Montessori School Association January 2015 Event – Region 12

 

In November 2014, 35 members of MSA Region 12 met at Grantham Farm Montessori School for a day exploring The Prepared Environment with Dawn Nasser. The morning consisted of looking at the elements that make up the Prepared Montessori Environment (remembering independence, freedom and respect) and the impact upon the child. After much discussion we agreed that the ability of the adult to prepare the environment has a profound effect upon each child’s experiences.

 

We then thought about the environments at our own schools in relation to children in a specific age band of the EYFS. This was most interesting as it made us all reflect upon the way the environment is planned and what is found there from a child’s perspective. This was followed by further discussion in relation to the importance of observation, reflection and evaluation in order to keep our environments positive and stimulating places for children. This led onto the next activity which was to imagine being a specific child in our own school, how the experiences he/she encountered throughout the day would impact upon his/her well-being and learning experiences. Everyone found this incredibly interesting and really helpful, as by looking at the environment and the adults in it from a child’s perspective we were able to evaluate our provision with greater insight.

 

After lunch we looked at some floor plans of schools that members had brought with them and some of the ‘problem areas’ of their environments. This led to a group discussion with ideas and advice being shared amongst us all. Since then, several schools have told me how changes they made following this day have had a very positive impact upon the children, their behaviour and their learning outcomes.

 

I would like to thank Dawn Nasser for such an enjoyable and thought provoking day. Also, the team at Grantham Farm as without their support, these days would not be possible.

 

Shaunagh de Boinville

Chinese New Year

In February we celebrated Chinese New Year. The children made a dragon and danced around the garden to suitable dragon dance music accompanied by percussion instruments.

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They also tasted Chinese food using chop sticks and dressed up in Chinese clothes. It was a day full of new experiences that everyone enjoyed.

Nativity Play (1985-2014)

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In December 2014 we performed the Nativity Play for the thirtieth time. This was even more special as we had the son of one of the original angels playing the part of a shepherd.

The original inspiration for this play came from a village Nativity Play that was performed in St Catherine’s Church, Wolverton when I was a small child. It involved parishioners of all ages and was produced by the Rector’s wife. It was an amazing experience! It had a profound effect on me and really explained the story of the First Christmas and the sentiments we all share at Christmas time.

When I started this school in January 1985, I wanted to give all the children a similar experience. Here we are 30 years later. Some 400 children have performed in the play over the years and it is clearly remembered by both the children and their parents!

This year we introduced the role of King Herod into the story. I have always shied away from this but with a careful choice of words it brought a balance of feelings. We have all experienced the effect that power sometimes has over judgement.

Herod was probably an example of this and felt threatened by the birth of Jesus.

The performances were enjoyed by over 120 parents, family members and friends. We hope that in a small way they were reminded of the true meaning of Christmas, for this year and for years to come.

 

Shaunagh de Boinville

 

Den building day at Elstree School.

The older children went on an amazing den building day at Elstree School a few weeks ago.

 

 

Clothes Recycling

Clothes Recycling

Clothes Recycling

At the start of the Autumn Term all the parents collected their children’s outgrown clothes and brought them into school.

We sorted them into groups and had a sale for the parents over 2 days. From the sale we made £74.00 to go towards our Eco School projects.

The clothes that were not sold we took to a ‘Cash for Clothes’ centre where the clothes were weighed. For every kilo of clothes we were given 50p. As we had 23 kilos of clothes we came away with £11.50 to add to the £74.00.

This was a most successful project which we plan to repeat with adult clothes next term.

MSA Region 12 Event

In the middle of June, 25 members of  MSA Region 12 met at Grantham Farm Montessori School. We were blessed with beautiful weather which certainly helped, as much of the day was planned to be outside.

