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Montessori in a Dene Kindergarten – Montessori in a Dene Grade One Classroom

Archive for July, 2009

These Cupboards!

Posted by mrsmelva on 16/07/2009

I was away for a few days so tonight I decided to walk up to the school with my pup, Teddy Bear to see if they had done anything with my new cupboards. Well, I forgot my school keys, so we walked around the block and then we got the keys and the car, due to a rather aggressive dog that was loose down the street, and went back to the school. In the hallway, the old cupboards were gone and there was a long counter with two sinks in it. I opened the door to the classroom, and saw cupboards, no counter top yet, no dishwasher yet, but cupboards, cupboards, cupboards!

First base cabinte with hole for dishwasher to the right

First base cabinet with hole for dishwasher to the right

Upper cabinets, first part is higher as it will be above the sink

Upper cabinets, first part is higher as it will be above the sink

The wall of cabinets, waiting for sink, dishwasher and countertop

The wall of cabinets, waiting for sink, dishwasher and countertop

The cupboards are very spacious and there are two drawers! There is also a skinny “filler” cabinet that is perfect for cookie sheets and muffin pans. I will put the dishes that the kids will use in the bottom cupboards so that they can be independent in getting what they need for snacks. I can’t wait for them to be done so that I can get the dishes out of the bootroom and then persuade the janitors to do the bootroom modifications and that will gain me a couple of shelves for language materials! I am getting excited about this room. Oh, and that long counter with two sinks in it is destined for the dental office, not for me.

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Cupboards, What Cupboards?

Posted by mrsmelva on 09/07/2009

As I headed up the hallway to my classroom on Tuesday, I spotted my cupboards out in the hallway. They have been moved so that the new ones, including my dishwasher, can be installed.

Cupboards in the Hallway

Cupboards in the Hallway

The next pictures show the space where the cupboards were, and my line on the floor.

Waiting for New Cupboards

Waiting for New Cupboards

Here’s another view of the room without cupboards, looking in from the doorway.

Looking in From the Doorway, Where are the Cupboards?

Looking in From the Doorway, Where are the Cupboards?

I am so glad that maintenance has started working on this right away. They have been very supportive of this move, and so have the janitors. I was out of town yesterday and haven’t gone to the school yet today, so I don’t know if they have started installing the new cupboards yet or not. When they do, I am hoping that I will be able to put the dishes in the lower cupboards for easy access by the children. It will be more sanitary and more independent for them. This past year I would set dishes out on the lower shelf of the snack table but had to either estimate how many to put, and go get more, or put out all the dishes and then put them away if they weren’t used. More work for me, plus I would rather have a more authentic situation, which getting dishes from the cupboard would be. It will depend on the final configuration of the cupboards, since the dishwasher will take up quite a bit of space. I am hoping to switch from plastic to glass juice glasses this year, and switch the bowls from plastic next year. My plates have never been plastic, so they do not need replacing. I need to think about water drinking too, since I won’t have a fountain in the room. Maybe I will use the plastic glasses for water or maybe ask parents to send in re-usable water bottles. I will need to think about that some more.

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Two Babysteps – Make That Three

Posted by mrsmelva on 06/07/2009

Today I went in to work on the shelf by my desk and hopefully ask one of the janitors to help me fix the supports so that it would hold my stuff without spilling it unexpectedly as happened last year. As  I wiped the shelf down I realized that I could solve my own problem with strategic use of milk crates. I set up the shelf using milk crates and the wooden shelving. I have my frequently used printer paper on the top shelf in plastic organizer trays and milk crates and shelving for most of my binders.

Binder shelf

Binder shelf

My curriculum guide binders are on the bottom and there is room for a few more binders on the shelf plus several more in the milk crates. I will put most of the black lines that are currently in my theme boxes into page protectors and into binders for better organization.

Next I decided to tackle the black overhead cart and put the pink trays on it. To my surprise, with a little adjusting, I managed to get the trays, mini white boards and mini chalkboards all on the bottom shelf. Then I put the chalk & brushes and the blue basket with student pens and reading sticks on the middle shelf. This should work well for students to collect supplies that they need.

