Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Science Activities for Elementary Students

Presented in the correct perspective, science is a fun and entertaining subject. It also gives instructors the opportunity to get the students involved, inside the classroom as well as at home or in the great outdoors. Montessori learning is well-suited for science activities that give your child a hands-on, exciting look at science and how it affects our everyday lives.


Biology: Frogs and Butterflies

Life is a fragile thing, both beautiful and sometimes tragic as it begins. Classroom activities could include an aquarium of tadpoles maturing into frogs (and transitioning from aquatic creatures to land-based organisms), or a collection of butterfly, moth, and other insect larvae that matures into majestic flying creatures. Introducing the early stages of life makes a great starting point for deeper investigations into life and the world around us.


Climate: Linking Weather and Biology

The success of every living thing depends on its ability to adapt to the surroundings in which it lives. A classic activity uses sealed containers with frogs or insects and the presence or absence of living plants to demonstrate the importance of oxygen. The converse is true as well, so plants require a steady supply of carbon dioxide. From there, students can experiment with variables such as heat, light, and the availability of water - factors that can be easily tested using mushrooms, bread mold, or ordinary pond water.


Learning the States of Matter

Three of the four states of matter can be easily demonstrated in the classroom using only water, a beaker, and fire. Start with ice cubes for the solid state, then allow it to melt into a liquid state. Once the ice cubes have completely melted, transform the water into a gas by applying heat. To demonstrate the plasma state of matter, the fire used to heat the water is a great example of plasma, which can only exist under constant conditions of energy transfer. Fluorescent and neon lights are other examples of this elusive state of matter.


The Joys of Chemical and Elemental Magic

Learning about the basic states of matter allows a transition into the atoms, molecules, and elements that comprise them. While the science is very complex, it is easy to experiment with the basic concepts. Household chemicals and other ingredients can be used to demonstrate many facets of chemical and elemental reactions and interactions, including such ideas as:


·        Specific gravity (solids and oils in water)
·        Natural separation of fluids (oil, water, and alcohol)
·        Sedimentary properties (sand and water)
·        Chemical reactions (vinegar and baking soda)
·        Erosion (dripping fluids on soft clay)


Maximizing Montessori Method


Keeping children immersed and active is a basic tenet of the Montessori Method. The field of science is an ideal subject because indoor and outdoor activities can show real-world examples of how science affects our lives, right down to explaining how the environment is impacted by the things we do.  The Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus teaches students ages 6-12 the importance of learning science, especially in today's society. Starting students off with a solid foundation using the activities above will only help our students as they continue throughout their education and adult lives.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Why Reading with your Child at Home is Important

Reading is a crucial part of our daily lives. Our language permeates everything we do with written signs, notices, and, perhaps most importantly, literacy introduces the method by which knowledge can be transferred from one person to another. In order to give your child the best start on education, the importance of reading to them cannot be overstated. One of the worst mistakes, where education is concerned, is to leave your child’s education entirely up to people outside the home.


Building Vocabulary and Pronunciation

Reading builds vocabulary. The average 3 year old has a vocabulary of around 300 words, but reading to them at home can increase this number dramatically. Additionally, reading to your child teaches them to pronounce words correctly and introduces them to the rules of the language. Once the rules of the language have been learned, the sky's the limit when it comes to what your child can learn.


Establishing a Knowledge Base

We use the written language as a method of storing information. Reading to your child encourages them to want to read as well. In this way, reading aloud to your child teaches them the importance of language as a tool for communication, and gives them the tools to learn about anything that interests them.


Imagination and Creativity

Reading to children teaches them to be imaginative and creative. Picture books encourage kids to think about what is going on behind the scenes or to anticipate what is about to happen. This leads to both critical thinking skills and the ability to know reality from fantasy. Reading to your kids and discussing the words being read instills the power of language and helps them use it to their advantage.


Literacy and Education

Books are the most common method of imparting knowledge on young minds. Teaching them that reading is the key to knowing why the sky is blue or learning about the ingredients in ice cream empowers children to find out more about their world. Just as importantly, most of your children’s education will be spent learning from books, so giving them a headstart on the written language is equivalent to helping them do well on every knowledge test they ever take.


Reading Encourages Writing


Reading to your child encourages them to enjoy a good story. Enjoying a good story leads to wanting to share their own experiences. And since the written language can be used for sharing information, the eventual outcome is a child who is better able to express themselves in a manner that can be passed from one person to another.

Day Star Montessori incorporates reading from the beginning of a child's enrollment at the school.  While it is mostly teacher led, children are able to hear adults reading to them, learning about vocabulary and different story types. Once they learn to read on their own, they are able to think creatively and use their skills from reading in all facets of their education and beyond.  In the Montessori environment, as students learn through peer interaction, they can be taught additional reading skills by their fellow students and families at home.  Contact us today to see how reading is incorporated into the Montessori curriculum.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

How to Make a Butterfly Habitat

Hatching butterflies is a wonderful science project that teaches kids about life cycles, as well as other skills such as research and responsibility. If you are interested in trying this with your child, here are a few tips to help you pull it off smoothly.


Planning for Your Butterflies

Researching and planning is a fun and important part of this learning experience, so be sure to use it to engage your child. Together you can research what butterflies are native to your area and where you can order them in the caterpillar stage. Be sure to also find out what they like to eat in each stage. You don't want to offer your guests the wrong food!


Building the Habitat

Mesh butterfly habitats are available for purchase, most of which are built with wire so that you can collapse them to save space when the project is over. If you want to involve your child with every step of the process, though, you might choose instead to build the habitat together.

Use a piece of plywood for the base. A frame for a simple cover can be built from slim pieces of wood. Others choose to make a teepee-shaped frame so that it can be collapsed once the project is over. Just make sure you make the frame big enough so that the butterflies have enough space! Use a staple gun to cover the frame in nylon mesh, keeping it snug so that there are no gaps where butterflies could escape and to allow you to see easily into the habitat. The cover can be lifted to allow you into the enclosure, or you can fashion an access panel that can be opened and closed to avoid disturbing any chrysalises attached to the side.


Preparing the Habitat for Butterflies

Prepare the habitat for your caterpillars by scattering twigs and leaves over the bottom. Be sure to include an upside-down lid with a little water in it, and spray the enclosure with a mist periodically. Before the caterpillars go into the chrysalis stage, they will need food, so be sure to research what leaves and grasses your caterpillars may prefer. About 10 days after they go into their chrysalises, just before they hatch, you can add an-upside down lid of sugar water, some fresh local flowers, and a few pieces of fruit to the enclosure for the butterflies.


Releasing the Butterflies

Once your child has enjoyed the butterflies for a couple of days, it's time to release them into the garden to let them breed and lay their eggs. If this project is planned enough in advance, you can be sure to have some tempting plants waiting for them in your garden.


Cultivating a Love of Learning


Engaging kids in fun, comprehensive projects such as researching and hatching butterflies, is a great way to inspire their interest in science and nature. Montessori education incorporates hands-on, self-directed learning into every lesson.  This allows students to engage with the subject being taught through an interactive activity.  For more information about the kinds of projects we do in our classrooms, schedule a tour of Mission Valley Montessori today.