Saturday, 29 March 2014

Montessori Zoology & 3-part cards

In Montessori classrooms, we have dedicated shelves to introduce zoology and botany to our students. If you are interested to start off your lil ones on this journey, you can DIY to display them in your home. While I normally recreate a replica background of animal habitat with materials like felt, plasticine, real sand together with the model creatures, i merely arranged our collection in baskets. My dragon_boi still puts his fingers in his mouth unconsciously sometimes so I decided not to put up my collection with plasticine.

This is one of the sets in our collection. Sea creatures.

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These model creatures form the concrete part of Montessori education, where our directresses facilitate lessons beginning with concrete experiences first and move on to abstract. The models should ideally look as realistic as possible to offer the best impression to the child.

I also made name cards / labels corresponding with the model creatures to encourage (sight) reading to my boys. For non-reading children, this activity will not seem intimidating as they think they are playing with the animals instead. :wink:

A 3-period lesson may be used to start the first lesson, especially for lil babies who may not know the names to these creatures yet. 

A 3-period lesson.

1st period : "This is..." 

This is the introductory period where you show the child for the first time, an object, a card or anything. You are encouraged to share some quick facts about this animal/thing to the child for example its name, its physical characteristics, its habitat, (etc)... facts the child can refer back to in his memory, to help him distinguish it from within the set.

A 3-period lesson may go like this..

Parent : Today, we are going to learn the names of these ocean creatures. Let's look at this one.

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This is a starfish.

> It has a body of usually five arms radially arranged about a central disk.

> It feeds largely on molluscs like oysters.

> It is also called also sea star.

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This is a lobster.

> Like many invertebrates, lobsters protect themselves with their hard exoskeleton.

> You can sometimes find lobsters hiding in rocky caves and crevices.

> Lobsters prefer to feed on live prey, such as fish, molluscs & worms.

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This is a turtle.

> Turtles have a hard shell that protects them like a shield, this upper shell is called a ‘carapace’.

> Turtles can hide their heads inside their shells when attacked by predators.

> Turtles lay eggs.

> Some turtles lay eggs in the sand and leave them to hatch on their own.

> Turtles are notoriously slow movers (having a giant shell doesn’t help!).

End of Period 1.

You can also simplify the words a little for younger children, especially for toys with shirt attention span.fir children with better concentration, the more facts you share the better and you can encourage a discussion if the child pleases. No one knows everything so fear not. When in doubt, you can google fun animal facts for children for ideas. Do bear in mind though not to sidetrack as there are still two other periods to follow-up with. Remember : Objective is to carry out the 3-period lesson.

2nd period : "Show me..." 

This is the recap lesson where we gauge if the child absorbed facts from the first period. The child is asked to point, or pick up the creature you asked for. This period will reflect if they know the creature in question and its name.

Parent can ask :
"Can you show me the lobster?"
"Can you show me the turtle?"
"Now, can you show me the starfish?"

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Or if the child is active and prefers the touchy-feely way..
"May I have / Can you pass me the starfish?" (etc)

No hard and fuss rule. :D

Now, what if the child can't show? That could mean a few things. Too young.. short attention span.. not ready (not looking at the creatures during 1st period or perhaps, walking around).. couldn't hear properly (converse with the child in a clear voice), (etc) - just citing probable causes.

If you think your child would know, you can try prompting.

"The starfish is the one with five arms..."

If child still pauses, carry on to the next fact.

"It feeds on molluscs, like oysters..."

Carry on till the same facts are repeated. If the child still can't recognize the creature randomly asked of him/her. Move on to ask child to show/pick up the next creature... until the last one.

These lessons should have two or more model creatures/objects to avoid a child from guessing either or. Older kids can have four creatures/objects and above.

IMPORTANT : 2nd period is NOT to test the child. If the child can't just stop at this period, conclude the lesson and start over on another day.

3rd period : "What is..." / "Can you tell me..."

This is the conclusive period. If the first and second period was successful, the child can move on to this last period. Remember : Don't stress your child or you stressing about the child in getting it all if them correct, no matter how simple you think it is or if you think your child should actually have known them..

At the end of every 3-period lesson, conclude the activity. In this lesson : "Today, we learnt about three ocean creatures : starfish (show it).. lobster (show it to the child).. and turtle (lay the creatures one at a time from left to right). We will learn more tomorrow/on another day."

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If you ended your lesson at 2nd period, do conclude too. It reflects closure to that particular lesson. Will continue Part 2 when I have time. :imanisland:

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