A picture's worth a thousand words.

January 28, 2010

Such a cool and beautiful image. As a montessorian, I am totally loving the natural wood of this vintage truck and the map and globe in the background. I'm not a huge fan of toys or books that are "cartoony" (I don't think you will find a Montessori teacher who is) and I adore the way playing with this truck in a room like this one has the potential to unlock a love of geography and travel. Thank you, www.etsy.com for the image.

Question of the day

I find myself in a bit of a predicament. So without a story, here's the question:

Would you tell a child's parents if their nanny was nasty and mean to either the child or to us, the teachers?

My thought process is as follows; Of course I would tell! If I were a parent employing someone to take care of my child I would first and foremost want them to treat my child with love and nothing else. I would also want them to represent our family positively. On the other hand, is it really my business?

Parents and teachers, I would love to hear your thoughts on this one...

Quote (Joke) from the classroom

4 yr. old - "knock knock"
Ms. Dewald - "Who's there?"
4 yr. old- "Madam"
Ms. Dewald- "Madam who?"
4 yr. old- "Madam foots stuck in the door!"

hahaha. Really? Nice joke to teach your 4 yr. old, Dad!

Lets. Get. Personal.

January 25, 2010

I realized many of you know nothing about my thoughts aside from my commentary as a teacher and the occasional cool design finds I dig up. So I thought I would take the time to use this forum as not only a way to share my love for my work but also tid bits about my life, professionally and personal alike; a journal if you will....

I've been in New York City now for almost 2 years and while I love the energy, excitement and diversity it brings to my life I continue to bounce back and forth between longing for my hometown of Cincinnati and finding contentment with where I'm at. Its a hard thing to find - contentment. Whats the key? I honestly think if I held the key to this one question I would feel like I've solved life's mysteries.

Since the year 2004 I have lived in Chicago (school), Los Angeles (work) and now NYC (life). If that tells you anything about me, it should tell you...well, I don't really know what it should tell you- That I love city life? That Im not afraid to move from place to place? Who knows. What I do know is that the last 6 years of my life have been the best of my life for so many reasons. I graduated from college. Got my first "real" job. Realized education was a passion of mine (no offense marketing and PR. I still like you, its just not love). Became a godmother. Fell in love and married my main squeeze. Became a momma to my Clyde (puppy). All in all, i'd say I live one blessed and amazing life. Then why, is it always so hard to just be? Im working on it, thats for damn sure. So now when you see posts of pants for parents, or staircase slides and classroom images, you'll hopefully feel a bit more connected. Hopefully. So in closing, I leave you with these facts, that I know you have been dying to know:

1. I could eat a chipotle burrito for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
2. My childhood dream was to be a pop star.
3. I pretend I like to ride my bike, but really i'm too afraid to do it in the city.
4. Bookstores and parks are my favorite places in the entire world.
5. I dream of writing a children's book.
6. Behind mexican, sushi is my favorite food.
7. I value off days and lazy mornings way too much.
8. Traveling is a hobby my pocket book can't support but somehow does.
9. I'm obsessed with the show LOST.
10. I pretend to be domestic by lighting lots of candles.
(10). I slept on the couch last night because my dog wanted to too.

Kind of obsessed

These are so cute and practical! No more annoying compartments and zippers. Just a fun way for your kid to enjoy lunch at school. I always love seeing what the new "trends" amongst the kids are and I can see this one being a favorite! Thank you, www.swiss-miss.com

Pants for parents!

Hahaha. I had to share! These are so awesome. Would love to see the idea in a store! You know someone would so buy these! In case you can't tell whats going on here-the pockets are designed specifically at reach for kids. No more keeping your purse or pockets full of their goods.

Design by Matt Brown via www.swiss-miss.com

Safety aside...

January 24, 2010

How freakin' fun are these!? Children's design is slowly becoming a passion of mine and what a brilliant way to bring outdoor play indoors. Especially perfect for us city dwellers where outdoor space is hard to come by. This might rank you #1 in the cool book with your kids. Thank you www.Ohdeedoh.com for the fun idea!

