Montessori Schools of Fremont

Providing premium Montessori education since 1974

Hands-On Activities to Teach your Child about Birds — July 28, 2017

Hands-On Activities to Teach your Child about Birds

Birds are all around us, all the time. From common birds such as blackbirds, sparrows, and pigeons, to less common (or less likely to be seen) birds such as owls, hawks, and eagles, our world is filled with birds.

Their prominence in the world around us makes learning about birds fun for all ages. Here are a few ideas for fun, hands-on activities you can use to teach your child about birds.

  • Make a bird-watching book. Have your child help you research the birds that can be found in your area, print out pictures, and make a bird-watching book by pasting the pictures into a notebook with space to write beside each. Then go bird-watching together! With your child’s help, write down when and where you found each bird, and any other interesting details you noticed.
  • Build a birdhouse. Discuss the purpose of a bird’s nest (safety, laying eggs, and raising young), and how different types of birds build their nests. Then help your child to build a birdhouse that could house a nest and keep its occupants safe from the weather. This could be anything from a milk carton birdhouse to a wooden kit you buy at the store. Once the birdhouse is done, hang it in the garden with some birdseed inside and see if any birds come to visit your bird B&B!
  • Make a bird feeder. A bird feeder is easy to make with nothing more than a pine cone, some peanut butter, and birdseed. Help your child pick out a large pine cone that will work well for this project. Tie a string to the stem of the pine cone — do this now so you don’t have to do it once the pine cone is all gooey! Then show your child how to smear peanut butter on the pine cone, covering the entire thing, and roll it in the birdseed. Hang the bird feeder in the garden for the birds to enjoy, and encourage your child to watch from the window for hungry winged visitors.
  • Learn about bird anatomy (with show and tell). For an activity that is a little more science-based, talk about bird anatomy with your child. Feel free to buy books, visit the library, or do research on the Internet with your child, too. Talk about different shapes of beaks, wings, and feet, and what purposes each serve for that bird. Also discuss types of feathers and their purposes; you can use real feathers to show the differences. Haven’t seen any feathers on your walks lately? You can get them at craft stores, from bird-owning friends, or even from a down jacket or pillow.

Children love to learn about the world around them, and birds are just one part of that world. If you want your child’s school to encourage this love of learning, you’ve come to the right place! Take a tour of the Montessori program at Mission Valley Montessori today to see how our curriculum is designed to support and develop your child’s natural curiosity through hands-on learning.

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Fun with LEGOs! Teaching your Preschooler Math! — July 19, 2017

Fun with LEGOs! Teaching your Preschooler Math!

We all remember letting our imaginations run wild with a set of LEGOs. But this common childhood toy can also be used as an invaluable tool to teach your preschooler math!

Preschool is where children go to lay the foundation for their future. That’s why it’s so important to create learning experiences that are engaging, effective, and educational. The building blocks of a solid educational program can then begin shaping your child’s future, academically and beyond.

Learning key concepts such as shapes, colors, matching, counting, addition, subtraction, and problem solving can be greatly enhanced with the use of a simple LEGO set. A fun and creative math aid, LEGOs can help teach young children the basics of mathematics and introduce them to the wonderful world of numbers!

Why LEGOs?

LEGO bricks are the perfect teaching tool because of the wide variety of applications they offer. Although this article focuses specifically on math, LEGOs can be used to increase collaborative, creative, and scientific skills as well.

Even better, since children tend to associate LEGOs with playtime, they won’t even realize they are learning important life skills at the same time! This will help create a love of learning in your child that can continue to be nurtured throughout their life.

Making Math Fun

The first time math is introduced to a child can be an intimidating experience. With LEGOs, however, it instantly engages children in a way that is familiar and stimulating to their senses.

Allow your child to become used to their LEGO set by letting them play and create objects from their imagination. Then, slowly introduce the concept of composing and decomposing numbers to lay the foundation for basic arithmetic skills.

Each LEGO brick has studs on it to aid young students in the counting process. And because the studs are usually found in sets of twos, children will quickly become familiar with an efficient counting arrangement. Once the student is familiar with the LEGO pieces and studs on each one, you can start to introduce simple addition and subtraction exercises.

Allowing your child to explore mathematics early on in their development will get them familiar and comfortable with basic concepts so they aren’t too intimidated by them later on in their schooling.

Endless Possibilities

As you can see, LEGOs aren’t just for playtime anymore. Not only does this simple toy spark a child’s imagination, it can also boost their confidence and capabilities across the academic spectrums.

