Archive for the ‘Helpful Articles’ Category

Building the Pink Tower: a Vision We Support

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Pink Tower SupporterWe are closely following the Indiegogo Campaign called Building the Pink Tower.”  The goal of the project is to produce a film that as, Co-producers/Co-directors, Vina Kay and Jan Selby say, “will shine a light on Montessori education.”  The film will be a powerful tool that can change the conversation about education on the local and national levels. We have offered our support and would like to share this campaign vision with you in hopes you will consider supporting them too. They are accepting donations for as little as $10.00. We can also show support by simply spreading the word.

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What if we were to set aside the noise of failing schools, teacher evaluations, test scores, achievement gaps, and funding issues — and ask, instead, what is the true goal of education?

Building the Pink Tower will look at education differently. Through the lens of Montessori education — now more than 100 years old — we will see how families and educators have embraced schools as a place for creative learning, problem solving, collaboration, and community building. Viewers will follow children as they discover their love of learning through exploration of beautiful, carefully prepared classroom environments. We will all come to see that the essence of the Montessori approach is nothing new, but rather takes us back to our simple shared desire to understand the world around us.

Viewers will enter the lives of children as they experience Montessori education in classrooms ranging from pre-school through high school. From the backyard of an urban housing project, to a farm in Wisconsin, to an innovative charter high school, viewers will see what works in education and what families want for their children, regardless of race, culture, or income. And, they will see how essential children are in building their own powerful learning experiences.

Building the Pink Tower will be a feature-length documentary film that opens our eyes to what Montessori education means today. With the help of educators, neuroscientists, families, and children, it answers our most challenging questions about what children need.

Most of all, Building the Pink Tower will allow us to see how the building blocks of rigorous teacher training, carefully prepared environments, deep respect of children, and warm and inclusive communities, fit together to support children in our changing world.

From this solid base, we can work to build education that inspires children and prepares them for life.

What is the Pink Tower?

The Pink Tower is a an important Montessori material at the Children’s House (three to six year old) level.  The ten wood cubes painted pink allow young children to develop coordination and understand dimension as they build the tower, from the largest cube to the smallest.

The working title of our project, Building the Pink Tower, takes its inspiration from this material.  We are inspired, like the young children in a Montessori classroom, to build a beautiful story, and learn something along the way.

Please help in any way you can to Build the Pink Tower that will be this documentary film. 

“We Are In Our Work Cycle”

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Work Cycle Blog

Have you ever seen this sign posted on the door of your child’s classroom and wondered what it meant? Montessori is unique in its insistence on freedom within a prepared environment. Teachers don’t “mandate”, they “invite” and “entice”. For this, an uninterrupted morning work cycle is needed. The school day is structured to provide learners with at least one daily uninterrupted work period appropriate to the age of the children in the class. This is traditionally understood as a two to three hour period in the morning. The purpose of this long, uninterrupted block of work time is to allow students to select work freely, eventually becoming absorbed in work that has a particular fascination for them at their point of development. Interruptions, no matter how valuable the alternative activity might seem to be, disturbs the fragile development of the child’s focus, concentration, and intellectual exploration on the task.

The classroom is developed for the children so they can achieve independence.  Maria Montessori’s design of “casa dei bambini,” which translated means “children’s home” or “children’s community,” was a community for children where they should feel ownership and pride in the environment.  The classroom is their community, more than it is for the adults.  As you may have noticed, the rooms have appropriately sized furniture and materials, all work is eye level and made pleasing to a child’s eye.  The idea remember, is to entice and invite the child.  Having a choice in what they work with, rather than being told, allows children to develop independence, autonomy, and a healthy development of free will to learn.  Montessori envisioned her education as a movement to empower children to create themselves as “joyful scholars.”  Thus it is important for us as educators, students, and parents believing in and operating under the method prescribed to preserve the work cycle period.  How can this be done?  First a teacher must make the time in her schedule.  Our school places door signs that read, “We are in our Work Cycle” as reminders of the concentration taking place or trying to take place within the room.  Then when arriving late, saying goodbye to your student outside the door, remaining quiet as you allow them into the room, and abstaining from conversation with your teachers are all respectful practices.
Montessori Work Defined:

Work is a purposeful activity.  Maria Montessori observed that children learn through purposeful activities of their own choosing; Montessori schools call all of the children’s activities “work.”

