Saturday, March 31, 2012

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge

Tomorrow is April 1st. That means it is the start of the A to Z Challenge. Last year, I tried to come up with my own Montessori alphabet. I even restarted this blog on the Blogger platform, instead of maintaining it on my website. Unfortunately, when my father fell ill, I had to give it up. I just couldn't concentrate on school matters while he was unconscious in the hospital.

Through the rest of the year, I attempted to continue the alphabet, but was unable to keep up. So, this year, I am starting fresh. I have a whole new list of ideas that relate to the materials and the philosophy. I am hoping this jumpstarts this blog again, too.

Thanks for stopping by and happy blogging!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Essential Montessori Reading From the Early 20th Century

I believe that to be an effective Montessori educator, you must have an innate ability to do so. At the same time, you have to continually educate yourself about the philosophy, child development and psychology. Maria knew what she was talking about 100 years ago, which is why her philosophy still works today. If you pay attention, other educational methods have been pulling from her ideas, even if they are not always giving her credit.

Dozens of books have been published in the last couple of decades, hoping to bring Montessori back to a modern audience. Countless blogs are also available across the Internet. While these modern interpretation are wonderful, we also need to remember to go back to the source. 

While perusing free books across the Internet, I finally came across a large selection of Montessori books that are free from Google Books. In addition to Maria's own words are some thoughts from her contemporaries during the time she was alive. There is something inspirational to take a look at the philosophy from a historical standpoint. Here is a list of Maria's books and others that are available for you to download to your e-reader, or even peruse on your computer.

books by Maria....

The Montessori Method

This is the original book that introduced Maria's philosophy to the world. In this book she provides the basis of her philosophy, how it was developed, how it relates to child development, how to prepare the teacher, and activities for in the classroom. It also includes many photographs of Maria working in her own environment, which is truly inspiring.

This is a digital copy of the first English edition from 1912. I actually own my own copy of a first English edition, in addition to a more modern version. I feel much more connected when holding that book in my hands. Consider this like a first draft.

Get your Google Books copy here.

Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook

What I love about this book is how it breaks down the didactic equipment into easy to understand terms. Learn what each material is meant for and how to implement its proper use. It is a great reference for parents who are wondering what these materials are that the teachers and children are talking about. It also is a great quick reference for assistants and teachers who are reviewing materials and lessons.

The photographs may be in black and white, but they are still quite informative.

Get your Google Books copy here.

The Advanced Montessori Method, Volume 1: Spontaneous Activity in Education

In this book, Maria goes into even more detail about her philosophy of education. She delves into more child development, preparation of the teacher and preparation of the environment. She also addresses social issues of the time, as well as educational philosophy of the time.

Get your Google Books copy here.

Pedagogical Anthropology

This is a collection of speeches by Maria Montessori, regarding the physical and spiritual development of the child.

Get your Google Books copy here.

books by others....

A Montessori Mother by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Dorothy Canfield Fisher was one of Maria Montessori's biggest advocates back in the day. She was determined to bring Montessori to America and often wrote about it. This book is her meditation on the Montessori method, after reading the book and actually traveling to Italy to witness the schools in action. She discusses how parents can apply the method within their own homes. It is a parent speaking to other parents.

Get your Google Books copy here.

The Montessori Manual by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

In this book, Dorothy Canfield Fisher attempts to break down The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori, into an easier-to-read format. While maintaining the integrity of the original work, she tries to strip away the drier philosophical passages and instead focuses on the concrete nuts and bolts of methodology and materials.

Get your Google Books copy here.

The Montessori System by William Heard Kilpatrick

Kilpatrick was an advocate of the Progressive Education movement. A student of John Dewey, he developed his own method of education that used a thematic approach. He, like Montessori, believed the child should be guided through education based on his own interests, and should incorporate all senses while doing so. This is his explanation of the Montessori philosophy.

Get your Google Books copy here.

