Sunday, August 31, 2008

And so, I keep at it...

Here is a sketch, an idea for an illustration for my book.
My publisher awaits more, NOW. And I have fallen behind. I prefer to work in paper, cutting and gluing and giving shape and depth to a figure rather than be dependent on my line drawings. The problem is that this book is to be printed on lavender paper and requires simple line drawings. I'm out of my comfort zone. But, I so want to be the illustrator of my own book! I mean how cool would that be?! I'm in need of constructive criticism, I know I have not shared the book with you all but from these few sketches I wonder if you could give me feedback. Am I on the right track? Do you want to see more?
Any comments are welcome.
Thank you

Happy Birthday Maria!

Today is the anniversary of Maria Montessori's birth. Written in Italian on a commemorative tablet at the Montessori family grave in Rome are these words:
Maria Montessori
1870 - 1952
Famous scientist and pedagogue
who dedicated her entire life to the
spiritual renewal and to the progress
of humanity through the child.
She rests in a Catholic cemetery
Noordwijk (Holland) far away from the
country she had so profoundly loved, far
from her loved ones buried here. This she
decided, to give testimony to the universality of her work, which made her a citizen of the world.

Universally she is renowned as a physician who became an educational innovator ~a woman who removed rigid benches from classrooms and replaced them with small movable tables and chairs. In this comfortable environment, filled with ingenious materials of her own design, she invited children, ages three through six, to select work according to their own interests, thus taking advantage of their individual sensitive periods for learning. The teacher who had formally been seen as the source of all knowledge and discipline in the classroom, became a gentle guide who prepared the environment, intensely observed each child, demonstrated the materials that the children had individually chosen and encouraged the children in self discipline.
This is how the world knows Montessori, but how many know that behind all her educational efforts was her continuous desired to reform humanity ~ to uncover the true nature of the child ~ in order, ultimately, to bring peace and harmony to the world?
~from Aline D Wolf's Nurturing the Spirit

"The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities." ~ Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind

Montessori Mama
PS I drew this picture long ago but have been reluctant to share it because I dislike the pearls. Oh well, it's one of those things I wish I could do over but time has never allowed me. So enjoy the sentiment & ignore the pearls.

Friday, August 29, 2008

New Found Music!

I just came across the music of Renee and Jeremy and needed to share this song with all of you!
You're a Miracle a song by Renee & Jeremy

are you the sun
are you the moon
are you a watermelon bug in june

are you a frog
are you a bee
are you the kitty kat up in the tree

everything is possible
cause you're a miracle
everything is possible
when you're around
cause you're a miracle, uh huh
a little a miracle, oh yeah
cause you're a miracle, uh huh
a little miracle, oh yeah

are you a fish
are you a fly
are you a hummingbird buzzin on by

are you the beach
are you the sand
are you the wave that washes up upon the land

everything is possible
cause you're a miracle
everything is possible
when you're around
cause you're a miracle, uh huh
a little a miracle, oh yeah
cause you're a miracle, uh huh
a little miracle, oh yeah

do do do's

are you a seed
are you a tree
you can be anything you want to be

cause you know it's possible
cause you're a miracle
everything is possible
when you're around
cause you're a miracle, uh huh
a little a miracle, oh yeah
cause you're a miracle, uh huh
a little miracle, oh yeah
cause you're a miracle, uh huh
a little a miracle, oh yeah
cause you're a miracle, uh huh
a little miracle, oh yeah

do do do's

Isn't that lovely? I'm going to teach it to my toddler class.
Last night was our parent night at the new location. Montessori Papa did a wonderful job, I was very proud. Everyone did a wonderful job! . It was exciting and encouraging to know that so many families are choosing this educational path for their children.
It's going to be a truly amazing year!
Montessori Mama

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Everything is a Process

It's a process, preparing the environment. And I look forward to it being completed!
Have mentioned my new assistant? I LOVE her! She's young and interested in learning MORE, MORE! I love her energy and enthusiasm for this new position she's taken on.
Tonight is our parent orientation night! I'm feeling confident about the room being pulled together before parents arrive, but I am worried I'll forget to say something important.

