It is time (yes there is ample time) to spread the mission of Maria Montessori through this four-year congress in Prague, Czechoslovakia. It is also due time to spread the theme “Pathway to Peace: Montessori Education for Social Change” which will be demonstrated by the international congress through dialogues and collaboration amongst pioneers, veterans and experts from the global Montessori community.
The event is next year and the preparation begins now.
27-30 July 2017
Ketupat is a type of dumpling made from rice packed in woven palm leaf or daun palas. In Malaysia, it is usually eaten during Eid or Hari Raya Celebration, with rendang chicken, a type of curry dish or serunding, a type of famous malay/indonesian dish sauteed grated coconut and meat dish.
In August this year, I’ve decided to record the making of simple ketupat in the shape of triangle, with the assistance of children and teachers in school. We made about 40 ketupat for a game. Ketupat were hung on a string and children were only allowed to ‘pluck’ the ketupat by pulling it using their mouth.
*The palm leaf or daun palas can be purchased from local markets during the fasting season at the price of RM3 (make about 50 ketupat). Peel one leaf from the stalk and give it a good beat on the ground (which is usually best done outside due to dust from the leaves) to open up the thin layer.
There is a huge demand on play dough activities in my school right now, from children to adults. I guess that’s because play dough session is enjoyable and therapeutic. For my next project, I will be working on collecting play dough recipes and preparing raw materials for give away or sale to parents during concert, sports day and other fundraising events.
Do you have a favourite recipe that you would love to use again and again with your young or old ones? Please share it here.
Not so long ago, this year, my friend and I attended Hari UNESCO Malaysia at Dataran Merdeka. We enjoyed ourselves tremendously. We ate, sang and played to our heart’s content. One thing that we decided to bring home to our schools so that we can include it in our cultural and practical life areas is an orang asli handicraft made from rattan. It is called binsulong, an IQ puzzle game for the not-so-faint-hearted. The orang asli community earned and we learned. Loving it!
*binsulong rattan IQ puzzles – craft of the Semai
Made in Kg. Rugading Bolotikul near Kiulu, these differ from rattan versions made with interlooped rattan, fitted with nylon string. It’s this string which must be removed without cutting it or dismantling the rattan snare. (Taken from http://www.malaysiadesignarchive.org)
I am a big fan of milk, lassi and yogurt drink bottles. Not only can I use this for water play activity, I also love to see how children process the bottles for various purposes, from washing, rinsing to taking out the labels or wrappers, which can also be used for art and craft.
Do this simple peeling activity to refine children’s fine motor skill, small muscle movement (involving fingers and wrist) and eye-hand coordination. As with all the other practical life activities, this one serves as an unwinding and relieving stress moment for children who need a break from the classroom environment or work routine. ;)
Perlis, the smallest state in Malaysia, is well known for its mangoes. There are many species of mangoes, with the most famous one being Harumanis. They are usually in season in March/April. With this in mind, I conjured an activity that encourages children to experience three types of mangoes using all their senses. The mangoes which were on display, for a day, are:
The children and teachers had a discussion about the health benefits of eating mango. The smell from the mangoes was too tempting so we had to help ourselves by sprucing up a delicious cup of mango lassi during the hot season.
Mango Lassi’s Recipe:
- fresh mangoes cut in cubes
- Nestle low fat yogurt drink
- fresh milk
I still remember the days working with other Montessori colleagues. There was this young teacher who always reminded us of her lecturer’s words. “Always return to the insets for design if your child is having difficulties forming shapes, letters, numbers or any types of drawings, or if the child is wandering aimlessly.”
So, what did I do when I saw a complete set of metal (NOT plastic) insets of design hibernating in a box, I can’t just ignore ‘them’. Their cheers was simply too loud.
The idea behind this more-than-a-century old material is Dr. Maria Montessori. In the magazine “Understanding The Montessori Environment. Your Montessori Child” (Montessori International: London. pg.11), it stated that Montessori believed strongly in the aim of ‘indirect preparation’. She invented fun ways for children to learn how they can learn to do things themselves without realising they are actually learning to do something. The metal insets for design is a good example. This material is consisted of ten shapes and frames with straight sides in one group and curves in the other group. Children use this for drawing the shapes with colour pencils and fill the shapes with very closed lines or simply colour them with their favourite colours. This activity actually helps to form fine motor skills that indirectly prepares for writing.
To learn pencil-control skill, children use colour pencils to fill in outlines made with geometric insets in different shapes, often creating beautiful designs.( Feez, S. (2013). Montessori The Australian Story. Montessori Australia Foundation: Sydney. pg.24)
I’ve also combined finger-painting with this exercise. I think it’s a very interesting sensorial-creative-writing experience for very young children.
Finger printing is not only fun but is also a good invitation for the young inquisitive mind to explore their own fingers.
What is your experience in using the metal insets for design?
The first story began four months ago when I learned to juggle between hospital, school and home; and when my whole energy of body, mind and soul was completely focused towards my mum’s recovery. To my immense delight, I found out that I can still function in my job. I remembered making frantic calls to pharmacies asking for a wheelchair, whilst standing near the shelves and directing a child on a floor mat. (I had to receive urgent calls from the pharmacist during working hours.)
This corner was empty when I walked into the school. I was shown to a few Montessori materials kept in boxes and stacked under sleeping mats and pillows. I couldn’t just let the materials to remain there and collect dust. So, I dug them out, cleaned them and found a house for them. Everything in the picture above are pre-loved and not in the best of condition but still usable. It’s funny when I think about how I got all excited simply seeing the small and big mats.
Now, all the shelves are filled with trays, bowls, dressing frames, ready-made play dough. There is a table that is placed at the opposite inside but that is not enough. I requested for a room which I doubt I will get one in this school. There are more materials in the box to be ‘recovered’ and I would love to use the outside area for washing activity but still waiting for a gate to be built for safety purpose.
Oops I didn’t mention that this area is called Practical Life area, did I? Yes, and I swear by it. I feel sorry for not using it according to Montessori’s philosophy when I introduce the activity to children who are turning four, and there is not much time for freedom of choice to occur. Lately, two new and very young children are using the materials because they just couldn’t cope with the book-based curriculum in the classroom. I also showed other teachers how to use the materials as a one-to-one activity with them for the purpose of settling into the routine.
My next mission: simple grace and courtesy, using the words ‘tolong’, ‘buang air kecil’, ‘buang air besar’, ‘terima kasih’, ‘ini cikgu’. Yes, I’m in a kindergarten where the main language is Bahasa Melayu, and they can hardly understand what I say in English.
I will reveal the second story in the next post. Upwards, me.
So, I have finally found the best place for the kids to rest or take a nap anytime of the day. The measurement of this bed is 1.6m x 60cm x 15cm and it stands sturdily on four feet. It is made of plastic and the netting allows comfortable sleeping so that the child doesn’t sweat heartily on a fiery hot day. Even when the child has a wee accident, this bedding is washable and requires only quick rinsing.