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Building Appreciation for the Environment Through Fun Science Activities

In a Montessori education, nature plays a key role in inspiring wonder in children. The Montessori philosophy emphasizes forming a strong bond between children and their environment. By getting your child to play and learn through outdoor science activities, you can begin a lifelong appreciation for nature.

Here are a few fun and engaging science experiments that you can do with your child to help them connect to the environment around them.

Worm Observation Tower

Little animals like worms are often fascinating for children. If you find that your child is captivated by these little critters too, they will love creating a worm observation tower. This is also a great opportunity to teach your child to be kind to animals by handling them gently.

To make the worm observation tower, choose a glass vase or bin that you don’t mind getting dirty and have your child fill it up with sand and dirt. Pour a small amount of water into the container to make the soil damp and easier for the worms to crawl through.

After the container is prepared, help your child go worm digging in your garden or lifting rocks and seeing if there’s anything wriggling around underneath. Then you can fill your container with any worms you that you find and let your child watch as they crawl around. Your child will enjoy observing their new worm friends as they poke around through their temporary home!

The Science of Sinking and Floating

This fun and easy activity is appropriate for children of all ages. Start off by going on a nature walk with your child and allowing them to collect any objects that they find interesting, such as leaves, flowers, rocks, sticks, and acorns.

After they collect their treasures, have them sort them into two piles: one for objects that they think will sink and another for objects that they think will float. Then you can fill a bowl with water to test out their theories. Allow them to experiment and see if they can make a floating object sink by putting other objects on top of it. This is a great chance for you to teach your children about weight and density.

What Type of Rock is This?

The fossil layers give us clues about how the environment has changed over time. Limestone is a unique rock because it is made up of these layers. Because limestone forms through evaporation, it can be found in a variety of environments.

Children are usually impressed by limestone rocks because they can also be used as chalk. Encourage your child to look around damp environments, such as creeks or lakes, for brownish-yellow and grey colored rocks. After your child collects a few rocks, put each rock into a separate bowl outside.

To identify limestone rock, pour vinegar on each rock and wait a few seconds to see what happens. Little bubbles will form all over the rock in less than a minute if it is a limestone, while nothing will happen to other rocks. This is the perfect opportunity to tell your child that a chemical reaction is going on because the vinegar is an acid and limestone is a base. Explain to your child that when an acid and a base mix, they create heat, which is the reason the bubbles formed.

Solar S’mores

Solar s’mores are a creative and delicious way for children to learn about how strong the sun is! You can create a solar oven by grabbing a leftover pizza box, covering the top of the flap with aluminum foil, and covering the bottom of the flap with plastic wrap. Place black construction paper on the bottom of the box and line the sides of the box with additional aluminum foil.

While you create your makeshift oven, you can explain the function of each step to your child. For example, you can explain how the aluminum foil works to reflect the rays of the sun and how the black construction paper is used to absorb heat.

When your oven is ready, your child can fill it with all of the necessary ingredients for s’mores – graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. The s’mores will usually take around an hour to cook like this. While you wait, you can explain the virtue of patience to your child. When you see that the chocolate and marshmallows have melted into something gooey, you and your child are free to enjoy your delicious solar s’mores!

 

 

The Importance of Global Citizenship

As Montessori parents, you want your child to become a part of the emerging world community and to help build that community in the future. Here at the Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs we recognize the importance of global citizenship and how it develops from birth into adulthood. That’s why we make global citizenship a key focus in our cosmic education.

Creating a Vision                                                                                     

From a young age, each child should begin to understand that they are individuals who are a part of the human species, a member of society, and on a much larger scale, a citizen of the world. By nurturing this awareness of the world, the child will begin to develop a universal understanding and appreciation of all life on earth.

As Maria Montessori wrote in To Educate the Human Potential, “Since it has been seen to be necessary to give so much to the child, let us give him a vision of the whole universe.  The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions.” Montessori’s visionary idea was based on her observations of children’s eagerness to understand themselves, the world, and how they fit into it.