I am really enjoying this new space! There is a nice amount of sunlight coming in, and after working in several different small rooms, having one space is such a treat! When time allows, I'll post more pictures and descriptions of the works in the classroom. Right now it's a busy time and my focus has been on preparing the environment.
I hope all of you are enjoying building your 'nest' also! Weather it is your classroom or your living room, the children you care for will welcome and appreciate the space your prepare with their needs in mind.
More to come...
Montessori Mama

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lovin' this Book

Yesterday I participated in a workshop for early childhood educators and was given this beautiful book. [Thank you Born to Read!] Interestingly I was going to buy this book for my classroom.
If you haven't read it I highly recommend it. For the illustrations alone! It's so bright and beautiful. At the workshop we grouped together and came up with ideas about how to use this book children 3 to 6 years old.
Here are some of the ideas we came up with:

Remaking the title page (or any other beautiful image in this book!) as a bulletin board or display in classroom. Written on the petals of the flowers, a quote from each child in the class, "If Peace is..."

The leader of the day chooses one page to share and tells why they picked that particular page.

On the very last page of the book it says that this book was inspired by the students of a particular school. Read this page and ask your students if they would like to create their own peace book.

Also while there I met a lovely woman named Anne who turned me on to The Hunger Site PLEASE visit this site and make a contribution to help our world's children.

PEACE to all of you and your beautiful children,
Montessori Mama

Furniture obsession

I REALLY want this rocking chair for my classroom. And this furniture obsession is really out of character for me; I don't often become obsessed, about anything, well NOT usually material objects!!
(When my two year old will successfully use his fork, ya okay...I'm guilty of obsessing over that...)
But every time I see this chair (or the space I think it should go in, in the classroom) I covet it, I l o n g for it to magically appear.
What it is, is that I have some nursing Moms who will be picking up there children mid-day and I want to offer them a cozy place to be, before they transition their children. AND I am also thinking of Little One and how he is going to (possibly) have trouble RESTING at school and how a cozy rocker, like this one, might help him and ME.
Here's the thing, we already have a VERY sweet comfy rocker (wooden) but I still can't stop thinking about this lovely one. It's odd. I think it's a prepared environment hang up. I'm just wondering have any of you have experienced similar 'hang ups' while creating your classroom environments? I know I've obviously GOT to let this go, and with people in need of so much and so many things (including basic needs)this is just silly!
Any thoughts? Besides the obvious one: that I've become obsessed with something out of my price range and completely UNNECESSARY (really) and I need to move on and focus on more important things.
Thanks for reading and your compassion (in advance).
Up to my elbows in UN-prepared environment, starting to stress, less than a week until Open House, normally calm and sure everything will be fine...
Montessori Mama

