CLASSROOM NEWS APRIL 2017
Toddler News with Mary Ann, Cynthia,
Rebecca, Carla and Brianna
In March we
had a new friend, Amber, join our Toddler community. We want to welcome our new
classmate and her family.
the children enjoyed celebrating Dr Seuss’ birthday by making “Cat in the Hat”
hats and reading several of his other stories. Many of his other books were
available in our reading corner throughout the month. For St Patrick’s Day the
children painted a beautiful shamrock for our dining area and made Irish soda
bread. The children were able to sample the bread for snack and bring some
home. Toward the end of the month we introduced the season of spring but with
so much snow it was a difficult concept to understand. Wearing snow pants and
boots didn’t help either! During story time we read stories about the Earth’s
transition from winter to spring. This month we will continue to talk about the
seasonal changes. Hopefully Mother Nature will help us out a bit.
enjoy our Monday Spanish group with Paula. They particularly like singing “Old
Mc Donald “in Spanish.
everything will be spring.
continue to bring snow pants and boots; the play yard can be wet and muddy for
the first weeks of April.
Spanish with Paula, FEBRERO Y MARZO
In the months
of febrero y marzo, we were completing our practice of emotions and feelings,
studying our vocab for parts of the body, and venturing on to clothes
vocabulary. We are able to complete
units of study more quickly at this time of year. The children know the
routines of Spanish class and are more able to follow directions (at last!!).
am very much enjoying time in the Toddler classroom. I enjoy our time singing and moving as we sit
together in a circle. Some of the
children are starting to repeat the Spanish words and phrases that we have been
singing since the beginning of the school year! They seem to be comfortable
with hearing and responding to Spanish!
HOUSES—We reviewed colors with a button snowman activity. The children chose different colored scarves
and hats to put on the snowmen. For Valentine’s Day we reviewed parts of the
face (ojos, nariz, boca, orejas) by creating a heart dog. Some of the children preferred a heart bunny;
but, who’s keeping track?? The children
enjoyed creating a person from miscellaneous junk from my house! Each person showed the imagination of the
group as they chose everything from blocks to toy ladders for different parts
of the body. We sorted clothes and
learned a bit about how to fold them for the introduction to clothes
vocabulary. On to a fun “racing” game
with my gingerbread “cookies” to see who could get dressed the fastest—the
winter cookie or the summer cookie!
Finally we practiced food vocabulary (mostly fruits). Two types of food were placed in a bag. Using only their sense of touch, the children
had to select the food which I named. No
peeking!! Be on the lookout for those
Spanish practice papers. I usually send
one home each Monday/Wednesday!
began febrero with our reading of the Spanish/English story ‘The Mitten” or “El
Miton”. The children enjoyed putting
their animals into their paper mitten (so nicely decorated) as the story was
being read. Hearing a story read in both
languages is a fun experience. As one
guest reader, I asked Arielle (a fifth year student) to read en ingles. Margaret also read in English to the other
group of students. Next we practiced
face vocabulary. The children used
magnetic features to create some hilarious faces. We played the face matching game and began
our parts of the body project with a paper plate face. On to the rest of the body! We wrote vocabulary pages for the face and
parts of the body for our Spanish notebooks.
We used different sizes and shapes of paper to create a body for our
face plate. We labeled the body with Spanish words. At the end of marzo, we began clothes
vocabulary. We created a vocab sheet for
our notebooks. We played clothes bingo
and clothes lotto. We “dressed” some
animal pictures (heads) with some paper clothes. Their notebooks are getting mighty full of
work. The children are already looking forward to bringing them home for the
ELEMENTARY—We are continuing to memorize and read both poetry and short stories
en espanol. The First Year students are so excited to be able to recite poems
in Spanish! WE have worked on two
poems—Osito and Pin Pon. Projects for
each, to enhance the reciting experience!
Second Year students are enjoying the reciting of poetry as well. They learned a poem about the vowel sounds in
Spanish “AEIOU, Arbolito de Peru”. This
is the first exposure to reading in Spanish and being able to sound out
words. We are currently learning a
rather long poem about the clock, “El Reloj.”
