Clarification of speech
Development of self-expression
(A) Telling Stories
- This activity should begin on the child’s first day in the class and should continue during his whole stay in the class.
- This activity can be done with one child or with a small group of children, or even the whole class. If you give are telling a story to more than one child, have the children sit in a semi-circle around you. This allows the children to see your gestures and facial movements, which then help each child to understand the meaning of the story.
- The stories should be about reality, whether true or fictional. Fantasy stories are for the older children who have already established reality.
- Telling stories is a time of companionship, a moment of pleasure to be shared with the adult and the child or children. This is a time of personal interaction.
- This is also a good activity to do with children who seem to be wondering aimlessly around the classroom.
- This activity is done similarly as with the Telling Stories but this time, you will be reading a story from a book.
- The images or pictures are not shown so that the child can make his own images in his mind.
- Well-constructed stories should be chosen that are real, though they do not have to be true.
- The story should set the scene, it should clearly introduce the characters, it should have the characters participate in some event with a moment of heightened suspense, and end well.
- Once the story has been read to the children, it can go to the Book Corner where the children will be free to look at it.
- This reading activity gives a good balance between reading and relaxation. The body is at rest but the mind is active.
- Reading stories broadens the child’s view of life and nurtures the child’s inner spiritual life.
- As the ready, always give credit to the author and the illustrator.
- And remember, choose a story that is appropriate!
- Poetry is a special mode of self-expression and communication that covers a wide range of topics.
- Poetry attracts the young child because of the language and by the way it is used. The child can see the beauty in a poem.
- Start by teaching poems from the home culture, poems that are well-known and by well-known poets.
- As a guideline, do one poem a week, beginning with short poems that can be easily memorized.
- The directress should read the entire poem out loud first to give the children an overall idea of the entire poem. Then the directress repeats the first line of the poem and has the children repeat after her. This should continue in this way until the children have learned the entire poem.
- Remember that songs are also poems and remember to teach a large variety of poems with different subject matters and in different styles.
- Every classroom should have a poetry anthology book that can be added to when appropriate.
- A child who likes poetry, can be encouraged to create his own poetry anthology book.
- When appropriate, write poems with the children, so later they too can write their own poems.
- Rhymes and Jingles are taught in a very similar manner as with poetry.
- Rhymes and Jingles are special modes of self-expression and communication that covers a wide range of topics.
- They attract the child because of the language and by the way it is used. Rhymes and Jingles can be funny or serious.
- Rhymes and Jingles are taught is the same way as with a poem.
- Songs can be taught as poems, which are then put to music.
- Children seem to enjoy nursery rhymes very much as songs, such as the song, “Bah, bah black sheep…” etc.
- Singing is an important activity and should be done on a daily basis.
- This activity can be a planed activity with just a few children or the whole class.
Dramas should be a topic they understand or know well, such as home, school or a holiday. When telling a drama to small children, remember to keep it very simple. Some stories can be dramatized to be turned into a drama.
Tell the children the story and then describe what a drama is: a story told by characters who speak to each other about what is happening. There is also one person to every character. Then you can assign roles to those who can act it out well. (Especially important for the first time this is done. It will give the other students an idea of what “acting” is about.) The other children can play group roles. Remember to ask the children to read their roles, not to memorize their lines!
When Alex woke up this morning, he was so happy because today was his birthday! He had waited for this day for a very long time and today was going to be the very best day. His mommy was going to make him his favorite cake and his daddy was going to bring him to the park. His grandmother was going to teach him how to ride a bike and his grandfather was going to show him how to make a paper plane.
Alex jumped out of bed and ran into his parent’s room. He cried, “Mommy! Daddy! Today is my birthday!” His mommy and daddy took him in their arms and gave him big hugs and wished him a very happy birthday. Alex then ran into his grandparent’s bedroom and cried, “Grandma! Grandpa! Today is my birthday!” But Alex only saw his Grandpa sitting and reading in bed. Alex asked, “Where’s Grandma?” And Grandpa answered, “That is a surprise!”
Well Alex was just so excited he could barely wait for the surprise. And all of a sudden, there was a knock on the door. Alex ran to the door and asked, “Who is it?” And his Grandmother answered, “It’s me Alex, your Grandma.” And do you know what he say when he opened the door? He saw his Grandmother and five of his best friends holding a brand new bike just for him! And they all said, “Happy birthday Alex! This is your birthday surprise!”
- A library corner with low shelves and a selection of good books
- A floor mat
- Two small chairs
- A table
- A table lamp
The book corner is a place where the child can go to read a good book or to look at the pictures in a book. The book corner is meant to be a place of enjoyment for the child, a place where the child feels warm and good. The book corner, in the Montessori classroom, is a very special place.
The materials needed to create a book corner make this place even more special. The floor mat adds a homey feel while the lamplight sheds a soft but direct light onto the books being read. The two chairs limit the number of children who can be in the book corner at a given time, which guarantees the book corner remain a calm and peaceful area. The shelves should have four horizontal shelves with ledges at different heights.
The books with the least amount of text should be on the bottom ledge. Books should move up depending on the amount of text. This allows the youngest children to have easy access to the books with less text and more pictures. The books themselves should be high in quality of content and of structure. Books that are not hard cover books should be laminated to increase the book’s durability. The paper in the books should also be of good quality, as the books that will be most loved by the children will have its pages turned frequently. The text inside these books needs to be of a clearly legible size. The content of all of the books needs to present the child with reality, whether true or fiction. The information given needs to be correct, it needs to be about ordinary people, but ranging in topics. Good stories can bring the child to the worlds of yesterday, to the people and places of far off places, and can bring the child to discover a great many things in this world. The directress needs to keep the book corner interesting and must therefore change the books frequently.
