Spring Crafts for Ages 0-6

Spring is always a fun time for kids, and few things help them get into the spirit of things like craft activities. One of the best things about doing craft activities is its ability to engage even the youngest of children. No matter whether your child is already experienced with crafts or just starting to play with crayons, these activities will help awaken your child’s imagination.

Tray Spring Art

These pieces of spring art are easy for even the youngest toddlers to create, made from one of the simplest items available – a meat tray. Let your child color in the background with non-toxic markers or paint. Then, attach colorful foam shapes such as butterflies or flowers that fit in with the spring theme.

Colorful Windchimes

Kids love windchimes, but you might have concerns about working with glass or metal pieces around little kids. Twig chimes are a fun alternative, and your kids will enjoy selecting their own twigs as part of a nature walk. Paint the twigs in bright spring or rainbow colors, then hang them in a spot where everyone can enjoy them.

Tissue Paper Rainbows

A rainbow is a great way to introduce young kids to colors. Tissue paper is easy for little ones to work with and cut using safety scissors. Once the rainbow is put together, your kids will want to display it and tell stories.

Clay Vase Necklaces

These necklaces help spark kids’ creativity when they get interested in working with clay. One of the best parts of making them is that it is easy to shape the clay and run the string through. For an extra bit of fun, go out exploring with your kids and find some pretty flowers to put in the miniature vases.

3D Animals

Animal figures are lots of fun for kids, but nothing comes close to making your own. Help your child trace the outline of an animal on a file folder with its body spread out; make sure the fold will be in the middle of the back. Cut the figure out, color, and then fold it so the animal stands up.

Drip Dye Flower Pot

Drip dye is a fun activity for kids who like paint and playing around with colors. Drop one or two paint colors into a cup filled with water, then pour the dye over a plain vase. When the paint dries, the vase will have a unique look your child will take pride in.

These fun activities are perfect for a spring day in the Bay Area and for helping your child prepare for school.  At Montessori School of Pleasanton, students are encouraged to embrace their creativity, including through art activities.  Our hands-on, interactive learning approach allows students to explore independently while working with their fellow students to engage in the subject at hand. Contact us today to schedule a tour.

The Value in a Montessori Elementary School Education

A Montessori education prepares your child to thrive with an exceptional curriculum that prepares them skillfully and meaningfully for our ever-changing world. When your child leaves their elementary school environment, they will be ready for opportunities and challenges awaiting them in high school, college, and life in general.

The Value in a Montessori Elementary School Education

Elementary education in the Montessori school is divided into two parts. Lower Elementary are students in grades 1 through 3. Upper Elementary are students in grade 4 through 6. All grades throughout the two parts are taught subjects in accordance with the Montessori ‘cosmic education’ principle. This principle means your child will be taught to make direct use of their knowledge. They are encouraged to pursue their own interests independently and in depth. Support is provided, so your child doesn’t spend time just memorizing material, but will use their knowledge in real life applications.

Grades 1 through 3

Students in the lower elementary grades begin cultural work to look at their universe from the beginning of time. Timelines are used to organize and explain the formation of the earth and origin of life. Your child will learn about plants and animals and along the way, learn the history of life forms.

Lower elementary students’ curriculum also includes math, language, and practical life studies. When your child learns math skills, they will also develop problem-solving skills and be able to use math skills in their daily lives. Language will give them an understanding and appreciation for reading and literature along with knowledge of all writing and grammar styles.

Practical life studies will prepare your child to perform a series of jobs necessary to their classroom community. They will be asked to take care of a class pet, clean up after a group setting, or prepare and serve a class snack. These studies will show the importance and necessity of group work within a community setting.

Grades 4 through 6

Upper elementary students continue work introduced in the lower elementary. They extend the study on cosmic education with courses on human history. Studies will also include following the sequence of earth science, physical science, and biology. Their math curriculum will provide them a strong foundation in plane figures, area, volume, and formulas along with an introduction to congruence, equivalence, and similarity concepts.

As an upper elementary student, your child will expand their knowledge of grammar, creative writing, and different writing styles. They will be exposed to an in-depth literature curriculum. There are also practical life studies included in the upper grades to help prepare your child for necessary everyday practices.

Enriched Social Development

The Montessori Elementary education provides students in both levels with a well-rounded educational experience. Teachers will incorporate art, music, different languages, and physical education into their time. Students are encouraged to discuss, and problem solve issues that arise among them and speak honestly while feeling safe and included. They are taught to deal with social and emotional issues with empathy and respect.

