The two terms, ‘art’ and ‘craft,’ are commonly used interchangeably to describe children’s activities. This creates confusion about the true nature of the genres; each is defined by differing characteristics:
Art is a creative activity produced by human imagination and expression, typically through visual and written forms: drawing, painting, sculpture, literature, music, dance. The works are created and inspired primarily for their beauty and their emotional power.
Craft is an activity involving skill and technique in making or duplicating something by hand: woodwork, pottery, textiles, knitting, jewelry. Their primary use is both practical and purposeful in daily living and education
Art is a Natural Form of Expression for Children.
The essence of art is expressing oneself. To develop a sense of self- expression, children need the opportunity to make their own decisions about their artwork.
When adult feedback or approval is removed, a child is more likely to take risks and make mistakes. This fosters creativity, exploration and exciting outcomes.
Process-oriented art education uses the simplest materials, few clear directions, and open-ended time to experience the creative process.
The door then opens to little masterpieces: self-portraits, representational drawing, abstract design and so on.
Sewing was a familiar and practical skill in our house when I was a girl growing up in the 60’s. My paternal grandmother was a seamstress for the furrier department of Eaton’s department store; my maternal grandmother embellished linens and clothing with colourful cross-stitched needlework; my mom sewed beautiful dresses for herself and her four daughters. Today, as a teacher and a mother, I now find pleasure in passing along the art of sewing to children. Continue reading
A child who is transitioning from a childcare program into an educational setting can experience significant physical and emotional changes. Childcare is primarily custodial in nature, providing the basic needs for safety and wellbeing, whereas preschool and kindergarten have an educational focus.
Attending school for the first time brings with it new experiences, new teachers, a larger class size, and peers older in age. The physical environment is big and new, with desks and educational materials vs. the familiar toys at daycare. Continue reading
The Montessori classroom is an educational environment enriched with materials representing geographical aspects of the world: the globe, puzzle maps, flags, land and water forms, animal figures, and nomenclature cards.
Turning the conceptual idea of geography into a concrete concept
The hands-on work with the geography materials offers children a concrete sensorial experience, attaching meaning and value to real-life physical environments. Continue reading
Children love science!
Topics ranging from the solar system to dinosaurs to volcanoes have strong appeal. It is equally important for young children to have the opportunity to learn and practice the scientific study of experimentation: the tools, the procedures, the vocabulary and analysis.
Preschoolers have a natural attraction to the principle of cause and effect. We often observe a two or three year old pour the contents of a container out onto the floor simply to see what will happen: Will the objects bounce? What will it sound like? Will something new be revealed? The child is intuitively doing an experiment: a test done in order to learn something, or to discover if something works. Continue reading
Planning and Planting
On Earth Day, during the spring of last year, the children, families and teachers at Four Seasons Montessori gathered together to plant flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruiting plants in the school garden. A new tin-roofed pavilion, flower boxes, a greenhouse, and raised planter boxes had been built and stood ready to go; it was an exciting day of activity and shared effort.
The specialized learning environment promotes the physical, emotional and cognitive development children need to become independent. The tables and chairs are child-sized; the shelves are low and easy to reach; the materials are colour-coded and built for small hands. Continue reading
As spring approaches, parents and teachers are beginning to think about and make plans for the next school year. The 3 ½ to 4 year olds are growing like weeds and will be even taller when they return for their second year of Montessori in the fall. There will be a whole new group of 2 ½ to 3 year olds who will begin their first year in September.
Consider, for a moment, the start of each school day to be a new beginning. Each morning is a clean slate. Each action you choose can potentially have a powerful and meaningful impact on the day.
Punctuality is a good place to begin; it opens up endless avenues for growth and learning.
When a child consistently arrives at school on time, she/he benefits from the following opportunities: Continue reading
Each year on the last day of November, my husband, son and I make our own advent calendar that has been passed down in our family for generations. It is a colourful paper chain that we hang from the ceiling and use to count down the days until Christmas. One can be made for the whole family to share and hang in the main room of your home, or each child can make their own. I grew up with 3 siblings, so each of us had our own chain hanging by our bed. Continue reading
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