Why We Do Monthly Themes 0
In many Montessori classrooms around Australia and internationally a part of the day will be dedicated to ‘circle time’ or group time. Every environment’s group time or circle time will be conducted a different time of the day. Some schools don't do circle time at all.
During circle time different topics will be discussed and presented to the children. Topics will vary from seasons to our families to the farm to North America to dinosaurs and many more. There is an endless list of possible themes that can be done but the choosing of topics will depend on the class age, maturity and ability to retain information.
The length of the themes that the topics are discussed depends upon the themes itself, for example the North American theme contains lots more than the families theme. It also depends on the children in your environment and their particular interests at the time.
At I AM Montessori we create monthly themes for our educators to use in circle time or group time. We have learnt about food, Dinosaurs, Seasons, Occupations and even 'The Gift of Giving'.
In our monthly themes we discuss facts about the theme during circle time! We always include printouts, activities for the Montessori shelves, group activities, songs and stories relating to theme chosen!
Monthly themes in our classrooms help to develop the interest and knowledge of the child. By having monthly themes in our classrooms we demonstrate to children all about the world around us and the world we live in! Most children don’t realise that there is a bid world around us, they are egocentric, meaning that they only see the her and now and they only ‘their world’!
By implementing monthly themes in our classrooms we try to broaden their horizons with different topics!
Monthly themes can be chosen according to a number of different aspects. For example, the child’s interests at the time, what’s happening around the world at a particular time (e.g. earthquake, dinosaur exhibition, season of summer), or what’s happening in a child’s life (e.g. starting primary school or a new baby in the house).
Themes can be as big as North America or a smaller topic like clouds!
By doing monthly themes we are hoping to instil a love for that subject and for the child to extract and retain as much information as they can about all the themes!
If the theme is delivered correctly any child should take away some learning from it!
By doing important global topics such as the continents we hope to spark awareness of the world we live in! By delivering a theme of the solar system we hope to develop an understanding of planets, stars, our planets and the larger aspect of the world we live in. By doing a theme about trees we hope to enhance a child’s love of nature and to develop and enhance a respect and love for nature!
Monthly topics help to keep both the educators and the children stay focused during circle time and maintain educators and children excitement about our world!
How to know when to add new activities to the shelf! 1
Do you know how to rotate toys (activities/exercises) in your environment?
Do you know when to change the materials on your shelves?
If not, read on and see our advice helps!
It is always a struggle when you are trying to rotate materials, equipment and toys on your shelves at home or in your classroom. It is hard to know when to change the toys but there are a few tell tale signs that it is time to do so now.
If your child/children are not interested in the activities out on the shelves you will notice they might be using them incorrectly or may be they haven’t even touched them in a while then you may need to change or rotate the materials.
By minimising activities on your shelves it will be easy to notice if one toy is being played with incorrectly or if one activity is not played with at all and therefore you will recognise when it might be necessary to change the shelves around.
People usually have lots of toys and activities nowadays so it is easy to have toys on display and toys hidden for rotation.
Activities on the shelves should be prepared for your child according to their developmental needs at that time but as they grow and develop their needs change and this requires a amendment to your environment too!
This may be the perfect time to transform your shelves!
The adjustment to your shelves will sometimes be minor but may also require major changes too!
Minor changes can be changing a part of an activity. For example if you have a pouring or spooning activity on your shelf and you noticed that the child can pour it from one jug to another without spilling any or you noticed that they don’t use the pouring exercise anymore then altering the substance that you pour with might excite them back to using it again! If the child had mastered the skill of pour then try to use a smaller material to pour e.g. change the pouring pasta exercise to a pouring red lentils exercise!
Another minor adjustment could be changing the colour of the material that is used! Dying dry materials such as rice for spooning with food dye can add excitement to a forgotten spooning exercise.
Sometimes, however changes may need to be more major. Sometimes it involves removing the puzzle that they throw around the room and replacing it with another puzzle. Sometimes it requires us to look at what is actually going on; are they misusing the activity because it’s too hard or too easy? If it’s too hard then replace it with a slightly easier puzzle. If it is too easy then move on to the next puzzle.
Changes in your environment can make the world of difference as to how play is constructed and carried out in your environment. The keys to creative and constructive play is to have a small amount of activities readily available for you child on child-sized shelves and try to observe how and how long for the activities are being used.
Keep the other toys and materials you have hidden away and rotate the shelves as you see fit!
Try to remember if you add an activity you should take off another one! Having too many crammed onto a shelf can chaos in your environment!
Just because it's wooden doesn't mean its montessori. 0
IKEA has been there for a while. Kmart has recently caught onto the movement. Wooden toys are becoming popular again as parents crave the beauty of these materials and as they learn how natural materials can contribute to their child's experience with play.
But for those wanting to follow the Montessori philosophy – just because it’s wooden, doesn’t mean its Montessori.
The purpose behind many ‘toys’(we call them materials/ work) in a Montessori classroom is defined and easy for the child to grasp.
There needs to be an 'isolated concept'. A ‘point’ to it, something the child is trying to understand and can easily understand as it is one concept at a time.
There needs to be a ‘control of error’. The purpose of a child working with any of the materials is so that they can self-correct without an adult having to jump in to tell them they're wrong.
As you discover Montessori and move further into your new journey, it becomes easier to pick up these key points behind preparing a piece of work/ preparing an activity. Once you start to understand the why, it makes everything a lot easier to understand.
Sources such as Pinterest and Google images can give you ideas, but not all that is tagged 'montessori' is in fact montessori. If you look at the above, and think 'what is the isolated concept? where is the control of error? what is the purpose? you are on the right track to providing a stronger montessori experience at home for your child. This can seem a bit overwhelming, I get it, two years ago I was there myself! Even if, right now, the only question you can ask yourself is ‘What is the purpose of this toy/ activity? This question alone will help your purchasing of toys, may stop you from buying something just because its wooden and help stop the clutter you may be building at home.
Children don’t need a lot of things, they just need the right things. They need purposeful work, they want what they do to have purpose. We, as the adult, can educate ourselves on how to simplify our toy rooms and what toys are developmentally appropriate for our children and prepare an environment on where they can focus, grow, learn and become independent.
Moving from plastic to natural materials is a start, but it is soo much more important to have toys with a purpose, toys that allow the children to explore, discover and use their imagination (we don’t mean fantasy).
A great place to start is eliminating anything with batteries. We will have a whole series on ‘preparing your home environment’ and where to start, what to do, and what not to do!
If you don’t know what to do after this, call us anytime on 07 3848 2391 and we can help as much as we can over the phone.