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25 Things You Can Cook with Kids Under 6! 0

Cookingwithkids

The idea of cooking with kids can be stressful! The mess, the time, the possible disasters!

But once you give it a go... it is soo much fun! Since my son was fifteen months old we have had him involved in the kitchen and in cooking food, when he shows interest.

He started with washing leaves, then tearing them up for tacos, and we are now at the stage of showing him how to bake.

Here are twenty five recipes you can cook with kids under 5! 

1/.   Tacos - tomatoes need dicing, cheese needs grating, lettuce shredded

2/.   Quiche - cracking eggs, dicing ham, grating cheese

3/.   Making Pasta - cracking eggs, sifting flour, rolling dough, putting through the machine!

4/.   Fruit Skewer Snacks - Washing fruit, Dicing fruit, threading onto sticks

5/.   Cookies - Measuring ingredients, mixing, dividing and squashing them :D

6/.   Pizza - Measuring ingredients, rolling dough, cutting ingredients, grating cheese

7/.   Chicken Nuggets - Cracking eggs, rolling breast in crumbs

8/.   Lasagna - Cutting ingredients, grating cheese, measuring, layering 

9/.    Toasties - Cutting, spreading butter

10/.   Salad - Cutting, dicing, shredding, washing

11/.   Making Bread - sifting, measuring, mixing, rolling dough, baking

12/.   Meatballs - measuring, dicing, grating, cracking eggs, mixing, diving, rolling

13/.   Smoothies - dicing, peeling, measuring, blending

14/.   Bacon and Scrambled Eggs with hash browns - cracking eggs, mixing, measuring, grating potatoes

15/.   Fried Rice - dicing, measuring, cracking eggs

16/.   Hummus with veggie sticks - slicing, cutting, washing, blending

17/.   Pie - Measuring, mixing, rolling, dicing, baking

18/.   Making Butter - measuring, mixing, pouring, spreading

19/.   Pretzels - Measuring, mixing, rolling, cutting, TWISTING :D

20/.   Porridge - Pouring, mixing, using the microwave

21/.   Bangers and Mash - Sausages with mashed potatoes. Get the little ones scrubbing them, and those capable, peeling and cutting them up!

22/.    Ice Blocks - dicing, slicing, peeling, blending and freezing!

23/.   Crackers with cheese and tomato - Slicing, spreading

24/.   Ice Cream - pouring, mixing, more FREEZING!!

25/.   Soup - cutting, dicing, mixing, pouring, boiling

 

 

Phonics versus “Look Say” or “Whole Word” method in teaching reading and writing.  2

The English language is based upon 26 individual letter sounds or “phonemes”. Their are combinations of the letters that when combined create new sounds of course. Reading and writing English was traditionally taught using a phonetic approach. This means, children would be taught the sound to say each time they looked at a symbol (eg h or t). The beauty of this phonetic system of learning to read and write is that power is given to the child to then use this knowledge of individual phonics to decode any word they encounter. Essentially, the words and vocabulary you can acquire when you have a strong knowledge of phonics is potentially endless. Children are able to decode unfamiliar words by remembering the phoneme that matches each letter in the word. The Montessori method teaches reading and writing using this phonetic system. 

The other method of teaching children to read and write that has become popular in the USA is the “Look Say” method. This was introduced and championed by John Dewey, (the same man who brought us the Dewey Decimal System that we use to catalogue books in our libraries).

The “Look Say” method is an approach that teaches children to read and recognise whole words. For example, a child may be shown the word “cat” on a flash card and is told,  “This says cat”. The child, over time, then learns that when they see the symbol (cat), they are to say the word “cat”. Essentially, the Look Say method treats the English language as if it were Chinese. The Chinese written language is a Logographic language, meaning there are thousands of detailed symbols that represent individual words. The failure is however, that the English language is supposed to be a phonetic script. When we fail to teach children phonics properly, and if we teach them using the whole word approach, they are required to memorise thousands and thousands of words by rote and are incapable of decoding new words they come across independently. Instead of their brain having to remember only approximately 26 letters and their matching phonemes, children who are taught the Look Say method have to use their memory space to remember each and every word as a symbol. 