Montessori education is different from a traditional education, in that students are encouraged to learn at their own pace and work with their peers and older students alike to gain better understanding of the world around them.  At Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus, we offer a full elementary program for grades 1 through 6.  Our elementary program not only inspires academic excellence but also encourages each child’s curiosity, creativity, and imagination.  Contact us today to schedule a tour.

The Importance of Toddler Oral Health

The month of February is National Oral Health Month, and this is a good reminder of the need to start teaching good oral health habits early. The toddler years are a good time for children to start learning how to take care of their teeth. Children at this stage are learning and getting used to daily routines, making oral care something that is easy to turn into a habit.

Fun Tools to Help Your Child

There are many fun things you can use to help spark further interest in oral care for your child. Some of the options to consider include:

  • The Tooth Fairy app from Colgate that includes a game, map to see where teeth come in, and information for parents.
  • Child-size toothbrushes featuring favorite cartoon characters.
  • Songs like Sesame Street’s “Brushy Brush” that encourage children to brush for two minutes.

Give Help As Needed

A toddler isn’t likely to have the fine motor skills to use a toothbrush very well without help. Make sure your child’s toothbrush is the right size and has soft bristles. Fluoride rinses geared towards younger children are helpful, but you should supervise your child to ensure he or she doesn’t swallow the rinse.

Encourage your child to eat fruit or other produce items as a snack, instead of sugary items. Even when your child snacks in between meals, encourage them to brush their teeth anyway. They will begin to treat this as part of their normal routine.

Other ways you can help your child follow good practices include:

  • Changing out the toothbrush about three or four times a year, plus after illnesses. Make things interesting by having your child pick out their toothbrush.
  • Make sure your child sees you eating healthy and brushing regularly. You will be setting a good example by doing these things yourself.
  • Schedule regular visits with a good pediatric dentist. These dentists know how to make younger kids comfortable and make the experience fun.

Good Dental Health Helps Later

Your child’s dental health early in life will also make an impact on their life later, especially as they progress into school. Pain issues from bad teeth and difficulty chewing foods can negatively impact a child’s quality of life. Even younger children often become self-conscious if their teeth become discolored and other children notice. If you help your child take charge of their oral health from an earlier age, they are likely to have greater self-confidence.

At Montessori School of Pleasanton, we understand the impact that personal habits can have on a child’s development and focus in school.  We encourage students to take proper care of themselves, including their dental health.  To see how Montessori education emphasizes developing the whole child, contact us today to schedule a tour.

What Nature Teaches Children

Children are born with a natural curiosity to learn about the world around them. As a parent or educator, building upon their natural desire to learn will help in a child’s overall development. Part of a valuable learning experience is exposing children to nature. Being outdoors or bringing nature items indoors has numerous benefits. For young minds, the potential learning opportunities are endless.

Learning in Nature

Indoor classrooms have limits for the safety of the children. Introducing children to an outdoor environment has fewer restrictions. Encouraging children to run, skip, hop, and simply play brings numerous benefits to each child’s development.

  • Encourages Creativity and Imagination: Being outdoors allows children to approach the natural environment in different ways. The interaction provides children a chance to engage in physical activity. As children begin to explore the different smells, textures, and hear various natural sounds, the endless world of imagination and creativity about the environment will follow.
  • Allows for Additional Learning: The natural curiosity about the outdoor surroundings encourages children to ask questions. Responsible caregivers will build upon the questions, providing more opportunities to learn.
  • Promotes Autonomy: As children explore, a sense of independence develops, thereby providing children with the confidence to learn about the various aspects nature has to offer. Fostering a sense of independence will help children grow in future academics.
  • Encourages Personal Responsibility: As children learn about the environment, personal responsibility develops. Learning how the living world works will allow children to view consequences.
  • Development of Fine and Large Motor Skills: Being outdoors allows children to engage in physical activity which aids in the development of large motor skills. Just as important, the outdoor environment provides children a chance to develop fine motor skills. Picking up small stones, acorns, or sticks for further exploration requires the use of fine motor skills or simple hand movement. Establishing a foundation for further learning, building fine motor skills helps in hand/eye coordination. Later, the skill will develop into the ability to write.
  • Develops Social Skills: Being outdoors in a group of peers provides numerous opportunities for interaction with others. Sharing discoveries, discussing the environment, or simply engaging in creative play develops valuable social skills. The interaction provides opportunities to build vocabulary, learn from peers, and self-regulation to rules.
  • Encourages Fun: Like adults, children are often subject to busy schedules. Spending time outdoors reduces stress from everyday commitments. Outdoors, children engage in self-directed learning. Having the opportunity to explore the outdoors is fun.