A Guide to the Montessori Method by Ellen Yale Stevens

Ellen Yale Stevens spent many years studying John Dewey. In the dedication section of this book, she thanks him for paving the way for Americans to be receptive to the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori. Her purpose in writing this book was to apply her understanding of the Method to Americans. She wanted to clear up any misconceptions that came with the initial introduction in the United States. She also offered up her ideas on how to implement the method in the US, based on experiments she performed during one summer. 

Get your Google Books copy here.

The Montessori Principles and Practice by Edward Parnall Culverwell

Edward Parnall Culverwell lived in London in the early 20th century. He was disillusioned by Plato and hoped that Montessori would be able to bring back some practicality in education. He is very critical of her work in this interpretation.

Get your Google Books copy here.

The Montessori Didactic Apparatus by the House of Childhood

I love this one. It is a catalog of Montessori materials from 1913. With each picture is an explanation of the material and how it is to be used. How wonderful it would be for current manufacturers to do the same in their catalogs!

Get your Google Books copy here.

Montessori Children by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

Carolyn Sherwin Bailey was a student of child psychology who took time to go to Italy to observe Maria Montessori and her children in action. This book is a compilation of her observations and opinions following her trip.

Get your Google Books copy here. 

The Kindergarten and the Montessori Method by Martha MacLear

Martha MacLear seeks to take the teachings of Froebel, whose kindergarten concept had only been existence for 50 years at this point, and merges them with Montessori. In some ways, we are still doing this today.

Get your Google Books copy here.

The Montessori System of Child Culture by Clara E. Craig, Rhode Island Dept. of Education

This is a review of a Montessori training course from 1913. The State Department of Education actively seeks out information to better help children in their school. At that time, Montessori was new, yet warranted further investigation. Findings are that teachers would benefit from studying the philosophy.

Get your Google Books copy here.

The Montessori Method and the American School by Florence Elizabeth Ward

Florence Elizabeth Ward was a Professor of Kindergarten Education at the Iowa State Teachers College. She is another who went to study the teachings of Maria Montessori first-hand, and experimented with the techniques with some of her own students. 

Get your Google Books copy here.

The Montessori System in Theory and Practice by Theodate Louise Smith

This is yet another American's look at the Montessori Method and how it can be implemented in the American school system.

Get your Google Books copy here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Montessori Madmen's Google Challenge

The Montessori Madmen are dedicated to spreading the Montessori word around the globe. They particularly like to take on mammoth projects that are so easily accomplished by all of us. The latest challenge? To land on the front page of Google.

Inspired by Patty Declambre Said, MM is challenging anyone involved in Montessori to come up with their own Google logo, using only Montessori materials. The Baan Dek school (headed by Bobby George, one of the original Madmen) had already come up with their own logo and posted it on their Facebook page.

I am off of work for the rest of the week, due to an injury. But when I return on Monday, I plan on working with my kids during the week to come up with some of our own. 

Share some of your creations with us!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Language of Money

In Montessori education, we focus on the importance of language with children. Everything has a proper name, which we teach first. That first period of the three-period lesson is the naming period. "This is an apple. This is a banana." In the second period, we look at the child retrieving the vocabulary as we ask him to point out the objects we name. "Show me banana. Show me apple." And finally in that third period, we ask the child to give us the name. "What is this?"

Beyond simple vocabulary is the manner in which we talk about concepts and ideas. Children pick up on our attitudes and learn how to mimic them. They listen to the words we use and figure out how to apply them elsewhere. The same can happen when you are talking about money. In this excerpt from Chapter 2 of Piggy Banks to Paychecks by Angie Mohr, she discusses the language of money.

The Language of Money

How we talk about money- the words, the phrases, the attitudes- is just as important as what we say about money. It’s the same with food. If you talk about food like it’s a reward for good behavior or a comfort for a stressful day, those attitudes will color what you do with food and how much you eat. The words you use about food, such as “You deserve a big bowl of ice cream”, will shape how your children view and talk about food. Just as bad food habits can be carried over from generation to generation, so can bad money habits.