The children use their arms and hands to show each hour of the
poem—major twister action!!! Third Year
students have completed a story about
the snow “Jugando en la Nieve” We also
worked on a birthday story, “Cumpleanos Feliz;” and a story for practicing
clothes vocabulary, “Que Me Pongo.”
Busy, busy! I have tried to work
in reading days each month so that the children can practice reading and
translating or just plain having fun reciting poems! We studied two major vocabulary units these
two months—parts of the body and clothes.
As usual, the children enjoyed learning through art projects. They provide a good way to practice vocab,
read, and write the target words for each unit.
Their Spanish notebooks are filling up fast. They are used to using them as a resource for
their written work, as well as in class for oral language.
ELEMENTARY—Reading, translating, oral language, and writing continue to occupy
our classes in Upper El. The Fourth Year
students have been working on two stories, “Cinco Munecos de NIeve” which
practices (among other things) the punctuation associated with written
dialogues and “Mi Amigo” which explores verb usage. The Fifth Years worked hard on “El Caballito
de Mar” a story about the seahorse. This
is science-based and was a challenge in Spanish. The children did well and were able to read,
translate, and answer questions (both written and oral) about the story. We are currently working on a story about
whales, “Las Ballenas”. Now that they
“got their feet wet” with the seahorse story, the whale story is a snap!! The Sixth Year students are hard at work with
their tale of Mexican travels—“Un Viaje a Mexico.”
the Fourth Years have practiced emotions with the verb “estar”. They created some emotional snowmen and a
sentence game to practice. Their first
quiz was a success! Parts of the body
came next. They made some very creative
faces using pictures from magazines.
They attached those faces to a funky cup body. Everything was labeled en espanol. On to clothing vocabulary. The students picked a location and “dressed”
some boys and girls in clothes appropriate for the venue. Practice with verbs and the position of color
words in a Spanish sentence were key in this study. Fifth Years studied emotions and feelings
with the verbs “estar” and “tener.” They
are very successful with their conjugations of even irregular verbs! In conjuction with the body vocabulary, they
practiced the verb “dolorse”. This verb
is used to tell when something hurts!
Two quizzes under their belts and going strong! Sixth Years are working very hard on the
reading, translating, and written work associated with our chapter book, “Un
Viaje a Mexico.” We are learning how to
outline in Spanish and have outlined each chapter together as we complete it. Oral reading is coming along. Grammar contained in each chapter is
practiced and reviewed. I am emphasizing
the conjugation of verbs and being able to recognize their different forms as
we read. It can be slow going! The children, however, are sticking with it
and the class goes by quickly each day!
For all levels, their notebooks continue to play a big role in each
class as well as for the written work outside of class! We are continually fine tuning the notebooks
so that they will be a resource for the students! Have you ever seen their cubbies?? Sometimes this task can be daunting!
BOOKS WITH PAULA
Second Years have had their first reading
(instead of just listening) experience with “The Happy Lion.” They all seemed to enjoy reading out loud. We explored vocabulary from the story. We compared how the townspeople behaved in
and outside of the zoo. We illustrated
and wrote about an adventure that we would like to take, like the adventure the
lion took when he left the zoo! On to
“The Blue Moose.” We practiced more
vocabulary by shading the words with blue crayon in honor of the blue moose! We will continue to explore some of the
themes, such as the idea of tame versus wild, the importance of friendship and
just enjoying a rather silly story!
Third Years have been reading the French tale,
“The Red Balloon.” We discussed
imaginary friends and why we might like to have a friend like the balloon. We analyzed pages 16 and 17 of the story to
find out why the balloon was not afraid of the principal. We illustrated and wrote about the trip which
the main character, Pascal, took at the end of the story. We wrote about our own “magic” friends and
what they could do with us. On to
“Anansi’s Fishing Expedition.” This
African tale is pretty amusing! Anansi
wants to outsmart his friends—but does he??
