Montessori Alliance

July 2011

July 2011

Summer is on the wane, the days are starting to get shorter & the nights longer. In Ireland we’re still waiting for our summer to start!

We’ve had a couple of nice days recently and took the opportunity to head to the beach and tip our toes in the Atlantic ocean. It’s funny how being at the beach brings out the child in the adult. Both dads and children were burying each other in sand, building sandcastles and forts complete with turrets.

Having fun with children is important and allowing ourselves to stop and just enjoy the moment is the greatest present we can give ourselves.

This month’s newsletter will feature the final results from our Snapshot of Early Years services.

We also have a contribution from Donna Rossi in which she shares her experience of watching caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies in the classroom.


This month the Facebook page has been very busy & while I took a bit of time off my colleague, Michelle, kept the page update & generally had a good time interacting with everyone.

We’ve decided to include a brief overview of the topics discussed on the Facebook page in this issue. So many good ideas, tips and resources are posted there we think it’s a good idea to share them with everyone & we plan on the overview becoming a regular feature in the newsletter.

We also bring you news of a new online programme being rolled out in the Autumn by Early Childhood Ireland (IPPA&NCNA).

Thanks to Emma & Sonia for increasing our book resources section! Each month we’ll add a few more so keep your contributions coming in.

Enjoy what’s left of your summer break & don’t try to do too much before school starts again.

Regards, Lyn

Over to You

Donna runs her own school in Dublin, Ireland and works with Lisa. They run two sessions a day & have on average over 30 children. Donna has sent us a contribution about her experience of introducing the lifecycle of the butterfly to her class.

‘We had a lovely surprise in our school recently when the postman arrived with a parcel for us from Insect Lore! We’re not used to receiving parcels so there was a lot of excitement in the classroom as we began opening the box. Inside we found a wonderful present of a complete butterfly farm. The farm consisted of a small pot with newly hatched caterpillars (this is called the Larva stage in the life cycle of the butterfly), food and an enclosed netting basket to put them in.

I have to confess I knew the parcel was arriving so I had prepared materials to introduce the children to the lifecycle of the butterfly. The caterpillars are left in the container for roughly fourteen days – during this time they grow bigger and eventually make their way to the top of the container where they attach themselves to the lid. The caterpillars build a cocoon around themselves (this stage in the life cycle of the butterfly is know as the pupa stage). The children watched as one by one each caterpillar retreated into its cocoon.  At the top of the jar under the lid, there is a disk of paper (it is like greaseproof paper). We carefully opened the lid & took the paper out with the cocoons attached and pinned this paper to the netting on the side of the butterfly basket.  The cocoons grew darker in colour as the weeks progressed and within two weeks they were ready to emerge. The children kept checking the basket everyday during those two weeks. Two weeks is a long time in a young child’s life & it gave the children an understanding of how long the process from caterpillar to butterfly actually takes & improved their concept of time.

You can’t imagine the excitement when the children arrived into school one morning & found two of the butterflies had emerged from their cocoon and were resting on the base of the butterfly basket. The children gathered twigs and leaves from the garden to make a homely environment for the butterflies. We fed them oranges and watched as they drank the juice with their proboscis. We couldn’t believe our luck as one day while the children were getting ready to go home; one of them noticed that the last cocoon was moving! All the children gathered around the basket & we got to see the butterfly push its way out of the cocoon. The butterflies stayed in the netting basket for a few days before we set them free in the garden. They took a while to get used to their new environment and kept flying back to where we were standing in a circle, but eventually they made their break for freedom.

We’d recommend buying this to introduce to your classroom as the children get to see the process happen before their eyes – experiencing the miracle of the life cycle of the butterfly rather then just seeing pictures from books when learning about it. Keep the basket in plain view so the children can observe every stage of the whole process. Many hours spent just watching….’

Newsletter Spotlight

Snapshot of Early Years Services Survey

Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey and took the time to let us know how they felt the Free Preschool Year had or hadn’t impacted on their Service.

Looking at the results it is easy to see that the majority of practitioners have noticed a change in their business & their ability to run their setting as they’d like to. Although there were some negative aspects of the Free Preschool Year over 70% of you found it to be a positive experience for your setting. But when we compare the quantitative answers and more descriptive answers to the question; ‘Describe how the Free Preschool year has impacted on your service’, the division between positive & negative is much closer, 37% answered positively while 35% answered negatively. Snapshot of Early Years Services in Ireland Survey 2011 Full

Facebook Page

Topic discussed on Facebook Page

Our Facebook page is a wonderful source of knowledge, tips and resources. It is moderated by myself and Michelle and while we search the net and try to find items of interest, our members are very active and share their experiences, interesting articles and ideas for exercises. During July we looked at a toolkit for creating an outdoor learning environment as well as resources to make the most of the time spent outdoor with children.

We asked the question ‘do you encourage recycling in your service?’ and got a lot of responses. Fatima collected unusual bottle tops and used them to make a mosaic. Pamela encourages the children in her setting to use both sides of paper by explaining that paper is made from trees, trees ‘clean’ the earth’s air and to help not cut down too many trees they should use both sides of the paper. She has noticed that once children feel they can help the planet they are eager to recycle. Jean from Virtual Montessori used paper towel holders to make her own number rods which I’m sure you’ll agree look fantastic!

Emma and Sonia recommended a couple of books to encourage children to recycle; Michael Recycle, Litterbug Doug & Eco Art. We found, Recycle! A Handbook for kids by Gail Gibbons and Fun with Recycling: 50 Great Things for Kids to Make from Junk by Marion Elliot

We also suggested using an old oilcloth table cover, cut to size as tray mats and old tea-towels again cut to size, as polishing & mop up cloths. Greentrees Park Montessori School recommended the site Montessori Mozarts for activities for walking on the line and the silence game. The site is set out with monthly songs and lesson plans and according to Greentrees Park Montessori School it is very user friendly & is the curriculum they use in their setting. We posted a link to the National Concert Hall’s Children’s music site where you’ll find useful and interactive exercises to help you introduce children to the orchestra. If you place your mouse on an instrument you’ll hear the instrument but if you click on it an information card will pop up. Save the card and use it to make simple definition cards for your setting. Sonia & Caron proposed Peter and the Wolf, with Sonia posting a link to two YouTube videos, Part 1 & Part 2.

There was also discussion about children’s favourite snacks with cucumber chunks & smoothies favoured by Chelene while in Jean’s setting children are offered various fillings such as ham, raisins & cucumber, tuna, cucumber & sweetcorn, celery & peanut butter, the children choose a filling and then fill the pita as Jean believes if the child makes it he/she is more likely to eat it. An Amazing Child said dried banana & smoothies are top contenders. Montessori Buddy wrote that hummus with veggies or pita chips are a favourite. With Ida recommending blackberries, fresh peas from the pod and grated carrots. Sweet stuff got a mention too, with Wanda making cracker sandwiches with icing as the filling, once frozen children can’t pull them apart & only eat the filling! Fatima suggested adding some chocolate chips to waffle batter & serving with golden syrup & icecream! to save a few teeth Fatima uses strawberries or banana to replace the golden syrup.

There were many more discussions on the Facebook page, so why not come along and see if you can add to our store of knowledge

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