Too many children are scared away from math at an early age, but slowly introducing these formulas in a fun and bright way they can understand will prepare them for all of the mathematical possibilities that lay ahead.  Using LEGOs is a hands-on activity that is right in line with the Montessori education program at Day Star Montessori.  Our teachers make a special effort to instill a lifelong love of learning with students as soon as they begin preschool.  Contact us today to visit our preschool program and find out if it is the best fit for your child.

Diversity and your Child — July 12, 2017

Diversity and your Child

Diversity is an important aspect of life. In our adult lives, we are immersed in diversity every day, responding to diversity in accordance to the basic rules of our society. Montessori education developed out of a need to educate children who were once thought a burden for the educational system, creating order and enthusiasm out of diversity and – which is equally important – adversity.

Special Needs

During the development of the Montessori method, Maria Montessori spent years working exclusively with children who had special mental and physical needs. At the time, the popular thought was that such children were beyond hope of a traditional education. But through the principles of Montessori, it became clear that many children simply needed respect, structure, and the ability to express their motivations differently. Today, the structure embodied by Montessori learning is able to bridge the gap between exceptional children and those with mental or physical limitations. In many ways, Montessori learning is more beneficial to special needs children than traditional education systems.

Racial Diversity

Surprisingly, there is a greater degree of racial diversity in Montessori schools than may be found in most public school systems. While the studies were made in regards to public Montessori education, the results indicated that minorities comprised half or more of the student body in Montessori classrooms. With minorities in general and African-Americans in specific being represented by 5 percent and 11 percent higher enrollment respectively than is found in corresponding traditional school systems. In the Montessori classroom, racial diversity is not thought of as a ratio to be maintained, but as the normal status quo of the world we live in.

Frames in Social Situations

“Frames” are a way to categorize social structures and situations. These frames regulate how we react in certain situations, with well defined counterparts in Montessori classrooms. For example, the basic principles of Montessori include responsibility and respect, which are key frames in classroom and adult social life. By acquainting children with these concepts at an early age, it is easier for them to feel comfortable in similar situations when they have matured. The key frames addressed in daily Montessori education include:

  • Classroom Frames
  • Activity Frames
  • Student-Teacher Frames
  • Child-Child Frames

Montessori and Diversity

Interaction and and respect are primary components of Montessori learning. These minimize the barriers of diverse situations, and maximize the child’s ability to adapt to diverse stimuli. Rather than learning to see the differences between racial groups, or mental and physical abilities, children are taught to find the advantages available to them when the walls of compartmentalization have been removed.

Montessori was developed under diverse conditions, and today it embraces diversity as a fundamental, pervasive part of the world we live in. It is not so much the Montessori tries to blur the line of diversity as it is that Montessori learning teaches us to embrace diversity as simply another facet of the natural world we live in.

The Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus embraces diversity and teaching its students how to interact and respect with individuals or situations that are different than they are used to.  Parents and students alike are invited to visit our school and tour a classroom to see the Montessori Method firsthand.  Contact us today!

What Qualifies an Excellent Montessori School — June 19, 2017

What Qualifies an Excellent Montessori School

Montessori learning is a different approach to education. Instead of rigid changes in subject matter and location throughout the day, children have goals and the freedom to work on projects without fixed timing. The idea is to give students the ability to focus on educational projects. The factors setting an excellent Montessori school apart underscores what a parent should look for.

Montessori Schools: What qualifies them

Professional Recognition

As a matter of course, an excellent Montessori school will have the affiliation and recognition to demonstrate how well it is doing. This includes school and teacher involvement with professional organizations, recognition from national learning centers, and full licensing by government as well as independent educational associations.

Manageable Class Sizes

A Montessori classroom may have students involved in several different subjects at the same time. To prevent this from becoming a free-for-all, class sizes are generally smaller. In turn, this allows the teachers to spend more time with individuals, offering more guidance for children who need help and allowing children who are doing well to proceed at their own speed.

Child-Centered, Result Oriented

The purpose of Montessori education is to provide children with the tools they need to reach well-defined educational goals. Classrooms are laid out with the materials necessary, in an intuitive manner that children can easily grasp. Instead of a focus on every child learning at the same pace as other children, the focus is on each child getting the most benefit out of their own individualized curriculum.