This can also have the effect of drastically reducing a child’s vocabulary because they have no way of decoding new words they have not been explicitly taught to recognise. 

Many educators in America blame the widespread use of the Look Say method in American schools as the reason behind the increasingly declining literacy and numeracy rates in the USA. 

Written language has always been a tool for human kind to express their thoughts and record their beliefs and history. The phonetic approach to reading and writing enables children to have the power to use language to express their own ideas, expand their vocabulary and read new words independently. 

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!

What are the Key Montessori Materials? 0

The Montessori curriculum is a scientific based curriculum. Each resource and material has been made during Maria Montessori’s time studying the children in her Casas. In the 3 – 6 prepared environment the classroom and the materials are divided in five sections. The five sections are practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics and culture. The practical life area contains activities on trays and baskets that teach the child life skills, for example sweeping, pouring, chopping and how to hold a book. The sensorial section works on refining the senses. The senses are visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, baric, thermic and stereognostic. The language section begins with teaching stencilling and pincer grips, next teaches all the letters in a phonetic and tactile way before moving on to the pink, blue and green language series and finishing with grammar. The mathematics section begins with teaching works all the way up to multiplication, division and even long division. The culture section covers everything from botany, zoology, biology, geography, astronomy and history.

In all of the above sections there are very famous and memorable materials used to teach the concepts.

One of the most famous material is the pink tower. If you google Montessori, pick any link or website and the words ‘pink tower’ will appear very quickly. The pink tower is in the visual discrimination area of the Sensorial section. It works on the concept of height discrimination. There are ten cubes each differentiating in size of 1cm cubed. The biggest cube is 10cm cubed and the smallest cube is 1cm cubed. The children make a tower, using the biggest block on the bottom and working up to the smallest cube on the top of the tower. This is always a favourite in the classroom and gets used every single day! http://www.iammontessori.com.au/search?q=pink+tower

Another key Montessori Material is the Movable Alphabet. This is used in almost all of the exercises in the Language section. It is a box with 26 sections in it and 4 or 5 of each letter in the boxes. It is usually wooden but can sometimes contain plastic letters. Letters are used to spell out words. We use it all the time and it means that every child can be ‘writing’ words even if they struggle with pincer grip and pencil work.  http://www.iammontessori.com.au/search?q=movable+alphabet

The culture section contains puzzles of the world, the continents, and the countries. These begin with the sandpaper globe and coloured globe. We then do the world puzzle, move onto the different continents and then move onto the countries. For example, we do the world puzzle, move onto the Puzzle of Asia and then move onto Map of China. When teaching geography, we begin with the biggest and move onto the smallest. We teach the solar system, then the earth, then the continents, then the countries and then the towns in that country etc. http://www.iammontessori.com.au/collections/cultural/products/puzzle-map-of-ocean

The mathematics section is famous for the golden bead materials. The beads are used throughout the section. They start with one bead which represents a unit, a ten bead bar which is ten beads, a hundred square which is one hundred and a thousand cube with is one thousand. They children are introduced to the beads and explained what they mean and the different hierarchy and placement of numbers before they are shown the written symbol for each bead. Beads can be used for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and for learning numbers, for example 64 has six ten bead bars and 4 units. http://www.iammontessori.com.au/products/45-golden-beads-bars-of-10-w-box

In the infant and toddler prepared environment the most popular materials are the imbucare boxes. These are posting boxes with different 3D shapes to be placed in the boxes. http://www.iammontessori.com.au/products/imbucare-box-w-large-cylinder

All Montessori products are available on www.iammontessori.com.au in the ‘shop’ section.

 

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.

Mainstream Schooling and how it can benefit from montessori 0

Mainstream schooling has changed considerably over the past decade. Teachers are working harder than ever to try to help their students understand more and more content. The national curriculum that has been rolled out around Australia is packed with content and moves very quickly. Primary school teachers are left to highlight key concepts and skills and then find time to teach these thoroughly to their students. To briefly describe the situation, early childhood teachers are now given less time to focus on the basics and, at the same time, are expected to help their children achieve increasingly higher literacy and numeracy results. To make it more stressful for teachers, poor student results are often shown in the media to be a result of “poor teaching and poor teachers” (instead of questioning the curriculum and re-examining the process of delivering this curriculum).  

