The following post is a new addition to our Montessori teaching series. Our guest author, Andrea Coventry, grew up in Montessori schools and is a current educator and internet writer on teaching Montessori. (The following activities are found on the abcteach member site. Learn more about becoming a member!)
The Year of the Animals
Every year following Spring Break, I begin to assess my students for final conference reports in early to mid-May. As I do so, I also like to reflect on which activities and units were a success and which ones seemed to fall short.
This year has definitely been the ‘Year of Animals.’ My kids can’t get enough of learning about them – their habits and habitats, their parts, and their personalities. Two of the activities that have consistently been used are nomenclature cards and booklets, which I got right here on abcteach.
Some years nomenclature cards collect dust in the time that they are on the shelf. This year, however, the children wanted to learn every new word and to compare/contrast all of the animals. I had a three year-old teach himself how to write letters, just so that he could make his own booklets. He would exhaust almost the entire supply of papers, creating his booklets time and time again. He read them to anyone who came to visit the classroom. His concentration on the animal activities was even superior to any of his Practical Life activities!
This darling boy, now four, has also been teaching the older children a new activity that he created using some of these materials. He takes the papers from the booklet activity and makes books of the different species of animal. For example, we just wrapped up our amphibians unit, featuring frogs. He and one of my five year-olds spent a week going through frog books, coloring each page with different colors and patterns and labeling them appropriately. That’s one of the beautiful things about Montessori: children creating their own extensions of materials and teaching each other. I especially love that it is a younger child teaching an older child.
The animal activities on abcteach also include some with real photos for sorting and matching. My students love the vibrant colors and variety of animals. I also like to use these cards to compare them to the actual pets in our classroom. We used to have two pet newts and were able to use these salamander cards for comparison and learning. I look forward to seeing what else becomes available!
What were your students’ favorite abcteach activities this year?
Andrea Coventry is a Montessori child who is now a Montessori educator. Learn more about Montessori and get book recommendations by visiting her Montessori Writer website.