Bambini Montessori was started in 2007 by our passionate and experienced teacher and director, Sheryl Doolittle. Sheryl began this school with the aspiration to positively influence the lives of children ages 3-6. In 2010, Bambini became large enough to move into the current location Northeast of the Flagstaff Medical Center. Along with the more spacious and well organized indoor environment, the new school has allowed us to expand our outdoor environment as well. We have been able to have new gardens, composting and space for outdoor eating and group art projects. Bambini Montessori Preschool is truly a beautiful place to spend one's day!
There are five distinct areas in a Montessori classroom for 3 to 6 year old children: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, and Cultural. Each area is beautifully equipped with hands-on learning materials, created to help the young child explore and discover, as well as, refine and perfect specific skills and concepts.
Our Montessori Program
1. The Practical Life area is the foundation of any 3 to 6 year old Montessori classroom. It allows the young child to follow the natural urge to "do what adults are doing," that is, real and meaningful work, with real (child-sized) tools. These practical living skills include caring for the classroom environment by dusting, scrubbing tables, watering plants, and polishing brass implements. The children learn independence, coordination, while expanding their sense of order and their concentration abilities. There is an atmosphere of joy and contentment while they practice their skills of caring for themselves (and each other), responsibility for their classroom, and levels of "grace and courtesy" to engender a smooth and harmonious learning community.
2. The Sensorial materials were designed by Dr. Montessori to help the young child to refine his/her five senses, in order to organize sensory impressions from the wider world. The famous Montessori learning material, known as the Pink Tower, is a Sensorial experience with ten pink cubes to be graded in size from biggest to smallest. It is a lesson in visual discernment and comparison. After the child is able to build the tower of cubes, the abstract language for the experience is provided: big, bigger, biggest, and small, smaller, smallest. In a similar way, the Sensorial apparatus known as the Touch Tablets (pairs of sandpaper tablets ranging from most rough to least rough) are experienced while wearing a blindfold to match the pairs using the isolated tactile sense. Again, the language is supplied after the child is successful with matching and grading the tablets. Colors, shapes, textures, temperatures, and smells are all experienced in the Montessori classroom, with the important difference being that these qualities are taken out to the "real" world to enable the child to observe and understand the wonder of the natural world.
3. Language in the Montessori classroom is alive with language: speaking, listening, reading, writing beautiful literature, poetry, silly rhymes, sound games like "I Spy", and of course, the child's own re-telling of personal life stories. Dr. Montessori observed the young child's sensitive period for learning language. She created a systematic approach to reading and writing, based on the needs and tendencies of the young child. Her idea of "Writing before Reading" (constructing words with the Movable Alphabet letters before being able to easily read them) allows for the effortless "explosion into reading" that can be often witnessed in the children.
4. Mathematics is an area in the Montessori classroom that connects to the preparation gained through the observations, comparisons, and abstractions from the Sensorial materials. These threads of connections and preparations are important parts of the Montessori philosophy. In the Math area, learning precedes from the simplest to the most complex, and from the concrete to the abstract. Step-by-step, the child builds on prior lessons and math materials. The concrete experience of quantity is always experienced before the more abstract symbol (a child counts twenty beads several times before being introduced to the numeral "20"). The math materials may introduce place value and the mathematical operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
5. Cultural is a combination of Geography, Science, Arts, and Music. The Montessori classroom for 3 to 6 year old children is a rich environment bringing the "keys of the universe" to the young child. A diverse assortment of hands-on materials, collected from all parts of the world, bring the study of cultural and physical geography alive. Toys, fabrics, arts and crafts, stamps, coins, foods, and clothing make far-away places real to these children. The geography studies are couched in the needs of all peoples of the world: food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and love. This emphasis plants the seeds of empathy, tolerance, and peace at a very young age in the Montessori child. Art and Music are presented both as avenues of self-expression, as well as important parts of our cultural heritage. Art Expression is an integral part of the classroom time, including painting choices, oil pastels, collage, sculptural creations, and cutting experiences. Art Appreciation might include the "Artist of the Month," with story, important art pieces, maps, and the flag of country of origin. Music Expression is a daily part of the Bambini classroom! We love to sing and dance. Music Appreciation includes examples of world music, the study of the Western classical orchestra (with instrument families), and often the "Composer of the Month."
6. Science is approached in the same hands-on manner, with the emphasis on exploration and discovery. There are Montessori learning materials to expose the children to everything in the natural world from leaf shapes to vertebrates to properties of magnetism and flotation.