On Christmas night I took the picture on the left in Portland, Oregon and posted it on FaceBook. It was the first full moon to be seen on Christmas since 1977. A few hours later I received the second picture from a friend in Moscow, Russia. What a reminder of how tiny we are in this immense universe and how close to each other on our small and precious planet. Thank you Valentina.
MONTESSORI OUT IN THE WORLD
Early in 2015 I worked in Amsterdam and Morocco. Above is a picture of my hostess showing the principal and head teacher of a madrassa (school) in the Atlas Mountains a short video clip of children working in her Montessori school in Casablanca. They were in awe and wanted to know more. Also, here is a “before” picture of a child in the orphanage in the capital where we have made plans to introduce Montessori ideas.
Since then two teachers from the USA have helped the school, Ecole Montessori Casablanca, with this outreach project, and a Welsh Montessori teacher and the school donated materials. Of course the staff at the orphanage are always doing their absolute best, but they are very interested in learning how to use Montessori ideas for the orphans. In the picture we can see children using Montessori materials that support the development of equilibrium, or balance, and hands, just as they would in any Montessori first years environment anywhere in the world.
To better understand the culture where I am working I always try make time to explore. During this trip the family and I traveled for several days throughout the north and south of Morocco, and it was wonderful for me to get to spend time with the children. Imagine my delight when I later received this little video clip showing the new puppy their little dog had birthed!
ART OUT IN THE WORLD
I also take advantage of international work to study, close up, the works of the great artists. In 2015 I was able to study the art of Turner and the collection from the National Museum of Scotland – both in San Francisco. Then a Matisse exhibit in Amsterdam, and fascinating art wherever we went in Morocco.
There is no substitute for standing a few feet away from the actual painting and seeing the true color and the brush strokes of artists such as John Singer Sargent, one of my favorites, as in this close up photograph I took of his painting, Lady Agnew of Lochnaw.
ART BACK AT HOME
Back home I try to capture some of the images and memories of travel experiences while painting in my studio. I exhibit in The Trinidad Art Gallery, the elegant Sunset Restaurant in Trinidad, and the lovely All Under Heaven store in Arcata.
The Trinidad Art Gallery is a group of 20 local artists, potters, jewelry makers, and photographers, all supporting each other in creating a showcase of exceptional talent. Here is the website: www.trinidadartgallery.com.
In this picture you can see some of my work. The gallery also carries my cards and Montessori books!
Recently I have been able to have giclée prints on canvas produced of some of the paintings that have been sold.
SUMMER AT HOME
Jim and I love to garden and we have a long season here in Northern California. Here you can see the wisteria through the living room window and the amazing height of Cosmos grown from seeds brought back from Noko Island in Japan after Montessori work there last fall.
Also his summer my mother celebrated her 92nd birthday. She was a musician, a choir director, a singer, and artist, and my first teacher, because every mother is the most important first teacher. Here is the link to a bio I created from interviews inspired by my husband’s sisters: http://www.michaelolaf.net/mamabio.html
SUMMER MONTESSORI BOOKS
This year the birth-three book, “The joyful Child, Montessori Global Wisdom for Birth to Three” was published in Portuguese and Vietnamese. The Portuguese edition is available free online through Kindle Unlimited and the Vietnamese edition has been shared by many villagers and is preparing for a second edition.
This book contains a brief but very helpful overview of the Montessori Assistants to Infancy program that was begun in Italy in 1946, when Dr. Montessori realized that beginning to support development at age 3 was too late, that we must begin before birth. Here is the link to the English version, which is available from many sources around the world. http://amzn.com/1879264102
SUMMER EDUCATEURS SAN FRONTIERES MEETING
In July I had an amazing 2-week experience in Thailand, meeting with government officials, scientists, teachers, and parents from all over the world, who are interested in using Montessori ideas to help in many situations—with pregnant mothers in prison in the UK, Syrian refugees, Alzheimer’s patients in Australia, and more. I am going to have to create a whole blog post on this subject. But in the meantime, here is the website Educateurs sans Frontières (ESF): http://www.montessori-esf.org/
And here is the link to the blogs for that site, to which I contribute: http://www.montessori-esf.org/en/social-media/blog
MONTESSORI LESSONS OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
Since 1972 I have found myself using Montessori idea to teach many things outside the Montessori classroom. Chess is one of these. Even at age 2 or 3 children are able to learn the beginnings of this international game and for years I have been asked to write down how to do it. This year I was able to explore the teaching of chess in Mongolia where most children learn from an early age, and at the Chess museum in Amsterdam.
Since I have never written all the “Montessori” chess learning steps down it needed to be tested. So in the fall I gave the first draft of the book to an old friend in Hawaii and asked her to be my guinea pig. At first she had her doubts because, as is the case with many very bright adults, somewhere along the way she had decided that she was unable to learn chess! It was delightful to see her change. Right away she saw the logic of the game and wanted to get up early the next day to continue lessons so she could teach her grandchildren.
If I can stay home long enough in 2016 to complete and publish this book (for which I already have several orders) you will find out about it on this blog.
HOLIDAY MONTESSORI AND ART GRANDMOTHERING
Upon arriving at our daughter’s home in Portland, Oregon, I was immediately asked by our youngest grandchildren to do art with her. In my hand were 5 calendars that I had picked up in the discard pile at the post office as we left home in Trinidad, California. Perfect! Remembering one of the art activates in my Montessori primary (age 2-7) classes long ago, I invited her to make paper mosaics with me. First of all I cut strips from the calendars.
Then I showed her how to cut the strips into little squares and sort them into a 6-cup muffin tin: reds, blues, greens, and yellows . . . Then I asked her if she would like to make a circular or square mosaic and hand drew the shape on ½ piece of paper. Then I showed her how to arrange the squares on paper and, when satisfied with the design, to glue them down.
They added a lovely decoration to the Christmas Eve table.
FAMILY CHRISTMAS PRAY FOR THE EARTH – NOW IN CZECH
Just a few days before Christmas I received an email from a friend in Kyrgyz who had been contacted by a Montessori teacher in the Czech Republic trying to find us. She wanted to get permission to translate the lyrics of our family Christmas song/video that was created a few years ago entitled “A Christmas Prayer for the Earth”. Of course we are happy to share these it with anyone.
Here is the link to the Czech version:
And, in case you have not already seen it here is the link to the English version that explains where the pictures are from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0PWxKgGhAE
MONTESSORI WINTER GOOD WISHES
Just in time for the holidays I completed the above painting inspired by our grandchildren, who love to participate in daily work at our home in the country, digging potatoes, cleaning the greenhouse, taking care of the birds and animals, hauling firewood to the woodshed, and bringing it in to fill the stove.
And to end this message I want to share how lucky I feel this year to have had my art selected to grace the 2015 season’s greeting card from AMI, the Association Montessori Internationale, in Amsterdam. This card went out to thousands of people in 108 countries. Above you can see an image of the original painting and the AMI card.
“It is absolutely certain that the secret of the future human power lies hidden within humanity as it develops — within young people. —Maria Montessori, Education and Peace
ALL OF MY BEST WISHES FOR A PEACEFUL AND HAPPY 2016