New work

January 23, 2010

Our classroom is constantly changing. When the kids grow bored of work or when they prove to be ready for more complicated work, our shelves change. Here are some materials recently added to the classroom:

Binomial Cube
This is by far one of my favorite Montessori materials. It resides in the sensorial area of the classroom and serves many purposes. The main purpose of the material is to prepare the child for geometry. The formula for the cube is extremely complex and is not introduced to preschoolers and kindergartners. However the idea is that when geometry becomes part of their elementary school and high school curriculum the formula's will not feel so foreign to them. Once the child masters this they can then move onto the the trinomial cube which is a much more complex piece of work. Fine motor skills are at work as well as concentration and focus. Some teachers might place this work in the Math area but traditionally you will find it in sensorial as it gives them a visual sense of math. It seems super complicated but the kids love it! Basically to them, they're putting together a puzzle using blocks. I love the way Dr. Montessori created these materials that teach on a subliminal level.

Metal Insets
These fun shapes and insets help the child with writing readiness. Dr. Montessori designed the shapes specifically to prepare children for writing letters given their curvature and shape. Again, the kids love these. To them, they are tracing shapes and making cool designs. Its amazing to see that when kids master the ability to trace the shapes how quickly their letters turn from illegible to legible.

Magnetic cube board
There's really no hidden meaning behind this material. The kids love it and its main function is to hone fine motor skills. They love building patterns, sorting colors etc. Its just a great material for focus and fun.

The volcano
We've hit the mother load! The kids go absolutely gaga over this. So simple and super educational. All you need is the volcano obviously (you can find them at toy stores in science and experiment sections and online) and baking soda and vinegar. (we've added red food coloring to the vinegar to make it look like lava.) Along with the experiment we read them a few volcano books and educated them on the parts of the volcano. They are able to do the experiment completely on their own and know how to properly clean it up afterwards. I highly recommend a volcano unit or lesson in your home or classroom. Your kids will enjoy it so much!

Tooting our horn

Okay, So not to brag, but wow do I have the most amazing class parents. I have not yet figured out if its a New York City private school thing or if we just got lucky and have the best school community around. Either way, let me give you a few examples of why we rock :) Its extremely common at our school for each classes parents and teachers to get together for drinks, dinner etc. It sounds so weird right? I came from a school in Cincinnati, Ohio where this would have been considered odd beyond belief but when you really think about it, shouldn't these parents be interested in really knowing their child's teachers? Often times we do spend more time with these kids than their parents do so it only makes sense. Of course you need to be careful about crossing lines but it has never come to that and every get together/meeting has always been so easy and comfortable. Last week our school hosted a "parent workshop". Every school should implement this. Here's the premise-parents come into their child's classroom, learn about the materials their children are exposed to and are able to (in our case) ask/learn more about the Montessori philosophy. It is such a great way for parents to be educated on their child's environment and work. These sorts of events always end up being so much fun. It's such a pleasure to get together with my students parents without my students around. I mean that in the nicest way. I love these kids to pieces and to be able to get to know, on a personal level their parents and where they come from, makes you feel that much more connected to them. So basically what i'm saying is this-Don't be afraid to get to know one another (parents and teachers) It is such a benefit on both ends to know who your parents are and who your child's teacher is. It builds your community and leaves you feeling well connected. So you be the one to organize the next social gathering. It will be well worth it, trust me.

Quote from the classroom

January 20, 2010

Ms. Dewald - "...How in the world did you know that!?"
Student- "Because my brain is electric!"

I. Love. This. Kid.

With open arms...

