December/January 2017 CLASSROOM NEWS
TODDLERS with Mary Ann and Cynthia,
Carla, Brianna and Rebecca
like to welcome our new classmate James to the toddler community.
we concluded the topic of Fall. The children painted a turkey for the wall in
our eating area in honor of Thanksgiving. I’m sure everyone went home with at
least one turkey picture. We looked at leaves from the trees in our play area
under magnification and noted that all the gingko tree leaves fell off all at
once. The children enjoyed the many stories about animals hibernating and how
people prepare for the coming of winter. We read the funny and beautiful story
called “The Hat” by Jan Brett. Before we left for the Thanksgiving holiday, the
children shared pie on Pie Day. It appeared that many of them were not familiar
with pie. Some of the children wouldn’t try it at all but some ate the apples
or the crust.
we only have a few short weeks. During this time we will talk about the
traditions of different cultures. The December break is a long time in the life
of a toddler and some may have a difficult time when they return. It usually
takes only a few days to get back into the routine. Sometimes it is helpful to
talk about school and their classmates so they understand they will be
We wish everyone
a joyful and peaceful holiday season.
HOUSE EAST with Tara and Sara
As we prepare to bid farewell to the calendar year, we’re
also preparing to say goodbye to Nico and his family who are moving to
California. Our plan is to send him off
with a loaf of our bread and a card signed by all of us. Good luck with the move, Nico. We will miss you!
We have a new tool in our classroom called the Wish Well
Board. It is a large, round, metal tray
with a giant red heart in the center.
Around its perimeter are small picture cards, one for each child. When the children arrive in the classroom,
they remove their picture card and place it in a glass jar. The remaining picture cards are placed in the
center of the red heart and then we wish them well from our hearts to
theirs. This process is particularly
helpful as the children try to understand an absent friend. Nico’s card will remain in the center of the
heart and we will wish him well every day!
Saying goodbye is a skill that we practice each day. At the end of the morning, we gather together
in the middle of the classroom. Most
days we sing songs and read a picture book.
The last song is always the Goodbye Song:
Well, it’s time to say goodbye to my friends, (repeat) Well,
it’s time to say goodbye so smile and wink an eye.
It’s time to say goodbye to my friends.
Then we put on our outdoor clothing…
We have a song that helps us to order our application of
outerwear. The final line is “…last come
the mittens, last come the mittens…” It
is our special request that your child has mittens or be almost proficient in
putting on gloves. Also, please send in
a pair of indoor shoes, like slippers, so that your child can change out of
their wet boots and into something dry and cozy. Thanks in advance for your attention to these
As mentioned in our previous newsletter, we have been
studying solids, liquids and gases. You
may recall last month that we watched a liquid change to a solid as we made
butter. Weather permitting, we will
watch snow change from a solid to a liquid.
There are two independent activities that support this
study. One is a sorting activity and the
other is called Sink or Float. In this
activity, the child places small items, one at a time, in a container of water
in order to see if they sink or float.
Looking ahead, we will soon be cutting snowflakes out of
tracing paper. Since snowflakes are
six-sided, we will take the opportunity to learn about hexagons as well as
other geometric shapes that emerge as we fold the paper for this art
activity. Some of the children will
immediately notice that these shapes appear in other activities in the classroom. These connections make learning effortless
Warm wishes to you and your family this holiday season!
CHILDREN’S HOUSE NORTH with Sheryl and Deb
Thank you for sending boots, hats, mittens and
snow pants in for your children LABELED!!
In the classroom, we have been busy learning
about differences (not just regarding holidays): celebrating the difference in
people -families and children around the world. What we learn is that
love, smiles, pets, homes, foods, etc. may not look the same as ours but they
mean the same no matter where you are in the world.
Classroom materials are off the shelf and the
children have such a nice work flow. When it is time to clean up I hear
that "sigh" and it is music to my ears. This means they love
what they're doing and want more time.
At recess we have been going on nature walks and
we get to see the red-tailed hawks quite often. Did you know they have eight
times our vision abilities and can see in color? They left the school
after the tornado and eventually came back. The children delight in the
experience and there are always many teachable moments on these nature walks.
