Montessori Schools of Fremont

Providing premium Montessori education since 1974

Preschool Craft: Making a Kaleidoscope — January 15, 2018

Preschool Craft: Making a Kaleidoscope

A kaleidoscope is a wonderful way to enjoy learning about the properties of light and vision. Preschoolers will require assistance on some steps, but should be allowed to do as much as they wish. To speed up the process, an adult can make all necessary cuts and the inner lens ahead of time. Allow appropriate drying time for glue steps.

Tools and Materials

Scissors Aluminum foil
Hammer and nail Clear freezer bag
Pencil or cotton swab Construction paper (2 sheets 8 ½ x 11)
Clear craft glue Glitter and shapes (stars, circles, etc)
Washable markers or paints Tissue or crepe paper (multiple colors)
Round chip container w/ clear Lid (Pringles)

Make the Tube

  • Using the hammer and nail, make a view hole in the bottom center of the container.
  • Glue aluminum foil to one sheet of construction paper. Trim foil to fit.
  • Roll the long side of the paper with the foil side facing inward.
  • Slip the rolled paper inside the chip container until it touches the bottom of the container.
  • The paper should unfurl to fit snugly. Glue in place, if necessary.
  • Create a “shelf” by placing a thin ring of glue around the upper edge of the construction paper.
  • Allow glue to dry. Repeat, if necessary, to achieve a noticeable ridge.
  • Decorate remaining sheet of construction paper with markers or paints.
  • Lines of glue can be added and sprinkled with glitter.
  • With the decorated side out, wrap the container with the paper.
  • Apply glue along the container-facing edge of the paper to secure it in place.
  • The container is slightly longer. Color the exposed portion with a marker, if desired.

Make the Inner Lens

  • Place one end of the tube on top of the clear freezer bag.
  • Create the outline of a circle by tracing around the outside of the tube with a marker.
  • Cut along the circular line, through both sides of the bag, creating 2 circular pieces.
  • Place a ring of glue around the outer edge of one plastic circle.
  • Lightly sprinkle glitter and shapes inside the ring of glue. Too many pieces will obstruct vision.
  • Place the second plastic circle over the first, pressing down to seal.

Make the Outer Lens

  • Cut or tear several small shapes out of the different colors of tissue paper.
  • Cover the outside of the container lid with a thin layer of glue.
  • Arrange the shapes on the glue, covering around ¾ of the lid surface.

Final Assembly

  • Put another line of glue inside the container on top of the “shelf.”
  • Carefully place the inner lens into the container so that it contacts the wet glue.
  • Use a pencil or cotton swab to press it gently into place.
  • Allow to dry.
  • Place the lid on the container.

That’s it! To use, point the kaleidoscope toward a bright light and turn the lid while looking through the view hole.  Montessori education embraces each child and their unique and creative spirits.  The teachers at Day Star Montessori allow students to work at their own pace and a promote a positive and collaborative learning environment.  To schedule a tour of our school, give us call today!

Benefits to using Storytelling to Teach your Preschooler —

Benefits to using Storytelling to Teach your Preschooler

Storytelling has been an important instructional tool since before the invention of writing. In many cultures, histories and life lessons are still verbally handed down from one generation to the next. The benefits of storytelling for preschoolers are many, including some aspects you may not have previously considered.

Because “You” Matter

Storytelling can be enhanced using using general pronouns such as “you,” “I,” or “we.” These pronouns encourage the listener to imagine themselves as part of the story. Fostering a sense of belonging is a major tool used to get people of all ages involved, invoking a sense of personal identification. If you say, “I am going to tell you a story,” and then continue using the 2nd person voice, the listener identifies more personally with the story you have to tell.

Storytelling as a Social Mechanism

We all have our stories to tell, and there have been volumes written about the importance of voicing your feelings, reservations, and experiences. Storytelling helps relieve stress for the storyteller, and promotes a better understanding of others in the listener. Just as importantly, telling a story gives a child a sense of importance, knowing that they have become the focus of attention. For example, every child has a story about losing their first tooth, but the experience will be slightly different for each individual.

Storytelling Shares Experience

Not all stories have to be personal in nature to accomplish an educational goal, including the use of parables to teach common lessons. The telling of the story defines an experience or perspective. It provides the preschool student with a means of committing information to memory in an easily relatable way. By listening to the story, comprehension is emphasized, especially when the story is accompanied by visual cues such as artwork or tangible objects.