Art with Christie Hester-Moore
Ahh… Springtime! Although it’s not quite
feeling like spring as I write this newsletter I remind myself that upon
careful observation signs and progress can be seen all around me. There’s the
lengthening of the days as the snow melts on my lawn and I can see the faintest
hint of green beginning to show itself here and there. In Art class we are
certainly seeing progress as well. In what seems like a few short months it is
so amazing to see everyone so well adjusted to the flow of Art class especially
in my Lower Elementary classes. It’s such a big adjustment for the first year
students, getting use to their new routines, going to Special classes, and not
quite sure what to expect. Now each class comes in excited and ready to work
and full of the confidence that comes with knowing what’s expected of them and
the lay of the land, so to speak.
We are continuing our year long lesson
on the Elements of Art and have just completed an assignment on Form. If you’ll
recall from my last newsletter we were building three-dimensional sculptures
using wood, wire, nylon, glue and acrylic paints to illustrate form. Form as
defined as an Art Element is a three-dimensional shape expressing length,
width, and depth. For example balls, cylinders, boxes and pyramids are form. So
far, out of the Seven Elements of Art, we have covered line, texture, color and
form. This leaves value, space and shape as the final three Elements of Art
that we will be exploring. We are also in the process of working on our spring
auction items. This year we are playing with the idea of graffiti as an art
form. The Upper and Lower Elementary
students are working collaboratively to create hand designed cloth using paints
and markers. This fabric will then be turned into unique items that will be
auctioned off at the spring performance.
want to once again explain to parents that the reason your student has yet to
bring home any of their Art class work this year (with the exception of
seasonal projects)is that the work that they are doing is designed to be an Art
portfolio. At the end of the school year I plan to have students set up their
work for self evaluation and an overall review of each of the Art Elements that
we learning about in depth this school year. As long as space permits, this is
my plan for student art work for the school year. As always students have been
reminded to dress for mess on Mondays.
Upper Elementary with Nicole and Terri
Montessori education is a holistic
approach to learning. Indeed this is true in how the curriculum is presented to
the child, and the fact that time is given towards mental, social, emotional
and physical growth and development. Children learn about themselves, what
motivates them, what inspires them, what bores them and what they are capable
of. Every day our classroom witnesses a new accomplishment, an “aha” moment, a
quiet celebration of conquering some fear, taking some risk, trying—even though
it’s hard. Learning isn’t easy. Some knowledge comes with greater ease than
others, and for each of us what brings hardship is something different. But if
we dare not take risk, if we fear the fall and stay where we are safe, our
learning slows. Each day, the children become more empowered so that they might
step out and take a risk. So they might fail, surrounded by a supporting
community, learn from that failure and improve. Maria Montessori believed that
we are the stewards of the Earth. That we, as human beings, have been given the
god-like power to be able to change and shape the world. Here in this microcosm
of our school, the children begin to see how their actions impact the world
around them. They bring food to a soup kitchen and they nourish the body and
spirit of others they had never met. They say something without thinking and
they are faced with a hurt friend. They are magic makers; they are limitless in
their talents and abilities; they are benevolent; they are friends.
March is the beginning of the deepest
work and awareness of the children in the elementary classroom. During
the next few months all of the great effort that has been put into learning how
they each work best is put into good practice and they begin to apply gathered
knowledge about the classroom, themselves and the world around them, and gain a
close comfort and understanding of the ideas that lie before them. It is
such a spectacular process to see each child begin to unfurl blade by blade
into the fully grown fern that has been nurtured through the long fall and
Recently the children were asked to
evaluate how they felt that they were doing in all areas of the classroom,
including social interactions, organization, and the various aspects of the
curriculum. It is always a wonderful opportunity for conversation to be
able to examine each child’s perception of how they are doing, and compare it
to my perception of how they are doing. Most of us were in alignment.
But there are always some who think they are doing terribly, but they are
demonstrating growing skills every day, and those kids who think they are
masterful at everything, but have not always demonstrated effort or timeliness.