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wise Words

"When you recognize that all human beings are equal and like yourself in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them...True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason."
~~~The Dalai Lama

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Emma

My beautiful niece turns 3 today!
I wish I lived closer and we could play today. I am amazed by you and so proud to be your Aunty. Happy 3!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sunday's toad stool

Yesterday before our church service began, a small boy, I know from teaching the children's religious ed. classes, wandered around outside waiting for a friend to arrive. It was a beautiful late summer morning and the grass was lush and still wet with dew. This young friend of mine sat on the front steps with a long face. I asked him, "How are you this morning?" to which he responded by shrugging his shoulders.
So I sat down next to him and asked him if he believed in Gnomes? He looked at me sharply and quickly returned the question,
"Do you?"
"Of course." I said, a matter of factly because of course, I do.
"I've never seen one." he said
"Neither have I."
"Oh." he smiled at me. Then I asked him if he would like to see where the Gnome minister stills when she leads the gnome church service? (As I had made my way up the street earlier that morning I had noticed a lone toad stool standing in the grass aside our building.) I lead him to it and we both stood over it looking down upon it with admiration.
"When do you think the gnome's service starts?" he asked me.
"Probably around the same time ours does." was the best answer I had to this question I didn't expect.
"Well," he said, "we should probably get inside because I don't think the gnomes will come around if we are here and I don't want any of them to miss their service."
We held hands while we walked into the church; before we turned the corner he looked back over his shoulder at the mushroom. "They're arriving!" he whispered to me and before I could look for myself he tugged me along to the front steps.
Once inside the boy's father greeted us and asked,
"What have you two been up to?"
"We were looking at a Gnome stool Dad, Jennifer said some people call them 'toad' stools, I think those people need glasses."
"Oh." his father looked at me with curiosity.
For a moment I thought to myself, "Had he truly seen a gnome atop the mushroom?"
And in the next moment I knew the answer,"Of course he did."
Perhaps I need new glasses?

"How often is the soul of man, especially that of the child, deprived because one does not put him in contact with nature.
There is no description, no image in any book, that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees which speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving. The wood reveals that it is not only the trees that exist, but a whole interrelated collection of lives. And this earth, this climate, this cosmic power are necessary for the development of all these lives. The myriad lives around the trees, the majesty, the variety are things one must hunt for, and which no one can bring into the school
~Maria Montessori

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mystery Bag by Montessori Mama

Hello Everyone,
As I mentioned I recently took a long car trip with my boys. While traveling (with Montessori Papa at the wheel)I made use of the time to sew this Mystery Bag.
The fabric was wrapping paper around a birthday gift, given to me by my friend Angela for my 30th b-day, colorful spirals because I LOVE spirals, and bright colors because I almost always wear black and she wanted to give me something "cheery".

This Monday it was my 35th birthday. It occurred to me that for five years this fabric has sat under somethings on a shelf. I've passed by it and admired it but that's all. I wanted to make something with it that would get enjoyed often.
And so, I made a Mystery Bag from it! My kiddos have always loved playing with our classroom mystery bag, I am confident they will love it even more because of the cheery colors and of course, the spirals.

I had the most wonderful birthday by the way, I was asked by a friend to attend the birth of her first child! I have always wanted to be a Doula (birthing assistant) and for my birthday this year my wish came true. It was one of the most amazing, miraculous, phantasmagorical experiences of my life! Baby Lydia was born at 2pm on August 12th, even though her incredible Mama had been in labor since 6am on August 11th!!!

Lydia weighed nine pounds 11 oz!!!! She was born with a full head of curly dark brown hair and long fingernails (she was almost two weeks late). I will never ever forget the past two days. To take part in the beauty, intensity, and love that filled those hours of labor...I feel honored and blessed to be included in it all.
Thank you Lydia and family for the BEST birthday gift I've ever received.

PEACE to all, enjoy your babies (big and small).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Practical Life

'Pouring Work' cut paper art by Jennifer Howard
I just finished this 11 x 9 inch cut paper piece and wanted to share it with you all. I am working on a different image for each area of the classroom. As you know Cornerspring is expanding to included two new classes and a whole new building (that needs decorating!). So I thought I would create some art for the walls. My father suggested putting her on a lighter color back ground and I may do that. I'll share it if I decide to change it and the other pieces as they are completed.
Any feed back is welcome and appreciated!
Happy creating!
PS Check out this AMAZING cut paper artist when time allows you!
Olan Quattro

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Montessori Papa is HOME and off we go!

Papa Montessori returned home to us on August 1st, since then we have been traveling to visit family AND having allot of much needed fun along the way. Here's a shot of my four guys at a children museum. I got allot of inspiration for my classroom from this trip and took a ton of photos. I can't wait to get started!

With Papa Montessori home to bounce ideas off of and my Director Paula for support and encouragement, this should go smoothly, building a classroom from scratch. This morning I inventoried some supplies that were recently delivered. Little One tried to climb in the box with the packing peanuts and close the lid! He's been a wild one since returning home! That's what happens when THIS toddler's routine is interrupted.

It's nice to be home!
I'll post again very soon.
Thanks for reading everybody.
If you have any toddler classroom items your toddler can't live without, please share! I'm curious if I've thought of everything? Ha-Ha...I KNOW that's not possible but being me, I like to try. :)
Montessori Mama

Friday, August 1, 2008

Near and Far



Teaching concepts with the whole body!
I'm at work on a concept book:
Where is Little One?

Using photos of my two year old and his friends (stuffed animals, our two cats, his big brothers, me and Dad) I have taken photos to illustrate concepts and put them together in a 5 X 7 size board book. (When it is complete I will post more photos.)
The visual discrimination concepts I have included are:
Near and Far
Up and down
In and Out
Over and Under
Open and Closed
Asleep and Awake
Tall and Short
Big and Small

It has been fun coming up with photo ideas and Little One has enjoyed being part of the process. I encourage you all to give it a try. It's an easy way to share concepts with your toddler AND because the photos are of familiar people and objects it is sure to become a favorite!
As always ENJOY one another,

Where in the World?


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