Storytelling Builds Community

Learning to function as part of a larger group is an important step in education. Storytelling assists children with that lesson. When you tell a story to the whole classroom, you can invite the class to ask questions, act out the story as it progresses, or become personally invested in other ways. The end result is that kids learn something together, but each in their individual ways.

Working Together to Tell a Story

Another aspect of storytelling is when storytelling is used for group interaction. There are many ways to have group storytelling sessions, including taking turns adding to a story, or asking each student tell a short story based on a single item or image. No one knows exactly where the story is going to end up until it has completed, but the whole class gets to participate in making it happen.

Storytelling is as old as language and was once the sole method of passing information on from one person to another. For preschool children who are still learning the art of communication, it is as vitally important today as it has ever been.  Montessori education uses a creative approach to teaching children and encourages students to tell their own stories.  Teachers at Mission Valley Montessori serve as guides as children navigate through different learning opportunities.  Contact us today to hear our story!

Five Holiday Books to Read this Month — December 20, 2017

Five Holiday Books to Read this Month

What new adventures will your kids have this winter? As long as they have books, they could find themselves anywhere from a snowy forest to a magical train bound for the North Pole. Every season is full of new reasons to crack open a book, but the end of the year inspires some of the most heartwarming and memorable children’s literature. Here are five of our favorite recommendations for little readers this winter.

Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg

Families come in many sizes, colors, and faiths, and this holiday tale is a celebration of the spice of modern life. The stars are a brother and sister who share an Indian mom, a Jewish dad, and a home full of blended cuisines and cultures. Join them in their hectic but heartwarming Hanukkah preparations, which spread out across multiple pages as the pile of pots and pans gets bigger.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Frosty isn’t the only famous snowman who came to life and befriended his creator! Overseas, The Snowman is known for the British cartoon it inspired, but this illustrated book about a real live snowman is still a timeless tale that stands on its own as a classic choice for kids. Precious illustrations accompany a sweet story about outdoor playtime and scientific phenomena (from the Northern Lights to motorcycle parts that melt snowman thighs). There’s even an appearance from Father Christmas himself.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

An award-winning book about a cold winter night, Owl Moon just might inspire some vivid, beautiful dreams if enjoyed before bedtime. The main character is a little girl who takes off into the snowy, silent woods with her dad in pursuit of a mysterious owl. The language itself is as beautiful as the snowy illustrations by John Schoenherr, who captures the father-daughter hike in vivid detail. At its heart, this is a story about the special connections we share with each other and with nature.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

This holiday classic is popular for a reason. Join a little boy on a train ride to the North Pole, where he gets the very first gift of Christmas and learns about the magic of childhood too. While the fantastical train is the star of this book, the message is about the wide-eyed curiosity of children, and how important it is to nurture their faith in the unbelievable.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney

If your kids love animals, they’ll love spending the holidays with this sweet family of illustrated llamas. Anna Dewdney’s story teaches the virtue of patience in a fun, festive way, as little Llama Llama endures all the build-up to the Big Day before realizing he’s been celebrating all along. Holiday festivities are a wonderful break from our everyday routines, but this book helps kids appreciate the little moments with their loved ones too.

The teachers and staff at Mission Valley Montessori invite children to explore and learn through reading.  Using the Montessori Method, we teach students to work at their own pace while working with older students to guide them along in their academic journeys.  Contact us today to learn more about our fun educational opportunities for young minds.

Importance of Setting a Sleep Routine for your Child and How it Effects their Learning — December 17, 2017

Importance of Setting a Sleep Routine for your Child and How it Effects their Learning

Research demonstrated the importance of sleep on education decades ago, and the link between a rested child and their overall performance at school continues to be confirmed today. A lack of sleep, or just not resting while they sleep, effects everything from how well your child will perform during the day, but also how well he will be able to retain lessons, or simply behave in the classroom.

How Much Sleep is Enough?