Being outdoors allows children to grow physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually. As they explore, children learn to discuss their personal experiences, providing teachers and parents a chance to find additional materials. Children will use their natural curiosity to continue learning. Exploring the outdoor world allows children the opportunity to appreciate the natural environment.

At Montessori Childrens House, we incorporate nature and outdoor learning into our Montessori approach.  We encourage students to discover and explore on their own.  Contact us today to see the Montessori difference!

Teaching Elementary Students Citizenship

The elementary school years are a perfect time for students to learn about the great importance of citizenship. Good citizenship is about far more than just knowing facts about the United States, although this is quite important in its own right. Good citizenship also involves living by certain principles that help children live harmoniously with others, as well as treat others fairly and justly.

Important themes of good citizenship that kids must know include:

  • The courage to do the right thing even in bad circumstances
  • A high sense of personal and public responsibility
  • Respect of self, others, and ideas
  • Compassion for other people and all living things
  • Honesty in all dealings

Sharing Stories

A good way to help children better understand these principles is to share stories related to the principles of good citizenship. Discussion starters always help make these ideas come to life and provide a more personal take that students can easily relate to. Even younger kids are likely to have something to share and hearing from their peers often helps them decide to take the initiative and share their thoughts.

Some good discussion starters to consider include:

  • Talking about a person that the child has a high opinion of
  • Asking about a time they felt brave about something they did
  • Discussing times when they’ve shown that they care about someone

Role-Playing Often Helps

Kids in the elementary school years often relate to certain concepts through the use of role-playing. Although discussing or writing about certain ideas is helpful, some children might find it easier to act out certain situations to gain a better understanding of them. Interactive activities can also help kids learn these concepts together.

Art activities related to historic Americans who have been examples of good citizens can help children understand the concepts of citizenship in a more meaningful way. When children collaborate on larger projects, such as murals or dioramas, they will also understand the importance of working together with others to achieve goals.

Learning More About What Matters

Children in elementary school are at a good age to learn more about current events that relate to their lessons. The Montessori method encourages kids to take the initiative and learn more about things that interest them. Examples of how children might act on these ideas include:

  • Learning more about how to help those in need, both inside and outside the community
  • Understanding how leaders are elected and how people make their choices
  • Studying the history of events currently in the news and events that happened leading up to them

The Montessori approach is one that is ideal for helping children learn to become better US and world citizens.  At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus, our teachers incorporate hands-on and play-based learning into their lessons.  This allows children to discover on their own, including through role-playing and sharing stories.  Contact us today to schedule a tour and see the Montessori approach firsthand.

Parent Volunteers – Observing in the Classroom

Every parent wants the best learning opportunities for their children. An early love for knowledge builds a foundation for a lifetime of learning. Observing and volunteering in your child’s Montessori classroom may help you to better understand the diverse learning environment.

Volunteering is different than simply observing. Asking to be a volunteer is usually the role of the teacher to a parent. Being an observer is generally a task where parents ask teachers if they can come into the classroom. Each one plays a vital role in your child’s education. Understanding the classroom environment allows parents the opportunity to incorporate learning into regular home routines. Most educators welcome the opportunity to show concerned parents the daily routine of the classroom.

Right to Observe In the Classroom

Volunteering and observing in a classroom allow you to learn about your child’s day. Failing to take an active part in your child’s education may result in problem areas in the future. In the Montessori school setting, parents are welcome to visit. Trying to accommodate parent observation requests, some classrooms actually come equipped with an adult sized chair just for parent guests.

If you are a parent who is denied the opportunity to observe the classroom, you must stand up for your rights. Ask why access to your child’s classroom was denied. Explain the reasons for wanting to observe the classroom. As a parent, you must take into consideration that your presence will be a disturbance in the classroom. Many teachers want to plan your visit to allow for the maximum exposure to the daily classroom environment.

Guidelines to Observing in Your Child’s Classroom

Every teacher has a specific time frame for the length of the classroom observation. Prior to entering the classroom, you may want to ask the teacher or educator the time allowed for observing. In order to understand the Montessori environment, try to observe for at least one hour. Remember to ask the teacher or staff about the other guidelines to follow.

  • Remember your role in the classroom is to observe. Carefully watching the interaction of your child and other children in the classroom will help you in understanding the Montessori learning environment.
  • Enter and exit the classroom quietly. Some Montessori teachers will introduce parent observers.
  • Montessori classrooms are busy with various learning opportunities happening at the same time. As a parent, you may want to just focus on your child. In order to fully understand the learning environment, you should also watch other areas.
  • Do not interrupt the teacher; simply take notes to ask questions later.
  • After observing, ask the teacher or administration staff for a follow-up conference to discuss any questions or concerns.