Black Cart, front view

Black Cart, front view

The chalk boards and white boards are each in their own box to the right of the pink trays. These trays are used for dry activities only, never for glue or paint. They are used for puzzles, pattern blocks, geoboards, beads, spooning and tonging activities etc. so that small items are contained and clean up/materials care is easier and more manageable.

end view of black cart

end view of black cart

Here’s the end view of the cart. Now I need to clean off the top so that the paper cutter can go back up there. It is at a good height for standing to cut paper. Another benefit of today’s babysteps is that the chalkboards used to be in one of the tubs on the student supply cart, so now I have another tub available for student supplies. This will be good because we will be using two different brands of crayons this year, Crayola and Staedtler twistables. I ordered both because in previous years if a brand was backordered I ended up with nothing. The colours are slightly different in each set so we will use whichever set has the best colours for the task at hand.  When I was clearing the cart, I found that my boxes of card pockets fit perfectly between the paper trays on my binder shelf. Maybe one day I will be truly organized.

That is all I got done today, had to leave so that the maintenance man can remove the cupboards for the dishwasher installation. One more babystep toward my dream!

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Baby Stepping Toward a Dream

Posted by mrsmelva on 03/07/2009

The room still looks like a nightmare, but I have taken some steps toward my dream of a functional, child friendly, Montessori based classroom. I have cleared the stuff that was blocking the access to the sink/cupboards so that maintenance can now do their thing and install the dishwasher.

cleared sink area
cleared sink area

Now that the area is cleared you can see the line. We will use it for lining up, it extends from the door way to the bootroom to the doorway to the hall. We will also use it for walking on the line, a classic Montessori activity.

the stuff from the sink area
the stuff from the sink area

I just moved the stuff from the sink area over into the rest of the room. I did place boxes of science materials in the science area without unpacking them, and put boxes of language materials in the general area where I will probably have language shelves.

looking toward the door
looking toward the door

Looking toward the door you can see my new pup, Teddy Bear,  having a snooze. The tubs and boxes on the right will probably stay, along with the back packs which contain theme items and soft goods for art like yarn and fabric. The boxes contain books and activities for the monthly Parents as Partners meetings. I usually teach with my door open so that will hide the worst of the mess. The blue garbage can, which is for kitchen garbage, will most likely end up beside the fridge, by the door, but it is out of the way for now so that it doesn’t impede bringing in the dishwasher (I’m just a little obsessed about that). My full length mirror will go on the storage room door, the door that the garbage can is against right now. That door will stay closed so it will be a good place for the mirror.

microwave stands in place
microwave stands in place

I moved the two microwave stands into their place. I had to move the big brown shelf out a bit more and have placed a tub lid in the corner to check for fit as I may be stacking tubs with items not in current use there. They can’t go in the storage room, it is very small and very full and I only have half of it, half belongs to the teacher in the next room. I’m not sure if that spot will actually work for tubs or not. I am also planning to put more things into binders so that I don’t need as much tub/box type storage.

art materials and student suppy tub trolleys
art materials and student supply tub trolleys

Next, I positioned the art supply and student supply tub trolleys. I changed my mind about how I wanted them. My original plan was to place them at the end of the blue shelf but I think that would have “chopped” my table space too much. The art tubs face the kitchen/teacher area and the student tubs face the table area. I need to clean off the tops and put the big jugs of paint there. Right now the paint is in the bootroom with the dishes.

book carts next to the art trolley
book carts next to the art trolley

This looks messy, but it will be functional. The trolleys are all on wheels that lock for safety, but can be easily moved for access to the books. I can pull a trolley into the line area, select books for the current theme, and place them in the as yet not mounted wall racks for display and student use, and slide the trolley back into position. The black overhead cart will stay there, probably with pink trays on the bottom shelf, individual chalkboards and whiteboards on the middle shelf and my paper cutter on the top. It is the perfect height for standing to cut paper. I have a different cart with my actual overhead on it, one that I purchased before the school purchased carts for each teacher. It is smaller, but has drawers to store the transparencies. It will be located in the table area, facing the screen which pulls down over the chalkboard.

language shelf (needs work!)
language shelf (needs work!)

I think this will be the location for the language shelves. This shelf and another one next to it. There will still be a space to walk between these language shelves and the math shelves to access my desk. I am very rarely at my desk during the school day except to print pictures for the kids to use in language work.

Language Shelf 2
Language Shelf 2

This brown shelf will go next to the other language shelf so that there is room for a variety of activities without crowding. they are almost the same height. Right now this shelf is guarding the mirrors, one for the door and one each to be mounted on boards to make  reflective work surfaces for the sand and water tables.

looking toward my desk
looking toward my desk

This looks toward my desk, which is behind the big shelf. The area in front of the shelf, with all the junk, will be the kitchen/snack area. I hope to put one of my new, cute rectangular tables there for snack, but if that is not possible I will have to bug the janitors to let me into the shack to get some small desks to group for a snack table. The bit of pink is my snack serving table which I rescued from a garbage dump sentence, had refurbished by one of the janitors, and then painted.