There is an ongoing discussion regarding the amount of sleep children need. Children require different amounts of sleep as they get older, and factors such as activity level and napping will also have an effect. The most widely accepted sleep requirements for children are:

  • Toddlers – 9 to 10 hours at night, plus 2-3 hours of naps
  • Elementary and Middle School – 9 to 11 hours nightly
  • Mid-teens through Adulthood – 7 to 8 hours a night

Memory Processes and Consolidation

There are 3 major processes involved in committing information to memory: Acquisition, or when new information is made available is the first. The second is consolidation, or storing the information in memory. Finally, recall is the process of retrieving stored information. It is widely accepted that all three of these processes work best when the child is well-rested, while the consolidation of information into the brain is mainly done during the REM period of sleep itself. A lack of sleep may cause information to be retrieved incorrectly or mixed up with other memories, resulting in confusion or uncertainty.

Creativity and Abstract Thinking

Sleep is important to communication skills such as verbal creativity or understanding abstract concepts. Symptoms of insufficient sleep may include a reduced vocabulary or difficulty in perceiving the connection between events. A well-rested child is more aware of what goes on around them and how they fit into a given situation.

Sleep Affects Mood and Performance

The behavioral effects of insufficient sleep are plentiful. Moodiness or aggressiveness have been connected to lack of sleep, for example. Other symptoms can include impulsive behavior, a short temper, or even becoming easily frustrated with projects that normally do not pose a difficulty.

Reinforcing Scheduled Sleep Patterns

Parents can help their children sleep better by sticking to a moderately rigid sleep schedule. They can also follow a few simple sleep tips, such as a wind-down period before bedtime, removing or turning off lights and electronic devices, and allowing children to fall asleep naturally. Similarly, if your child seems to be tossing and turning a lot during sleep, they may not be resting even though they are sleeping, and the solution could be as simple as sleeping on a different mattress.

While all of the benefits of a good night’s sleep are still not fully understood, the fact that our brain uses the sleep period to perform maintenance and upkeep has been understood for years. When children fail to get enough rest, it becomes apparent in all aspects of their waking life, affecting everything from appetite to vocabulary.

Particularly during middle school years, it is imperative that your child get adequate sleep.  At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa campus, we are working to prepare our middle schoolers for the transition to high school, which can be a great change.  To learn about other ways we prepare our students to be successful for high school and beyond, contact us today.

Giving Back this Holiday Season — December 10, 2017

Giving Back this Holiday Season

Giving Back during the Holiday Season is the Greatest Gift You Can Give

The holiday season is as much a magical and giving time as it is a bustling, hustling busy time. During the season, you should take a step back and remember all those who are important in your life. Take some time to teach your child holiday gift giving that can become new traditions for both of you. Show your child how the gift of time spent doing for others rather than buying for others helps to build special memories and bonds. Introduce your child to those who have made your life easier, better, and happier and together come up with ways you can show your gratitude for them being a part of your lives. Think about ways you and your child can work together and give back this holiday season in ways that don’t require wrappings and bows.

The Gift of Time

The gift of time is said to be one of the most precious gifts you can bestow on another. These days ‘time’ has become something we all wish we had more of and is one thing that gets away from all of us. This gift can be spent with loved ones you haven’t seen much of, such as an old friend in a nursing facility, a grandparent who lives out of town, or anyone special in your life yet seems to get little of your time throughout the year. Bring your child with you to visit this person and do something special together such as help them bake cookies, clean part of their yard, or perform some task together as you catch up with each other’s life.


Many people in our world do not have the luxury of family. During the holiday season which promotes time with loved ones, this time of year can be especially lonely for them. Find a way you and your child can volunteer together in your community. Some communities offer opportunities to bake cookies for those you will not otherwise be able to enjoy them. There may be services that ask you to help make holiday cards to send those serving our country and will be away from family through the season. If your community does not offer these opportunities, perhaps you, your child, and other parents with kids can come together to create one of these great giving back holiday activities. As a parent, you can help your child become a caring and giving individual.

Montessori school environments teach children about gratitude and foster in them a grateful nature so they can become compassionate adults. Contact Day Star Montessori in Milpitas if you would like more information on how your child can become a part of our child-centered education program.

Importance of Play-Based Learning — November 19, 2017

Importance of Play-Based Learning

It is becoming more and more common for traditional education programs to put more focus on academic, instructed learning. At the same time, research is adding up which says that play is an important part of early education. In the Montessori classroom, play-based learning has always been important, viewing child-centered activities as a vital component in early childhood development. In addition to accelerating learning, play-based activities offer children benefits which go beyond the traditional classroom and embrace a more well-rounded development program.

