Volcanoes! They’re so exciting. Any kindergartener will be instantly interested and motivated in studying this natural phenomenon.
I’ve begun a volcano unit with Peanut this week, so I thought I’d share what I have planned so far with you.
First, you have to know that we live surrounded by volcanoes. There are 3 of them easily visible from our house, here in Guatemala, a country home to over 30 volcanoes. So, they are part of the landscape. Peanut enjoys watching volcanic eruptions from our house, whether they are just puffs of smoke and ash or fiery night-time displays.
So, what can you do to study volcanoes?
Make Your Own Volcano
There are a few ways to do this, and it makes a great opener to your unit. You’ll inspire your little one for sure.
Preschool science experiments are a joy. I’ve never met a child who doesn’t enjoy experiments…there’s something about moving things around and often getting a bit messy that awakens curiosity, excitement, and wonder.
Well, it’s been a few months since we did this, but Peanut really enjoyed a common preschool science experiment called “Sink or Float.” It’s about as simple as it sounds!
Here’s what we did:
I gathered some materials that sink and float such as: a coin, a plastic medicine cup, a twig, two rocks, and a lemon. There ended up being 3 items that floated and 3 items that sank. I suggest you look for items that are made out of different materials such as wood, plastic, food items, metal and nature items. We’re lucky to live near a volcano, so one of the rocks was pumice, and so it floated!
Montessori math for kindergarteners is an exciting world of impressive, well-developed manipulatives. This is a material intensive area of the curriculum and one that is often a bit intimidating for those who aren’t familiar with the materials.
We started out with very few of these materials in math, and so far are doing just fine. But, if my Peanut made this subject area his favorite, then I’d have a lot of work to do making more materials!
What did we start with?
Spindle Boxes – A Variation
The traditional Montessori math spindle boxes lay flat and use rounded sticks. But, with a lack of resources, we went ahead and made our very own set featuring toilet paper rolls and popsicle sticks! Simple, yet effective.
Montessori language for kindergarteners is an addiction of mine. It’s one of my favorite things to have fun with, adding in new activities and shaking things up as much as possible. Lucky for me, Peanut loves it too! He’s been flowering, really showing interest in learning letter sounds and even starting to write them on his own.
To be honest, we started working on this months ago. You can see how we started learning the ABCs in this post here.
So, when I started homeschooling more officially, I knew Peanut would be into it. Here’s what I included to get started:
Montessori geography for kindergarteners is such fun! Kids love the hands-on approach to learning about their world. Montessori designed the primary or preschool program to help answer children’s questions about the world we live in.
Quick note – this is part 2 in a series about how to begin Montessori Homeschooling. Click here to see part 1!
Peanut has really enjoyed our first geography lessons. What did we start with?
We are in week two of Montessori Homeschooling! It’s the beginning of what will surely be an amazing journey. As I’m just getting started, all of the preparation is fresh in my mind.
I taught for several years in a primary Montessori classroom and still found it hard to put together the materials I wanted to use to start homeschooling with Peanut (age 4 – born in January)! So, I decided to put together a series about how to teach your child at home, with a focus on how to start Montessori homeschooling, in hopes to help others as they begin.
I’m a member of a few Montessori groups on facebook, and it seems common for people to worry about which materials to purchase or make, how to set up the classroom and what to start with. It makes sense. After all, these seem to be the main tools for learning. I, like many homeschoolers, started by thinking about what to use in our classroom space and it seemed like I needed all of the Primary Montessori materials at once. I wanted the pink tower, brown stair, sandpaper letters, spindle boxes, geography puzzles, zoology puzzles and much, much more!
Quickly, I realized that this wish list wouldn’t be possible financially or practically (we live in Guatemala…no online shopping here!). But, I also started to realize that it’s actually not necessary either.
Start Montessori Homeschooling by Following Your Child
Before I get into what I decided to include in our homeschooling beginnings, I want to say that as a Montessori teacher I LOVE and see value in all Montessori materials. I took a less traditional approach when putting our classroom together because I believe it’s more important to follow the philosophy than it is to provide all of the materials.
Kids love stamps. There’s something so satisfying about creating a perfect drawing on paper using stamps. They can be combined to create something fantastic and unique. Somehow, kids never grow bored using stamps.
It’s hard to find regular old stamps around here (in Guatemala). Most of them are made for teachers and have something like “Excelente!” written on them. So, I decided to put together some DIY stamps for kids…specifically for Peanut with some of his favorite things. I put them together for his birthday. He was thrilled!
These DIY stamps for kids are ideal for throwing into a busy bag for church, a meeting or long car ride. You could also break them out when you need a bit of quiet time at home. Peanut loved getting these out while his sister was napping – which was perfect timing. He was quietly busy, and his sister didn’t get in his way trying to
destroy play with them as well.
How did I do it?
Freedom. The ability to move around. Freedom to choose. Picking what activities to complete and in what order. This strikes fear into the hearts of many parents. Perhaps you think that the absence of control must certainly result in mayhem and chaos. Perhaps you wonder how this freedom thing could possibly work?
Whether at home or at school, freedom is an integral part of using the Montessori philosophy. However, this freedom shouldn’t cause you anxiety. It serves a purpose.
It must be some sort of rule. All toddlers seem to LOVE water play. And have you ever noticed how at a certain stage, babies become determined to move on their own, struggling until they achieve the ability to walk?
These are examples of sensitive periods.
Throughout childhood, children experience a number of sensitive periods. Some last for years at a time, and others may only last several months. Montessori coined the phrase “sensitive periods” to refer to times when children have an especially strong motivation and interest to learn about a particular subject or master a certain skill. In her observations, she discovered that many children share a lot of the same interests around the same time in their development.
How Can You Use Them?
As parents and teachers, we can take advantage of these sensitive periods to help guide our children’s learning. A perfect example is language. Montessori noticed that children experience a sensitive period in language from birth through about age 6.
Positive reinforcement is a popular parenting technique. Basically it means parents and caregivers praise good behavior. This way, children are motivated to continue their good behavior due to the positive attention they’ve received. Positive reinforcement can also include sticker charts and other similar incentives. All sounds good, right?
Yes and no.
Positive reinforcement can be very helpful for children. It can help them learn that good behavior is appreciated and that their efforts pay off. But, it can also turn into a big happy praise fest that teaches your child that they are the BEST, in the worst cases resulting in narcissism.