Where the child's interest inspires great work
Maitri Learning creates educational materials that are research-based, accurate, beautiful, durable, and usable. Maitri Learning was founded somewhat accidentally by a Montessori teacher who was trying to buy the perfect materials for her classroom and couldn't find them anywhere. Now, the materials she created (based specifically on the precise directions received in her AMI training) are used by Montessori teachers, parents, and teacher trainers around the world. We are named after the Buddhist word maitri which means 'having a compassionate, kind heart.' We keep the principle of maitri at the front of all of our business decisions.
Maitri is a green, eco-friendly, fair-wage, right-livelihood, woman-owned business. We pay all of our employees at least $15/hour, which should be our country's national minimum wage. Our prices reflect these fair labor costs along with the higher costs of environmentally-sound paper, toxin-free laminate, and inks made without ozone-depleting substances.
I had a called the other day from a darling teacher who was very uncertain about the online training she received from the North American Montessori Center (NAMC). She felt unprepared and confused about several points and was seeking clarity. I thought I would publish this note because she is not the first teacher to call me with similar questions and from a similar training situation. Let's hope many people can gain something from her courage in directing her questions to a Montessorian with a blogging problem!
One question she had was "What themes should I put out for each season?" She was wondering if she should do shells in the summer and leaves in the fall. Well, sure, if that is what is relevant to the children's lives but the main point is to follow the interests of the child and to keep the classroom alive with magic. Of course, she already knew that the children were more interested in certain things at certain times of the year because they connect with what goes on in their lives outside of school. So the first thing she needed to do was trust her natural instincts.
The next thing to do was get her rotating mojo on! Rather than doing a major classroom overhaul every season, here is an easier approach to rotating materials.
One of my favorite teachers and I spent almost two days figuring out the snack procedure and set-up for her room. The result was utterly fantastic. She spent the first week or two of school focusing on presenting how to have snack and snack went along without a hitch for the rest of year. So read on if you want the best snack ever in your classroom!
So you have all of these beautiful card materials but how the heck do you organize them on your shelves? This is the question Laura at Montessori of North Ranch (CA) asked me earlier today. And here is my response...there's not just one way but I'll describe an approach that I like.
When you think about displaying the definition cards, think about the activities children will do with them and keep in mind the principle of rotating materials. For example, before the children work with the definitions in parts, they need to be comfortable with the definitions as a whole. This means they need to understand that each definition describes one of the pictures in the 3-part cards...and that means they have to first know the vocabulary from the 3-part cards and, of course, you'd like to have read the book with them so they are familiar with the definitions themselves. Do you see how connected the pieces are?