Friday, March 19, 2010

Practicing Chinese Characters

The Fourth Montessori Great Lesson is the History of Writing. For this lesson, the teacher tells the story of how humans developed first spoken language and then pictures and, finally, the introduction of the sound-symbol correspondence idea, which led to the development of the first alphabet. Not every modern language uses an alphabet, however, so it is good for students to be exposed to a variety of forms of written language. One great example is Chinese. We have an area in the classroom devoted to the History of Writing and out of all the materials there, the favorite hands-down is the Sumi-E Board.

On the top of the bookcase where it sits, I also have placed a small ceramic dish which has a yellow line painted on the inside (that's the fill line for the water) and a beaded edge (which allows the calligraphy brush to rest on the dish without falling). Only pure water can be used to paint on this board. Nothing else can touch it. After the water evaporates (which takes a few minutes) you can paint another character. You cannot touch the specially treated paper with your fingers or a cloth while waiting for the water to evaporate; you must simply be patient. The Sumi-E Board can last for years if properly cared for. This work is peaceful, calm, meditative, and is a great help for developing care of the environment, hand-eye coordination, focus of attention, and fine motor skills.

We've paired it with the chunky sturdy little

which I highly recommend! A great combo for children at any age; my youngest attention-deficit students are especially drawn to it. Without question, the Sumi-E Board is used every day in my room and a great value for $29.95. Naturally, it could be used to practice any characters from any language or to compare the different alphabets side by side -- such as the Phoenician, Greek, and Roman versions of our letters. You can do almost any form of writing on it, with the exception of cuneiform which really requires Clay to be done properly. I brought it into my Sunday School class when we were studying the Hebrew alphabet and it was a big hit there as well.

You can also buy plain sheets of Magic Water Painting Paper(without a stand, frame, or brush) if you are on a budget, or want to give this activity to multiple children.

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