In my 4 years of teaching, I have been faced with some extremely challenging situations involving some amazing kids who suffer from autism and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) My problem is, I put my heart and soul into my kids each year and when I have a child in my class with special needs, I feel completely helpless. More times than not, the days go by smoothly with these children and I feel a great connection and interaction with them. However, when something disrupts their routine or doesnt "click" well with them I'm out of my element, so to speak. Its heartbreaking and disheartening. I am a Montessori, early ed experienced teacher and ill equipt to handle the needs of children who deserve special attention and care. So to better educate myself, I am constantly reading the latest journals and articles dealing with these matters. I found this great one that deals with supporting children who face social challenges, specifically asperger syndrome via www.education.com and found it to be very insightful. Follow the link to read:

Photography in the classroom

January 19, 2010

Today while the kids worked, the mother of one of our student's came in to take photographs of the kids. Mind you, she is a high end, New York City fashion photographer-so you can imagine how these shots are going to turn out. I am so excited to see the finished product and so glad that the kids are comfortable enough in the routine that out of the ordinary "distractions" dont intefere with their ability to work. It has been such an amazing experience applying my love and knowledge of Montessori in a New York City classroom.

Ah New York, New York....

Montessori inspired rooms

January 16, 2010

I just discovered the most amazing site which illustrates children's design http://www.ohdeedoh.com/ where I stumbled across these beautiful Montessori inspired children's rooms. They're gorgeous!

In this room you see that everything is at children's level- art work, shelving, bed, table etc. I absolutely love the "care of self" vanity. Often in a Montessori classroom you will find a similar "vanity" where the children are able to wipe their face, blow their nose etc. Its such an important part of building a child's independence. I also love the natural colors and nature decor in the room. Having art work and "toys" that are realistic is another huge part of the philosophy. It is okay to be imaginative (great in fact) but its important for kids to understand reality. I love this room! job well done.

Here is another great room! Again, everything is at children's level- bed, shelf, mirror, table and chairs. I love the simplicity of the room. The green table and chairs brighten the room up giving it the kid vibe it needs.

It is so great to see the Montessori method being applied in children's rooms! With that said, I do believe it's super important to allow your children to simply play when they are at home. Let school be their place for work and home be their place of comfort and play.

Preschoolers inspire...

January 15, 2010

Circle time with my class is usually a very fun, happy and sometimes silly experience for both the kids and me. Today, I would add the word inspiring to the list. This week we began discussing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr given MLK day is on Monday. I first read them a story about Dr. King, which proved to be difficult. I was trying my best to shelter them from the actual issues Dr. King faced. Instead of talking about racism or using the words black and white, I talked in general terms saying everybody wasn't always nice to each other etc. Im not sure if this is a smart thing to do as their teacher but given the fact that they're 3, 4 and 5, it seems a topic better suited for their parents. Anyways, the story then led to a discussion on ways we can help make the world into a better place. I couldn't believe how much of the story and issues they understood and processed. The entire conversation, I kept thinking to myself - this is such an amazing discussion i'm having with these little kids. If only us adults could live by these "ways we can make the world a better place":

1. We could help when our friends need help
2. We could use our words instead of our hands when we're sad or angry
3. We can love our families
4. We can stop fighting
5. We can keep the air blue and clean

Rock on little ones. We could all learn a thing or two from you :)
Ms. Dewald

Toms Shoes helping Haiti

January 14, 2010

As an extreme lover of Toms Shoes, I think this is an amazing way to help the incredibly unfortunate, devastating situation in Haiti. For every pair of Toms One for One shoes purchased, $5.00 will go to the disaster relief fund through Partners in Health. Follow this link to help. http://www.tomsshoes.com/TOMS-HELPS-Haiti

OR- to directly donate to Partners in Health, click here: https://donate.pih.org/page/contribute/haiti_earthquake?source=earthquake&subsource=homepage

Nursery University

January 12, 2010

Okay, Okay, Okay...Its absolutely ridiculous BUT such an interesting documentary. For those of you in New York City, you will find this especially interesting and for those in other parts of the nation, well heck, its such a bizarre world that you will find it interesting as well. A little bit of a warning: Moms and Dads who live in NYC and are about to enter their child in preschool-do not be discouraged and more importantly do not watch this film! I have learned more than I care to share about the New York City preschool and kindergarten admissions process (and honored to say, my school is not one of these :) and with my new knowledge I still stand by my original stance in saying the process is absolutely ridiculous. Every child should have the same chance of getting into a good private school regardless of their ability ( or lack of) to count to 10, recognize colors, recognize letters, sound recognition etc. It infuriates me that because a 3 year old may not "interview" well, they are forced into a school that frankly just isn't as good as the one they were applying to. People- THESE CHILDREN ARE 3 YEARS OLD! That fact alone should be enough. Ah, New York City......