Thank you to all the families who provide us
with nutritious snack.
Thank you for the HUGS donations.
We wish you a happy holiday season!
Sheryl and Debbie
CHILDREN’S HOUSE SOUTH with Angelika, Rosemary and Alicia
The month of
November just flew by.
Thank you to
everyone who attended their child’s conference.
I am aware of how busy all your lives are, and how it can be difficult
to schedule time off of both school and work. It was a pleasure being with all
the returning and new families to discuss the most important part of your
lives- your children!
We have been
working hard and the children have settled in wonderfully. The classroom is
peaceful and everyone is engaged. Much learning is taking place.
By this time
of year the children are familiar with many materials and they begin to branch
out more within the curriculum areas. Also, many are now able to focus for
longer periods of time and they begin to challenge themselves by exploring
It is great
to observe the changes in the children’s social development as well. As the
comfort level rises within the classroom, friendships begin to deepen and new
We have been
lucky enough to be able to enjoy outdoor playtime and many children have been
having fun playing soccer together. The younger children love collecting the
many acorns into wheelbarrows and push them around the playground.
is a great time to remember the less fortunate. We have been collecting
non-perishable food items as well as HUGS items (Hats, Underwear, Gloves,
Socks). Your children are so very proud
when they remember to bring an item to donate.
I would like
to take a moment to express a sincere thank you to my assistants Rosemary and
Gerri, for all the hard work they put into the classroom. Without their efforts
it would be impossible for me to perform my work. I appreciate all the little and big things
they do throughout the environment. Their quiet presence is reassuring to both
the children and myself. Thanks Rosemary and Gerri!
This is a
busy time of year please be safe. We
wish you and your families a joyful and peaceful holiday season.
CHILDREN’S HOUSE EXTENDED DAY with
Miss Sheryl and Miss Angelika
afternoons have been incredibly busy and productive. Your children are
progressing in all areas and are really moving through the many activities in
students are becoming quite comfortable and confident in their own writing.
They particularly enjoy drawing pictures and writing their personal responses
to stories we read together. We see
wonderful progress in their listening skills, comprehension and their ability
to draw conclusions. The younger students draw pictures and dictate their
responses all while practicing oral language and expression in preparation of
their own writing.
We have been
enjoying author’s chair. The children love this activity and we cannot wait for
everyone to have a turn.
curriculum is in full swing as well. The
children are working daily on the Bank Game, using the squaring chains or
practicing the multiplication tables with the red Pythagoras board. Some of our
younger students love the clock materials or pull out the large puzzle maps.
We all enjoy
our afternoon time with each other very much, and often before we know it is
time to put our work away.
YOGA (Elementary grades) with Lisa
Boards in yoga class are almost complete and will be sent home before the
holiday break. The boards help the
children to reflect on what brings joy and peace into their lives, as well as
their goals for future endeavors.
In one of
our classes this past month I introduced Yoga Nidra, or yoga sleep, which is a
guided relaxation technique to help the body and mind relax on a deeper
level. Of course, lots of fun poses,
deep breathing, and short meditations were also included.
LOWER ELEMENTARY with
Sherrell and Kim
We are busy and it is good.
Students have pretty much settled into our classroom’s rhythm and we are doing
a lot of very good work.
Student independence is of
enormous importance, so Kim and I work hard to strike a balance with our guidance
and direction. At times, it can be hard to let students stumble in their
work, but making mistakes is critical if they are to learn to recover from
them. When a student asks for help, many times that request is answered with a
question, “What have you tried?” or “What do you think you should do?”
The goal is to get students to persevere and to develop their resilience. So
often, students say, “I don’t get it,” and we press on to discover that they
haven’t applied any strategies before their appeal. It can feel uncomfortable
to watch students flounder so sometimes we, as well-meaning grownups, rush in
to rescue a child where no rescue was really warranted. Instead, a guide
question or gentle reminder would get the child over the hump and into success
Lower Elementary students are doing
amazing math work right now. At any given point during work cycle,
children are working on different kinds and levels of math work, with and
without material support (ask about how we use the red and white counters).