Multi-Aged Grouping

Another example of how a Montessori school excels over other learning centers is the way that classrooms mix age groups. Younger children look up to older students, and working with younger children builds self esteem and teamwork in older kids. This reinforces previous learning for the older kids, and helps them put what they have learned to productive use as they assist others. It also has the added benefit of taking some of the load off teachers, which means they have a little more time to spend with children who need a little extra encouragement.

Teachers as Models and Guides

Most Montessori teachers are “generalist” educators. Rather than specializing in a single field, they have a well-rounded educational background. This is a necessary trait in an excellent school where children remain in the same classroom for large portions of the day. Some fields, including science or languages, will have specialist instructors, but the aim of the teacher is to assist students in learning, not dictate how each child will spend their day. Teachers are at the top of a hierarchy of educational goals, rather than being the supreme leader in a stagnant pond of subject matter.

Montessori education is not like traditional education, and should not be regarded as such. Although students are still required to take the same standardized tests and meet the same minimum objectives, an excellent Montessori school will spend more of each day focused on the educational goals of individual students than on teaching rote memorization from limited sources.

At Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus, our public charter elementary school welcomes parents and students to visit our school to see the Montessori Method first hand.  Contact us today and schedule an appointment to learn why our school is an excellent choice for Montessori education.

Activities to Teach your Child about Art — June 15, 2017

Activities to Teach your Child about Art

Introducing art to your young child has numerous benefits. Connecting the development of social and emotional skills, art helps children with future learning. As a parent or caregiver, you want to encourage your child to explore the world. Setting the foundation for continuous hands-on learning, art themed activities encourage self-esteem, inspiration, and creativity.

Teaching your Child about Art through different Activities

Create an Art Area

From painters to storytellers, art covers a wide range of materials. Encourage art exploration by setting up an area to allow your young child to discover and enjoy without too many restrictions. Consider the following list; keep in mind, materials can vary by age group.

  • Construction paper
  • Drawing or plain paper
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils
  • Glue
  • Glitter
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes, sponges, and other paint applicators
  • Paper towel tubes
  • Child safety scissors
  • Paper plates
  • Collage materials including pasta, magazine pictures, yarn

The materials for creating art are endless. As your child develops specific interests, you will be able to add and subtract different art materials to continue the learning process.

Paint Pet Rocks

One of the most simple art activities is rock painting. Begin by allowing your child to pick out the perfect rock. Along with paint, provide your child with googly eyes, pipe cleaners, feathers, and other texture materials. Creating a pet or creature out of a rock promotes imagination and creativity. Allow your child to tell the story of the creature.

Introduce Art with Picture Books

Children have a natural curiosity to learn and explore. Books allow for quiet time. Introducing art through picture books helps increase interest by developing your child’s imagination. Previewing different artwork prior to engaging in an activity may enhance your child’s creative process.

Sculpting

Provide your child a chance to create a three-dimensional art project. Introduce your child to air dry sculpting clay. Use different age appropriate stamping, rolling, or cutting utensils to allow your child to form a one of a kind piece of artwork. After the art project dries, allow your child the chance to continue the creative process through painting the sculpture.

Color Mixing

Mixing different colors provides your child with the opportunity to learn about the vast colors in the art world. Depending on the age of your child, you may want to try different painting materials.

  • Paint: Placing different colors of paint on a large sheet of paper allows your child a chance to blend and mix colors.
  • Paint with Pudding: Use different colors of pudding or mix colors with vanilla pudding. Painting with pudding is perfect for younger children.
  • Paint with Water Droppers: Provide your child with different colors of water in small containers or a muffin pan. Using water droppers allow your child to drop the mixture onto coffee filters.

As your child engages in the different art activities, do not forget to ask open-ended questions. Encouraging your child to tell the story of the art creation promotes vocabulary and verbal skills. Consider writing out the story or explanation of the art activity for a future keepsake.

In Milpitas, CA, Day Star Montessori School incorporates art and creativity into its Montessori approach through hands-on learning.  Our teachers encourage students to explore on their own and develop interests specific to each child.  Contact us today to see the Montessori difference first hand.

Why Coloring is Important to Teach a Preschooler — June 7, 2017

Why Coloring is Important to Teach a Preschooler

Do you realize coloring helps provide your preschooler with long-term skills? The development of these skills will continue to benefit your preschooler throughout academic learning and beyond. One of the best aspects to coloring is the low cost to implement. A box of crayons and paper are a valuable resource for your preschooler’s development.

