maria montessori
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Activities with children
For almost 4 months, I am an intern at a Montessori kindergarten in Paris, at the 3-6 years old class. 
Because the internship is soon going to end, I was wondering what else I could offer these children, apart from the well-known Romanian songs they were thrilled about. 
And, of course, the idea came from them, because when we were discussing my departure, they started asking: "And where are you going?”, "And how is it at your home?” , "And how are the children there?”, "And what do you eat there?”, "And what language do you speak?”, etc. 
So, I decided to offer them the means to make a collage of representative pictures in the shape of the map of Romania. "This way, they will find out more about the place I come from”, I thought.
And so I got to work: I took a (cardboard) duplex on which I drew the shape of the map of Romania. (image 1)
I printed about 40 representative images for Romania on A4 sheets, I bought scissors, markers, and glue and I sat down at the table. They came to me and asked me what the drawing was, what they were to do with the pictures, where to glue them, etc. 
All I did was answer their questions about the printed pictures, and they did what you can see in the image below.  
I was amazed of the connections they made, and of how fast they acquired certain pieces of information. Here are some examples:
Marcus, 5 to Vladimir, 4 who is trying to glue a piece of paper representing a 500 RON banknote: "You know, he's a Romanian poet. His name is, his name is…Simona what's his name? I forgot.”
Ema, 5 ½  - "My nanny is from Moldova and she baked "cozonac". It is very tasty, it's sweet, and it also has chocolate. Moldova is here, right? I will show it to her when I get home.”
Alexandre, 6 about Brancusi's sculpture - "I've seen this before at the museum in Paris. I was there with my dad!”
And he might have seen it, because Centre Pompidou in Paris hosts Brancusi's Workshop. 
Isabella, 4 "So the Arch of Triumph is not only in Paris….”
Marcus, 5 about the Romanian Rhapsody we listened to after I told them about Enescu: "Oh, this is classical music!”
Today they finished the collage they started yesterday, but we are still talking about it :).
After I answered their questions for two days, they decided to put the collage at sight, on a table in the classroom and to continue talking about it until I leave.  
There are 26 children in the class, and I believe than only 9 or 10 made the collage, but I can tell you that they all came and asked me at least one question on the pictures in the collage. 
If they were thrilled about the Romanian song, this activity simply charmed them, and they also came up with the idea that, after we are done talking about this topic, they would start on a project about the "Madam Tussauds” Museum in London.
That is how wonderful children are!
Because I have received some e-mails from parents, asking me what activities they could do at home, with the children, I hope that this month's piece will be an inspiration to you, and, to conclude, I will let Maria Montessori to tell us how to do it:
"What advise can we give to mothers?” I would change that and write to parents, because, nowadays, I believe both the father and the mother are involved in the child's education to the same extent.
"Their children need to have an interesting occupation: they shouldn't be helped unless necessary, or interrupted if they started doing something intelligent. Love, severity, medication are of no use if the child's intelligence is not properly fed. If a man dies of starvation, we do not call his stupid or beat him or call upon his better feelings. He needs food and nothing else will do. The same applies here. Neither severity, nor kindness will solve the matter. Man is an intelligent being and needs mental food almost more than physical food. Unlike animals, he has to build his own behaviour. If the child is set on a direction where he can organise his conduct, build his own mental life, everything will be fine. His problems will disappear, his nightmares will end, his digestion will become normal, and his greed will decrease. His health is better because his mind is balanced. 
Hence, these are not matters of moral education, but of character shaping. The lack of character or the character flaws simply disappear, and adults will not have to give lessons or examples to follow. You don't need to threaten or convince through sweet please, all you have to do is 'normalize the conditions' the child lives in.”
Maria Montessori - The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 18  "Character and Its Childhood Flaws”
A.P.A. Publishing House  2006