Two wonderful projects that I have made and am going to present to my students. The first project was prepared for a very young child of 3 years old, whilst the second project will be demonstrated to twenty 6-year-olds and work with them in a couple of weeks time.
This is a very simple activity to enhance eye-hand coordination and one-to-one correspondent for mathematical understanding. We started to put one bead at a time inside each compartment of the egg tray, then two by two, three by three and so forth. The interesting thing was this child preferred to lay out the beads on the plastic lid in a circular arrangement when she saw the beads for the first time. A very good opportunity for her to observe and explore the shapes of the beads. I brought different types of beads for the following three days. After that I let her chose what beads and how many beads she would like to put in each compartment. At this point, she is learning how to rote count 1-10 in the correct order.
Point to note: I’m glad I reuse the egg tray and wooden beads (without proper holes that make threading impossible). For the next presentation, I must remember to paint and varnish the egg tray with paint and white glue so that it looks more attractive and shiny.
I made 20 booklets from paper the size of drawing block for children to collect information and write their opinion on the topic of ‘Celebration’. I’m also hoping that they would be interested in making their own booklets from used A4 papers which they can bring from home. This would be a really good practical life exercise for them. You can also learn to make the booklet from Susan Gaylord’s website.
Point to note: Experiment with different sizes and quality of papers.
This post is especially for Klang Valley (residing in Malaysia) readers who are looking for mattresses at a slightly cheaper price:
5 unused set of IKEA mattresses suitable for infants and children (still nicely wrapped up), going for RM 20 each.
Length: 120 cm
Width: 60 cm
Thickness: 5 cm
Collect from Old Klang Road or Mont Kiara area.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment if you or anyone else you know is interested.
Christine Harrison, the president of Montessori Australia Foundation, was the keynote speaker at this year’s Montessori Association of Malaysia’s forum, and in her speech, she mentioned briefly about a Montessori conference in Australia on discussing about the application of Montessori’s method or philosophy for old patients with dementia. That attracted my attention right away, and I decided to book a place to attend the conference in November.
This is the first time I’m hearing about Montessori’s knowledge being utilized to expand to other areas of human growth. I mean how amazing is this! Her philosophy started with research on children with special needs, progressively developed to benefiting very young children, infants and teenagers up to the university years, and now has leaped another generation to help the elderly with weak executive function. Simply fantastically amazing!
I am also equally interested and excited of this event due to my mum’s weakening state of mental health. My mum was diagnosed as having depression and that, doctors believed, has caused her to experience very slow mental-physical reaction time, weak eye-hand coordination and less motivation in all activities and work. Her long term memory is superb but her short term memory, or perhaps working memory, is deteriorating. She has lost a big degree of independence ever since. I hope that by attending this conference will inspire and motivate me to gain more knowledge and insight in this area, and see how Montessori’s knowledge is translated in another area of the final phase of human’s growth, as well as helping my mum to gain more confidence and independence.
In order to attend this event, I have spent a huge sum of money on the registration fee (and will be looking for a place to stay in Sydney, as well as booking a flight soon). So now I’m looking for sponsors or a part time job that will help me to pay at least half of the expenditure (registration, accommodation and flight tickets). If any readers of this blog can point me to any directions that will help me to lighten this financial burden, please email me or comment briefly here so that I can return your reply.
Three cheers for me: HIP HIP HOORAY!
I started making my very first garbage fruit enzyme on 7 Mar 2014. Inspired by the Green Educator course in Bali, I gathered information and tips from websites and friends to start on this experiment. I was introduced to fruit enzyme by my neighbour some time last year. She gave me a sample of the enzyme in a 500ml mineral water plastic bottle and urged me to try out the product as a hair conditioner and cleaning dishes and toilets in the house. In addition to that, aunty also gave me a booklet on how to make my own enzyme and the benefits of making enzyme to the environment and humankind.
Before embarking on this project which was really easy to make and took three months to process the garbage, I gathered more information from BMS Organic’s website on the uses and benefits of garbage enzymes. Here is some of the very useful knowledge that I have garnered.
“How we dispose our garbage is important because garbage is categorized as hazardous waste that poses risks to the ecosystem and environment and improper disposal of garbage greatly affects our environment.
How can we protect our environment? One method is through reusing your fruits or vegetable scraps. An enzyme made from these can be seen as a way to help recover the ozone layer and fight against global warming as the process itself helps to reduce temperature. Fruit and veggie scraps enzyme is easy to make at home and has many uses and benefits.
Uses and Benefits of Garbage Enzymes
• All-purpose 100% natural household cleaner with anti-bacterial properties.
• Can prevent blockage for drainpipe by releasing sludge accumulated in drainage pipes.
• Save money as you make your own natural household cleaning liquid.
• Environmentally friendly: Reduces pollution, acts as a natural pesticide and purifies the air and underground water.”
Following the success of my experiment, I intend to share the enzyme that I made with a friend on Saturday and I’ve started to collect fruit skins from everywhere and everybody. I hope to fulfill my pledge to mother Earth! You should start doing the same too.
Last year, I was fortunate to see an advertisement by Marneta Viegas in a yoga magazine. Marneta is the founder of Relax Kids and has designed The Relax Kids 21 Day Plan for children. I downloaded and printed the Calmer Classroom Ebook and saved a couple of scripts in my laptop. That was that. I never used the materials.