Observing in the classroom provides parents with opportunities to understand the interaction between children and educators. The Montessori learning environment is not like the traditional classroom. Observing the class in motion will help a parent understand the learning strategies of the Montessori model.  To visit a Montessori classroom in person, contact Montessori School in Newark today.  Schedule a tour and see how Montessori education is firsthand. 

Our Favorite Books for the Season

Holiday books are a perfect way to celebrate a season filled with various traditions. Getting children interested in books at an early age may result in a lifelong love of reading. Seasonal books add to the excitement of the holidays. Finding the right type of book for your child depends on your personal seasonal preferences. As you begin to search for seasonal stories, keep in mind the best way to peak your child’s interest is finding an age appropriate book.

Books for Age Two and Above

  • Christmastime by Alison Jay (2012) is a delightful tale of the different aspects of the wonderful Christmas season.
  • Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle (2014) is a novelty book with lights. The book tells the story of the Little Blue Truck spreading Christmas cheer to various animal friends.
  • Peek-A-Who? by Nina Laden (2000) is a fun die-cut window book guiding children to a surprise ending.

Books for Age Three and Above

  • The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood (2012) focuses on the quiet times of the holiday season.
  • The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen (2015) inspires the reader to realize true gifts only come from the heart.
  • The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert (2013) shares the story of Anja who wants to be one of Santa’s elves.

Books for Age Four and Above

  • A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel (2011) tells a funny story on how a bad kitty finds the true meaning of the holiday season.
  • Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko (2012) shares the delights representing two seasonal traditions in one household.
  • The Little Elf by Brandi Dougherty (2012) tells the story of Oliver, a small elf with the desire to do the best job in Santa’s workshop.

Books for Age Five and Above

  • Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R Tolkien (2013) shares the magical tales surrounding the adventures of North Pole living.
  • Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (1986) unfolds the magical tale of being welcomed aboard a train on Christmas Eve.
  • How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan (2015) invites the reader to enjoy the different tips for catching Santa on Christmas Eve.

Books for Age Six and Above

  • The Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett (2012) tells a funny tale of a boy trying to capture Santa.
  • Barbara Parks’ tale of Junie B., First Grader in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May) (2009) tells the story of finding out your secret Santa pick is the class tattletale.
  • The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tee: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston (1996) shares the story of Ruthie who wants to find the perfect Christmas tree for the little town.

Every book has a way to invite the reader into a season filled with joy and laughter. Deciding on just one book may be a difficult decision. For extra fun, you can always go with the classic tale of How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. The ending always makes you smile.

Montessori School of Newark can help your child excel in reading through Montessori education, where children are encouraged to work at their own pace and collaborate with others.  Call us today to schedule a tour and learn how Montessori education can be a fit for your family.

Five Exploration Activities in Pleasanton

Exploration activities are a great way to help your child gain confidence while exploring the world around them. We are lucky that here in Pleasanton, we have plenty to do year round. Here are five activities you might want to check out that can help your child explore and grow.

5 Exploration Activities in Pleasanton

  1. Augustine Bernal Park – When the weather is nice, head out to Augustine Bernal Community Park. This is a great place to take the kids to get some energy out and to learn as they explore the outdoors. There are many different trails out there, some as small as half a mile, making it perfect for all ages. Children can explore different plants, get a little dirty, and be out in the fresh air.
  2. Mission Hills Park – If you are looking for a more confined space where you can let the kids roam and explore at their own will, Mission Hills Park on Junipero Street is just the place. Kids will love running, swinging and going as fast as they can down the big slide. Play is such a great way for kids to explore and learn and this park with 2 playgrounds, walking trails, and a creek provides the perfect spot.
  3. Play Well – This activity center for kids in kindergarten through grade eight allows children to explore and build using their favorite Lego pieces. Kids will learn about physics, engineering and creativity as they create and collaborate in these confidence building activities.
  4. Grow Canyon Community Gardens – If you are looking for a way where your child can learn how things grow, dig in the dirt, and explore the growing cycle, Grow Canyon Gardens in San Ramon is worth checking out. This large community garden has 54 plots that you can rent out year round to grow fruits, flowers, and vegetables. This can be a great daily or bi-weekly activities for the kids.
  5. Museum on Main – This museum is Pleasanton’s very own home of history but don’t let that scare you away. There are interactive exhibits and family activities to keep everyone happy. Once a month, the museum holds a special reading time program where your preschoolers can enjoy stories and crafts. The museum is located at 603 Main Street and worth checking out.

