The Toddler 2 students learned about how animals survive the winter through a new picture book called "Migrate, Hibernate, and Adapt." Then, they had a chance to explore the process of hibernation for themselves by crawling into their cave and "sleeping" until springtime. While someone “hibernates”, their friends will often gather around the cave to sing the "Grizzly Bear" song until they wake up. This new activity was very popular this week and the children particularly enjoyed roaring like an angry bear when they came out of the cave! Learning a concept through a variety of experiences - reading, singing and whole-body exploration - helps the child to retain the new information and appeals to different children's varied learning styles.
A Warm Place to Hibernate
Some Toddler 2 students applied their newfound knowledge of hibernation to their imaginative play scenarios. Several children used the wooden blocks to make caves for the collection of small bears and then helped the bears to find a warm and cozy place to hibernate for the winter.
The Classroom Community
As the Toddler 2 students have matured over the course of the school year, their social awareness has blossomed as well. The Montessori classroom is truly a community for young children, who find countless ways to interact throughout the day. In these pictures, you can see friends collaborating on the “Bring Me” game, working side-by-side with the art materials, clapping and singing as they take turns on the "jumping square" and tackling cleaning tasks together. They have come to rely on each others' unique skills, as well: everyone knows who to ask for help in identifying the animals in the Chinese paper-cut pictures, or which friends are happy to demonstrate yoga poses to their peers. It has been a joy to see the children find such happiness and meaning from their classroom friendships.
Toddler 2 students are enjoying several new pre-writing activities in the Language area this week. In one, the child uses a wooden stylus to move a metal spool around a variety of shapes. As they move the spool around the tracks, they are strengthening their pincer grip as well as practicing the hand motions they will later use to form letters. They also enjoyed tracing their names with pencils and displayed great pride in their ability form their favorite words all by themselves!
The new yoga work quickly became a favorite activity in the Toddler 2 classroom. First, the child carefully lays out their yoga mat and takes off their shoes. Next, they choose a pose from a box of yoga picture cards. Then, they practice the pose on their mat for as long as they like. It has been a delight to see the children jumping like frogs, roaring like lions and stretching like downward facing dogs! Yoga offers the children a chance to explore the different ways they can use their bodies, provides a constructive outlet for physical energy and gives them an opportunity for a peaceful rest in the classroom whenever they feel they might need it.
Chinese New Year
The T2 students were delighted to welcome a group of classroom parents last week to share a presentation about the recent Chinese New Year holiday. They learned about traditional holiday celebrations like parades, dragon dances and red envelopes full of special gifts for children. After the presentation, they were excited to make their very own paper lanterns and observe how they shined in the dark. Many thanks to the families for helping to enrich our classroom's cultural studies!
The Toddler 2 students were excitedly awaiting this week's snowstorm! Many students enjoyed making "snow collages" this week by glueing cotton balls onto a picture of a bare tree. Several children remembered that the last time they had used the tree collage, they were sticking colorful autumn leaves to the branches: This led to an engaging conversation about how trees look in different seasons. Work that reflects the children's daily lives helps them to connect their experiences inside and outside of the classroom.
12 Animals of the Zodiac
A popular piece of work celebrating the Chinese New Year holiday has been matching the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac to their pictures. While the students are quite familiar with object- to-picture matching at this point in the year, this particular activity presents a new level of challenge. The pictures, taken from a book of Chinese paper cuts that a student’s parents kindly shared with us for the holiday, are rather abstract artistic representations of the animals. This work has proved to be both enjoyable and challenging for our T2 students!
A favorite new activity in the Toddler 2 classroom is number bingo. This Math material serves two important functions for the Toddlers: it reinforces the children's ability to recognize numerals and it provides an opportunity for true collaborative play, where two children are working together toward a common goal. Many children use the number bingo work several times a day, or use it many times in a row in order to play the game with several different friends.
The Toddler 2 class continued to enjoy visits from our kind and helpful Kindergarten friends this week. The Toddlers have learned to look forward to receiving lessons, listening to stories and working happily together when their older friends come to visit.
Valentine’s Day Presentation
The Toddler 2 students enjoyed a special presentation about Valentine's Day from a classroom parent. They loved hearing such favorite stories as "Snuggle Puppy" and "The Love Monster," and were eager to tell each other about the beloved friends, family members and pets in their own lives. Many thanks to the class parent for providing such a joyful and loving circle time!