Most have readily undertaken the challenge to practice different kinds of math
each day, and are actively talking about doing computation, fluency, and
problem solving-practice. Students are also aware of the level of challenge
they are choosing – not too easy and not too hard.
These are things we are
discussing and revisiting on a regular basis as some students struggle to make
appropriate work choices. It is very tempting to avoid challenging work and
only choose work that “comes easy” to you, so we talk about choosing those in
between other, more challenging, choices.
We have been learning the logistical expectations of reading
groups – how to be prepared, how to participate, how to complete assignments on
time. The different groups are scheduled to meet between 2 and 4 times each
In addition, we are working on
our summarizing skills. There is a difference between a summary and a
retelling and many students are working on this distinction. Some students are
using SWBST to guide their summarizing.
Somebody is the main character or characters,
Wanted describes their goal,
But reminds us of the conflict or problem
So leads us to the actions taken to solve the problem, and
Then cues us to the final resolution or solution of the story.
Cosmic Education and Cultural interdependency lend
themselves to learning about how people, near and far, are similar even if they
may not seem so at first glance. The Fundamental Human Needs are shared by all
peoples, even if the ways we meet those needs differ. To that end, I welcome
The Holiday Season enthusiastically and use it to broaden students’ sense of
connection to others.
For the past several years, I
have enjoyed sharing Horrible Harry and the Holidaze with my students.
It is a great fact and fiction combination and integration of Social Studies
and Literacy. We are learning about FIVE different winter holidays and creating
a display for each one: Three Kings’ Day, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, and
Korean New Year. Students are welcome to share their own holiday traditions
with the class, but students are not obligated to do so. We will also discuss
other holidays and different ways of celebrating familiar holidays; for example
the different ways people celebrate Christmas and the associated symbols such
as the poinsettia, wreath, candle, Yule log and gingerbread.
Check your child’s folder daily as there may be notes or forms that need your
Send in outdoor gear labeled with your child’s name. We go outside
up to twice a day, even when it’s cold. It is also really helpful if the
children have spare clothes, especially socks as they often get wet on snowy
Please have the children here close to 8:15 so they can participate in our
morning recess and morning meeting. Participating in these activities greatly
impact your student’s day. Students are tardy after 8:35, and may miss specials
if they arrive too late.
Label lunches that contain nut products
so we can keep the children with allergies as safe as possible. Read the labels
for snack ingredients as well.
If your child has a change in plans – before or after school, pickup, absence,
please send a note or call the office. We cannot take the children’s word for
In this season of celebrations of
light, we celebrate the light of realization and pride that comes when a child
figures “it” out on their own and the light of perseverance and determination
from not giving up.
Sherrell and Kim
UPPER ELEMENTARY with Nicole and
With January comes the opportunity to
look at things anew. It is a time that many of us choose to examine the
past year and evaluate what went well, and what might need some attention to
improve. Self-reflection is a very important part of being a Montessori
guide, and student. Looking at our successes, mistakes and failures so
that we might learn how to improve our practice, move closer to a goal, and
grow as human beings is a big part of what makes the Montessori philosophy so
special. Giving the answer to a friend, doing something for another, or
taking care of their work can feel more helpful, or easier than giving
guidance, asking questions or allowing someone to fail. But we learn
through experience, and if someone else is clearing the way, doing it for us,
or cleaning up our mess all we learn is that we don’t have to try, someone else
will do it for us, or worse yet, that we are not capable of doing it alone.
Maria Montessori tells us, “We must help the
child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art
of those who aspire to serve the spirit.”
Every few weeks the
children sit down to a conference with me. We examine the work that they
have done since the last time we met, and discuss the ease of the work, whether
it is liked or not, if the child understands, how they feel about the work,
what went well, and what went not so well, was it completed in a timely manner.
I might ask more poignant questions about something that I noticed was
particularly difficult for a child. “What did you learn about this work?” “Did
you allot enough time to complete it to your satisfaction?” “What would you do
differently if you had to do it again?” I also ask if there is anything
with which the child might want further support. More often than not, the
answer is “Nope.”
