The teachers prepare an environment with the children’s needs in mind, providing works in: practical life, sensorial, art, manipulatives, math, language, science, geography.
We rotate the works when we see that the children are ready for a small variation, when their needs change or when we want to center around a different “theme”. Throughout the environment, we will provide works for a central theme. In the toddler classroom, it may be a focus on transportation, foods or dinosaurs. In the primary classroom, it is often centered around the science, geography or cultural unit of study. These units or focus, pervade all of the areas of the classroom, from the items that are transferred for the practical life work to the objects that are counted in math.
Fall and winter are my favorite times to be in the classroom. There are so many natural works that can be done to center around both of these times. The works in the classroom almost build themselves.
In the sensorial, gross motor and practical life areas, a pumpkin can provide many different works. The toddlers get the gross motor they crave by carrying the pumpkin through the classroom. As an added level of challenge, a line is provided on the floor to carefully walk on. This helps the child with control of movement…. giving her more awareness of her body in relation to the environment. Scrubbing a pumpkin also gives the toddlers an opportunity for larger motor movement. At the same time, it is providing the child with a multi-step practical life work that aids in following a series of steps. (Plus it’s fun to work with water and soap)
In math, the objects to count can be changed out to provide a new level of interest to the child. Beautiful colored acorns and leaves can first be sorted and then counted to practice number recognition and one-to-one counting.
In my primary classroom, I love to share stories with the children during our lunch preparation circle. I have been telling folktales from various Native American Indian tribes during the month of November. I use the same tribes that we talk about in the morning circles…Navajo, Iroquois, Cherokee, Seminole. As an extension to some of the stories, the children are given the chance to create an art project or color a page about the specific tribe. As the children are coloring their page or working on their project, I often hear them discussing the tribe or the folktale with each other.
By carefully watching the children, we provide an environment that peaks their interest and desires with beautiful works and objects. Dr. Montessori says saw how the child grows in this atmosphere… “It is through appropriate work and activities that the character of the child is transformed. Work influences his development in the same way that food revives the vigor of a starving man. We observe that a child occupied with matters that awaken his interest seems to blossom, to expand, evincing undreamed of character traits; his abilities give him great satisfaction and he smiles with a sweet and joyous smile.”