animals of europe giveaway!

Schleich animals of Europe giveaway | montessori works

Do you know what happened the other day? I realized I have blogged at montessori works for a year! Now that deserves a celebration. I think I will have some cake and a glass of wine, but I also have something for you (if cake and wine are not your thing).

I have put together a collection of five Schleich animals, a red deer, badger, white stork, red fox, and Scottish highland cow. All materials are brand new. To go with the objects I created four different pictures of each animal, and one information card for each animal (24 cards total). The pictures and information cards are mounted on red cardstock and are laminated and read for use in your class or home!

Schleich animals of Europe giveaway | montessori works

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Schleich animals of Europe giveaway | montessori works

 


our monthly bread–sun bread

We eat a lot in this house, really, a lot. And I cook most of what we eat. Most days I enjoy cooking dinner, making lunches, loading the dishwasher – but like us all, some days I look at my family and think “Didn’t I just feed you yesterday? You mean I have to do this again?”

In an effort to slow down, to be mindful of the creating and the joys of feeding those you love, I decided to add a new rhythm (I like how rhythm sounds rather and routine) to our days. Imogen and I are going to make a new bread once a month and I will share the recipes and the outcome here with you.

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^^ Listing all the breads she wants to make. She is pretty sure we need to make bread for January and February, since I did say we would make bread every month. ^^

Sun Bread, by Elisa Kleven

Our first monthly bread  is sun bread. Imogen picked it since we have the book and we have never made the recipe on the back. I thinks she’s most excited about shaping her bread into a lion, so we changed the name, it is now “lion sun bread”.

I know I constantly extol the virtues of making bread, this is the fourth post on bread, the second in a row, and just the first in a new series! What can I say, I love the stuff. Not only does it taste great, it is also the perfect unit of study for a classroom or a homeschooling family. Since I do not homeschool, I am not going to create a curriculum based on bread for Imogen. We might do an experiment with yeast, and I will continue to checkout books on bread from the library, but otherwise I prefer to approach it with an “unschool” attitude. By being part of the activity, she is learning even without explicit instruction.

Every year I do a week-long look at bread in my classroom, and we continue to come back to it during the year. It is a great grounding point for the class, always coming back to bread. If you are looking for more resources and lessons to go along with bread making, check out the end of this post.

Recipe

* adapted from Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven

  • 2 packs of yeast (or 4 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 stick of melted butter

 

First, check the book out from the library!

 

In a small bowl mix lukewarm milk and yeast. Let sit for at least 5 minutes, or until foamy.

 

our monthly bread - sun bread | montessori works

our monthly bread - sun bread | montessori works

Mix 3 eggs and 3 tablespoons of sugar in another small bowl. Imogen did not want to pull the shells open after she had cracked them, for some reason I always had something in my hands or was grabbing a towel when it was time to pull the shells open. I did this because I knew she could do it, and I knew it wouldn’t frustrate her.

our monthly bread - sun bread | montessori works

 

our monthly bread - sun bread | montessori works

In a separate larger bowl, mix 2 cups flour and melted butter.

Add egg mixture to flour bowl and beat well (I think a stand mixture would have been a better idea than a wooden spoon)

our monthly bread - sun bread | montessori works

our monthly bread - sun bread | montessori works

Knead on a greased and floured surface for 8 to 10 minutes. I thought the dough was going to be super sticky and impossible to knead, but it really came together and was silky and smooth.

Kneading is always better when done to a song.

our monthly bread - sun bread | montessori works

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover. Allow to rise in a warm place for an hour (I was roasting sweet potatoes, so I just set mine on top of the oven)

 our monthly bread - sun bread | montessori works

When you dough is about double in size, punch down and knead for a few minutes.

 our monthly bread - sun bread | montessori works

Shape dough into your preferential celestial object, or animal! It’s best to make you creation on your grease baking pan. We used the tip of a sharp knife to cut in the face.

 our monthly bread - sun bread | montessori works

Allow bread to rise for another hour.

Preheat oven (they say 425*, I say that results in burnt bottomed bread!) to 375*.

Bake bread for about 20 minutes. I like the tapping test, your bread is done when it sounds hollow when you tap it.

Of course I forgot to take a picture when it was done, and now we only have about half a lion sun left. It was a little too brown (that’s why I suggest lowering the temperature), but it was beautiful!

Enjoy with butter.

