Upper Elementary with Nicole and Terri


The countdowns have already begun. Eight more weeks, or 35 more days, or 280 more hours of school left!  This time of year, the children are filled with energy, some of it excitement and some of it nerves.  There are so many events coming up, the weather is warm and delightful, and we are in our last push to get everything done!

The children are working hard with Mr. Hywel to finish up the last touches of their musical numbers for the Spring Performance.  They are nervous that they don’t have it all right, but it will all come together by the time May 25th swings around. The songs find their ways into the classroom from time to time as the children joyfully sing or hum the now familiar tunes, it’s bound to be a night to remember.

We are deeply working on the application of what we have learned over the school year.  Large scale projects are coming to fruition as children work to create a comprehensive amalgamation of what they have learned about a particular time period in American history.  Soon we will be adding information to a huge timeline, to get a snapshot of each time period, and see what big events occurred over the last 300 years. We recently went on a field trip to the Old Sturbridge Village, and learned all about life in America in the 1830s.  The children made and ate fire baked cookies, called Jumbles, talked to a blacksmith, a potter and a printer, and made some interesting discoveries about the challenges of life nearly 200 years ago!

The children have begun to embark on an independent novel study.  While they created a simple version of the independent novel study over the December break, they will have about six weeks to create an in-depth look at a novel of their choosing (with some guidelines) to create a display of their work. We have done a lot of work this year on reading between the lines of literature.  Looking for inferences, and deeper meaning than what the words say.  The children have looked into theme, tone and character development, and this will be their opportunity to show how well they understand these concepts with an independent work.

The youngest in our classroom continue to learn about the classification of living things, and are currently in the midst of a challenging project in which they need to fully classify an organism from species up to Kingdom.  They will be emulating a work in the classroom that will serve as a guide, and applying their knowledge of PowerPoint to create a finished project.  The eldest members of the Upper El community are about to delve into the study of the endocrine and reproductive systems.  There has been much chatter about this impending event with giggles, and beet-red faces in accompaniment.  These systems do very important jobs for us as human beings, in regulating our hormones, and allowing us to create life.  It is important that we are able to talk about these systems as easily as we do the respiratory system, or the digestive system.


“Independence is not a static condition; it is a continuous conquest, and in order to reach not only freedom, but also strength, and the perfecting of one’s powers, it is necessary to follow this path of unremitting toil.”  (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind)

Every work we do in the classroom has the underlying purpose of giving the tools to each child so that he or she can become more independent.  We would not hand a baby a knife and ask them to prepare their own food, because they are not ready for this yet, but certainly a child of five or six can be handed a tool of this type, learn to respect the danger and the power of it, and be shown how to use it wisely for cutting food. The children reveal their readiness for each new step of independence in their own ways. We do our best, to provide scaffolding so that they can climb as high as they are able with foot-holds, and provide a safe environment, so that if they make a mistake, if they fail, they do not fall too far, and they can get up and continue their climb.  This year has already been quite a journey.  It went by in a flurry.  The children have so much faith and trust in me, that together we would find the right path. They reached out their hands to help me so much in this, my first year at PVMS, and I am truly grateful.


May’s Events:

Sunday May 21 - Spring Performance Rehearsal

Thursday May 25 - Spring Performance

Monday May 29 - Memorial Day School Closed

Toddler News with Mary Ann, Cynthia, Carla, Rebecca and Brianna

April in the toddler room was all about spring, even though it felt like February. We made our own version of spring inside. The children painted and decorated a giant egg for our eating area. They also created spring inspired art work with stickers and egg picture decorating. Our stories centered on signs of spring, rain and baby animals. The children learned some new spring songs about growing a garden and the returning birds. You may hear these songs instead of the ever popular ‘Train Song”. While outside we observed birds returning, buds on our ginkgo tree and early flowers near our door.

Earth Day is always a fun day for the toddler class. Our Spanish teacher Paula helped the children pot plants to bring home. In honor of Earth Day we read stories about the importance of caring for our earth. To illustrate the concept of recycling the class planted seeds in pots made from old newspapers. The plants will be sent home as soon as they begin to grow.

As we shed our jackets, long pants and long sleeve shirts it is important to remember sun protection. Please apply sun screen before coming to school. Sneakers are the best shoe for school. Open shoes allow the play yard wood chips into the shoes and hurts their feet and climbing becomes unsafe.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms. Enjoy your special day.   


SPANISH with Paula

Las vacaciones en abril make the month of Spanish classes seem so much shorter!  We are busy with various projects concerning animals, clothes, and food.  The weather has begun to turn pleasant and little minds are wandering!  Onward!!  The year is disappearing!


