The Classroom at Our Montessori School in Iselin, New Jersey
Each morning when the children arrive the classroom is filled with much activity and purpose as they perform tasks of interest to them and interact with other children. Children have the choice to work alone or with one or more other classmates. Our open classroom morning work period lasts approximately two hours each day. During that time children will sometimes choose only one or two different activities (they may choose to spend a long time of concentrated effort on their chosen tasks) or they may choose many different activities, depending on their interest of that particular day.
Children are not forced to do any particular task in a Montessori classroom. Dr. Montessori said, “The best time to teach a child something is when they want to learn it.” Therefore our classroom provides work that is attractive and interesting to the children. The child chooses for himself work that appeals to him. Our classroom is one where children love to learn, and the busyness and quiet activity of our 30+ children, (aged 2-1/2 through 6 years old), under the watchful eye of our four teachers, shows the beautiful sight of children enjoying learning. With 400 activities to choose from, the children never tire of their interesting classroom.
Most of our materials are self-teaching and self-correcting, therefore the child can learn without dependency on a teacher’s correction. The older children in the class will often help and teach the younger children — the younger children look up to and want to learn from the older children. The harmony between the different ages and the love and appreciation they have for each other is very touching to observe.
Our classroom is a peaceful place of learning where children are free to make self-discoveries and develop into the confident, courteous, intelligent, happy people they were created to be.
The Curriculum at “Hinder them not” Montessori School
The Montessori Method is based on self-discovery. Our hands-on, self-correcting academic materials enable each child to learn on her own and at her own pace. Hence she will have the experience of being self-taught, causing her to feel self-confident and self-reliant. All of our materials are interesting and developmentally appropriate so our children are successful in their endeavors and are also challenged to learn even more.
Our classroom is organized into approximately ten different subject areas.
First is what we call our “Practical Life” area. In this area children perform simple life skill exercises which produce concentration, confidence, hand/eye coordination, and promote mastery of certain daily life skills, such as: pouring, spooning, threading, using tongs, washing fruit, washing their own hands, buttoning, zippering, folding, etc. Also, food preparation is done in this area of the classroom. During a year we will make applesauce, lemonade, vegetable soup, salad, muffins, etc. Rather than “play” food, we allow the children to make the real thing and then eat it!
Another area we call our “Sensorial” area. The type of work in this area requires concentrated thought by the child through the use of their senses. Certain activities would include sorting by size, shape, color, texture, sound, and smell. This work not only develops and heightens the child’s senses and awareness, but also prepares children for the academic learning of numbers and letters.
Another area is Math. In our Math area, we teach children quantities as well as numbers. A child should understand a number is not just a symbol with a name, it is more accurately the description of a quantity. Our math materials are concrete – that means we present activities that show each number by a concrete sample of its quantity. The Montessori bead system is complete in its ability to teach children numbers and quantities in a very hands-on, understandable way.
Our Language area starts by introducing the sound each letter makes. We first introduce lower case letters and then upper case. All literature is written in lower case, so if a child is to learn to read (which is the objective of our language area) they will have to know the lower case and they will have to know the sounds of the letters.
Writing is learned by tracing letters, tracing shapes, and coloring with colored pencils rather than crayons.
Our Library is a peaceful place with many books representing all types of literature. We have picture books, storybooks, and children’s encyclopedias, as well as first readers, and books of many, many various subjects of interest to children. Trucks, dogs, colors, the human body, space, animals, and Christian children’s books are available to the children all day long. Each of our children visits the library each day. Looking at books is very popular in our classroom.
Music in our classroom takes on different forms. Each day during “group time” we sing songs. Singing is a big part of our Academy and our songs are fun, educational, and inspiring. Children memorize songs and enjoy singing them over and over again.
Our music program includes The Montessori Bells. This is a set of beautiful sounding bells on which the children can learn and play notes, scales, and songs. It is up to the child the level of music they are interested in learning. Our classroom is a three year program, so by the third year, every child has the opportunity to learn music and play music.
The Art Area in our classroom has all sorts of art activities. Painting on an easel is available daily. Applying paint to chunky stamps and stamping on paper is also available daily. Coloring sheets and colored pencils are also available at all times for the children. Chunky stamps and coloring sheets and various crafts and projects change often and coordinate with current seasons, holidays, and classroom subjects.
Blocks and puzzles are plentiful in our classroom and are another favorite activity. From using these materials, children acquire problem-solving skills and develop creative mathematical abilities.
Geography In our Montessori classroom our curriculum teaches the children much about the world, the continents, the different people and cultures, different animals, etc. on each continent.
We use puzzle maps of the different continents, coloring pages, books, songs, and lessons.
The children are very interested and learn geography quickly when it is presented to them in this simple, fun manner. They quickly learn the names of the continents and enjoy knowing more about their world.
In addition to all of the activities mentioned above, we also have two computers available for the children to use all day long. Most children spend some time on the computer each day. From this time spent on the computer, the children not only gain computer exposure and familiarity, but they also benefit from the different skills and knowledge each particular software program teaches.
The children plant and care for the gardens at “Hinder them not” Montessori School. During outside playtime each day, the children have the choice to work in the garden. The children prepare the soil, plant the seeds, weed, cultivate, and water. We plant flowers, vegetables, and herbs.
The children cut flowers, put them into vases, bring them inside and place them on the tables of our classroom.
The children pick and wash the vegetables. Sometimes they bring them home, sometimes they bring them into the classroom and we prepare them and eat them during Academy time.
Some of the vegetables and fruits we grow are cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, strawberries, carrots, and radishes.
Each morning, around 10:30 a.m. we gather together for what we call “group time”. We usually begin this time together with a favorite song. We then say the “Pledge of Allegiance”, we sing “God Bless America”, and we say the “Our Father”. The teacher will give lessons on whatever subject the children are currently learning. (The subjects mentioned below are of great interest to the children and they love the lessons and the information they are given).
The children love circle time. The teacher will read a book, sing and do the Hokey Pokey, Simon Says, etc. And on days when the weather prevents us from going outside, we play the Freeze Dance. This is a fun song, and the children can hop and jump and dance and have fun (and they do!). It’s great exercise and so much fun!
We have three classroom pets: A turtle named Oscar an Aquarium of fish and two birds(finches). These animals add life and interest to our classroom. The children usually spend a little time each day watching Oscar and the fish.
Other subjects include…
- Star constellations and the planets of our solar system
- Flowers in our garden
- Birds and the songs they sing
- The phases of the moon and man’s first trip to the moon
We also learn about subjects like oceans, sea creatures, the continents, the American farm and farm animals, trees, insects, plants, fruits and vegetables, geology, gemstones, mixing colors, learning shapes and geometric solids.
We love to celebrate the holidays!
We also celebrate Christopher Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Diwali, Hanukkah, Eid-E-Zehra, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year,Christmas, Martin Luther King, Jr., Valentine’s Day, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, St. Partick’s Day, Easter, and 4th of July. The Four Seasons — Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer — are celebrated as well.
Each holiday is celebrated with projects, decorations, arts and crafts, stories, songs, etc.