I've spent a great part of my computer time this week searching through my execrably organized digital archives for a video that Will asked for, that of her 2011 Spring Ice Show performance. I've often waxed nostalgic about that particular performance--a cheerful number, with the children all dressed in yellow shirts and sunglasses, performing to "Walking on Sunshine"--and how its unanticipated beauty surprised me into tears, so much so that Will, who doesn't remember it, really wants to watch the video. It seems, however, that I neglected to videotape it for her, or that I've somehow accidentally deleted the video since then. Ah, well, these are what memories are for...
In searching for that video, however, I came across some photos from a particularly magical year in the kids' former Montessori school--Will was a kindergartner, and Syd was a youngest grouper, and they were both together in the same afternoon ages 3-6 classroom:
Here is the children's outdoor classroom. I didn't love it, because it wasn't large, and for a large area of it there was a "no fast running" rule, but Syd, at least, pretty much just always hung out in this truly excellent sandbox. I LOVE the tree stumps:
I was recently reminded of this further use of the Montessori map puzzles on Pinterest, and it's something that I'm absolutely going to reincorporate into out studies, because Will clearly loved it, if all the giant, traced maps of Australia that she brought home were any indication. This assistant teacher was another beloved element of the Montessori class--the existence of two assistant teachers brought the student:teacher ration down to 10:1, and since much Montessori work is done independently by the children, the teachers really could focus on whoever needed them:
Will's favorite spot was the classroom library, of COURSE. Naughty children were often asked to go to the library for some quiet, cooling-down time, and I suspect that Will, a VERY independent child whose major motivation when interacting with an authority figure is to specifically not do what that authority figure would like her to do, was egged on into further throes of pig-headedness by the thought that any defiant infraction would result in a stint in--ooh, darn!--the library!
The children all loooooooved the classroom guinea pigs, Cinnamon and Nutmeg, who, yes, were placed into a large bucket when a child wanted to pet them:
Although Will fights SO much with her sister, she's always done really well with kids exactly Syd's age, and I remember that she and this little youngest-grouper had a special connection. Older kids were always encouraged to do activities with the younger children, and here Will and this kid are completing a photo/object matching work. And yes, Will is wearing a velvet top, cargo shorts, green and black striped tights, and purple Dr. Martens:
One thing that I know I should have recreated in our homeschool, but never did, are these types of math sensory works--the pink tower, the red rods, and these graduate cylinders that grow in both height and diameter. Syd loved these works, and I can see now how useful and appealing they would have been to her in her early years homeschooling. She loves repetition, she loves manipulatives, and she requires a concrete grounding in whatever mathematics we're doing:
Here's a fun extension of those red rods that I just mentioned--you create a labyrinth by setting up the rods at right angles, leaving *just* enough room for a young child to walk:
I DID recreate this work at home, collecting enough Base Ten blocks
of our own that the kids could concretely visualize big numbers by building them. Those Base Ten blocks may be the most used, and most useful, manipulative in our homeschool:
I've said before, many times, that this year was a sweet spot in the children's development--I loved having them in the same classroom, I loved the Montessori method, I loved having them gone for three hours each day and then having them come back to me. Frankly, if I could still do that--if I could still have my kids in the same classroom, if I could still have them immersed in a rich educational and child-led environment like Montessori, and ESPECIALLY if they could only be there for about three hours and then be free to spend the rest of their days as they pleased, I'd still be there, absolutely.