TODDLER—We are enjoying time spent on the circle singing our various Spanish songs.  Truth be told, the teachers do most of the actual singing, but the children enjoy the movement which goes along with the songs.  We sing “Old Macdonald” (En La Granja), Uno, Dos, Tres, (Counting song), La Tia Monica (parts of the body), Cabeza, Hombros, Piernas, Pies (Head, Shoulders, Knees and toes) and of course “Buenos Dias”. The children also enjoy the train song, sung mostly en ingles.  When the time comes to stop, look and listen, we sing en espanol!


CHILDREN’S HOUSES—We have been practicing food vocabulary and animal vocabulary this month.  Back by popular demand----The Raton Game!  Can you guess what the mischievous little raton has “borrowed” from your kitchen?  No peeking!  When it is your turn to be the “raton”, don’t forget to wake up Paula so that she can guess what is missing!  Fun had by all!  The children talked about their pets and we practiced their Spanish names.  We heard a story about Charlie Brown (Carlos Café) and his search for a pet.  Earth Day rounded out the month of April.  At the planting station, I try to speak as much espanol as I can.  Happy Spring!


KINDERGARTEN---We have been practicing food vocabulary this month.  We played the matching game to practice.  We completed a vocabulary list for our Spanish folders.  We did a little project with fruit and a “raton” basket.  The children enjoyed using crayons to shade the basket as opposed to coloring it.  I encouraged the children to use the project to play The Raton Game (See Children’s House Spanish) as a means of practicing the vocabulary.  We used fruit vocabulary to play a game.  On the last Wednesday of April, we did an Earth Day project in the afternoon Kindergarten class.  The children assembled a little libro about planting.  We did an art project to go along with the book. The children are excited about bringing home their Spanish folders for the summer!


LOWER ELEMENTARY---Stories and poetry have continued to be a part of the Spanish classes.  Level One finished up “Pin Pon” and went on to the poem “Cinco Pollitos.”  Level Two is working on the lengthy poem, “El Reloj”.  We created a clock to help us practice.  Level Three read their clothes story, “Que ME Pongo?” to the Kindergarten class this month and will most likely have completed “Mi Mascota”, a story about pets.  We have been hard at work with our animal vocabulary this month.  Pet vocab was review for all, as it was introduced in Kindergarten.  Level One added farm animals.  Level Two reviewed farm and went on the forest animals. Level Three reviewed farm and forest and moved on to jungle animals.  Each level practiced this vocabulary with definite articles, colors, and prepositions.  Level One learned “Old McDonald Had a Farm” en espanol, using the farm vocabulary and describing each animal using two colors.  Level Two created a rainbow forest whose inhabitants were also described with two colors!  Level Three wrote a small libro about three jungle animals.  They had to describe each using two or more colors.  They had to write about where they lived and what they ate.  They also learned how to make comparisons in Spanish.


UPPER ELEMENTARY---Reading, translating and writing continue to be an important part of Spanish classes.  Level Four worked on a story about friends, “Mi Amigo.”  Level Five worked on a story about whales, “Las Ballenas.”  Level Six continued on with their chapter book, “Un Viaje a Mexico.”  Each story provides lots of opportunity to practice grammar and vocabulary, as well as to compare English /Spanish sentence structure.  Level Four completed a clothes project and wrote about it en espanol.  Before going on to animal vocabulary, we reviewed all of this year’s vocabulary.  Use it or lose it!!  We reviewed pet, farm, forest, jungle animal vocab before tackling sea vocabulary and habitat words.  We practiced our new vocabulary with definite articles, colors and prepositions.  We created a sea picture and wrote about it.  Level Five worked on clothes vocabulary this month.  We practiced with colors and definite articles as well as demonstrative adjectives.  We learned the verbs “llevar” (to wear) and comprar (to buy) with this vocabulary.  We reviewed the verb “ser”.  Can’t write color sentences without “ser”!! The children created a short story using weather, seasons and clothes vocabulary.  They chose a character and “dressed” it according to the weather and season.  Careful!!  Does everything agree????  Spanish is kind of picky.  Words just have to agree in number and gender!  Level Six continues to work on their Mexico story.  We review grammar before each class.  We find and highlight the vocabulary provided in the actual story.  We find additional vocabulary necessary for translation.  We discuss and practice grammar points in each chapter.  We finally get around to reading orally and translating.  Lots of work!  Just when they think they have finished, they get to answer five questions about the story at the end of the chapter,


JUNIOR GREAT BOOKS Lower El with Paula


LEVEL TWO—We finished up the amusing story of the Blue Moose.  The children read the story to me and we discussed questions about the characters along the way.  We studied page 118 and found three reasons why Mr. Breton thought that his moose friend was lonely for the life of a wild moose.  We filled in the blanks about the story.  Filling in the blanks proved to be a challenge.  The children had the ideas; but, not the spelling.  We practiced looking for the words in the story!  Funny how that happens!  The children wrote a postcard to Mr. Breton from The Blue Moose. Of course we collected all of our work into a booklet to take home.  Happy reading!