Teaching a Preschooler through Coloring

Crayons come in wide range of colors. Build the excitement of receiving a box of crayons. Consider allowing your preschooler to pick out the crayon box. As a parent or caregiver, you want your preschooler to engage in coloring. Using the excitement of receiving a new box of crayons full of different colors, your preschooler will enhance the development of physical and cognitive skills.

Enhances Fine Motor Skills

Gripping the coloring utensil, your preschooler will use the small muscles in the fingers, thumb, hands and wrists. Strengthening the muscles develops essential fine motor skills. The physical development provides your preschooler with the dexterity and the crucial skill set for basic tasks, including:

  • Using utensils to feed oneself
  • Buttoning clothes
  • Zipping coats
  • Writing
  • Moving small objects

Improving and mastering fine motor tasks increases your child’s overall physical development and self-confidence.

Handwriting Skills

Aiding your child beyond the preschool years, the manipulation of the small muscles allows your child to hold a pencil correctly. The basic skill set is essential for handwriting development. A child who is self-confident with holding a pencil will eagerly learn handwriting skills.

Hand-Eye Coordination

Coloring increases hand-eye coordination. The development of hand-eye coordination increases your child’s sensory-motor skills. Learning to control hand movements will aid in the development of reading and writing. Consider enhancing the hand-eye coordination by providing different materials for coloring.

  • Use educational coloring pages
  • Use specific colors for designated areas on the page
  • Draw and color a picture
  • Allow your child to pick out the colors from the box
  • Provide an age appropriate crayon sharpener

The different aspects of coloring help further the development of hand-eye coordination.

Inspires Creativity

Coloring allows your preschooler to create. The visual art creation enhances imagination, self-expression, and cognitive development. Along with inspiring creativity, asking your preschooler about the coloring project will increase vocabulary and social skills.

Learning the Colors

Being able to identify colors is an important learning milestone. By mastering the names of the colors, your preschooler will develop visual recognition skills. As your preschooler grows and learns, the enhancement of the visual skills will aid in the identification words.

Quiet Time

The coloring activity is a great way to engage in critical thinking skills. Engaging in coloring is a quiet activity. As your preschooler engages in the coloring activity by picking out colors and creating, critical thinking skills develop.

Learning and mastering new tasks will help build your preschooler’s self-confidence for the next stage of development. Supplying your preschooler with basic coloring tools sets a foundation for continued learning. As your preschooler creates different coloring pages, remember the development of the skills is a learning process.  At our private preschool in Fremont, CA, Mission Valley Montessori School embraces children’s creativity and uses art daily in teaching the Montessori Method.  Contact us today to schedule a tour.

Summer Reads for Elementary Children — May 25, 2017

Summer Reads for Elementary Children

With summer fast approaching, you may be wondering how to get your child to spend at least some of those many summer hours reading. The answer is, of course, good books! Montessori education encourages parents to work with their children throughout the summer to continue their learning.  Here are some suggestions of beloved books, many of them classics, that have entranced many a child.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano

Summer is all about nature, making it the perfect time to read this book to your child. The poems about the seasons can easily be incorporated into a summer filled with activities such as gardening or outdoor sports.

Follow the Moon Home by Philippe Cousteau

Another nature book, this story of children helping baby turtles find the ocean will help show kids that they are never too young to have an impact. The heartwarming story is followed with suggestions from the author for how you and your child can make a difference together.

Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel

Many parents will remember reading these books themselves as children. They still make great books for early readers today, not to mention they pose examples of some of the best things about friendship.

The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne

The best way to make sure your child is occupied all summer long is to introduce them to a series they can’t put down. The Magic Tree House is a historical fantasy series that is still captivating early and middle readers, more than two decades after the first one was published. Each book features a different time period and a new mystery that the main characters must solve by traveling back in time.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Whole generations of children have fallen in love with Narnia. Introduce your middle reader to the books you loved as a kid and help pass on the love for these books! Middle readers on up will love these books.

Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

The Wimpy Kid series is perfect for a wide range of ages, but especially for those who are reluctant to read. The “handwritten” font, the drawings, and the humor all help to create books that feel casual, lighthearted, and easy to read.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time may not seem as groundbreaking to kids today as it did to the generations before them, but it’s still a favorite. This modern classic can be a little tough to read, due to the density of both the prose and the subject matter, so it’s probably best for stronger readers.

Reading for Life

Your child’s summer reading list should strike a balance between his or her own interests, and what might look like an extension of a classroom curriculum. Encourage your child to include at least a few classics or award-winning books. To find out more about the Montessori curriculum and suggested reading lists, please contact us today to schedule a tour of the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus.