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Curriculum

The Montessori curriculum is used as the basic philosophical framework for Montessori Morning Glory School. It’s a life philosophy that can be hard to grasp in only a cursory glance, but the basic academic equipment used to develop academic achievement of Montessori children is a little easier to understand. Specific equipment and its objective is described in our series of “lesson descriptions”. If you’re interested in more information, check out our reading list.

Our enrichment curriculum is superimposed on the standard Montessori curriculum. These programs vary through the year and include art activities, cooking and science classes, creative dramatic and music instruction, and dance and motor development programs. Our motor development program stresses cardiovascular fitness, strength, stamina, flexibility, and coordination. We cycle safety, manners, and ecological instruction through each month. One of the most amazing things about our program each year as we come to a repeat of the topic is how many children remember what they learned a year ago. That’s amazing for a 4-year-old. We’ve come to expect it for our 5-year-olds.

Curriculum
Lesson Descriptions
Practical Life:

Clothing Frames

The dressing frames are a series of small picture frames with fabric on which has been mounted the various ways we connect our clothes.  One frame has a jacket zipper, another buttons, another shoe buckles, another snaps, and another bows.  By placing this work on a table with large, easy-to-use parts, the child is able to perfect the skills needed to dress himself.

In the frame for bow tying, each side of the lace to be tied is a different color so that the child can see clearly what he is doing.  He can practice as long as he wishes to reinforce his self-confidence in caring for himself.  Attention is focused on this matter most important to the child and manual dexterity is improved as the child perfects himself.

At home, allow your child lots of time to dress himself.  Show him very slowly how to perform the various tasks in dressing himself.  When he has difficulty or becomes frustrated, encourage him as you offer your help.  Use words like “That’s a really hard zipper to get started”, ”Buttons give me a hard time, too”, or “You got your socks on really fast this morning.”

Carrying

Carrying is a critical lesson in the child’s education.  Whether he carries a chair, a tray with materials, or a large piece of equipment where he must have the help of a friend, he is taught how to move carefully and quietly through his environment.  The most important lesson is how to set the equipment down quietly.  Even when a glass pitcher on a glass tray is set on the shelf, the object is to do it with no sound.  It takes a lot of concentration for the young child to carry material on a tray without spilling, without bumping, and without making any noise. Allow your child to walk slowly and carefully.  Praise him when he walks without bumping or when a toy is laid down carefully.  Practice yourself walking slowly and talking softly.  You are your child’s most important role model. He wants to do everything just the way you do it.  Soft voices and relaxed body movements make the environment a nice place to be.

Cutting

The child uses sharp scissors such as embroidery scissors to cut first simple lines and then more complex shapes.  He is taught how to pass the scissors and how to carry them.  He is never allowed to misuse the equipment.  The motor development involved in using scissors is quite difficult for the young child and he is delighted when he masters this most common tool.  As soon as the child masters cutting card stock, he is taught to cut paper, and then thread.  At home, provide your child with good scissors.  Children’s scissors are usually difficult for adults to use.  They can be particularly frustrating for a child who is just learning to cut.  Show your child where to work, what to cut, and how to clean up.  This establishes your rules for using the scissors.  If the rules are not followed, do not allow yourself to feel angry or guilty about putting the scissors away for another time.
When the child is shown how to cut food, he is also provided with excellent tools and is taught how to use them correctly.  A paring knife and a cutting board are provided.  If the food is to be peeled or grated, these tools are also included.  A small bowl for washing the food, a bowl to serve the food, and a container for waste material are provided as appropriate.  Each step is demonstrated carefully and slowly.  All the tools and parts of the food being prepared are named.  Cleanup is an important part of this work.

At home, your child will be able to prepare many more foods than you might be willing to let him prepare.  Allow him to contribute to the family in this way.  Give him excellent tools to use and demonstrate what your expectations are.  Then allow the child a lot of time.  His purpose in preparing food is the process of cutting or stirring or spreading.  It is not the end product of having food for the family meal.  Arrange your schedule so that there is adequate time without having to rush.

Table Washing

Practical life exercises are the foundation of the Montessori classroom.  All other areas flow directly from this base.  One of the most fundamental exercises of practical life is table washing.  Its purposes are three-fold.  First, it helps the child to feel secure and at ease in her surroundings.  Young children even before they enter the classroom have a compelling desire to know about and participate in the environment in which they live.  If she sees her mother dusting and vacuuming, she wants to dust and vacuum also.  If she sees her father mowing the grass or shaving, the child also imitates these activities. Some mysterious inner drive moves her to become a purposeful member of the society into which she was born.  Table washing offers the child an opportunity to be purposeful, to participate meaningfully in her environment.  The table is dirty; “I can make it clean.”  It allows her independence.  Having accomplished a meaningful task independently, the child feels good about herself, capable and at ease with how things are done in this world.

The second purpose of table washing is to offer the child possibility for gross and fine movement that can be refined. Pouring water without spilling, scrubbing large and small areas of the table, getting the soap off, drying the table, discarding the dirty water, and refolding the floor cloth gives the child many opportunities to perfect her motor skills.  This refined motor control is a direct preparation for the more advanced work of the classroom.

The third purpose of table washing is to develop the ability to concentrate.  Beginning exercises of practical life are simple and call for short periods of concentration.  There is a gradual buildup in complexity of tasks which call the child to longer periods of intense effort.  Table washing is a very complex task, setting the tools out in a precise order, step-by-step washing, rinsing and drying the table, and cleaning up and replacing the material.    This ability to carry out such a complex task with skill, attention to detail, and concentrated effort prepares the child directly for advanced work in the classroom.  Each task not only meets the developmental needs of the child, but it also prepares her for a more complex task that lies ahead.  Having been prepared, the child meets with many successes in her growth towards maturity.  These successes in turn leave her with a healthy self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment.

Pouring

The equipment consists of a small tray with two pitchers.  One is approximately half full of rice, beans, or water.  The dry ingredients are used when the lesson is first introduced.  Liquid is used as the child advances.  The purpose of this work is to develop eye/hand coordination necessary for pouring, to teach the child how to work neatly, and to teach self-reliance in cleaning up after himself.  There are several extensions.  The liquid may be poured through a tiny funnel or two different sizes or shapes of pitchers may be used to teach the child that volumes don’t change even though the shape may change.  Opaque pitchers may be used to allow the child to focus only on the pouring or one large pitcher may be used to pour into several small glasses to teach the child to stop pouring before the glass overflows.

The child is taught names of all parts of this work; handle, spout, drop, and funnel.  At home, you can allow your child to pour.  Be sure that the pitcher is not too heavy for him and that the working space is at the correct height.  Give him the materials he will need to clean up any spills.  Do not hover about the child as he works.  He will be most delighted if he is allowed to pour drinks for the family or for his friends.

Washing

The child is taught to wash his hands, a table top, cloths, and how to mop.  When the lessons are presented, each step is presented in exactly the same sequence.  If a child forgets how to complete the lesson, it is presented again in exactly the same way.  These are long lessons.  Hand washing has 59 individual steps.  Amazingly, the child will follow most of them with few reminders.  He is shown how to assemble all the material before he begins.  Each tool is sized to allow him to handle it easily.  Buckets to carry water are not so big that he cannot carry them.  Sinks are at his height.  Cloths are small enough for his hands to wring out and soap is a size that fits nicely into his palm.  Each piece of the material is named for him as it is presented.  After the lesson, the child is shown how to replace all the equipment so that it is ready to be used again.  Fresh towels are put out, each tray and table top is dried, and dirty cloths are put in the basket to be laundered.
These lessons have many objectives.  The length of the lessons increase the child’s attention span and teach sequence of activities.  The child comes into control of his muscles.  He learns independence, responsibility, and self esteem by being able to contribute to the care of his environment.
At home, allow your child to work with water.  Children love to help and to make their environment beautiful.  Demonstrate what your expectations are and then allow the child to do it.  An important part of this lesson is the cleanup. If the cleanup really is not acceptable to you, show the child again how to do it better.  Patience and tolerance here are virtues. Encouragement for how hard he worked, for how much drier the floor is this time, and for how happily he worked will motivate your child to want to work with you more

Sensorial:

Geometric Cabinet

The geometric cabinet is designed to develop visual and muscular discrimination of shape, training the eye to understand the form.  The cabinet itself is wooden with six drawers.  Each drawer has six wooden squares. Each wooden square has a figure cut out, with a knob in the center by which to hold the insert.  When the cut-out figure is lifted, the blue background of the drawer shows the shape of the cutout.  The first drawer has six circles, varying in diameter from 5 to 10 cm.  The second drawer has six variations of rectangles, beginning with a square, each smaller than the preceding one.  The third drawer has six different types of triangles.   The fourth drawer has six different kinds of regular polygons.  The fifth and sixth drawers have different shapes, such as oval, ellipse, quatrefoil, trapezoid, right-angle trapezoid, rhombus, and parallelogram.  There is also a demonstration tray with a circle, triangle, and square, the remaining squares being filled in with plain squares of wood.  The child begins this exercise by gently removing a shape from the tray.  He then traces the shape by starting at the lower left corner and running the first two fingers of his right hand around the outline.  He then traces the frame with the same two fingers clockwise.  He continues this procedure until all shapes have been traced and replaced.  The child gradually learns to place the shapes on a solid form on a card, then on a thickly lined form on a card, then on a thinly lined form on a card, which is a precursor of writing.   As the child grows older, he explores all of his environment at a progressively more  refined level.  The geometric cabinet provides for this with variations and extensions.   The child may use combinations of two or more drawers or he can play matching games at a distance.  The child also proceeds naturally to the metal insets, to holding a pencil, and then to actually writing.

Long Rods or Red Rods

The long rods are a series of ten rods 2 centimeters square but varying in length from 10 centimeters to 1 meter long.  They are arranged on a mat with the longest rod at the top and carefully aligned on the left side.  The purpose of this exercise is to isolate the dimension of length and to prepare the child for the math exercise of the number rods.  Extensions of this lesson include creating a spiral with the longest rod still along the top edge of a mat on the floor.  The child may then walk ever so carefully into and out of the spiral.  Language development is “long/short”, “long/longer/longest”, and “short/shorter/shortest”.  At home, you can reinforce this lesson by observing varying lengths of pencils, spaghetti, hair, etc.

Broad Stair or Brown Stair

The broad stair is a series of ten wooden prisms 20 centimeters square down to 1 centimeter square.  Sometimes they are painted brown and are called the brown stair.  They are arranged on a mat to form a stair, beginning with the largest on the left and progressing to the smallest on the right.  The purpose of the material is the visual and kinesthetic perception of thickness, to prepare the mind for mathematics by promoting the concept of volume, and to develop eye/hand coordination.  Extensions of this lesson include stacking the prisms and corresponding the pink tower with the broad stair, laying them horizontally alongside each other.  Language development for this exercise is “thick/thin”, “thick/thicker/thickest”, and “thin/thinner/thinnest”.  At home, gradations of thickness may be observed using books, pasta (before and after cooking), paper, or fabric.

Cylinder Blocks

The cylinder blocks is a series of four smooth, wooden blocks with ten knobbed cylinders in a row along the top.  The cylinders vary regularly by height or diameter or both.  The first block increases by both diameter and height, progressing from short and thin to tall and thick.  The second block increases by diameter only.  The third block increases in height but decreases in diameter so that its progression is from short and thick to tall and thin.  The fourth block varies by height only.  The child is shown how to remove the cylinders carefully, using only the fingertips.  This pincer  movement is the same one he will eventually use to grasp a pencil.  He learns concentration as he focuses his attention on just this one task.  The very young child might at first use both hands to remove and replace the cylinders since the blocks are a long reach for his short arms.  But eventually he will learn to reach across his body with his dominant hand to the opposite end of the block.  This reaching across his body is an important development in laterality for the child, somewhat similar to learning to pattern when a child learns to crawl.  As the child continues this work, his visual perception and visual memory are enhanced.  Eventually the child will be able to merely look at a cylinder from any one of the blocks and place it in its correct position.

Extensions of this material include working with two blocks simultaneously, then three, then all four.  When the child’s visual perception has progressed to this level, then he may be blindfolded and taught to use his tactile sense to place the cylinders.  Language development here is the comparison between “thick/thicker/thickest”, “short/shorter/shortest”, “thin/thinner/thinnest”, and “tall/taller/tallest”.  Descriptions such as “tall and thick” and “short and thin” may also be used.

At home, allow your child to concentrate as he maneuvers a rod into a jar or attempts to fit a shape into a slot in a shape sorter.  Sometimes as adults, we shorten our children’s attention spans by well-intentioned advice or assistance.  When we help where help is not needed or wanted, we unconsciously send the message that our child is not capable and we can frustrate his attempts at independence.  Always wait until the child verbally asks for assistance.  Even the youngest toddler can be taught to say “help”.

Knobless Cylinders

The knobless cylinders are four boxes of ten cylinders.  Each set of box and cylinders is colored.  These cylinders vary by height and diameter in the same way that the cylinder blocks varies.  The yellow cylinders increase by both height and diameter.  The red cylinders increase by diameter only.  The green cylinders increase by height while they decrease by diameter.  The blue cylinders increase by height only.  The first presentation of this material is to arrange the cylinders from one box in a row decreasing by thickness.  The child may then be shown how to stack the cylinders.  Stacking the cylinders is quite difficult and requires excellent eye/hand coordination and fine motor development.  The child must focus intently on his task and a long attention span is developed.  Eventually, he will be shown how to use two or three sets together to create wonderful designs in rising and falling patterns of color.

Language development here is for the relationships between “thick/thicker/thickest”, “short/shorter/shortest”, “thin/thinner/thinnest”, and “tall/taller/tallest”.

At home, encourage your child to arrange things in ascending and descending order.  As you travel about, observe how a building is created with descending sized cubes or how an ice cream cone has descending pods.

Stereognostic Bag

The stereognostic bag is a cloth bag approximately 7”x 9” with an opening on one side.  Four or five objects familiar to the child are placed in the bag.  He is shown how to place his hand in the bag and to identify an object without looking at it.  He may then remove the object from the bag for all to see.  The purpose of this game is to reinforce the muscle memory of shape.  It develops mental vision and necessitates thinking.  Because the child is conscious of “thinking” in the game, his awareness of how to think is increased.  A certain amount of self control is also developed because the child must prevent himself from peeking before he guesses.

At home, you can encourage your child in various thinking processes.  Take him through a step-by-step analysis of a question you think he can figure out for himself.  Help him to apply something he already knows to a new question.  Or play foolish “what if?” games to stimulate creativity.  Blindfold and guessing games are tremendous fun for the child when his parent joins in.

Mathematics:

Counters

Equipment for this exercise is a small wooden box with two compartments.  In one side are red wooden numbers from 1 to 10.  In the other side are red plastic disks called counters.  The child is shown how to space the numbers out in a row across the top of his workspace.  The counters are laid out under the numbers in two vertical columns.  Therefore, the 1 has one counter under it, slightly to the left.  The 2 has two counters under it, one in each of the two columns.  The 3 has three counters, two in the left column and one in the right column.  The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the child to the concept of odd and even numbers, to having 1 left over, and to the concept of counting by some number other than 1, in this case by 2’s.  These concepts will be used again and again as binary systems, set theory, and division and multiplication are introduced.  At this age, the child is enjoying laying the numbers and counters in orderly rows.  Eye/hand coordination and counting are reinforced.

At home, enjoy letting your child lay things out in orderly fashion, such as setting the table, arranging books on a table, or lining up his toys on the shelf.

Golden Bead Material

The golden bead material is the introduction to our decimal system.  A single bead represents the unit. A strand of ten beads on a wire is a ten bar.  Ten of the ten bars fastened together to form a square make a hundred square. The hundred squares form a cube of 1000.  These terms ‘square’ and ‘cube’ are familiar already from the sensorial material.  The first lessons with this material are simple.  The children build quantities with the bead material.  The teacher illustrates how much easier it is to work with a ten bar than with ten individual beads.  Soon the child can combine different numbers of sets, such as 2 thousands, 7 hundreds, 2 tens, and 3 units.  Eventually, the children enjoy accumulating large quantities on a tray.  They learn to represent these quantities with corresponding cards. When the cards are stacked, the number is shown as 2723.

The bank game is an exercise in exchanging the beads.  The large quantity of material which the children use as a source for the game is called the bank.  The children use the bank whenever they want to change units to tens, tens to hundreds, hundreds to thousands, or vice versa.  Adding and subtracting four place numbers can all be done with the golden beads.  If two children wish to add, each one puts a quantity of bead material on a tray and selects the corresponding cards to represent the quantity.  They then select large cards to represent their total.  For subtraction, the teacher places a large quantity of bead material with the corresponding large cards on a large tray.  She then gives the child a smaller tray with a number written on a small card.  The child ‘takes away’ this quantity of bead material from the large tray and puts it with the small cards.  The quantity remaining on the large tray is the answer.  The child then finds the number cards to represent the answer.  With this game, the children gain a real impression that subtraction is the breaking up on one large number into smaller ones.  At home, you may see your child delight in very large numbers.  Share with him how many times MacDonald’s hamburgers go around the earth or how heavy a pickup truck is.  Our world is full of mathematical concepts that the child is eager to explore.

Bead Cabinet

When the child has mastered the bead stair, he is introduced to the bead cabinet.  The beads are in the same colors (the 1 bead is red, the 2 beads are green, the 3 bar is pink, etc.) but they present the concepts of squared, cubed, set theory, and skip counting.  The beads in the cabinet are arranged in squares of each number, cubes of each number, and bars chained together to equal the number in the cube.  The child is shown how to take small plastic pointers and count by 2’s or 3’s or 6’s.  He may also learn the squares and cubes of the numbers 1 through 10.  The thousand chain is a particularly fun exercise.  It reaches 27 feet and generally takes up a large part of floor space.  The child is impressed with the size of 1000.  There is a great deal of self-esteem involved in completing this long exercise. Counting by 10’s to 1000 and writing the numbers in a book is a big job for a 5 or 6 year old.  It is not a task an adult would set for such a young child.  But he chooses to do it himself with great joy.

At home, validate your child’s interest in numbers by listening and responding to his stories.  Share mathematical concepts by pointing out cubes, squares, and sets.  If you enjoy fun games with numbers, by all means share them now with your child.  As your child begins to approach the time when abstract concepts appeal to him (around 6), introduce ideas about eternity, light years, and space.

Hundred Board

When the child has developed a good concept of teens and how tens progress, he is introduced to the hundred board.  This is a blue board marked off into10 rows of ten.  Small white markers in the shape and size of the marked off squares on the board have numbers from 1 to 100.  The child is shown how to place the numbers correctly on the board.  He is delighted with the orderliness of counting by tens down the right side of the board and of how all the 2’s and 6’s and 9’s line up under each other.  He is shown how to write the numbers to take home for himself.  As his confidence with numbers increases, he has no fear of moving into addition and subtraction, even of large numbers, for after all, hasn’t he written all the numbers up to 100?

The language development is the ability to count to l00 without saying ‘twenty-ten’, ‘twenty-eleven’, ‘twenty-twelve’.  At home, have patience with telling your child for the fourth time what comes after 59.  Delight with him in the wonderful expansion of his knowledge and thrill with him at the largeness of 53 or the great old age of 87.  Help him understand the relativity between his brother’s 8 birthday candles and his father’s 33 candles or between 3 miles to school and 67 miles to the beach.

Strip Boards

The mathematic operations are taught using beads and strip boards.  The strip boards look like large game boards. Red and blue rulers of graduated lengths represent quantities from 1 through 9.  These are laid along the base board and the child quickly sees what the result of addition or subtraction is (depending on the board used).  He may then transfer the concrete form to his number book, so that he can begin to understand numbers at the abstract level.

The most successful use of this material is to get the child to the point where he no longer needs it.  It is a significant maturity level for the child to become independent of the equipment.  Sometimes parents become excited that their child is adding and subtracting four-digit numbers and carrying tens.  At the beginning, however, the child is still dependent on the equipment and cannot duplicate his efforts at home.  Take care to be gentle with his new-found ability.  Be aware that you do not put him in a position where he must fail.  The best way to know how to help your child is to follow his lead.  Let him show you what his interests are.

Sequin Boards

There are two sets of Seguin boards, named after Carl Seguin, a contemporary of Maria Montessori and a noted educator.  There is the ‘teen’ board, which is a board with nine slots painted with 1 and 0 in the background.  There are nine plaques painted with the numbers 1 through 9 to slide into the slots and create the numbers from 11 to 19.  The child is shown how to lay a golden bead ten bar on the left side of the board to correspond to the ten place and to lay unit beads beside the board to correspond to the number to be slid into the slot.  For example, the child forms 11 by sliding a 1 into the top slot over the 0.  This is a concrete illustration that 11 consists of 1 ten and 1 unit.  With the ten board, the child can create two digit numbers from 21 through 99.

There is a great deal of language introduced with these boards.  The child learns to concretely demonstrate numbers up to 20 and to count properly to 99.  (There is no ‘twenty-ten’, for example.)  He learns to associate such large numbers with concrete materials.  The logic and beauty of numbers begins to form in the child’s mind.  He may also begin to delight in counting verbally to 99 or in singing nonsensical songs that count to 99.  Have patience.  You probably will not go insane before this stage passes.

Language:   

How to Make Sounds

a as in apple

b as in bird

c as in cat

d as in doll

e as in elf

f as in feather

g as in goose

h as in hat

i as in igloo

j as in jug

k as in kite

l as in lock

m as in mittens

 

 

 

n as in net

o as in ostrich

p as in pumpkin

q as in quarter

r as in ring

s as in seven

t as in teepee

u as in umpire

v as in violin

w as in watermelon

x as in box

y as in yellow

z as in zebra

 

 

 

Movable Alphabet

In the Montessori environment,writing nearly always precedes reading.  But this writing is not constrained by the child’s motor control over a pencil.  It is instead done with a set of wooden letters by which the child can say the sounds and lay out the correct wooden letters.  With small objects to guide his efforts, the child can first say the name of the object very slowly so he can hear each sound ”p–i–g”.  He then selects the letter for the first sound and lays it on the mat beside the object.  Then he picks the letter for the second sound and lays it to the right of the first letter.  This construction of words may continue for a long time.  It may even progress to sentences or stories.  In addition to the objects, there are  many sets of labels in the classroom to serve as guides in constructing words.  At a time when the child becomes proficient with forming letters with a pencil, the teacher may show the child how to write with a pencil the same words he has constructed with wooden letters.  The important point is that the child’s intelligence is not constrained by his muscular ability to control a pencil.

At home, encourage your child’s interest in the sounds of words, particularly ending and middle sounds.  Continue to read aloud with your child, delighting with him in poetry, adventure, and expanding knowledge.

Sand Paper Letters

The sandpaper letters consist of three sets of large wooden cards with letters cut out of sandpaper mounted on them.  One set consists of red cards with the consonants on them.  One set consists of blue cards with the vowels mounted on them.  The third set consists of green cards with two letters mounted on them that have one sound, such as ‘sh’, ‘ch’, and ‘tion’.  These are the child’s first introduction to the sounds of letters.  They are introduced consonants first.  The sounds are given only phonetically, which is how the child hears the sound; for example, the child hears ‘t’ at the beginning of ‘top’, not ‘tee’.  In the first introduction of vowels, the short vowel sound (apple, egg, insect, ostrich, and umbrella) is used.  Using two or three cards at a time, the teacher shows the child how to trace the letter with the first two fingers of his dominant hand while he quietly says the sound of that letter. Use of this material gives the child a three-fold impression — he sees the shape, feels the shape, and hears the sound.  The fact that the letter is made of sandpaper rather than ink invites the child to trace the shape.  This is an important step in learning to write.  Repetition of this exercise fixes the path of each letter in the child’s muscle memory.  As soon as the child learns a few consonants and vowels, he may begin constructing three-letter words using the movable alphabet.