LEVEL THREE—We also worked on a rather amusing story from West Africa, “Anansi’s Fishing Expedition.”  We underlined sentences or phrases which showed why it was so easy for Anene to trick Anansi into doing all of the work.  Each student answered a question about the story and we discussed the answers as a class.  Finally, we wrote about what we thought about Anansi and what happens to him at the end of the story.   Work to folder.  Folder to home!  Happy reading!


Children’s House North with Susan and Debbi

What a wonderful turnout we had for Grandparent’s Day.  We enjoyed meeting so many “Nonnies” and “Papas” and I know the children had a great time showing their loved ones all the things they like to do in school.

The children continue to be busy in the classroom, making choices from the different curriculum areas.  In the practical life area, they can be seen squeezing oranges to make their own juice, washing the big mirror and sewing shapes, among many other activities.  The geometric solids are a popular material in the sensorial area.  Children are learning the names of solid shapes such as cube, cone and sphere, and they enjoy playing a game of identifying the solid by feel, rather than by sight.  Another game we play is covering the solids with a cloth. When I take one away, the child has to figure out which solid is missing. This helps them not only learn the vocabulary, but helps develop short-term memory, as well.

In the math area, the youngest children are learning the basics of counting accurately, identifying the numerals and associating quantity with numeral.  With that foundation, they can go on to learn the operations, the concept of place value and counting as high as 1,000 with the cubing chains.  Older children use their skills in math and reading to solve story problems.

Happily, there is a lot of reading going on in the classroom. Beginning with learning the names and sounds of letters, children then go on to listen for beginning and ending sounds of words, put sounds together to make words, learn some basic sight words and before you know it, they are reading. At this level, most children’s writing involves “invented spelling”. That is, they write the letters for the sounds they hear, which is quite often not standard spelling. As they read more and learn rules (and exceptions) for spelling, their writing will more closely approach standard spelling.  Right now, they are focused on getting their ideas in writing.

With the warmer weather come flowers, green grass and leaves on trees, and so we are turning our attention to the world of plants.  In the classroom, we will be observing the growth of roots, stems and leaves; planting seeds and caring for seedlings; and tasting edible seed sprouts. Hopefully, we will also be able to work in our raised bed outside and plant a small garden there. 

I am looking for parents or grandparents who have some free time in the mornings.  From time to time, we have projects where an extra pair of hands would be helpful.  If you have some time and would like to help out in the classroom, please let us know.

Happy Spring!


Music with Hywel


Children's houses:  We have been working on our songs for the Spring Performance, but have also been doing some aural training.  This involves a lot of listening and repetition followed by a response from the children. They have done a good job so far and we will be continuing with this type of training through the end of the year. 


Lower and Upper elementary:  We have been continuing to do recorder work and the children have made some good progress.  We have also been working hard at preparing for the Spring Performance as the songs we have chosen are not easy!  We have also done some harmony work and aural training using call and response rhythms and melodies.  The children have been working at coming up with and learning actions for one of the performance numbers which has gone really well!


Toddler room:


We are continuing to work on songs that the children are familiar with including Twinkle Twinkle, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Old Macdonald and others.  Along with these we are also using songs to learn to listen and follow instructions.




Children’s House South with Angelika and Alicia


April has come and gone in a flash. The children returned back to school after a restful vacation.  I was thrilled to see their smiling faces on Monday morning and we have had a great start for the remainder of this school year.

It seems we are finally all much healthier and the coughing and sneezing in our classroom has mostly disappeared.  We have had another whole class hand-washing demonstration to remind ourselves of the proper way to get rid of those pesky germs.  No more sickness I hope!

Grandparents Day was wonderful as always.  The children did a fantastic job showing what they do in school and what they have learned this year. It is very gratifying to see them spend time with their grandparents and to see that special bond.  We even had great-grandparents visit this year!

Looking ahead: May is full of new and exciting activities. We are practicing our songs for our Spring Performance and are looking forward to the special night with family and friends.

Unfortunately our Assistant Rosemary has informed us that she cannot be with us for the rest of this school year. We are sad and miss her.  She will be visiting later in May to say Hello.  We have decided to craft a quilt for her.  The students will begin to sew and decorate the squares and we hope to present her with our classroom quilt when she visits.