We were very lucky to have Gini Trower to present her Nature Workshop. She started with a power point presentation about her Montessori experiences and the background behind her workshop. This was extremely interesting and showed Gini’s great passion for nature and the world around us. Following this, we all went outside where we found 10 activity boxes which included lesson plans, objects, ideas and extensions. In groups we tried the activities, one person taking the role of the teacher and the others the children. Having explored the boxes which were really interesting and fun, we came together to discuss how we had found each one. This led to lively discussion and a sharing of ideas using natural materials in unusual ways. All these activities could be adapted to suit nursery as well as primary aged children, even the adults present learnt so much from these activities.

After lunch, which we were able to have in the garden, the children in Grantham Farm gave a presentation on ‘How to become an Eco School’. Having achieved the Green Flag Award (the highest award, following bronze and silver) last summer, the children gave an enthusiastic description of the 10 areas of the Eco curriculum and how it has enhanced the experiences at their school. The children also sang the Eco songs they have learnt with gusto, sharing the Eco message in a fun way.

We were then shown around the school grounds by the children, who pointed out the Eco developments and changes on the way. These included wormeries, bird boxes, a new hedge and a large pond and 10 mallard ducklings. The excitement of the day was to find hundreds of tiny frogs on the grass around the pond. Having found the frogspawn, watched the tadpoles emerge and grow, this was perfect timing!

The day concluded with a presentation by Lucy Morrison from ‘My Montessori Child’. This is a digital record keeping system/Learning Journal which cross-references the EYFS and the Montessori curriculum, with the opportunity for parents to contribute to their child’s records. At Grantham Farm we have started to use this system with great success. Not only does it save time but it puts an end to the printing of hundreds of photographs!

Many thanks to Gini Trower, Lucy Morrison, the pupils and all the teachers at Grantham Farm for helping to make the day such a success and to inspire us all to look at the world with a more informed approach.

 

Shaunagh de Boinville

The Piper

On Thursday, 3rd July Grantham Farm was invited to The Cedar School to watch The Piper. We all really enjoyed the performance! Here is Balram’s essay about the day:

 

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Purple Cake Day

On Thursday 13th March the children celebrated Purple Cake Day. This is a fund-raising event that originated in New Zealand to support the education of children in less fortunate parts of the world. We became involved for the first time in 2013 as a result of our links with a Montessori School in New Zealand.

The children and teachers dressed in purple clothes. Throughout the day they took part in ‘purple’ activities from painting to sewing, and flower arranging to story writing. They made flags of joy which were made into wonderful banners.

The parents, teachers and pupils made some cakes with a purple theme (included one shaped like the map of New Zealand) which we sold to raise money.

We raised just under £200 which was a huge achievement for a small school. Some of this money will be spent on sports equipment for a very small Montessori school that we support in Botswana and the remainder will be spent on our Eco School project. The children, with the support of the Eco School committee, will decide what they want to buy with this money. Getting some rescue chickens is certainly a possibility!

We had a wonderful day, the sun shone and everyone enjoyed a day of purple.

 

World Book Day

For World Book Day, all the children dressed up as their favourite book day character and brought in the book to show everyone. Luckily Sue dressed up as Mary Poppins to keep them all in order!

World Book Day

All the children dressed up as characters in their favourite books.

The children in Grantham Farm looked at how books are made. We talked about the features of a book cover – the spine, title, author and blurb. They then made their own little hardback books. They decided whether they wanted to make a non-fiction or a fiction book.

St Valentine’s Day

On St Valentine’s Day the children in Grantham Farm were very busy.

They wrote a letter to their parents thanking them for everything they do. They made butterfly cakes which involved estimating and weighing. When they were cooked, they made them into butterflies and decorated them with red and pink sugar balls. While the cakes were cooking they decorated paper plates with small coloured hearts.

We all had a most enjoyable day whilst covering many areas of the curriculum in a fun and exciting way.

Decorating the plates for St Valentine’s Day treats for the parents

Decorating the plates for St Valentine’s Day treats for the parents

Some of the class showing their love to the parents with lovely treats

Some of the class showing their love to the parents with lovely treats

The final products. Beautiful and delicious!

The final products. Beautiful and delicious!