At home, your child will have an intense interest in the sounds of words. Watch carefully how you enunciate so that both the beginning and ending sounds are clearly audible in your speech.  Play games with words that start or end with a particular sound. Don’t press your child into writing or reading. Let him lead you in what his interests are.  It is not necessary to ‘practice’ a lot at home.  Your child will gradually bloom into both reading and writing.  Your own obvious enjoyment of reading and writing and of reading good literature out loud to your child are all the encouragement your child needs to want to acquire this most wonderful skill.

Metal Insets

The metal inserts are an exercise to strengthen and reinforce the child’s muscles so he may use a pencil in writing.  With metal insets, the child creates beautiful designs and he does not weary of practice because it is so enjoyable.  The metal insets are a tray of ten individual metal squares with different blue shapes cut out of them.  The child is first shown how to trace around the edge of the inside piece and he is taught the name of the shape.  He is then taught to trace around the shape of the outside piece with a pencil, in stencil fashion.  Colored pencils are used on colored paper.  After the figure is traced, the outline is filled in with any number of different lines (vertical, horizontal, or wavy).
At first, the child’s strokes are erratic and extend beyond the outline.  By degrees they become more accurate and uniform.  Progress in control of the pencil can be detected by comparing designs made over a period of months.  Eventually, more intricate designs may be created by superimposing other shapes over the original.  When colored well, this work resembles stained glass.  The child may return to this equipment long after he has mastered writing because of the creative outlet it provides.
At home, allow your child access to activities that develop fine motor control.  Needlework, using crayons in intricate designs, and building models are excellent fine motor development exercises as well as reinforcing for the enjoyment they provide.  Encourage your child’s creativity with combining colors in various art activities and his craftsmanship in executing the various projects.

Geography:

Puzzle Maps

The puzzle maps are quite large wooden puzzles with a knob to remove each piece, which represents a political entity such as a state or a country.  These knobs are generally placed at the country or state capitols.  There are eight maps.  The puzzle map of the world shows the continents and is color coded to a small globe so that the child can see the relationship between a piece on the map and its position on the globe.  Each continent is then presented as a separate map with its individual countries.  Generally, Australia is presented first as the simplest and Africa is presented last as the most difficult.  The United States is the only map of a country with its individual states.   The purpose of the puzzle maps changes as the child matures. The beginning student loves them for the sensorial aspects.  Taking out the pieces and placing them back in their frame appeals to the love of order.  A very young child may need assistance to carry the maps, as they tend to be large and heavy to a 3-year-old.  He learns grace and courtesy as he requests help from a classmate.  The more mature child learns concentration and fine motor skills as he pricks individual pieces for the map he is constructing.  The parent’s appreciation for the finished map reaffirms the worth of the child’s work.  As the child matures and begins to appreciate a more global view, his absorption of facts will serve him well as he recalls them in his elementary education.

There are many variations for the puzzle maps. The child will be shown first how to remove each piece carefully and then how to reassemble the map.  The maps are never dumped from the frame.  He may prick individual pieces out of construction paper with a pushpin and then assemble his own map on a poster board.  The child who is beginning to write may label each piece.  Corresponding flags may be drawn and colored or animals indigenous to the land may be placed on the maps.  The equipment is rich with language that the children absorb like sponges.  You will want to extend the child’s interest at home with books and stories about various cultures, customs, climates, and foods.  Accept your child’s questions and comments about Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and Idaho as a matter-of-course.  In our shrinking world, this enrichment is vital.

Land Forms

Land formations is a set of eight trays illustrating three-dimensional land and water formations.  These are exactly opposite so that lake and island are the reverse of each other, isthmus/strait is a pair, peninsula/gulf, and bay/cape match.  The trays are made so that water can be poured into them to illustrate concretely the difference between an isthmus and a strait, and so on.  A set of cards matches the land forms to illustrate the formations only visually.  With the apparatus, the child can see in a very concrete way what we mean when we say ‘island’.  Extensions of the lesson include picking the shapes and making booklets of land formations and matching these fairly difficult words with their appropriate shapes.  At home, you can be sensitive to the difference between a ‘lake’ and a ‘sea’.  Point out such distinctions when you see them on a globe, in an airplane, or in your reading.

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