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

Archive for July, 2010

Is summer ending already?

Posted by mrsmelva on 31/07/2010

I just returned from a short but wonderful holiday. Our housesitter’s son played with my bedroom clock while we were gone. I woke up in the dark, checked the clock and it said 1:40, so I tried to go back to sleep. I tossed and turned for a while and checked the clock again, still 1:40 – so I decided to go to the living room and try using the t.v. to put me back to sleep. When I got to the t.v. I discovered that it was actually 4:25, and still dark! Yikes that means that the days are already substantially shorter, which means that fall is coming. That also means that I need to get into gear and whip my classroom into shape. Our holiday was fantastic, it involved a manicure & pedicure with my granddaughter, and then the Calgary Stampede, Calgary Zoo, a pilgrimage to Lac Ste. Anne, traveling through the rockies and visits with family and friends. We had our granddaughter with us for part of the trip and one of our grandsons for the entire trip. Our son, daughter in law, her parents and grandparents and of course, their two kids (the aforementioned granddaughter and her brother) , traveled with us for part of the trip. It was wonderful. We all stayed at my parents home for a few days. I did a lot of thinking about my classroom and the upcoming school year, but also a lot of relaxing. My laundry is done and after I mop the floors in my house I will be ready to get back into the classroom groove. Waking up early but finding it dark means that my body clock and the sun are trying to tell me something.

strawberry-watermelon arrangement I made for my grandson's 4th birthday

Calgary tower from the van window while at a stoplight

playground challenge at Mt. Robson

another playground challenge

Berry picking - the best patches are up high

we were not alone

beautiful bush country

My grandson, my dad and I went berry picking one morning. We got a good portion of wild raspberries and a few black caps. My grandson really enjoyed the ride up the mountain and seeing the cattle ranging through the bush.


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Shelf and Baby Steps

Posted by mrsmelva on 09/07/2010

Yesterday I did not feel like working at school, so in the morning I stayed home and puttered with my flowers and my dogs. Finally I bit the bullet and went to school, but once there I wandered down to the library and visited my niece for over an hour. Reluctantly, I forced myself to head to the classroom and was trying to get focused when one of the janitors came in and asked if I needed help – Yes! He unscrewed the shelf in the bootroom and we moved it in behind my door and he screwed it to the wall there for safety. This is the shelf that I’ve been waiting for to put art supplies on. Now the next logical step would have been to put the art supplies on the shelf, but if you know me you will know that I do not always do things in a logical manner. Other than loosely setting a couple of things there because they were in the way, I worked on the placement of the other shelves.

"new" art supply shelf behind the door

This shelf will help to keep the art supplies organized and accessible, and it will also prevent me from piling boxes in this spot! After the shelf was placed I turned the guided reading table and positioned a shelf for some literacy activities and the snack table. The shelf for literacy activities was tricky because I have an alphabet pocket chart on the back of it. I put it near the snack table and added a desk next to the snack table (sometimes the snack table was a little small last year). The desk will be for serving fruit, and it eliminates what would have become a walkway and would have resulted in the child working with the pocket chart being interrupted or stepped on. This is the snack serving table, the students will eat at the guided reading table or at their desks, depending on whether or not the table is in use for reading/group work.

snack serving table (pink) and desk, alphabet pocket chart, guided reading table

Next I brought in some chairs and decided that I needed to get some smaller desks, the advantage of already knowing the kids is that I know that some of them are quite short. I managed to trade 4 desks for shorter ones that are all the same height, so I have one shorter row in front. I also moved all the desks forward the width of one floor tile. That frees up a little more floor space for working. It is a bit tight at the front of the room with my chart stand, but workable and that will move later in the year when they install the Smartboard.

Art center shelves, with clean trays, and desks in the background

Next I positioned the art center shelves, the one on the right backs onto the snack area desk. The students will come and get a tray and the supplies that they need and then go to their desks or an area of floor to work. The desks are in the background.

Backing onto the art shelves are these two shelves that will hold some sensorial and practical life materials.

Next I set these two shelves in place. They will hold some sensorial and practical life materials, at least at the start, and possibly some geography materials later in the year. I do know that some of my students still need work in practical life and sensorial. The top of the art and practical life shelves will give a nice display area for interesting art materials and trays of markers/pencils/crayons sorted by colour. It will be easier for the students to select and return materials when they are on top of the shelf instead of on a shelf underneath.

metal insets, on their own little shelf

This one is pretty self explanatory. I love my metal insets and this little shelf was a freebie and is just perfect for them. The pink shelf to the right will have language materials and the science area is behind them.

Peace Table

Just before leaving I set up the peace table. A student gave me the indigo rose this year, and wanted to add it to the peace vase. We didn’t have an actual peace table, just a vase with rose on a shelf, but it was effective. I have this desk for a peace table and in the storage tray I have put a selection of items students can use to help calm themselves if they need to. They may also hold the rock or shells from the little beach scene. I had three of those from my old classroom, one on each table in that room. We had packed them very carefully in bubble wrap but they got tilted so I had to use a sieve to separate the sand from the “water”.  I will give one to the kindergarten teacher, and haven’t decided what I will do with the other one yet. On that peaceful note I went home, ate supper, and cut the grass.