More Resources:

All about yeast – information and six science experiments Red Star Yeast

A collection of 25 bread recipes for children – from Kids Activities Blog

 

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montessori bread work {part 2}

My very first blog post, almost a year ago, was about making bread in the classroom. I was so nervous hitting the publish button, I thought “who’s going to care about making bread in a Montessori classroom?” You know what, there were plenty of people who cared, and I discovered that I enjoyed sharing my ideas and love of Montessori, and hitting that publish button!

montessori bread work {part 2} | montessori works

In the late fall our school always uses the For Small Hands (from Montessori Services) as a fundraiser for materials. It is always a great resource for parents to pick up a few stocking stuffers and support the school at the same time.

I pined for this grain mill for years. It is a beautiful, sturdy, real piece of machinery.  It is practical and purposeful. It is deeply satisfying work. I knew it would be the perfect addition to our already established bread making and butter spreading works. It was the one item that I requested we purchased with the money we earned from the fundraiser, and I am so glad that we did.

We do have to mount and dismount it everyday. It has to be attached to a heavy, sturdy table or countertop, and all of our smaller tables scoot and move when you are trying to grind the wheat. This leaves us with one large table for the grain mill and bread making — we do just call the table “the bread table.” Thankfully the clamp is simple to tighten and so far has stayed put all morning.

We use approximately 4.5 cups of flour during the week in our bread baking recipe. We are still experimenting with how we want to grind our grain – should we do it all on Monday before we bake the bread? Or should we grind about a cup each morning for the daily bread. Right now, since it is such a popular work, we are grinding about 2 to 3 cups on both Monday and Tuesday. Once we have a surplus, we will figure out our permanent grain grinding plan.

montessori bread work {part 2} | montessori works

Grinding Wheat berries

Materials

  • Grain Grinder
  • Container of wheat berries
  • Small bowl that fits under grain grinder
  • Small measuring cup (we use 1/4 cup)
  • Large container to collect ground flour

Process

  1. Take scoop of wheat berries with the measuring cup and add them to the grain grinder
  2. Turn the grain grinder to grind the flour
  3. Watch the flour come out. Stop when the hopper is empty
  4. Empty bowl into large flour container

Note

  • I really emphasized that it will damage the grinder if we turn the crank with an empty hopper.
  • As the children turn the crank, the adjustment knob can be accidentally changed and the ground grain will be more coarse. I tried to run the flour though the mill again to make it finer, but that didn’t really work. Using the coarse grain isn’t a problem at all, it just gives the bread a hearty bite! We do check during the morning that the knob is not too loose or too tight.
  • We are adjusting our bread recipe (which is in this post) because of the change in the flour, with the whole wheat flour, it seems to need a little more flour. All we have to do is liberally flour the kneading surface with commercial flour, and it seems to do the trick.

montessori bread work {part 2} | montessori works

Spreading Butter on Bread

Materials

  • Sliced bread
  • Small containers of butter (we use Land o’Lakes spreadable butter with olive oil)
  • Small plates
  • Spreader knives
  • Reserved sign
  • Tray for all the materials

Process

* We keep our food prep process essentially the same from food to food. The basic steps are the same as the post cheese cutting. This allows the child to already be comfortable and confident with the process *

  1. Place reserved sign on tray and go wash hands
  2. Return sign to container. Gather one plate, one dish of butter, one knife and a piece of bread.
  3. Take tray to the table
  4. Spread butter on the bread
  5. Eat!
  6. Take plate, butter dish, and knife to the dish washing station and wash
  7. Return the tray to the shelf so it is ready for the next person

montessori bread work {part 2} | montessori works

As always, we try to incorporate quality books based on the subject we are talking about. Here are some of my favorite bread books

Bread, Bread, Bread (Around the World Series)

Bread Comes to Life: A Garden of Wheat and a Loaf to Eat

Sun Bread

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* this post contains affiliate link to Montessori Services and Amazon. I will only ever link to books and products that I know, use, and recommend. Thank you for your support *


a terrarium to make with your children

Monday was a snow day, an actual snow day and not an ice day, or a “freak out because it might snow” day. Honestly, I’m feeling a little done with all the snow, I’m ready for the green of spring, the daffodils, the sun.

I think that terrariums are one of the coolest things ever. I love that they are essentially their own little ecosystem, you can do tropical plants, succulents, cacti, any grouping of plants that has similar requirements. They add not just beauty, but also the perfect self-contained environment for your child to watch and study. You and your child can build and plant the terrarium, and then observe and document the changes and the growth that you see over the course of the plant’s life.

A terrarium to make with your children -- Bring spring a little early | montessori works

Imogen and I planned on making the terrarium about a week ago when we came upon an inexpensive shamrock (oxalis) plant at the grocery store. Riding on the St. Patrick’s Day theme, I repurposed a crystal pendant to hang in the terrarium – hopeful when we have sun, it will cast beautiful rainbows in and around the terrarium. And, since Imogen was sure a terrarium was not complete without a flower, we added a pansy.