A popular piece of work from the Toddler 2 Language area has been the name-to-picture matching cards. There are two sets of cards in this activity: one set has all the children's pictures and another set has all their names. The purpose of the work is for the child to match the names to their corresponding pictures, and to learn to recognize their own name and those of their classmates. Many of the children have begun to do this already, by identifying their friends' names on cubbies and shoe baskets, and this work builds upon their existing interest and knowledge. It is a delight to hear the children rushing around the classroom showing friends their pictures and exclaiming, "It's you!"
The Toddler 2 students have been eager to explore a bin full of kinetic sand this week. The basin is full of various objects like spoons, chopsticks, bowls and kitchen tools, which allows the children to explore the many interesting properties of this fantastic material. This activity invites great concentration and helps our young students practice tuning out distractions and giving their attention to a single material for a sustained amount of time.
A Visit from Kindergarten
The Toddler 2 students continue to look forward to visits from their Kindergarten friends! Our helpful, patient and capable Kinders are always happy to lend a hand, give a lesson or read a book to their younger friends.
Bring Your Parents to School Day
This Saturday, Toddler 2 children were delighted to host their families for Bring Your Parents to School Day. They happily shared their favorite work, introduced their friends and demonstrated their wonderful capabilities within the classroom environment. Thanks to everyone who joined us for the special event!
The Toddler 2 children have explored the Brown Stair with particular delight and dedication this year. This week, they broadened their experiments with rolling objects to include bells, pompoms, beads and bouncy balls. They never get tired of exploring how differently-shaped objects behave and sound as they roll down their carefully formed staircases. It has been a joy to see them collaborate so happily together in their explorations!
Basic Geometric Shapes
A new collage activity reinforces the Toddler 2 children's knowledge of three basic geometric shapes: the circle, the square and the triangle. First, the child takes a piece of construction paper displaying outlines of the three shapes. Next, they sort through a bowl of assorted shapes and decide where they belong on the collage. Then, the child glues the small shapes to the corresponding larger shapes, matching circle to circle, triangle to triangle and square to square. This activity appeals to the students' strong sense of order, and also solidifies their ability to recognize and sort these two-dimensional shapes. While the basic structure of the activity stays the same, each child uses this work in a unique way: some children carefully place one small shape on each larger one, while others fill the paper with as many shapes as they can possibly fit!
The Toddler 2 students enjoyed welcoming some Kindergarten friends to their classroom this week. As part of their community service project for WFM’s school-wide "15 Years, 15 Hours" initiative, the Kinders will take turns helping out in the Toddler classrooms over the next several weeks. So far, it has been a wonderful experience that allows our young students to learn from and connect to their older schoolmates. The Toddler 2 class looks forward to hosting more helpful Kinders in the coming weeks!
The Brown Stair
The Brown Stair is a traditional Montessori material designed to teach the concept of grading by size. The child carries the rectangular prisms to their rug one at a time, and then carefully grades them from biggest to smallest. If they have graded correctly, the prisms will form the shape of a staircase. Once they build the stairs, the children love to test their work by trying to roll a ball down the staircase. The balls provide what Maria Montessori called the "control of error" for the material: they clearly demonstrate to the child whether the prisms are graded correctly, without the need for any adult correction. If the child has graded the prisms correctly, they get to see the various balls bump satisfyingly down their staircase. If there is a mistake, the balls will roll off track and they will have to re-assess their work. In this way, the child experiences the joy of discovering the concept on their own, instead having the knowledge handed to them by a teacher.
Toddlers are learning "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” in music class. Here is Ms. Cristina’s version:
Toddler 2 students are using the new mirror-washing work, which involves a four-part sequence of steps and encourages the children to take part in caring for their classroom environment. When a child chooses this piece of work, he or she must first put on a smock. Next, they spray the mirror with water from a spray bottle and scrub it with a sponge.
Finally, they dry it carefully with a towel. The children love to see the results of their hard work in a clean, shiny mirror, and will often repeat the exercise several times over.
Practical Life Materials
A primary goal of the Practical Life materials is to help the Toddler 2 children learn the skills they need to care for themselves and their environment independently. After repeated practice with the clothespin material, which develops hand strength, dexterity and hand-eye coordination, many Toddler 2 students have begun to take their own paintings off the easel using the spring-loaded clip. Even small achievements can be cause for celebration in the Toddler classroom!
Another example of Practical Life in action is how the sweeping material has prepared the Toddler 2 students to care for their classroom environment. Many children enjoy the new sweeping activity on the Practical Life shelf, which invites them to spill out a basket full of colorful leaves and clean them up with a tiny whisk broom and dustpan. With a little bit of practice, they are then able to use the real broom and dustpan to clean up under the snack table when there is a spill. They are always so proud of their efforts to contribute to the classroom community!