Age-Appropriate Development

Montessori also discussed the proper time for a child to be exposed to all items of culture, which she said was at six years of age. This age, she said, is optimal because children are enthusiastic about receiving items of culture. She compared this process to the germination of a seed that will expand and grow if these elements of culture are introduced at the proper time and in the correct way.

“A need arises for a special method, whereby all factors of culture may be introduced to the six-year-old; not in a syllabus to be imposed on him, or with exactitude of detail, but in the broadcasting of the maximum number of seeds of interest,” wrote Montessori.

Building Horizons

According to Montessori, we have a moral responsibility or a “cosmic task” to protect humankind from the threat of self-annihilation caused by the impact of our species’ destructive actions. Nurturing the core value of global citizenship is meant to prepare children to successfully handle the issues that the modern world faces in a peaceful way.

At MASS, we encourage our students to use their conscious minds and imaginations to explore the diversity of cultures and how communities around the world live and work differently. By cultivating a profound respect for cultures and the world as a whole, we hope to develop a generation of adolescents who value global connectedness and are able to collaborate with people across all nations and cultures.

What is Virtue Education?

In a Montessori school system, our primary focus is the whole child. As part of developing all of the elements of the whole child, the Montessori Method concentrates on educating the human potential. Through character education, we are able to help each child unlock their personal potential. Virtue education allows each child to explore the field of morality and learn to discriminate between good and evil.

What are the Virtues?

Virtues are universal and are recognized by people of all cultures. They are necessary for a child’s well-being and happiness. Once they are learned, they will last the child a lifetime.

We make sure that our students learn the following virtues:

Wisdom, courage, perseverance, honesty, kindness, patience, helpfulness, humility, compassion, hard work, creativity, independence, confidence, respectfulness, grace, courtesy, sociability, responsibility, self-sufficiency, curiosity, joyfulness, gratitude, and service.

All of these virtues help build a child’s character and inspire others around them to be better people.

Developing the Virtues

In The Discovery of the Child, Dr. Maria Montessori wrote “She must acquire a moral alertness which has not hitherto been demanded by any other system, and this is revealed in her tranquility, patience, charity, and humility. Not words, but virtues, are her main qualifications.”

In order to develop these virtues, we expose our children to stories and experiences that model them. We make sure that our guides make it a point to display these virtues on a daily basis, so they serve as role models to the students. We also concentrate on positive activities in order to prevent the formation of negative traits. In a Montessori environment, bad habits such as laziness and disorder are quickly replaced by good qualities such as self-sufficiency and hard work.

Cultivating virtues leads a child to develop a more purposeful life. In Montessori classrooms, students learn virtues like service and helpfulness by participating in practical life activities. Such exercises include teaching children to care for the environment and peer to peer collaboration, in which an older student helps a younger student.

What You Can Do at Home

Understanding that learning doesn’t start and finish in the classroom is essential for Montessori parents who want to support the development of the whole child. Children are learning at all times, so the child’s learning experiences at home and at school should be cohesive. One way to form this cohesion is through communication with your child’s guide.

It is important for you to know when and which virtues are being taught in class. For instance, if you find out from your child’s guide that honesty is being covered in class next week, you should find ways to incorporate practicing honesty at home also.

Role play is a great way to do this.  Explain situations that your child can easily understand and give your child various options of choices they could make in that situation.  Be sure to provide some choices that emphasize honesty more than others. Then discuss your child’s choices, and the possible consequences of each choice, as well as why it’s important to be honest both at home and in school.

Why Montessori?

whyMontessori

Montessori’s education program is unique. Children are encouraged to make decisions and play an active role in the classroom. A solid foundation at each level promotes strong academic skills and a true love of learning. An authentic Montessori program is based on self-direction, builds a strong sense of self, sustained concentration and development of independence.

What sets Montessori apart from other programs?

• Emphasis on the whole child
• Mainly individual and small group instruction
• Child works at his/her pace
• Children are encouraged to collaborate, teach, share ideas and help each other
• Environment and method encourage self-discipline
• Develop leadership skills
• Mixed age groups

Montessori grows a child’s love of learning by providing an excellent foundation, creating a well-rounded individual that leads the way to a more advanced education.

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