The conversations that go with these evaluations are about sharing,
trying to understand how to set goals that are attainable, but also demonstrate
excellence, and finding ways to make sure that learning is interesting, and
worth the investment of effort. When we are able to recognize our own work as
being effortful, and engaging, or not, we can begin to then have conversations
also about the moving parts that are responsible for creating high quality work,
motivation, and challenge.
Our study of poetry continues to
deepen. After the challenges of learning about syllabification, and
scansion, we have begun to look into the different formats that are used in
poetry and some of the literary devices that make poetry so special and
interesting to read. We have looked at a few poems by Robert Frost and
Dylan Thomas and looked for the deeper meaning that is revealed when we treat
the words and phrases as symbols. Many of the children have proved themselves
adept at reading into poems given the right questions.
The older children are becoming more
adept at creating small research projects through looking into the different
systems of the human body. Most recently we have begun working with the
circulatory system and the children have made models of the various types of
blood vessels, researched topics from hypertension to pacemakers, and looked
into the different parts of blood that are responsible for blood clots, immune
system support, and carrying oxygen. Our floors are now permanently encased in
glitter, as this seems to be a favorite medium for embellishing the posters
that the kids have worked so hard to create. This work has encouraged the
children to be aware of their time management, how they divide work in groups,
and the benefits and drawbacks of working alone vs. in a group. We are now on
our way through the respiratory system, and will soon be looking into the brain
and nervous system, the endocrine system, and finally the reproductive system.
Please remember to send in payment for
our upcoming trip to Old Sturbridge Village. We will be heading out on
Thursday, April 13th.
the snow melts, and the field becomes a mud-luscious mess, please encourage
your child to bring in a change of pants and socks so they can be dry after a
wet and muddy recess.
April 6th - Grandparents’ Day
April 13th - Trip to Old Sturbridge
April 13th - Science Night
April 14th - School Closed
April 17 - 21 April Vacation
April 26 - Earth Day Celebrated
House East with Tara and Sara
Winter went out with a bang this year! The foot of a snow that fell less than a week
before the first day of spring transformed the playground. Being the first group outside meant that we
were greeted by a crisp, white sheet of snow.
After the briefest of pauses, the children fanned out, as if they were
the first to explore uncharted frozen tundra.
And while the snow was so deep that they almost couldn’t walk, they
sported very wide grins!
Speaking of simple pleasures of childhood, we baked oatmeal
raisin cookies! We did this for the
school’s annual Loaves and Fishes outreach.
It was difficult for the children to understand that we were baking
cookies for other people and continued to inquire all morning as to when we
would be eating them. As luck would have
it, there was enough batter for us all to have one sample. The next day, they asked for more!
Most of our mornings together end with the reading of a
picture book. Lately, Pete the Cat has
been a favorite character. So far we
have read, Pete the Cat: The Wheels on
the Bus, Pete the Cat and his
Four Groovy Buttons, Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes and
last but not least, Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcake. While each book has its special message, for
instance, don’t worry about losing a button, the last one is the best one to
date. The message is that when someone
makes a mistake, give them a second chance.
Make sure to ask your child which animal in the story
took the cupcakes! (Hint: ribbit, ribbit)
Making mistakes is a part of life. For young children, who are just beginning to
learn about themselves and others, normalizing making mistakes is a big,
beautiful lesson. One thing that recent
brain research has revealed is that we learn more from our mistakes than our
success. Interesting, huh?
Mr. Fish Lips, a fish puppet with unusually large pink lips,
has recently visited our classroom. He
came in order to talk about making mistakes.
He teaches that we all make mistakes.
Some of them are big and some are small.
A small mistake might be grabbing something out of someone’s hands
instead of asking for it. He continues
to explain that when we make a mistake we can say, “I am sorry; I made a
mistake”. The puppet is definitely an
attention grabber and an inviting way to model important life skills such as
apologizing and normalizing making mistakes.
