, he is using DUPLO Cinderella's Castle and Cinderella's Carriage (mixing the two sets together, as always :)

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 Seeing Adrian's growing interest in LEGO and knowing how much he loves cars (fire-trucks especially), we started to expand the DUPLO collection.

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Town Fire Station is his favorite!

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My First Police Set

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My First Creative Cars Building Set

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Just like with BRIO, Adrian uses few sets simultaneously.
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He still builds tall towers  ...  

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Adrian also inherited from Julia My First Circus and My First Zoo, which he also combines when plays.

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Adrian sorts the sets after he is done playing (if he used more than one at a time), and he puts the pieces back in their respective boxes. The entire process: from sorting and organizing - to creating and imagining, instills in him creativity, attentiveness, and sense of order. But most importantly, he gets to express himself -  every time in a new and creative way!  


Knowing Adrian's admiration for fire-trucks, we purchased a LEGO City Fire Utility Truck Set for ages 5-12 (300+ pieces), which Julia (at 6 and a half) gladly assembled for him.

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DSC_0996The ladder rotates, allowing versatility of play.

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DSC_0996Here, kids are also using LEGO CITY Fire Starter Set.

LegoWith the CITI series, Adrian likes to tinker, but at 2 and a half, he cannot assemble it yet independently according to the instructions; but he tries, and that is what matters. Also, he is very respectful of it, knowing that he has to work with trays at a designated area, and that no piece shall ever leave the table. So, since we kept it organized, and enforced the rules, LEGO (even small pieces like that) has been a pure joy :) 

p.s. Read here about Julia playing with LEGO at 7 years old.  


Easter ๐Ÿฃ 2015 Themed Activities

Today is Easter and Julia (5 1/2 years old) and Adrian (17 months) are eager to do some Easter Themed Activities.

DSC_0382-001MATH - counting (adding) using marbles.

DSC_0392-002MATH - counting a quantity and selecting the correct numeral; sand-tracing.

DSC_0389-001LANGUAGE  - reading and matching words to pictures.

DSC_0391-001LANGUAGE  - reading and writing (tracing over).

DSC_0394-002LANGUAGE - writing; spelling out and finding the 1st letter.


Adrian was observing his sister, and he could not wait to try it himself.

DSC_0410-001 "This is how it works! It is fun!"

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DSC_0409-002Picture -to -picture matching.

DSC_0409-002Adrian at 17 months was able to match all the pictures correctly.


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SENSORIAL & LANGUAGE - tracing letters using marbles.

HAPPY EASTER!!! 

Wishing you a bountiful, happy, and healthy year!

Please, also see  How we celebrated Easter in 2016