I am going to have to be very creative with shelving/display/storage for practical life, sensorial and cultural items. I do have a couple of shelf units left, but they are not very big. I also need to locate the art center and set up the paint easel. There is a lot to do, but I will keep babystepping toward my dream.

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Welcome to my Nightmare!

Posted by mrsmelva on 02/07/2009

I went to the school for a few minutes this afternoon and was completely overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in my room and the total disorganization. Where, oh where to start. It is a disaster area and I need to clear the counter area so that maintenance can install my dishwasher, which will also involve changing the cupboards. The dishes (and a lot of other stuff) are in the bootroom. I also need to have the bootroom shelves and hooks changed, plus a lot of other fiddly work that I will need the janitors to help me with.

Looking in from the doorway.

Looking in from the doorway.

This is the stuff that has to be moved first so that they can deal with the dishwasher and cupboards. The sand and water tables are in the far left corner by the window, near the bootroom door. Under all the stuff there is a blue line that the janitors painted on the floor before they waxed it. I was going to have them paint a sweeping square too, but didn’t know where I wanted it due to the maintenance work, but I will figure that out for next year. They are very good about painting things on the floor for me and then waxing over them. In my old room I had beautiful circles on the floor.

Oh, my word!

Oh, my word!

This looks toward the other corner which will have science and nature. I need to have my shelves removed from the wall in the old room and mounted on the wall here, and the tall shelf needs to be anchored to the wall. the orange bulletin boards will be covered. That’s another problem,  I am losing a lot of bulletin board space so I don’t know how I will display the kids’ work. I will be requesting another one in the hallway, but it will have to wait until next year. The pink chair is my Author’s chair. I will move it near the rug (covered in stuff), up against the big bulletin board, along with my teacher chart stand. I will have my book displays mounted under the bulletin board.

Math Shelf 1

Math Shelf 1

math shelf 2

math shelf 2

These will be my math shelves. Everything on them is math related except some of the red drawers (need to separate the units), but not everything is staying on the shelves to be out at once. I did put it onto the shelves (well, actually my helpers did) so that I could see what I have and how it fits. My helpers started putting language things on the shelves too, mixed with the math, but I just took them off and will set up language on some other shelves.

Future Language Shelf and Art Shelf

Future Language Shelf and Art Shelf

I will probably use this shelf for language, but it needs a better location. The art shelf needs a location, but it is on wheels and is pretty much still set up.

Teacher's desk

Teacher's desk

There’s my desk, in the corner. Hopefully I can get the shelf  fixed to hold my binders. The computer desk for the school computer (required for attendance, rarely works for anything else) is directly behind mine so in theory I can just turn my chair around and enter my attendance. The printer is mine, I use it with my laptop mainly to print pictures of the kids.

New stove and fridge.

New stove and fridge.

The new stove and fridge are right next to the door, my desk is to the far left of them. They will not be near the sink/dishwasher/cupboards, but I will find a way to make things work for snack and practical life.  My microwave stands will go between the stove and the big brown shelf, holding the microwave, toaster and coffee pot.  The trolleys with bins of art supplies and student supplies will probably butt up to the big brown shelf and I will have to decide which way I want the student supply bins to face. Paint (large containers) will go on top so that I don’t pile junk on the flat surfaces!

New table, small and cute.

New table, small and cute.

I ordered 6 of these small tables which I can arrange in different ways to accommodate the kids in different areas. I will still have them working on the floor a lot too, if there is any floor left when I have all the stuff set up!

Small Group Table

Small Group Table

I ordered 2 of these small group tables, they are much smaller than the ones that I had before. I ordered 2 hoping that I will have a special needs tutor or an assistant, but I am not holding my breath on that.

I have a lot fo work to do to get this room ready, it is very disappointing to be moved after all the work I put into setting up the other classroom, but I am determined to make this a great classroom for my students. I will probably make changes throughout the year as I figure out what works and what doesn’t. I will be definitely trying to arrange it so that it is more closely aligned with a true Montessori set up. This past year, one of the mistakes I made was not clearly defining what materials went on what shelf according to the curriculum areas. I mainly organized them more for location of use or for where shelf space was available. Having the materials better organized and categorized should help the children make selections and should help me observe the children.

I did spend a little time today learning a few more tricks in my spreadsheet program for working with my class lists. I am beginning to get excited about my new class and my new room, but mainly about the class (kids).

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