In addition to snow, another highlight of winter was
Valentines’ Day. The children were very
diligent about distributing their cards, making sure to deliver each and every
one of them. Also, just in time for
Valentines’ Day, we welcomed another three-year-old student: her name is
Grace. Her mother is a Montessori
teacher and so it’s no wonder that she took to the classroom like a fish to
Elementary with Sherrell and Kim
Someone told me yesterday that,
whenever we have a mild(er) winter, March is especially fierce in order to
remind us that it’s not over yet. Now that the light stays longer each evening
and the plants and animals start poking their heads out again, we are in a time
of transition in the classroom as well.
“The greatest sign of success for a
teacher... is to be able to say,
'The children are now working as if I
did not exist.'” Maria Montessori
At this point of the year, when the end
of the year is much closer than the beginning, the Lower Elementary class hits
a stride that is impressive to witness. Students are making good use of the
independence and planning skills we’ve been building and choosing work from
different areas based on their own needs and tendencies. Students are
asking for presentations, finding research topics and beginning research, and
setting lofty goals for themselves for the day, week, or even for the rest of
the year. While Kim and I continue to offer different levels of support
based on student needs, most students are at a point where they’ve internalized
much of what we’ve been working to establish and can work quite well for a
sustained period of time without needing teacher intervention or support.
Seasonal Clothing Reminder
Thank you for making sure your students
were prepared for outdoor play all winter long. As March ends, it’s probably
safe to pack up the snow pants, but we’ll need boots for quite a while longer
to get through the mud. It would be a good idea for students to have extra
pants and socks as well.
Mathematics and Geometry Notes
The math puzzlers are a new addition to
the classroom’s problem solving resources for students of all ages. These math
puzzles use shapes to practice algebra concepts and reinforce basic facts.
Rather than solving for x or y, they are solving for r and o.
As children solve the different sets of
problems, they become increasingly complex. Students are required to be flexible
in their mathematical thinking as they solve for unknowns on the “wrong” side
of the equal sign. We help students ask questions like, “What times two equals
10?” “What can I take five from to get seven?” and “What do I get if I add five
We are building so many
skills with each problem-solving task.
Skills to Practice at Home
Identifying and counting money
Telling time on analog clocks
At the beginning of the year, I presented
a lesson about choosing the right book by comparing it to choosing shoes. Do
you need fancy shoes? Soccer shoes? Beach shoes? Are they too big? Too little?
Just right? Do you like them? Do they feel right? Throughout the year we
revisit the concept of Just-Right Books, and this is one of those times.
It is completely normal for children to
want to read what their friends are reading, but it isn’t always the best
choice for that child’s interests. I love Harry Potter, but most LE kids are
not yet able to read and understand the text independently. As we check in with
students about their reading, we use the 5-Finger Rule to determine if the book
is an appropriate level.
Skills to Practice at Home
Choosing just-right books
Summarizing the events or information
in a text
Asking questions with “Why?” or “What
I love being able to introduce
scientific and cultural topics with stories. Every story may not be as big as
the Creation of the Universe story we do in September, but it is still an
effective way to connect different areas of learning. We recently read The
Simple Story of the 3 Pigs and the Scientific Wolf by Mary Fetzner, and, in
discussion around the story, we’ve learned about the six simple machines that
humans use to make work easier: lever, pulley, wheel and axle, wedge, inclined
plane and screw. Now that we know what they are and what purpose each one
serves, we can now choose to use one or more during our construction work in
Our third graders are excited to begin
work with the Pin Maps this month, studying each continent’s countries, major
cities, flags and waterways. This work helps students organize and classify our
world and inspire further investigation into people and places.
Please help us keep everyone healthy by
sending in a donation of hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes
For more ways to support our classroom
with donations of all kinds and sizes, please check out the school’s donation
page at http://pvms.org/gifting/.
Children’s House North with Susan,
Debbi and Lisa
Greetings! I am happy to be back in the classroom at
PVMS, enjoying meeting new children and reacquainting with students and
families I have worked with before. It has
been a time of transition for all of us, but things seem to be settling
down. I am looking forward to a busy,
happy and peaceful time the next few months.