You have to see it to believe it:

Babies! The Movie....

If you have not yet seen the trailer for the film Babies you are missing out big time! Babies documents 4 babies from around the world- Namibia, Japan, Mongolia, and the U.S, for the first year of their life. Such a beautiful idea. The trailer is full of beauty and cuteness alike. Follow this link to watch!

Work: Push Pinning

January 11, 2010

Remember my very first blog post? (A depiction of the Montessori Classroom) Of course you do, but just in case you do not, I talked about what you might see in a typical Montessori classroom. The "work" I chose to depict was something called push pinning. I realize it is hard to understand and visualize what the heck I'm talking about so below are a few pictures of the work.
Materials needed:
Mouse pad or carpet square
Push pin
Construction paper with outlined picture

The kids absolutely love this work! It is great for so many reasons: 1. Focus, precision and concentration. 2. Practice of the three finger grasp for writing readiness and 3. honing fine motor skills.

Where the Wild Things Are

January 9, 2010

I don't think I can fully express my love and appreciation for this film. I've always been a fan of the classic children's story but until seeing the film, I never understood the complexity and beauty of the story. Probably not appropriate for children under age 7 or 8, as the film is extremely heavy emotionally. I will say that this is not a film for just children. Spike Jonez's adaptation explores raw emotion, human behavior, complex relationships and human exploration all amazingly. I sat in the movie theater and cried watching it, and remember thinking, how am I crying over the relationship this boy has with a "wild thing"? Aside from the emotion you feel when watching, the beauty of the film visually is breathtaking.

As a side note, the soundtrack by Karen O and the Kids is absolutely awesome. My itunes has it on repeat :)


Kindergarten Barbapapa

Wouldn't we all be so lucky to teach/send our kids to an environment like this everyday? Absolutely gorgeous. The beauty of environment affects teacher and child attitudes alike, which is why I think natural sunlight, fresh flowers, plants, and organization are so important for the classroom. I recently discovered the beauty of Kindergarten Barbapapa on Archdaily.com. With an architect for a husband, I have come to appreciate and respect the design aspect of many things. Kindergarten Barbapapa is a new "kindergarten" in Italy that is simply stunning. Architects in charge-Luca Ciaffoni, Michele Ciutti, Antonio Di Marcantonio
Here a few images:

Color Tablets

January 6, 2010

They're just plain pretty....

....and a great way to teach primary, secondary and tertiary colors as well as color shades.

New Year, New Materials....

Happy New Year! With the new year comes new materials and lessons-yah! (I was starting to get bored:) Here are some shots of my classroom shelves and the work on them. Thank you, to my teaching partner who is constantly coming up with ways to create our own materials. Its always inspiring to work with someone who continually challenges you and pushes you to to be the best teacher you can be. And oddly enough, the kids always seem to enjoy the handmade materials better. Gotta love that!
Sensorial Shelf:

Full Set of Color Tablets
Blue Triangles Box
Sound Cylinders
Knobbed Cylinders
Shape Board
Geometric Shapes with Picture Boards
Geometric Solids

Math Shelf:

1-10 Stamping
Spindle Boxes
Hanging Teen Bead Board
11-20 quantities
1-10 matching and quantities
Red and Blue Number Rods

Language Shelf:

Sand Paper Letters (groups 1, 2 and 3)
Letter Card Matching game
A-Z Letters and Phonetic Objects
Push Pinning (minus the material to push pin on)
Name Card Tracing

Practical Life Shelf:

Dry Pouring
Cleaning a Dry Spill
5 Bolt Board
Cleaning a Wet Spill
Peg Board

Science and Geography Shelf:

My Place in the World Blocks
Puzzle Map and Picture Cards of New York City
Continent Puzzle
Magnetic Vs. Non-Magnetic
Rough Vs. Smooth

Questions or comments please contact me at coffeeintheclassroom@gmail.com I'd love to hear from you!

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