Motor Control and Play

Physical activity is critical for early development. During play, children are also learning hand-eye coordination, muscle control, and building physical stamina. But it is also important to note that play does not mean wasted time, as the Montessori environment makes it possible for the play of children to be equally educational. For preschoolers, the benefits include building fine motor skills and coordination.

Learning Cognitive Skills

Many childhood games, including such common activities as playing with blocks of different colors and shapes also help children learn important problem solving skills. Encouraging the use of logic and information processing can be tedious in the purely instructional classroom, but Montessori combines the lessons with play, and that helps with both retention and enthusiasm for the children.

Play, Creativity, and Curiosity

Play-based learning encourages children to be inquisitive, such as asking questions in order to solve problems. By playing with appropriate objects or games, children make education fun, and learn important processes of deduction and comparison, along with the basic skills of math, shape recognition, and even reading. The idea of play-based learning is fundamental to Montessori learning, where everything in the classroom is geared towards the child, and focuses on helping the child remain focused and engaged.

Exercise and Education

There are also studies which show a direct link between physical exercise and mental performance. Laughing and playing and moving about stimulates blood flow and creates endorphins which stimulate the mind. Play-based learning is also helpful in keeping a child’s attention, which means that the child is more likely to learn because they are interested in what they are doing.

Combining Education and Development

The concept of play-based learning is not new. Before the development of standardized educational programs, children were gathered in small, mixed-age groups, and learned how to solve problems, read, calculate and more, all while playing. This was a basic observation by Maria Montessori, including mixed-ages in the classroom and play-based education. With the natural order of things as her guide, she developed the Montessori method, incorporating natural methods from daily living into a structured learning program.

To put all of this together, play-based learning benefits children’s mental, physical, and emotional health. It fosters an interest in learning, and teaches children all manners of important life skills. Despite a disturbing move away from play-based learning in traditional schools, a growing body of research points towards it as an excellent educational and developmental tool.

Learning through play and hands-on activities are key components of the Montessori Method.  This type of learning is incorporated into the daily curriculum at the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus.  Visit our school today to see the difference between Montessori learning and traditional learning firsthand. 

Teaching your Child about Thanksgiving —

Teaching your Child about Thanksgiving

Many children think of Thanksgiving as a break from school when they get to eat a lot of awesome foods. They realize it is a time for aunts, uncles, and grandparents to share one big dinner, but there’s more that they can learn about sharing. Thanksgiving is not only about inviting others over for fantastic foods; it’s also about gratitude, community, and having compassion for others. This holiday is a great time to begin teaching your child what true ‘Thanksgiving’ means.

Teaching your Child about Thanksgiving

There are a lot of great Thanksgiving-themed activities to engage in with your child. Lessons that can help your child understand kindness, generosity, and gratitude all while enjoying time with you. Plan to spend some time with your child this holiday season with some of Montessori’s favorite Thanksgiving-inspired activities and help them understand the meaning behind the celebration. This bracelet is one activity to cover many meanings.

Story Re-Telling Bracelet

The story re-telling bracelet can be used to help your child understand the first Thanksgiving. Begin with a pipe cleaner that has been bent up on one end so the beads will stay on. Take a variety of beads and place them in cups your child can easily remove them from. The different colors represent a different part of that first meal. The brown bead represents how the pilgrims left England to gain religious freedom. The white bead will tell how they sailed aboard the Mayflower. Use three blue beads to describe the long journey across the ocean. A green bead represents the pilgrims finding land. Use three white beads together for all the snow they had to endure that first year. A light green bead will tell about spring coming. Another brown bead will represent the pilgrims meeting their friend Squanto, and the last four beads will tell about the foods they ate. The food beads will be red for cranberries, the yellow for the corn shared, brown for the turkey that was served, and orange for the pumpkins.

As your child is placing these beads on the pipe cleaner, you will tell the story behind each color to demonstrate how the pilgrims shared back then and compare to your own family’s sharing. Kindness can be learned from Squanto’s actions and how he helped as compared to how your child helps his or her friends. There is a wealth of teaching opportunities with the bracelet and showing them about the meaning behind Thanksgiving. It will also reinforce your child’s knowledge of colors and help with motor skills as they place the beads onto the pipe cleaner.

Day Star Montessori believes in community and allowing your child to learn through hands-on prepared learning environments. It is an approach to education that promotes the development of your whole child – physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively. Contact us today to learn how your child can begin an education in a supportive environment that will ignite their eagerness for knowledge.