A terrarium to make with your children -- bring spring a little early | montessori worksMaterials

  • Large container with lid – I found ours at HomeGoods
  • Layer of small rocks – We had extra aquarium gravel from our fish tank, but you can use any rocks
  • Activated charcoal – You can buy this at a pet store in the fish tank department
  • Potting soil
  • Plants that have the same light and water requirements
  • Moss – We dug this up from our front yard before the snow. I think moss is optional, we just have a WHOLE LOT of moss
  • Any little decorations or figurines
  • Small shovel

Process:

Imogen was able to do most of the layering of materials by herself with her little gardening shovel. I did help prep the plants and really secure them in the soil.

First, Make a layer of small rocks – about an inch deep.

A terrarium to make with your children -- bring spring a little early | montessori works

Next, add the activated charcoal, making a layer about an inch deep.

A terrarium to make with your children -- bring spring a little early | montessori works

Add about half the amount of potting soil you think you’ll need, leaving small holes where you will place your plants – you will add the rest of the potting soil after you add your plants to the terrarium.

Prep plants. I divided ours in half and knocked off most of the soil that came from their pot.

A terrarium to make with your children -- bring spring a little early | montessori works

Place your plants in the terrarium and fill spaces with potting soil.

Add the moss on top of potting soil.

Add any decorations you would like. First, I secured our crystal with tape, but that was pretty silly. Once the terrarium started it’s own water cycle, that tape failed! We are seeing if hot glue will hold better.

A terrarium to make with your children -- bring spring a little early | montessori works

Lightly water the plants.

Find a place that meets your plants sun requirements (never put a terrarium in direct sunlight, it can cook the plants!), and watch it go and grow!

A terrarium to make with your children -- bring spring a little early | montessori works

Once the terrarium is established, it should need very little maintenance. The terrarium makes it’s own water cycle. As the terrarium heats up, the water evaporates from the soil and you can see it gathering and condensing on the lid of the terrarium. This water will then drip back down on the plants (mini rain!). If your terrarium seems too wet – the sides and top are constantly covered in mist and condensation – take the lid off and let some of the water evaporate. If all goes well, your plants should continue to grow and flourish in the terrarium. Go plant a terrarium and get a jump on spring!

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four montessori color mixing lessons

Color mixing works are always a hit in the classroom. We progress through all these variations during the year, because while it seems like a simple concept, it truly is something that takes children years to fully internalize color mixing. And, while I didn’t plan this, with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, what better time to have a little rainbow fun!

four montessori color mixing lessons | montessori works

We use four main lessons for color mixing, one group lesson and three individual works. The group lesson is the introduction, and usually the best place to start. The following is roughly the order we progress through during the year (of course this year we mixed it up, so it doesn’t really matter.)

Continue reading


why i don’t do examples

I don’t make examples. Not for artwork, not for crafts. The only time I must produce something like a drawing is when I give a metal inset lesson, and then I carefully fold my work into fourths and put it in my pocket. The same extends to home, I try not to draw for Imogen.

Why am I anti-example? Because to me, the work, whether it is a metal inset, a watercolor, or a Mother’s Day Craft, is process oriented, not product. And that’s where I want the child’s focus. Did they enjoy making it? Do they think it’s beautiful? Did they choose the colors they wanted? It they are constantly following my example how are they going to learn to be happy with their own work?

This is much easier at school than at home. Our art shelf is only open-ended materials. Scissors, glue, tape, paper for cutting, pencils, clay, and a collage tray. We rotate through watercolor paints and other materials during the year. When we do have a new work, like watercolors, and I need to give a lesson, I use the same piece of watercolor paper and simply make lines. Focusing the child on the process of getting the water, cleaning the brush, etc., and not on what I am painting. When I have finished my lesson I say, “I made lines, you can make whatever you wish.”

why i don't do examples | montessori works

Continue reading


montessori presidents day & money sorting work

Presidents Day is coming up this Monday, traditionally, it is a day to celebrate Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays, however, this year I decided to celebrate it in a more inclusive way by focusing on all the Presidents that appear on common coins and bills.

Montessori Presidents Day Sorting Work | montessori works

I prefer my works to start at a very concrete (real) place. Children are familiar with money, it is common and known to them. We build on this concrete foundation by providing a range of images, concrete to abstract – pictures of money, real photographs of the Presidents, paintings of the Presidents, statues, and monuments. Since many of these paintings and statues are not familiar to the children in our class, I have color-coded the cards so it is a self-correcting and independent work. Continue reading

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