Tuesday 14 June 2011

The Grammar Farm...

Yesterday, Ebi-kun had the day off yochien because it was the yochien foundation day, seems like a weak excuse, I think they should have had a big party and better still a sleep over for all the kids, but alas it seemed to be a day off for the staff instead. I decided that since I was unlikely to get any work done, I would make Ebi-kun some new shorts instead, so as I drafted the pattern and sewed, he did some Montessori work. He got out the grammar farm but needed some help, so we reviewed the parts of the sentence and then he got down to business.
When you first introduce the farm you just label the items with the noun cards, once they have got the hang of that, you introduce the articles so you would have things like 'the farmer', 'a pig' etc. Ebi-kun then introduced the adjectives 'a fat pig', 'the tired farmer' and finally the verbs so he ended up with 'a fat pig snorts' and 'the tired farmer cleans'.
With Montessori the parts of speech are represented by wooden symbols. Once he had recorded the sentence in his book he drew the symbols above each word.
Maria Montessori believed that the brain remembers better when there is tactile involvement. Using the symbols along with the farm figures is introducing grammar in a sensory way which can then be built on as the child gets older. As you can see in the top picture there are more grammar symbols for the rest of the parts of speech.

I think it is easy to go along and present various Montessori activities at home to your child without really understanding the reason behind it. When presenting the grammar farm, the child should also learn about the symbols, so far Ebi-kun studied that:
The noun is a big black triangle, the black represents carbon and the triangle is for the pyramid, one of the first human structures.
The article is a small light blue triangle and the adjective is a small dark blue triangle both triangles because they belong to the noun family, the pronoun is a purple triangle.
The verb a large red circle representing the sun, the giver of life and the adverb is a smaller circle acting like a planet.

Ebi-kun started off by finding the cards to make the sentence he already had in his head and finished off by picking random cards which resulted in some silly sentences and much giggling. When I was teaching ESL I found that kids would often remember silly things better, so as long as it is grammatically correct, I don't care!

If you want to make your own farm, I have a post on how I did it here and you can get a download with all the cards and symbols here. I discovered Montessori after I had quit teaching ESL but I am pretty sure you could use the method in an ESL classroom too, I would love to hear if anyone has any experience of this.

We also had some sad news recently about Yasuyo from the Montessori Farm that we had been going to once a month. Her and her husband have decided to split up and she has moved back to her parents place for the immediate future. We all enjoyed going to the farm so much and I think the kids got so much out of it, it is such a shame that it has come to an end. I am sure I will keep in touch with Yasuyo, I feel like we are kindred spirits.

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