As part of her training, our wonderful Montessori intern Alicia Chagnon will be spending time this month in introducing the children to the country of Japan. She will be incorporating materials, books and activities about the customs and traditions of Japan. We are all looking forward to learning more about it!

Earth Day is looking great and we can’t wait to enjoy all the activities that have been planned.


Extended Day with Angelika and Alicia

Our older children are working so hard.  They are writing  ….. fast and furiously!  Wonderful stories about birds, dinosaurs, spring and many other themes are emerging and taking shape.  I am so thrilled to see their new-found comfort with putting thoughts down to paper and their desire to express themselves without worries of spelling.  Inventive spelling puts them at ease. They sound out words and are so proud of a finished story and the illustrations are fantastic.  We have been reinforcing rules such as starting sentences with capital letters and ending with a period. We are writing paragraphs together, then identify concrete nouns and find proper nouns.  The children have learned about capitalizing the names of people, specific places, months, days of the weeks etc.  We design activities that help the children become conscious of the functions of different words.

The class is working in all areas of the curriculum and I am very encouraged by the students’ progress. I see confidence and pride emerging in every way. 


Children’s House East with Tara and Sara

April was ushered in by the birth of Jackson’s brother.  Baby Jacob arrived on Friday, April 7th.  Please help us welcome the newest addition to the Deren Family!

We also started the month with Grandparents’ Day.  Thank you to all of the grandparents who were able to join us.  It was great fun to share some of our classroom activities with our very special guests.

Spring is the theme.  Flower arranging is a prominent activity in the Practical Life area.  So far we have arranged daffodils, purple chrysanthemums, and light yellow carnations.  Also, a potted white hyacinth plant has inspired a multi-step art activity.  Last but not least, dandelions on the playground have been a keen interest to those who happen to look down!

Another spring inspiration came from the following poem:

Close your eyes and do not peek,
I'll rub spring across your cheek.
Soft as satin, smooth and sleek.
Close your eyes and do not peek.


The title of the poem is Pussy Willow.  During our group meeting time, the end of a soft pussy willow branch was rubbed across the cheek of each child.  As you may guess, many giggles followed!

An activity called Penny Polishing arrived on the shelf this week.  On a tray are all the necessary ingredients to polish a dull penny into a bright one.  First, a tiny scoop of salt is placed on a penny and is followed by a drop or two of vinegar.  Next, the tip of a cotton swab is used to scrub the dirt off the small coin.  Last, a soft cloth is used to polish its surface back to its original shine.  While this activity is captivating to young children who are interested in making a penny shiny, it is also a science experiment which demonstrates the chemical reaction of salt and vinegar on a copper penny. 

Pete the Cat is back with His Magic Sunglasses.  These sunglasses are definitely rose-colored as they help him to turn his bad mood around.  He shares them with his friends who are experiencing such emotions as sad, frustrated, etc.  We also discussed the way in which the illustrator used color in order to reflect the feelings of the characters.  At first, the dominant color on the page was blue, but turn the page, and it became bright yellow, complimented by a vibrant orange sun.

The month of April closed with the celebration of Earth Day.  During the morning long activities, each group rotated through the following four stations; transplanting plants, snack, chalk drawings on the playground blacktop and a special presentation by a grandparent of one of the Lower Elementary students.  Although postponed for a day, we celebrated the Earth on a beautiful sunny day!


Elementary Physical Education with Mike

In physical education class, we have really focused on continuing the philosophy of team sports and really tried to build sportsmanship. We’ve engaged in fun sports and activities such as soccer, where we broke down the skills and techniques used in the sport. The skills we’ve talked about in soccer have been carried over and discussed about where we’ve used them in previous sports such as handball and ultimate frisbee.

 Due to the crazy weather we’ve been having, the class and I have spent a lot of time indoors. The time we spend indoors we’ve learned to do a callisthenic routine at the start of class to get the blood pumping and heart rates up. Exercises involved include push-ups, squats and mountain climbers. Though we’re inside, we do try to learn a little as well to keep the minds active. Lately we’ve discussed topics like nutrition, proper sleep and proper fitness techniques as well. Students have been also given little hand-outs at the end of certain classes to help them think of the topics even when we aren’t in the classroom so that it will help them remember them too.

  Let’s hope for some sunshine!!  

Yoga with Lisa

In Yoga we are always playful with poses that mimic animals.  We explore meditation to help settle our bodies and mind. We had fun making peace plates and personal eye pillows for rest post.  In the coming weeks, we will explore some mindfulness techniques, more meditation and fun poses as well as a fun end of year project.

