by Jessica Hrytzik
The Westshore Montessori Summer Program is a fun-filled opportunity for enrichment. Each and every child brings a very special element to our program. The children share their knowledge, their personalities, and their opportunities with peers from every classroom at Westshore Montessori. The Classrooms are filled with the typical Montessori materials that the children work with during the school year, but with a special twist in certain areas. Because of the smaller group of children we have during the summer program, the children are able to take part in themed activities in each of the six weeks.
Each week of the summer program is filled with familiar Montessori Lessons and extensions to match six main themes. This year’s themes include: Insects, Farms, Dinosaurs, Zoo Animals, Space, and Oceans. The weeks are designed this way to intrigue the individual interests of each child. When following the specific interest of the child, we are capable of helping them making new connections that the child may not even realize they are making. It also sets the stage for continued growth in that learning area.
The following is an example of including a weekly theme in a Montessori environment. During the first week’s theme, Wings, Stings, and Crawly Things, the children explore the world of bugs. This week is filled with familiar Montessori lessons with a creepy crawly twist! There are Practical Life materials that make connections to some very important pollinators in our ecosystem. Sensorial activities allow children to explore color through the butterfly and color tablet extension. Art is filled with bug crafts that allow for creativity, independence and fine motor development. Language has interesting insects to draw attention and bring excitement. Science is filled with the opportunity to explore and learn about different types of bugs.
One popular work is the bug station. This is set up at a special table that has a bug book, a basket of different-shaped rocks, a jar of small prepared twigs, and some insect cards for the children to use and manipulate. The children are instructed to choose a card and recreate their chosen insect with the stones, and twigs. This work allows for the development of fine motor skills, spatial awareness, shape discrimination and the introduction to parts of an insect. The children also learn the important role that bugs and especially bees play in our ecosystem through related books, songs and finger plays.
We use Fridays as fun ways to connect our discussions with real-life materials. This year, the children gathered at the end of each morning and took part in a couple exciting activities. They tasted honey, they searched for large insect parts and they worked as a group to build their bug. It was truly a gift to observe their cognitive process as they looked at a group of parts and used those parts to create one cohesive object. The Montessori Summer program is one of opportunity: the opportunity to grow, the opportunity to share, the opportunity to thrive as a community, and the opportunity to discover. Each child has a gift to share with the world. Something wonderful about the Montessori method is that a child can build upon and improve the life of themselves and others through the revelation of their individual gifts.