This year, I went to Green School’s Educator course and was inspired by the mindfulness and yoga session. I promised to myself that when I return to my classroom I will practice this type of awareness with the children in my classroom. I dug out Marneta’s ebook and laminated her cards. Today, I am practising The Relax Kids 21 Day Plan towards a calmer classroom with children aged 4-5. We are now on Day 16.
When I first started using The Relax Kids plan, I did not put high hope on it. Every morning we spent about ten minutes doing the mindfulness exercise and affirmation. Sometimes there are props, sometimes there are only my words and voice. Some children close their eyes and sit still, others prefer to open their eyes or lie down on their backs or tummies. They can choose to position their bodies in any way as long as they do not interrupt and disturb others’ spaces. On certain days the children respond really well with poise and calmness, and attentiveness level was at the highest.
I urge teachers in any types of classroom to spend three to five minutes in the morning after taking attendance to practice mindfulness with their children. It is a good start to the day, like a good and early jog for an alert mind and body to function the rest of the day.
Make a plan to attend International Montessori Forum this weekend (Saturday and Sunday) at UCSI, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur campus. Keynote Speakers include international educators, Christine Harrison from Montessori Australia Foundation and Mary Evelyn Tucker from Yale University, US, who will give her talk via Skype. There are also 5 concurrent talk sessions by various international and local educationists.
The fee is RM299 for both days, inclusive of food, goodie bag and certificate.
Is that an armadillo behind me?
During my stay in Green School, other participants and I were tucked in comfortably at night at this Green Camp’s lodge. Ladies were given the upper deck while the gents spent their time at the lower deck. I remembered having a very hard time to sleep on the first night, but after that I slept like a newborn baby amidst the symphony of crickets, lizards and raindrops. Waking to the alarm of my phone next dawn, I freshened up briskly and walked with other participants to the Yoga Studio across the bridge. Yoga and Mindfulness is a key subject in Green School, like a backbone of the curriculum. Set next to part of River Ayung, the open air studio reminded me of ‘rumah orang Melayu’ where one had to take off shoes and climb their way up to the arena. The yoga mat is not the commercialized, colourful ones that we are mostly familiar with. It is recycled from rubber material, similar to tyre, black and placed on the bamboo post of the upper floor, like a towel hanging from the verandah. There is no rule that states yoga mats must be colourful, zen like, rolled like a sausage between two breads. The best part was the 45 mins yoga session was conducted in a circle unlike ordinary yoga class sessions and ended with a mindfulness session, something like yoga nidra.
This yogic session actually inspired me to hold very short, about 5 mins mindfulness/meditative session with my class children every day. I use a 25-day school’s Relax Pack from www.relaxpack.com. I am now at Day 11, in which I will use bubble for this session to encourage children on self-empowering and instilling their confidence. I hope to make bubbles with the children too. An extra bonus about this programme is that there are affirmation cards which can be laminated and used by children so that they remember how to be confident or joyful when things don’t seem to work out for them.
The preschool or nursery’s yard is adorned with a small mud pond, swings and a big area for movement purpose. Notice the dustbin and recycle bin in the second picture, so little resource is used to make them.
Begawan Foundation a haven for birds and all.
A natural crystal that deemed to bring good energy to Green School.
Simply clicking away and clicking around.
A fishing pond that is used by the children to do what else, but fish.
The finance, accounts and other administration functional offices are located in these little huts.
Major field and playground area for sports events.
Of course, this was my favourite part of the tour on the first day of arrival. The classroom area looks simple and not too overwhelmed or over-crowded by decorations or play stuff that is made of inorganic or unnatural materials. There are very very few materials that are made from plastic, and the classroom have no walls that separate itself from fresh air and outdoor sounds (I’d rather call them sound than noise).
There is certainly order in chaos. I guess this is the role play corner, which is comprised of materials that are ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. Yes, I am a great believer of this basic environmental value, which is taking Malaysia by storm now. Currently, I’m also on the hunt for ‘mengkuang’ mat instead of the mats used in typical Montessori classrooms. Let’s Malaysian-ised Montessori classrooms in Malaysia!
This must be the creative area. I fell in love instantly with their easels. Coconut husks can be an excellent resource for free painting. Looking at this, I realise the importance of connecting with the community around you. In my opinion, my current school does not seem to be in the centre of a community that is in need of integration and cooperation. I’ve heard of an orang asli/aboriginal community living somewhere around the small town, but I’m not sure how to begin to approach them. Another thing to take note is that recruiting reliable carpenters and gardeners is also a type of revenue that could benefit any educational organisation in the long run.
Let’s go to the outdoor area and the playground which reminds me a lot of our very own kampungs (local villages).
A warm and welcoming entrance or exit!
And of course, being a GREEN school, there are planting backyards for every classroom. Planting and sowing is an ongoing activity that is demonstrated to children about sustainability energy and economic development. So, the fruits will only be harvested in a few months, and not a few days or weeks, which also brings awareness to children the sense of time, patience and diligence. It’s a practice that eventually becomes a habit that turns into an attitude that mould a person’s character. Moral lessons should be conducted in this way too. Stop the preaching. Do and experience it!
Last year, Montessori Association of Malaysia kicked start the first International Montessori Forum in March. This year, MAM intends to continue the tradition by inviting international speakers to present papers and workshops in the second forum that will be held in May/June. Sponsors and volunteers are graciously invited to make this event a successful one. I am honoured to be chosen as the emcee for this year’s event and will start practising after Labour Day.
For more information about the event and registration, visit MAM’s website at www.montessori-malaysia.org.