Money is nothing but a facilitator of commerce. It does not have any magical properties that will make people happier, more positive, healthier, or wiser. While having enough wealth to live a fulfilling and satisfying life is a fantastic goal, it’s not the money itself that gets us there. It’s what we do with our money and how to handle it.

For the next week, listen consciously to the words you use when you talk about money every day. Do you talk about it as if it’s something that just appears and disappears outside of your control? Do you discuss how you will reward yourself with a shopping trip after a hard work week or “splurge” on an expensive dinner out? Do you talk about your retirement account with comments like, “I’m not even going to look at it- the markets are so bad right now”? The words we use define how in control we feel about money.

Remember that children are sponges. They listen to us when we think they’re doing other things. They absorb our attitudes about wealth, budgeting, and financial security. Controlling the way you talk about money is the first step in teaching your children positive financial lessons. Money is not the end goal and it is something that we can harness and control. We are not helpless in our financial journey. Everyone has the ability to take the reigns and direct our financial situation in the right direction.

Here are some money phrases that are a great start to talking about money more positively:

“Our budget gives us $100 this month to plan our entertainment.”

“Because we saved $50 on our groceries this month, we can take $25 of it and go to the amusement park.”

“The housing market is significantly down right now, but we’re not buying or selling and can ride it out just fine.”

“Let’s go through next year’s budget again and see if we can find some savings so that we can go to Mexico in the winter.”

“Mary, you did a great job managing the bake sale and it showed in the amount of money you made.”

“The car is still in good running order, so we’ll keep it for at least another year.”

“We received more back on our income tax returns than we expected. Let’s work the extra into the budget.”

“You saved up for that CD player all on your own and then researched and found a better price than you were expecting. Great job saving money!”

Note that all of these phrases denote that you are in control of your money. You know where it came from and where it’s going. You have your money on a leash, not the other way around.

Watch your thoughts for they become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions for they become habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

© Angie Mohr 2012

Learn more by visiting Angie Mohr's website for Piggy Banks to Paychecks.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Piggy Banks to Paychecks

In the Montessori environment, we are teaching children skills for life. We also expose them to as many concrete concepts as possible, to lay the foundation for later abstract learning. Even in the early childhood classroom, young students start to learn about money. First they learn the names of each coin and bill. Later they start to assign values to them. Activities for a money unit can often mimic the other math areas.

Parents can easily start to implement natural education about money in their daily lives. In the upcoming book Piggy Banks to Paychecks, author Angie Mohr, CA, CMA shares tips with parents about teaching their kids about money. Here she shares one of her tips with readers:

Piggy Banks to Paychecks, Angie Mohr (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2012)


Start Early and Make it Fun
The one question I get the most often from parents is "How soon should we start teaching our kids about budgeting and money?" The answer to the question isn't cut and dried. Money lessons start with simply exposing your kids to the financial realities of life.

"Why can't I have that chocolate bar?"
"Because it's not in our budget this week."

"Why did that lady give you money?"
"Because she just bought some books from us."

Exposure to finances is the first step for kids to learn what money is and how to handle it. There's no need for formal lessons or lectures. Kids pick up their financial knowledge through everyday living.

When kids are around five, they can begin to understand more complex monetary situations, such as commerce and saving. Take your kids to the local discount store and let them decide on minor purchases, such as whether to buy the name brand laundry detergent or the generic one. Explain the reasons why one might be better than the other (more loads of laundry for the cost, quality, etc.).

Let young children count out change and get used to monetary equivalents, such as ten dimes make a dollar. Buy them a piggy bank (or make one from a jar) and let them start accumulating coins. When they're older, they can start working for their money, doing chores around the house. Keep money a daily part of their lives, just as it is a daily part of your life.

Visit Angie Mohr's website for Piggy Banks to Paychecks for even more information.