Children work with materials at their own pace, repeating an exercise until it is mastered.  The teacher may gently guide the process, but her goal is to inspire rather than instruct.  Throughout the classroom, beautifully prepared, inviting curriculum areas contain a sequential array of lessons to be learned.  As students work through the sequence, they build and expand on materials and lessons already mastered.  All the while they are developing qualities with which they’ll approach every future challenge: autonomy, creative thinking, and satisfaction in a job well done.

 Some of the information here has been excerpted from an article found at The International Montessori Council website:

~ sabrina padgett ~

The Myth of Sharing

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Parents, picture this scene: Your folks stop by to visit with two people you don’t know, but are close to your age. Your dad says, “Give me your car keys, please. John saw your new car and he wants to take it for a spin. I know you’d want to share. Oh, and Sue wants to wear your earrings, the diamond ones. Now, let’s be nice and share.”

Yikes! There are some things we don’t want to share and we would be upset if someone suggested we should. Some items are personal, or the risk of damage is too high. We wouldn’t want to pay for our wrecked car or lost jewelry. Of course, there are items that we can feel comfortable sharing when there are clear expectations and consequences.

Young children feel the same way about sharing. Before age six (until the first tooth falls out), children are in a developmental stage of self-mastery. Child initiated activities of the three to six-year old build concentration and skills through repetition. These activities also have an observable beginning, middle and end. For example, if your child was working on a building project and was asked to
share his blocks in the middle of the job, he might express frustration; just as we might if someone took our keys while we were driving.

After the age of six, group work instead of self-mastery becomes the focus of the child’s activities. Sharing an activity is now developmentally appropriate and actually aids in the learning process. Before the age of six, the child is focused on developing individual skills and can feel violated if we allow others to use his or her things. You may recall from your growing-up experience or from watching your children interact, that many sibling arguments arise from touching, using, or borrowing a brother’s or sister’s
personal items.

Having a simple rule can eliminate many of these conflicts. When someone is using an item no one else may touch it, unless they ask permission from the user. A no answer must be respected. Defining an area for the activity by using a small rug or placemat will help make it visually clear what items are being used. The user is finished with an item when it is back on the shelf, ready for the next
person to use it.

Certain toys, such as building blocks, puzzles and board games, can be designated as family toys. Family toys can be kept on low shelves. Family toys are used much like a community shares resources such as a library, pool and parks. We all can’t check out the same book at once, but we can take turns and share. We have common ownership with explicit rules and expectations.

Personal toys can be kept in bedrooms. One family uses their locked hall closet to keep toys that are not to be touched by anyone but the owner.

Having family toys also makes it easier to have no-tears activities for visiting children. Visitors can choose an activity after they have been told the rules about not touching other’s things and putting things away when finished.

Understanding what sharing really means can help us foster a sense of family community with our children. Knowing what is age appropriate along with clear rules and expectations for usage can help our children avoid conflict and tears.

Rules for Family Toys
1. Choose your activity.
2. Work on a rug or mat. (Define your work activity.)
3. Ask permission to touch anyone’s activity.
4. Put your activity away when you’re finished.

Kids Talk presents
Understanding Montessori
Maren Schmidt, an AMI trained elementary teacher, is author of Understanding Montessori: A Guide for Parents, and writes the
weekly syndicated column, Kids Talk. Visit and


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Welcome to our school’s blog!  We will post articles and links that we hope will be of interest to you, your family and your friends!  Check back often.