Reading and the enjoyment that comes from reading and from books should begin at home. The role of the Montessori book corner is to extend and to deepen this feeling.
Sharing news is a good way to express oneself and it is an important moment for the child. Giving news can be done one-on-one with the child, in small groups, or even with the whole class. Whether the news is big or small, to the child, it is still news. When a child comes into the classroom and rushes up to you to give you some personal news, it is important for the directress to listen to the child immediately and not to postpone it.
The child can then repeat his news during News Time if he wishes to do so in front of the class. The directress may want to begin the school year by giving examples of how to give news by giving her own news to the class. This can serve as a reminder for the older children and as a guide for the younger children.
The directress may need or want to continually give her own pieces of news throughout the whole year. For the younger children, it is important to give guidance by asking open-ended questions and to help them to be more descriptive. The other children may also help by asking their own questions. The older children can also act as a guide for the younger children and often, they can serve as inspiration for sharing news. Some children may need help in stopping, some may need help speaking more slowly, and some my need help is speaking in an audible voice.
It is the role of the directress to help each child feel comfortable in sharing his news and to do so in an appropriate manner. As a last reminder, it is important to keep News Time spontaneous and not a daily activity, which would make it “not real” for the child.
“ I have some news to tell everyone. I want to tell you about our school party. It will be this Friday and all of your parents are invited to come. We will have different vegetables and juice to share with our parents. Our parents will also be able to see our classroom if they would like. It is going to be a lot of fun.”
The Events Chart is a tack board with pictures and labels to show as and present events in the classroom or in the city. There are two sections of the board: Past and Present. The board is useful for birthdays and for events going on in town that the children might go to with their parents. These “events” should be placed on the board with the children so you can talk about the events with them.
“ Today we have a new event to put up on our Events Chart. But first, let us look at what we do have on the Events Chart. Well yesterday was George’s birthday. Did you have a nice birthday George? Good, I’m glad you did. Your birthday was yesterday, so let us put your name and the cake is the PAST, because your birthday was yesterday.” (Place his name and cake in the “past” section of the chart.)
“ Today we have a new event to put up! Well, this piece of paper says that there is a special event happening at the National Gallery. It says that there is a children’s art show showing wonderful pieces of art, just for you! This sounds like a wonderful event to put on the Events Chart. (Tack it on the “present” section of the chart.) Now you can ask your mommies and daddies if they would like to take you to this event. I am going to leave the Event Chart right here for all of you to look at when ever you would like.”
A conversation occurs naturally between two or more people in the real world, and this is how it should occur in the Montessori classroom. A child should feel free to talk with other students as well as with the adults. To open the communication airwaves, it is important the directress make sure she has daily conversations with each child. This not only forms a bond between the directress and the child, but the directress can learn a lot about a child’s attitude or feelings on a given day.
The best way to have a conversation is to face the child and to be at his eye level. A conversation is a dialogue between two or more people and involves speaking and listening. Therefore, if the child begins to speak in a monologue, it is the directress’s role to help the child get back into a conversation. It is also important to not allow the conversation to monopolize your time with other students, so the directress must in this situation, find a polite and delicate way of ending the conversation, without hurting the child’s feelings. With the older children, this may not be a problem you will encounter and a nice challenge for an older child is to ask them to give you directions; such as how he made the cake with his mother over the weekend or ask him to explain to the younger child how to build the Pink Tower.
Question Games are fun games to help the child think “outside of the box”. It forces the child to think about a question and to find not only the basic answer to a question, but to go deeper in their thinking to answer the ongoing questions.
If the child had peanut butter for lunch:
- What is peanut butter made from?
- Where do the nuts come from?
- Where does the farmer get these nuts?
- Where do the nuts grow?
- How does the nut become the peanut butter?
Grammar games are a fun way of informally introducing the child to the different parts of speech. The child comes to see that different things fall into different groups of words.
In this lesson, children are asked to do different actions such as walk, clap, or skip. Then the directress is to ask the child to do an object. This will help the child realize that the other words were action words (verbs) and that some words cannot be an action.
Directress: We are going to have some fun. I’m going to tell you each to do something. Lets begin. Poppy, please skip.
Child: The child skips.
Directress: Henry, please clap.
Children: The child claps.
Directress: Lauren, please hop.
Child: The child hops.
Directress: Poppy, please table….oh wait! You can’t table! Because table is a thing, its not an action or movement! Ok, Poppy, please walk.
Etc… The directress would then through in a few more nouns and repeat that these are objects and not actions.
For this lesson, the directress will be introducing adjectives. To do so, choose objects in the room that have multiples such as tables or chairs. Include movement in the lesson to keep the child attention. For example, you can ask a child to go and stand next to the blue table. Or the child can be asked to sit on the red chair, or pick up the yellow jug, etc.
For this lesson, the directress will be introducing prepositions and showing the child the importance of them. For example, you can ask all the children to stretch out their hand in front of them. Then ask them to place their hand over their heads. Then place their hand under their leg. Then place their hand next to their neighbor, etc. Emphasis can be added by then asking the children where their hands are, to which the response should be the used preposition.
This game is used to emphasis and to get the children to begin thinking about the different parts of speech. This is to be informally done when the occasion arises. For example, if a child is pouring everyone a drink during snack time the children can be asked the following questions:
Who poured the drinks? Alex (Modifies the Verb) What did he pour? Water (Modifies the Verb) What did he do? Pour (Modifies the Verb) When did he pour? Today (Modifies the Verb) Why did he pour? To serve his friends (Modifies the Verb) How did he pour? Carefully (Modifies the Verb)