Weekly Reflections is
another way that the children are asked to examine the way that they do things.
Sometimes it might be to recall how they spend a holiday, sometimes it is
about moral dilemmas, sometimes it is about how they believe they contribute to
having a peaceful classroom, or what they could do in the future to ensure that
our classroom stays peaceful and productive. This small piece of weekly
homework is posted in Classroom, and many of the children enjoy thinking about
and responding to these questions. There is no judgment. There is
no wrong answer. It is an opportunity to reflect, and write. Maybe this
will influence the choices they make in the future, maybe it is just homework
for them. They each will take what they want from it.
Recently the children
completed their first long-term research project about a famous explorer or an
implement that was crucial in the overseas exploration that occurred during the
Renaissance. They were able to choose their subject of research, and were given
guidelines and expectations for the completed report. An undertaking of
this nature requires an immense amount of organization, time management,
writing skill and reading comprehension to complete successfully. They
were not simply given the project and told off you go. We discussed
timing together, and created due dates for research and rough drafts to help
pace the project and give short term goals. They were told to submit a
rough draft in which they believed that they had completed the project but for
a few small tweaks. I went over this work, and noted areas that needed
attention, asking the children to please check in with me about any comments
that they wanted to discuss. They then returned to this work to make the
necessary additions, or re-organize the information that they had collected.
The first time that we embark upon something new there is always a lot to
learn. Examining the rough draft and asking questions is another form of
reflection. The children begin to see the importance of self-editing and
revision, that reading and re-reading our work is essential in order to ensure
that it is free from error, that changes we have made fit into what we had
written before and that there is flow to what we have written. Expository
writing of this nature is an essential skill that is used throughout one’s
academic career, and there is always more to learn. Once all of the
conventions are understood, we work on creating an interesting voice. How
do we show the story with our words, instead of simply telling it? How do
we engage our reader while maintaining the voice of an expository report? What
makes a good introductory paragraph? How do we close our report?
Expository writing is complex, and many mistakes are usually made before
we truly excel at this craft.
So, while the children
are always given the opportunity to reflect, and rethink, they continue to work
on the rest of the academics in the classroom. Some are finding their way
through trinomial squaring, soon to be looking into square rooting, others are
gaining a deeper understanding of the decimal system and place value, some are
finding their way through factors and multiples. The older children are
figuring out the Pythagorean theory, the younger ones looking at dividing
triangles into fractions, and the beginnings of perimeter.
Our second novel study
was even more successful than the first. More of the children giving complete
answers, with proof and explanations. Catherine Called Birdy, The
Cricket in Times Square and Julie of the Wolves were all
stories of self-discovery; deciding “where do I belong?” This upcoming month we
will be looking at more novels with similar themes, of “Where did I come from?”
“Who decides who I become?” The House of the Scorpion, Maniac Magee
and Fever 1793 are all set in very different time periods, but each book
takes a look into self-identity.
Constructing the self is no small work,
and it is what takes place for these children every day in their classroom.
"The child strives to assimilate
his environment and from such efforts springs the deep-seated unity of his
personality. This prolonged and gradual labour is a continual process through
which the spirit enters into possession of its instrument. It must continually
maintain its sovereignty by its own strength, lest movement give place to
inertia or become uniform and mechanical. It must continually command, so that
movement, removed henceforth from the guidance of a fixed instinct, shall not
lose itself in chaos. Hence a creation that is always in process of
realization, an energy always freshly constructive, the unceasing labour of
spiritual incarnation. Thus the human personality forms itself by itself, like
the embryo, and the child becomes the creator of the man, the father of the
man." ~Maria Montessori
Spanish with Paula
the children are settling into the Spanish classes quite well. A routine has been established for each
class. Most are setting time aside in
the classroom to practice written Spanish work.
November and December are also short months, filled with the excitement
of the holidays! We have been busy and excited with our Spanish work as well.
to enjoy spending time with my youngest amigos in the Toddler classroom. We sing songs mostly in English with a few
choice Spanish words thrown in. The
children are used to me speaking another language; but, have not yet begun to
repeat any Spanish words. Time will
tell! Peace and joy for the holidays!