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Beauty All Around Me

Posted by mrsmelva on 06/07/2010

I am not in the mood to work at school today. I worked for a while yesterday, shelving some items and then taking pictures of the little items in my alphabet tubs. My plan is to make some 3 part cards to go with the tubs, and possibly some little books. The camera batteries died at gG and I didn’t have extras with me so I went home. Today I was just out of sorts and decided to stay home. I hung some solar lights on my garden fence and took a few pictures of the beauty around me.

My grandson's pumpkin plant

closeup of the pumpkin flower

grandson's yellow marigold



peppermint portulaca

begonia, grad gift from my kids

From the garden to the lake, my neighbour had just cleaned his fish catch and threw the scraps into the lake for the seagulls and pelicans. The pelicans were very busy, acting like ducks dipping their heads in the water to fetch the goodies.

pelicans acting like ducks

if you want the goodies you have to get your face wet

pelicans and seagulls "doing lunch"

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Pelicans in the Storm

Posted by mrsmelva on 04/07/2010

pelicans in the storm

We have had stormy weather most of the summer so far. Monday night was a particularly wild thundery rainstorm. These pelicans came through very quickly while the rain was coming down in sheets. The picture is dark because it was that dark from the clouds overhead. I took the picture from the kitchen window, but it was very tricky because we have expanded metal on the outside of the window and I had to aim the camera in the little spaces – it was so dark that the flash went off automatically and if the camera wasn’t positioned just right the flash reflected off the metal and spoiled the picture. After taking the picture I shut the window, the entire kitchen floor was soaked in that short time! I kept watching the pelicans as they moved down the lake, as they got a little further down a bunch more flew in from the middle of the lake and they made a huge fishing circle. A little later they broke into three smaller circles. I love watching the pelicans.I decided to post this because classroom progress has been very slow.

I have been in but have been puttering with things like washing art trays and boot shelves. Today I hooked up the computer and can’t login, but I have threaded the extension cords and made room (and plugin space) for my laptop and printer and speakers. If I can get the janitor to help me move the boot shelves tomorrow I will be a very happy woman, as one of them will go behind the classroom door for art supplies and then I can get a lot more organizing done. If not I will have to develop a plan B for organizing, I really want to get those art supplies set up. I did organize all my coloured copy paper and got most of my binders and resource books shelved but not organized. I’d like to sort them and organize them by topic but will worry about that later on. For now, getting them off the “lovely” desks is the main priority.

copy paper and binders

The boot shelf that I washed is the same as this shelf. I used to have art supplies on this one and know that they will fit nicely on its twin, and it will fit neatly behind the classroom door, partially out of site and preventing me from piling boxes there! Tray washing is quite a procedure (there are over 50 trays that have been used for art all year). First soak them, then turn them to soak the other end, then scrub them with a brush and set to dry in a staggered stack.

trays soaking

trays drying

While busy scrubbing the trays (and the shelves) I have been thinking a lot about the class and the classroom and how I would like things to happen. I can only plan some things until school actually starts and I have my timetable for the things that I can’t change (God grant me the serenity to accept that timetable) such as guided reading, gym, Dene, music, maybe math? I also need to find out what is expected for science and social studies. They are all divided up into separate units and separate subjects and I am so used to teaching things in a much more integrated manner – oh, and I almost forgot about health. Hopefully that one can be integrated. My thoughts were interrupted by a phone call from my hubby saying that he had two of our grandsons with him and they were hungry so I headed home for a weiner roast in the back yard.

hot dogs you cook yourself are delicious

hubby watching my marshmallow so it doesn't burn - perfectly golden and gooey inside

After supper I got out the sandbox and the boys did some pouring, and did some grass cutting too.


Grandma, I'll cut your grass!

Let me cut some too

While they cut I pulled a few weeds and dead heads in my flower boxes and couldn’t resist taking a picture of this petunia.


The other day I had to chase away the ravens, they were eating the petunias and trying to uproot the portulaca. When I was watering the flowers this morning there was nothing in the planters but tonight I found a piece of rib bone in one, next to the petunia the ravens had been eating – was it a peace offering? or did they just drop it there? Tomorrow I will be back at work in the classroom unless I decide to stay home and mow the parts of the lawn (most of it) that the boys missed!

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Change Continues

Posted by mrsmelva on 02/07/2010

Yesterday was Canada Day and I spent some time at the town field, watching the parade and all the kids dressed up and riding their decorated bikes, eating a barbecued burger and enjoying the music. Then I came home and after a nap, spent a long time reading blogs.  When I went to bed my head was spinning with ideas, but today the ideas are simmering down and sorting themselves out. I will go to the school for a while and work on the classroom environment, probably starting with my desk area. I am a clutterbug and hoarder, so this will be a work in progress. I will also work on some of the changes I need to make to existing materials – for example, taking pictures of  all the items in my (commercial, Lakeshore brand, bought years ago from Wintergreen) sound tubs and designing some independent work with them, likewise my colour tubs. I need to look at things that I have that are not Montessori, from a Montessori perspective, making them more inviting and accessible to the children and, most importantly, looking at control of error so that the children do not practice incorrect work. My camera will be getting a workout, and although there are fresh ink cartridges in the printer and another set in my desk, I see an ink purchase in the near future.

girls gathering for the decorated bike judging, there are always a lot of well dressed kids and well decorated bikes - very challenging for the judges

even dolls are dressed up for the occasion, and pulled behind the bikes

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