If you are looking for a school where your child can play, explore and learn on a daily basis, Montessori School of Pleasanton is a perfect choice. Come and take a tour of our school today and find out how our learning style can help encourage your child to explore the world around them.

Fall Crafts to Make at Home

Fall is a great time for kids to get involved in craft activities. Even your youngest kids will eagerly jump on the chance to learn more about the beautiful colors of fall and what the season is about. A hands-on approach will help ensure your child gets the most out of the activities.

Nature Tray Sorting and Counting

A nature tray is an important part of Montessori activities, and even toddlers can benefit from using one. Gather up items that include leaves or flowers, pine cones, rocks, twigs, and other items you might find outside on a fall nature walk. Your child will enjoy sorting and counting these items, and the fun nature walk focus will help make the counting part more enjoyable.

Fun With Apples

Fall is the ideal time to pick apples and otherwise have fun with this favorite food. You might do these activities separately or as part of a bigger unit on the harvest as a whole. Visiting an apple farm to see how the apples are harvested is an exciting lead-up to other activities that involve apples. When you’ve brought home some apples, consider some fun snack preparation, such as making candy apples.

Fall Leaf Artwork

One of the nicest things about fall leaves and their bright colors is the fact that they are perfect for artwork, even with toddlers. Kids will want to spend time focusing on remembering the colors, and sorting through the leaves to make pictures of trees or murals. If your fall travels won’t take you near fall foliage, consider creating leaves from colorful felt that can form the basis for an art project. Making your own mural with a tree and allowing your child to help add the leaves makes the idea of fall come to life.

Pumpkin Scubbing and Painting

Pumpkin scrubbing is a good activity fro toddlers, especially after having had the chance to select a pumpkin. Regardless of whether a pumpkin will be used in food or as a decoration, scubbing will help your child get used to cleaning vegetables before use. As an alternative to carving, consider getting some non-toxic paints to help your child decorate a pumpkin.

Play-Doh Fall Math Activities

Play-Doh makes a perfect tool for creating countable objects to help kids learn. Learning trays that feature full-color photos of bight apples and pumpkins, along with counters and cards, help make learning simple, and counting and math fun for you toddler or preschooler. Using objects they are seeing a lot of during the fall will help counting come more easily.

Montessori School in Newark offers the perfect environment for creative children who learn well with hands-on activities. Contact us today to schedule a tour to see how Montessori education will benefit your child.

Fall Crafts to Teach Thanks

Fall is the perfect time to teach children what it means to be thankful. At our Montessori schools, we love to teach through hands-on experiences and believe that crafts are a fun way to do this.

Fall Crafts that Teach Thanks

We put together a small list of some fun crafts you can do at home with your child to learn more about being thankful.

A Thanksgiving Tree – Colored construction paper and some tacks or tape is all you need for this craft. Cut out a tree trunk and individual leaves. Use these to create a tree on a space in your home that everyone walks by several times a day. Each day, decide on something you are thankful for. Have your toddler draw a picture on the leaves. Fill in a leaf and attach it to your tree. Each time you walk by, your family will see all the wonderful things you are thankful for.

A Thankful Book – You can use brown paper bags or create a book with sturdy card stock or paper. You will need 5 pages in addition to the cover. On each page write at the top.

  • At home I am thankful for …….
  • At school I am thankful for ……..
  • Outside I am thankful for ……….
  • In my family I am thankful for ……….
  • Other things I am thankful for ……….

Have your child fill in each page with drawings, writing or pictures cut from magazines.

A Jar of Thanks – This one is a simple craft. You will need a large glass jar, decorations and card stock. Let your child decorate the jar. Cut out small cards using the card stock. Now fill in the small cards with things you are thankful for; you can also have your toddler drawer pictures. When someone is having a bad day, they can go to the jar and remember all the things they are thankful for.

Create a Thankful Wreath – Cut out some leaf shapes in fall colors using colored paper or card stock. Have your child draw things they are thankful for on the leaves. Arrange the leaves in a wreath, securing them with glue or tape. You can have each child in your home make one of these and hang them on their bedroom doors.

These crafts are all great ways to help your child think about things they are thankful for and things they appreciate in life. It is never too early to start such a wonderful lesson.

Here at Montessori Children’s Center, we love to use arts and crafts to learn new things. If you are looking for a school for your child that includes hands on learning experiences, contact our school today to schedule a tour.