HOUSES—The preschoolers have been practicing school vocabulary in
November. We located some of the vocab
in the classrooms. We played the
matching game with the target vocabulary. We created a classroom practicing the
words as well. Prepositions (on/encima
and under/debajo) were our next topic!
The children enjoyed practicing these with bugs, bunnies and puff
balls. I have collected some tiny tables
and chairs over the years. They come in
handy for preposition work as well. Near
the Thanksgiving break, we reviewed our colors with a turkey project. At the end of the month, it was on to family
vocabulary (nino/nina). We continued
with the family in early December with madre and padre. The children enjoyed throwing a small paper
plate up in the air and predicting whether the madre or padre would land
face-up! We created munecos de nieve
(snowmen) for our winter projects. As
was written on the bottom of the snowmen creation, “Felices Fiestas” or Happy
practiced some “face” vocabulary using a pumpkin and some plastic
features. The children enjoyed making
funny faces while practicing the words.
I enjoyed switching the pumpkin features and having the children tell
what was “funny” about the pumpkin. They
created their own pumpkins using scrap paper.
The children got some practice with beginning sounds for our school
vocabulary. They were able to locate and
circle school words using the initial sound.
Next they matched pictures to the school words. The children enjoyed
making a paper backpack with their school words as well. Their Spanish notebooks are filling up with
vocabulary! We reviewed colors with a
turkey project, as in the Children’s House classes. They used initial sounds to begin to “read”
the colors en espanol! For the December
holidays, we talked about amigos. The children created a winter scene and
“decorated” gingerbread boy and girl friends for the picture. Although the making of snowflakes was a
challenge, they were all able to create two beautiful ones! The look of wonder on their faces was
priceless!! Happy Holidays! Felices Fiestas!
ELEMENTARY—The children continue to memorize short poetry in Levels One and
Two. Level One worked on “Pito, Pito, Colorito”
the bunny who goes off to school. Level
Two worked on a short poem about falling leaves, “Las Hojas”. Level Three has graduated to a short story
using colors and the school vocabulary, “Un Arco Iris de Colores.” At the beginning of November, the children
studied the Latin American holiday, “Dia de Los Muertos.” We heard stories about the special three day
event and created some fun art work in honor of the holiday. Level One decorated
colorful skulls. Level Two decorated a
skull mask. Level Three created a
mobile. Next it was on to school
vocabulary. We practiced these words
with the definite articles as well as colors.
Prepositions were introduced and practiced with the vocabulary as
well. We took a break from “school” just
before Thanksgiving with stories and some turkey art projects. We created art for the poetry that we had
been learning as well. At the beginning
of December, we began our family vocabulary which will continue when we return
from winter break in January. We kept
busy with holiday projects! Level One heard a Mexican folktale and created a poinsettia
project. Level Two heard the lullaby,
“Nana, Nanita” and created a colorful bird.
Level Three celebrated “The festival of light” by reading a story about
“:Las Posadas” and creating a paper lantern.
Wishing all of our families peace and contentment for the holidays!
Elementary—We continue to read just about every class! Level Four is working on “Grande y Mas
Grande” a story about comparisons. Level
Five has continued to work on questions about the Halloween story “Jorgito” and
has begun a science story, “El Caballito de Mar.” Level Six has begun the traditional Level Six
story “Un Viaje a Mexico.” All levels
studied “El Dia de Los Muertos” at the beginning of November with stories and
art projects. Level Four symbolized some
information about the holiday and created a colorful skeleton. Level Five read in both English and Spanish
and created a ghost pencil. Level Six
read about the holidays as well and created a skeleton using Q-tip cotton
swabs. Fun for all!! Level Fours have
studied school vocabulary with the definite article and color agreement. Prepositions have been introduced and
practiced with the verb “estar” and the school vocab. Family vocabulary was next. More study of definite articles, colors, and
prepositions! As the December holidays
neared, the children symbolized a story about poinsettias and created a poinsettia
pinwheel. Level Five students also studied school vocabulary with definite
articles, colors, and prepositions. They
added school subjects, verbs and telling time, also. In December, the students translated a poem
about the custom “La Rama.” They created
a “rama” using colorful paper flowers and glitter. Level Six has been hard at work reviewing
vocabulary and learning new grammar for the chapter book reading! We have been
doing a lot of verb work and they are getting comfortable with a conjugation
chart! We have begun to read “Un Viaje a
Mexico”. The children locate vocabulary, discuss grammar for each chapter, read
in Spanish, translate into English and answer questions about the story en
espanol as well! Impressive! We took a break from all of that hard works by
studying about the tradition of “aguinaldos”. The students symbolized
information about the tradition and created a “Aguinaldo” for each of their
classmates! Happy Holidays!!
