Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Observation Day...Mom's Night Off

So today was the day for me to go and observe Henry in his classroom. It was so very interesting as most of what happens at school is a huge mystery to me.

Henry attends a local Montessori school. I'm not real up on the whole philosophy of what Montessori is about, I just know that I am impressed by those that I know who have attended. The general concept seems to focus on self-motivated and self-directed learning. Most of the activities that the children do are self-evident at the end on whether the task has been completed correctly.

When I arrived, Henry was receiving his "assignments" for the day. He was to choose an activity in each of the following areas: culture, language and math. He started with culture and chose to work on the clock activity. I was so very impressed with the entire workings of the classroom. After they're given their areas of focus, the children scatter and create a work area for themselves and choose which "task" within the area they would like to do. Sometimes, guidance is provided by the teacher, but for the most part, the kids went to that area and picked something that seemed interesting to them.

Okay, back to Henry and the clock. This task was "floor work". So he got himself a rug, spread it out on the floor. Then he emptied the basket and started to work. The task involved 6 laminated pictures of an analog clock displaying different times, and 6 laminated papers of the digital readout of the same times as on the analog clock. His task was to match the digital readings to the analog clocks. He is still challenged in this task, but is slowly learning the concept of telling time.

Next, it was time for math. He picked up all of the pieces to his clock task, put them back in the basket, and returned the basket to the appropriate location on the shelf. Then he went off to decide on the math task he wanted to do. He first selected the spindle box task. He had done this for me last year during observation week, so I was a bit disappointed. But once his teacher realized what he was doing, she suggested that this task was too easy and he needed to select more challenging work. She steered him towards addition. He was fine with the choice, but announced that this was "table work". So the rug got rolled up and placed back in the bin and a spot at the table (2 feet off the ground with matching chairs!) was selected. He got himself an addition worksheet, which happened to be the 6's. He also got an abacus looking thing that had rows of beads on it. For each equation, he would slide the number of beads for the first number to the right on one row of the abacus, and then count off and slide the number of beads for the second number to the right on a different row of the abacus. He would then count the total number of beads and write the number in the box on his worksheet. He did most excellent on this work. When he was done, again, everything went back where it belonged.

Next, he decided to do the letter cards for language. And yes, back to floor work. Out came the rug. This task involved 26 cards that had the letters of the alphabet on them, and 26 more cards that had pictures of items on them. The first task was to separate the cards, spread out the alphabet cards, and organize them into alphabetical order. Next, he took each of the picture cards and placed it on top of the letter that corresponded to it (apple on A, ball on B, etc.). After this was completed, he picked it all up. And as he picked up each letter/picture combo, he called out the letter, word and letter sound (A, apple, ah; B, ball, buh; etc.)

All in all, I was quite impressed with the whole thing. He and I were both disappointed when it was time for me to leave.

This evening, Leslie prepared a yum-yum-yummy dinner for us. It was a Greek theme and involved a lot of feta cheese. She grilled chicken kabobs for us, and made cous-cous (special thanks to Leggy) with feta, tomatoes and fresh asparagus. After dinner, we retired to the back patio where I had a fire going in the chiminea. We sat back there and sipped on lemon tea and Otis Spunkmeyer cookies.

Henry decided he wanted to read us the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. As he got up to go and get the book, I reminded him that we didn't have the book. He looked at me and whispered quite loudly, "I'm just pretending, Mommy!". Oh, okay...go get the book.

He walked across the patio and pretended to flip through make-believe books until he found Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Then he sat down, opened the make-believe cover and informed me that there were three different versions and that I could choose which one I wanted: Regular Goldilocks; Goldilocks in the Forest; or Goldilocks in the Snow. Curiosity got the better of me and I selected Goldilocks in the Snow. I was then informed that there was a big X next to that option and the only one he could read was Regular Goldilocks. Ok, whatever.

He then pretended to read Goldilocks and the Three Bears, complete with sound effects of the pages turning. However, as he called out the characters, he assigned them to each of us: "Papa Bear...Papa, that's you; Mama Bear...that's you (as he points at me); and Baby Bear...that's me. And our story also has an Aunt Bear...Leslie, that's you". And from that point forward, every item had 4 -- four bowls of porridge, 4 chairs, etc. And so he had to come up with different discriptors for the extra of everything. The 4th bowl of porridge was "super-hot"; the 4th chair was "squishy". And I don't remember what the 4th bed was. Anyway, he was just too funny reading us this make-believe book!

Now, he is off with Papa to spend the night. What is Mama doing with her night off? Going to bed early, of course! Nighty night one and all.

1 comment:

  1. He is a very creative little fellow,isn't he. I like the squishy chair. We have some of those at our house and I'm pretty sure that the Aunt Leslie Bear has never been here. Hmmm.