The topic of birds has always been
one of my favorite things to share with my classes, and so we have begun the
study of these marvelous creatures. We
have started by listening to the songs of familiar birds that are around now or
will be returning to our area soon. The children have already been telling me of
the different birds they hear as they leave for school in the morning. Other
areas that we’ll explore include characteristics of birds, life cycle, how
beaks are adapted to the kinds of food they eat and recognizing kinds of birds
by sight, as well as sound.
With spring weather approaching, we
will be turning our attention to all the wonderful things that happen during
this season. A special focus will be the
world of plants. It is a vibrant and
exciting time of year, and I look forward to all the interesting activities
associated with it.
It is my wish to be as
available as possible to all of you. If
you want to meet with me or have a phone conversation, leave a message at the
school office or email me (I will be glad to give my e-mail address on an
individual basis), and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Debbi and I
are committed to providing your children with a positive Montessori experience.
Children’s House South with Angelika,
Alicia, Gerri and Rosemary * (see note below about Rosemary)
The days are
getting longer and spring’s warm air is teasing us from time to time. Hopefully we will be able to dispense with
snow pants and boots and our playground will be dry enough so the children can
run and play outside daily!
like to welcome our new student, Ashleigh, and her family.
starting our bird unit this week and when you are outside with your child,
listen with him or her to the chorus of bird songs all around us. Chances are, your child may be able to
recognize a few familiar sounds. We have
new activities in our classroom. We will be making special bird booklets and
are learning the names and colors of the feathery friends that live in our
neighborhoods and wooded surroundings.
Our class has a very special book that shows the children many colorful
birds form the different continents of the world. The book also has recorded
birdcalls and we can listen to the many different bird songs. The children love
this activity! Our classrooms bird nests
are examined with magnifying glasses and we are learning about the different
adaptations of birds to their specific environments, such as their particular
feet, beaks and diets.
next several weeks we will be doing an activity called “Special Friend for the
Day”. I will be sending home a form for
you to fill out together with your child.
After you return the form, each day a different child will be chosen to
be the “Special Friend” and the other children will be asked to find out who
the special friend is. This is a very exciting and meaningful way to celebrate
each child’s uniqueness.
We have also
read a beautiful book about a young boy, Ahn, who struggles with anger. The
story gave us a great start to talk about what happens to us when we get angry
and what we can do to learn to deal with it.
The children were fascinated and eagerly participated in the story. Often children struggle with negative
feelings but they do not know what to do when it happens to them. It is up to
us adults to help them manage and acquire skills to overcome negative emotions
such as anger.
Day is coming up next week. The children
are looking forward to showing what they are learning and how they spend their
time at school.
let me know if you have questions or concerns.
Extended Day with Angelika, Alicia
children have been working very hard in the afternoons. It is such a pleasure to see how independent
they have become and the focus and effort they put into all their work. The children really enjoy reading our many
books and with each week they have become stronger readers. Often our afternoon begins with group reading
where we all sit in a circle and read aloud simultaneously, each at their own
level. On Monday Ms. Susan joins us for
Readers workshop where she introduces the students to new books and activities
that encourage oral expression and writing responses. She alternates the weeks
with listening and thinking games.
aloud book is “Mr. Popper’s Penguin” a funny story about a house painter and
his family who end up with a penguin living in their house.
continuing author’s chair and as you
may guess our dictated stories now are becoming longer, contain more detail,
and are getting more interesting.
our Montessori teacher in training, and Ms Gerri are working with me in the
afternoon and they often can be found reading individually with students or
You may have
noticed that children do not bring home worksheets on a daily basis. Often
their work in the classroom does not include a written product as we put
greater emphasis on the process of your child’s work. Please feel free to touch base with me if you
have questions about your child’s progress and experience at school.
children give me great pleasure. Thank you for entrusting them to me.
Rosemary has been the assistant
teacher in Children’s House South for a long time, and we are missing her. Her husband, Ray, was in a serious accident
last month, and Rosemary has been with him as he recovers. We are happy to hear that he is progressing
well; he was able to return home this past weekend. We know she is where she needs to be right
now, will return to PVMS if and when she can, and we wish them both well.