JUNIOR GREAT BOOKS ; LOWER
ELEMENTARY, TWO AND THREE
students worked on the Haitian folktale, “Bouki Cuts Wood.” We heard the story
twice—once while working with vocabulary and once answering questions about the
story as I read. The children enjoyed
acting out the part of the story when Bouki is “dead.” They had to wake me up using just words! The
class worked on a poem “When I am Still.”
Our work was assembled into a folder to take home. We began “Frog Went A-Travelin’”. We also studied vocabulary for this
story. The children created a picture of
the frog “traveling” by duck.” We heard
the story again and discussed what the frog wanted. Just before winter break we created a
reindeer using paper and clothespins for the classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed
Reindeer”. We talked about how our words
can be used to help or hurt people; to include or exclude people. We all agreed that being different is an
interesting and good thing!
students heard and read the Swedish tale, “Nail Soup.” We talked about how the main character Carl
treated the old woman. Was he treating
her fairly or unfairly? We worked on
essays about a special person in our lives.
As the children answered questions, they were able to write a paragraph
about a special person. They also
created their own recipes for “Nail Soup” –just not with a nail!! Just before break, the children heard the
famous Christmas poem, “The Night Before Christmas.” We discussed the strange nature of rhyming
words in the English language! At this
writing, I am hoping to begin the Indian folktale, “The Jackal and the Partridge”
before we break for the holidays!
Peace to all
of you! Enjoy your families!
AFTERSCHOOL with Debbi and Rebecca
seasons change, in afterschool we’ve been enjoying going outside to collect
acorns and finding the biggest leaves we can.
We also watch the wildlife, such as the geese and the hawks, out on the
field. When we are inside, we are
usually found doing all sorts of crafts.
Bracelets are a popular year-round activity and we are currently making
crafts for the winter season.
Upper and Lower Elementary Art with Christie
Season greetings everyone. In Art we are
continuing our study of the “Seven Elements of Art” which are line, color,
space, value, shape, form and texture. We have just completed the lesson on
color. This lesson had three different components; a work book assignment,
color wheel design and water color paintings. We started this lesson by
discussing color and introducing color vocabulary (hue, tint, color and value).
Using our Element of Art work books students were introduced to the different
types of colors: primary (red, blue, and yellow-the only colors that cannot be
made by mixing other colors), secondary (orange, purple and green-these colors
are made by mixing two primary colors together) and tertiary colors (a tertiary
color is made by mixing a primary and a secondary color together for example
For the second part of this lesson the
children color mixed using watercolors in order to create secondary and
tertiary color wheels. The final assignment of the color lesson was that each
student had to paint a picture (their choice of subject matter) in water color. They only had the primary colors of red,
yellow and blue, and needed to mix every color that was needed for their
paintings. As part of the requirements of this assignment they had to use at
least two primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. Great time and care was taken with this
lesson by the Elementary students and they were often fascinated by the results
that were achieved not only within their own work but also by the results of
their fellow classmates.
We are currently working on seasonal
projects that celebrate family and if completed in time the students will be
taking them home for the winter break.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION (Elementary Classes) with Mike Desroches
We have been
working on many different skills, from ball handling and foot skills, to the
importance of working with a team. The
students are learning about having individual skills, but also using those
skills in a group.