In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published on Fridays. These reviews will cover science education books for and about children, as well as reality-based children’s books for a Montessori lifestyle.
Oh, how I have sadly neglected my ongoing series of reality-based children’s books for a Montessori lifestyle. I would like to make excuses, but the truth is that I spend most of my days creating, crafting and devising lesson plans that have little or nothing to do with a primary Montessori education.
My boys are ten and almost seven-years-old. We still read to them…though not every night. They are both solid readers. They love books and learning and they both have large vocabularies. I directly attribute their knowledge to the vocabulary-building, reality-based books that we read to them when they were young.
These days our library bags are often filled with chapter books and large piles of non-fiction materials. I don’t check out as many picture books as I used to, but I will continue to write and speak about my experiences as a Montessori-certified teacher. I have learned so much from her teaching and writings, not to mention my direct experiences of using her methods and well-designed materials. While I agree that no one method of education can meet the needs of every child, the Montessori way of ‘teaching’ is the perfect response to the current practice of drills, tests, and arbitrary grading policies that our schools use to ‘teach’ students. (Hint: Montessori doesn’t grade students).
Is it obvious that I am a Montessori advocate?
I believe in the power of a true Montessori education and will continue to spread the word about the Montessori philosophy. I still have a lot of Montessori-inspired projects that I would like to carry out, but in the meantime, I will continue to focus on technology, art and handwork. Montessori inspires me every day and I hope that you enjoy the reality-based picture books featured here.
This week, I am showcasing books that deal with our olfactory sense. In other words, our sense of smell. I have previously discussed many of the different Sensorial topics (colors I, colors II, systems, shapes & solids, visual training, and auditory). Dr. Montessori found that children’s senses were especially sensitive during the years between three and six. The following books contain stories (and rich vocabulary) that are based in reality. No talking animals and no imaginary characters. Under the age of six, children are deciphering the world around them and need help in determining what is real and what is fantasy.
Montessori Sensorial – Sense of Smell
Ages 2 – 6
Sias, Ryan. Sniff! Sniff! Abrams Appleseed: New York, 2015.
With very few words, this book manages to convey a dog’s strong sense of smell. A cartoon-like brown dog wakes up and the words “sniff, sniff” appear over his head. Suddenly, pictures of bacon, pancakes and oranges appear as thought bubbles. He runs downstairs to discover the human’s breakfast table, and proceeds to jump all over it and devour the food. Despite the dog’s bad manners, this cute book continues to feature his keen sense of smell as it takes him (and his owner) on many adventures throughout the day.
Ages 4 and up
Weiss, Ellen. The Nose Knows. Illustrated by Margeaux Lucas. The Kane Press: New York, 2002.
Peter is the oldest child in his family of five. His parents, brother and sister are sick with colds (and stuffy noses) so Peter becomes the family’s ‘nose.’ He helps around the house by getting rid of the stinky items, such as the old orange juice, decaying flowers and some rotting broccoli that his younger brother shoved in the back of his closet. Peter also saves the family by smelling ‘rotten eggs’ in the kitchen. The pilot light on their gas stove had gone out and the parents didn’t know. Throughout the book there are side notes about how our nose (and sense of smell) functions. Eventually, Peter gets the family’s cold, but everyone takes care of him.
Ages 4 and up
Lin, Grace. The Ugly Vegetables. Charlesbridge Publishing: Watertown, MA, 1999.
Young Grace and her mother are preparing their garden for planting. As they turn over the soil, she notices that all of the other neighbors are planting gardens too – except that their gardens will be full of flowers while Grace’s will grow Chinese vegetables. Grace wants to grow flowers too, until one day she detects a delicious smell coming from her house! Her mother is making a delicious soup with all of the vegetables from their garden. There’s a knock on the door and all of her neighbors have brought flowers to share – in hopes of tasting the good-smelling soup. Grace’s mother passes out the soup and gives the recipe to her friends. The following year, all of the neighbors are growing some Chinese vegetables, and Grace gets to grow a few flowers as well.
Although I didn’t have a chance to review them, these two books seem like they might work for a Montessori lifestyle: Mo Smells the Holidays (about a dog’s powerful nose), and perhaps, Smelly Socks by Robert Munsch.
And, of course, these books would be especially memorable if paired with a group cooking activity. Grace’s soup, anyone?