I believe children in mainstream schools would benefit incredibly  by having access to the full Montessori philosophy. Where this is not possible, I believe children would still benefit from being able to use the carefully designed Montessori materials. 

Teachers are required to follow the National Curriculum. In Queensland, many schools use the “Curriculum to Classroom” material. These documents are lesson and unit plans based on the National Curriculum that outline what teachers should be teaching each day. The documents are complete to the point of detailing which questions teachers should ask their class and videos they should show the children. Often teachers feel they have to use more worksheets in the classroom so that they have written “evidence” to support the “data” that many teachers are asked to produce at the end of each unit plan. Perhaps early childhood teachers need to become more creative in how they record evidence. Videos of children using concrete materials perhaps is a place to start? 

Many early childhood teachers still try to implement as many concrete learning experiences as they can for their students. Concrete materials are those that children can hold, manipulate and touch; real objects to help develop real concepts. Many teachers re-make these at home, in their own time each year or each term dependent on the needs of the children in their classes. I would have loved to have known about the Montessori maths and language materials earlier in my teaching career, as these would have benefited my students so much!  The control of error in each material promotes self-correcting and problem solving. The carefully built and designed materials are mathematically accurate and reinforce the base ten system. Children enjoy the sensorial, tactile experience of touching sandpaper, sand, chalk, wood and other interesting materials. 

Note from Rebecca: There is no reason why Montessori streams cannot be implemented into State Schools if the Principal and School Community want it. This direction has been given by the Head of Government in Queensland. If you would love to see your local school implement Montessori, contact your Principal or even us at I AM Montessori if you would like some help!

Why Montessori Maths just makes sense! 0

I would like to share with you a story that I remember from when I was teaching a year one class in a Brisbane primary school. I walked in to relieve a teacher who had some planning time.  

The lesson I was to complete teaching was a lesson on weight. Students were apparently learning the concepts of “heavy” and “light”. 

I walked over to a little boy who had been unengaged and asked him if I could help him. He looked at me with a very serious expression and said, “No you can’t. He asked me to circle the heaviest one but they are both the same”. As he said this he pointed to two drawings on a page. One was a drawing of an elephant and the other a drawing of a mouse. The boy continued, “They are the same on the page, it’s the same page and its the same pencil. That is not heavier”. 

As soon as this six year old had spoken I realised a few things; firstly, how clever he was, secondly, how correct he was and thirdly, what a stupid and abstract activity this was to give children who were meant to be learning a sensorial concept like weight!

Mathematics should begin as a concrete and physical experience. It is only when we have experienced with out senses concepts like heavy, light, full, empty, long, large, small, big etc, that we are able to remember the essence of these experiences and then solve abstract problems. 

Asking a six year old to decide if an elephant is heavier than a mouse based upon a drawing on a piece of paper is assuming a lot of information about this child. To get this seemingly simple question right, the child would have to; have already hefted heavy and light objects and remember the “feeling” and meaning of each of those words, know what an elephant is, know the true size of an elephant, know what a mouse is and how large it would be in real life and know how to “circle” a picture. Without knowing it, the teacher had bombarded the children with a poor abstract example, that actually presented many other challenges that the adult had not even thought of. 

The Montessori Mathematics curriculum is unique because it still acknowledges the fact that true understanding comes from initial concrete experiences. Children get to feel the number nine when they hold nine spindles in their hands. They get to feel how much longer and bigger the number ten feels as they carry the longest red rod across the room. Children get to experience tall when they build the pink tower. They get to feel and see the number 1000 when they carry a cube with one thousand beads or lay 1000 beads out in a long snake on the floor. The Montessori Maths curriculum is carefully designed to help children develop a true understanding of number and quantity, not just the ability to count by rote or recognise number symbols. 

Maria Montessori recognised that children learn through their senses. It is only when we give children the ability to have these sensorial number experiences that they will really internalise the mathematics they are learning. The greater their foundational understanding of mathematics is, the greater they will be able to abstract from this later and understand harder mathematical concepts. 