Lower Elementary with Sherrell and Kim

Dear Families,

 The students have returned from vacation ready to work and are excited about their learning. It is now in our observations that we can see the fruits of our year’s work. Students are eager to master concepts and are curious about the world around them. They are asking thoughtful questions and making meaningful connections. These are the sprouts and shoots of the seeds we’ve been planting.

 The Montessori impressionistic lessons rely on the belief that “the secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.” Whether it is linking the parts of speech to ancient civilizations (noun as pyramid), or condensing the history of our planet into twelve hours, Montessori uses story to stimulate the child’s imagination and to ignite curiosity.

 So much of Montessori is based on helping children come to their own realizations based on applying their observation and critical thinking skills to the information they receive. These are the seeds that are sown in each area of the curriculum from a very young age and nurtured as the child grows throughout each level of the Montessori program.

Mathematics and Geometry Notes

Lower Elementary students are working on deepening their understanding of place value across levels. The exercises call their attention to quantity and value being different. We’re working on reading and composing numbers as well as practicing with standard, expanded and written forms.

 At the earliest stages, students use the Golden Bead Material to compose and read numbers. At later stages, students predict what place value you get if you multiply units, or tens, or hundreds by units, or tens, or hundreds with the support of the Checkerboard. At the stage of abstraction – or thorough understanding without material support, students explain the purpose for the zeroes they write when recording the partial products in multi-digit multiplication.

 All of these phases and stages go toward building number sense or skills of numeration – a mathematical foundation.

Language Notes

 We began reading Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White as a class after vacation.  This is a classic book that is familiar to nearly all the students, because it was read to them or because they’ve seen one of the movies or plays of it.  Even so, everyone is getting something out of this class reread of the familiar book. Each student has a copy and most choose to follow along as I read aloud. We stop periodically to discuss tricky vocabulary and to make sure everyone understands the story.

 We read one or two chapters at the end of each day so that we will have finished the book before we have our field trip to see the play downtown at Symphony Hall on Monday, May 15. We will be completing some traditional reading comprehension and vocabulary work along with themed STEAM challenges as we read the book.

Cultural Studies

 Thank you for your support at Science Night. It was great to see and hear as the students taught you what they’ve learned about chemistry, biology, physics, botany, astronomy and more. I also enjoyed watching as families undertook our two special STEAM challenges for the evening. As we are planning for next year, please do give us feedback about how you feel Science night went. We are aware it was a change from previous years, and wonder how meaningful and enjoyable it was for families given the change. Please feel free to give me feedback directly, or to send it to Margaret Bagge.

 Many of you got to see the magic of the enormous Montessori Timeline of Life, an impressionistic linear history of life on Earth from single-celled organisms to humans. The children continue to be captivated by this work, learning about different eras, plants, and animals as they place them on the timeline. Students also try to trace familiar life forms as they evolve on the timeline, comparing features of similar species and wondering about how dragonflies, sharks, and cockroaches have survived for so long! 

As always, if you have any concerns, kudos, or questions, please reach out. We’d love to hear from you.

 Thank you!

Sherrell and Kim

Art with Christie

Art Upper and Lower Elementary

     Greetings to all! Although we lost a Monday with vacation in April, I’m pleased to say that we are still right on track and have accomplished much this past month. As we continue our work learning about the Seven Elements of Art we delve into a lesson about Value. Value as it relates to the Art Elements is defined as the lightness or darkness of a color. This lesson began with the introduction of some new art vocabulary. Students learned about Hue- another word for color, Tint- a color plus white, Shade-a color plus black, and Tone- a color plus black and white. In our work books we designed a scale using a single crayon color. Students learned that Value can be achieved just by the amount of pressure one uses when drawing. The scales they designed illustrated the darkest color possible to the lightest depending on the amount of pressure they used when coloring. We discussed what an important tool Value is so that an artist can create the appearance of lightness and darkness in their art work.

     For the second part of the lesson on Value each student was given four pieces of white paper on which they painted samples to represent Hue, Tint, Shade and Tone using the color of their choice. They were then assigned a wooden panel as well as acrylic paint and given the directive to design an abstract painting using a single color. They were also allowed the use of white and black (since they are needed in order create Value). Once the children finished their paintings each person had to show and explain how they had created Value in their paintings using Hue, Tint, Shade and Tone. This concluded our lesson on Value and leaves us with just two remaining Art Elements to learn about and explore.

All the best,




Pioneer Valley Montessori School, 1524 Parker Street, Springfield, MA 01129 • 413-782-3108

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