Our Drop Off Classes 0

We are offering two classes a week where parents can avail of dropping their kids off to our centre in Yeronga for two hours. Drop Off classes run from 11.30am to 1.00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Classes for term two start on the third week of April beginning Monday the 20th and run consistently for ten weeks.

You can enrol for both Drop Off classes or just one.

Children need to be 3 years or older and able to independently use the toilet. Classes are $33 per session.

We, at I AM Montessori, believe that a little bit of Montessori is better than none. Therefore, even if your children are not in Montessori Day Care, one Drop Off class with us helps!

However, you can never have too much Montessori either so if they already in a Montessori Environment drop off classes further enhance Montessori and your child’s learning.

Drop Off classes are a great opportunity for children to be immersed in the Montessori Prepared Environment whatever they’re situation is presently.

Drop Off classes are completely child lead for the whole two hour work cycle. The session is broken up to roughly 100 minutes of Montessori work activities with the other twenty for food (if they wish) and group time at the end of the session.

During the 100 minutes of Montessori activities, the five areas of the curriculum, Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Culture and Mathematics are accessible. The teacher in our Drop Off classes is qualified with a Diploma in Childrens Services and trained in Montessori Teaching, specialising in working with 3-6years. It is her belief that every child has the capacity to learn all the exercises in the classroom starting from the basic pink tower all the way up to maths concepts such as multiplication and division.

Parents who currently avail of the Drop Off classes love hearing all the stories and the information that happened during the classes and most children are only too happy to tell them all about it. Parents who believe in the greatness of Montessori want their children to be independent, self-confident, self-correcting, able to problem solve and work out hard problems, able to grow and flourish in an environment that has freedom within limits and is perfectly suited to challenging their children’s needs and wants at that stage!

There is a maximum of 7 children in each class and there are two adults on site.

Call us on 07 3848 2391 or email info@iammontessori.com.au for more information!

Spread the love this Valentine's Day 0

Recognising the cultural festivals approaching is an important part of the Culture section of Maria Montessori’s curriculum.

Our children have heard of Valentine’s Day before and may have a vague idea what it is or the special things we do on Valentine’s Day but I think it is the ample opportunity to get talking about it.

A brief history of who Valentine was might explain the customs that happen on or around Valentine’s Day.

Image sourced: <span style="line-height: 1.4;"> </span><span><span><a href="http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=159">http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=159</a></span></span>For example it is enough to say that Valentine was a priest who lived in Italy a long time ago (circa the third century). In Rome at this time the Emperor, whose name was Claudius, had made it forbidden for anyone to get married. But Valentine didn’t listen to what Claudius said and instead he had secret weddings for anyone who wanted to be married. Claudius wasn’t very happy when he found out and he punished Valentine. Valentine died on the 14th of February and because of this we celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 14th of February every year. We show our loved one how much they mean to us by being extra nice to them and doing nice things for them.



Arts and Crafts Ideas:

Valentine’s Day arts and crafts can be easy and can be done at home with things you already have. A simple handmade card can be cute and sentimental. A card given to a parent or friend or relative will be cherished.


I found this simple yet stunning card at http://www.craftymorning.com/bee-mine-valentines-day-craft-for-kids/

Or this easy heart shaped decoration at http://www.happinessishomemade.net/2013/01/29/easy-toddler-valentine-craft/ is quick and child-friendly.

Songs and Poems:

Songs and poems can be just as nice as receiving a card. I’m pretty sure hearing your little singing any song is only gorgeous but why not try teaching them songs about love.

A classic song and an easy one to teach and learn is “I love you” from Barney and Friends - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPMsHIPpkYY.

Other songs and poems are listed on one of my favourite websites for pre-schoolers http://www.everythingpreschool.com/themes/valentines/songs.htm.

My personal favourite Valentine’s Day song is H-E-A-R-T which is to the tune of ‘Bingo’ and is on the aforementioned website.

Extra Ways to Spread the Love:

 Don’t forget the easiest and cheapest way to tell your children to show their appreciation to someone on Valentine’s Day is to be extra nice to them. Helping Dad to make breakfast in bed for Mum. Cleaning up their toys, helping to make dinner, helping to set the table, being kind to everyone you love and the classic three words that everyone loves to her “I Love You”.