CLASSROOM NEWS FEBRUARY 2017
We have jumbled up the
order of the classes, hoping that perhaps you will find something interesting
during your search for what applies directly to you! There are many interesting things going on
MUSIC with Hywel
Toddlers - We have
been continuing to work on action songs, singing along and following
instructions. Old Macdonald, The Itsy Bitsy Spider and The Crawdad Song
have been some of the favorites.
Children's Houses - We
have started some work on Solfege. This is the beginning of learning how
to sing specific pitches and eventually, singing in harmony. It involves
singing a scale of 7 notes using Do Re Me Fa So La Ti and then back to Do.
We also use hand signs to help us visualize the notes being sung.
We have done some work on singing in rounds using Row, Row, Row Your Boat
which is tricky, but the children are doing a great job of grasping the concept
of singing a different part than someone else, but at the same time! We
have also started to narrow down the songs that we will be singing in the
Spring Performance but will continue to introduce new songs over the coming
Lower Elementary -
Recorder work has been slow but steady. We are currently working on Ode
To Joy and hopefully will have it ready in two part harmony for the Spring
Performance. Practicing at home will help immensely!!! We have also
been doing work on Solfege to prepare for singing notes on the correct pitch
and eventually singing two part harmonies.
Upper Elementary -
Recorder work has been good. We have learned the first part to Ode To Joy
and will be starting some new pieces in the coming weeks. We will be
playing at least one if not two of the pieces for the spring performance.
We have also started work on Solfege and singing in harmony.
Singing in harmony is difficult but the children have done a good job
listening to themselves and each other. We have managed to sing a few 3
part chords but will be working on some songs that involve only two parts over
the next few weeks.
YOGA (Elementary level) with Lisa
We have been having
fun exploring some partner poses recently.
The children learn coordination, balance, and working as a team.
We continue to
practice mindfulness through breathing awareness, meditation and deep
PHYSICAL EDUCATION (Elementary level) with Mike
The children are
learning different games that require physical and mental focus. They are playing different kinds of tag,
learning soccer ball skills and footwork.
They have been playing Ultimate Frisbee and Frisbee Golf. In all of these endeavors, they are learning
many different skills, to play as a team and an individual, to think about
their role and to learn new physical skills.
SOUTH- Angelika, Rosemary, Alicia and Gerri
came and went. We have been very lucky with the temperatures so far and hope to
continue to enjoy outdoor recess. When our playground is too muddy we are very
fortunate to be able to go for walks in the park behind school. The children love visiting the pond (of
course from a safe distance) and look for wildlife or admire the frozen water.
Please remember to send your child to school with a hat, mittens, and if there
is snow, snow pants and boots daily!
seems to be a great time of year to remind parents of the importance of
spending reading time together. Reading to your children is a nurturing
activity that brings you closer together. It increases your child’s vocabulary
but also, according to the latest research, develops your child’s ability to
process information. Books have the power to benefit preschoolers in a myriad
of ways. As a parent, reading to your child is one of the most important things
you can do to prepare him or her with a foundation for academic excellence. We
all know how much preschoolers love picture books but we often underestimate
their ability to listen to early chapter books. So, please grab your favorite
blanket, cuddle up and read some great stories together.
continue to encourage grace and courtesy throughout our day. It is beautiful to
see when children work together in peace, help and treat one another with
respect. We have placed our Acts of Kindness box into our room. The children
are asked to observe and notice when a friend does something kind to another child.
It might be: giving a compliment, helping to pick up a work, sharing a snack,
assisting another child that needs a hand…. the child that observed it then may
take a small slip of paper and write down (with adult help) what and whom he
observed, then places the paper into the box. At the end of the day we read all
the notes. The children enjoy this activity very much and it truly encourages
them to do good things.
always, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. Many of you
are beginning to look ahead to next year, and I would like to help in any way I
CHILDREN’S HOUSE - EXTENDED
5 and 6 year olds have been making strides in all areas. We continue to focus particularly on reading
and writing as well as math work.
January group time, we read The Hundred Dresses. The book is a story about a girl named Wanda
Petronski and her family who are “different”.
The school children play mean games with Wanda and tease her and her
brother about their name. As a result, the family feels unwelcome and moves
away. The story highlights how we are
all different and how in the end everyone is hurt when we don’t treat others
with respect and kindness. The story was
a great entry for us to talk about compassion and the qualities of being a
have also enjoyed reading about a boy Willie Bentley who studied and took
pictures of snowflakes and later even published a book about his
discoveries. Then the children wrote
great sentences about the story and drew wonderful snowflakes!
CHILDREN’S HOUSE EAST
– Tara and Sara
the new year began, so too, did a new student.
His name is Saim and he is three years old. Returning students were both interested and
perplexed by the arrival of a new student at the same time that they said
goodbye to another one. After only a few
short weeks, however, it’s like he’s been with us all along!
new to our classroom is an activity called Apple Slicing. After slicing half of an apple with an apple
slicer/corer, the child can sprinkle cinnamon on top. Some of them are very heavy handed with the
sprinkling which results in a very spicy apple!
Since there is no harm in over-sprinkling, the child is allowed the
freedom to sprinkle a little or a lot.
This simple act of freedom within the structure of the activity gives
the child a sense of control, or agency, over their actions. Agency is a hallmark of our methodology
because the child is at the center of their own process of learning.
science study of the states of matter is giving way to our study of energy,
specifically magnetism. At this age and
stage, learning is hands-on and interactive.
Accordingly, the foundational activity is called Magnetic and
Non-magnetic. On a tray are a magnet and
a basket full of items such as a paper clip, cork, penny, etc. The child uses the magnet to test and
therefore sort which items stick and which ones do not. It’s one way in which the young child begins
to become curious about and interested in the world in which we live.
our world shows up in many different curriculum areas in the classroom. In the geography area, the child can explore
different types of land forms such as lake/island, peninsula/gulf and
isthmus/strait. One way that this
happens is with the Land Forms material which introduces the relationships
between water and land. For instance, an
island is land surrounded on all sides by water and, conversely, a lake is
water surrounded on all sides by land.
the first lesson involves a specifically designed material, one way to extend
this exploration is with the addition of art materials. On a small white card, the child uses a brown
crayon to illustrate one of the land forms, for instance, an island. Then they use blue paint to represent the
water around the island.
it is paint, Montessori materials, or soapy water for scrubbing a table, all of
the materials in our carefully prepared classroom are designed to attract the
interest of the children.
Their interest then drives their learning. In the end, it’s about stirring this innate
desire which in turn promotes a life-long interest in learning.
CHILDREN’S HOUSE NORTH – Sheryl, Debbi and Lisa
In Children's House North we have been talking
about hibernation and migration. What different species are busy doing.
When the snow came it helped because our weather hadn't been feeling like
The children are busy practicing lessons learned, learning new lessons and
there is lots of reading going on! The older/returning children are busy
moving through the curriculum. They are wonderful leaders for all of the
other children in the class. Our newest members have a confident smile and walk
in and get right to work.
They have built a community! They look out for each other and delight in
each other's successes.
To sit as a Montessori teacher and observe this in the classroom is a moment of
both pride and joy. Both Deb and I feel proud to watch them do the work
themselves and delight to see the pride they have in the process.
Thank you all for your delicious healthy snacks.
For sending in winter gear.
For believing in your children and in our community.
Sheryl and Debbie
SPANISH with Paula
Ano Nuevo! Happy New Year! January, with it’s uninterrupted class time,
is the perfect “back to studies month” after the winter break! We have been practicing family, emotions, and
a little bit of parts of the body vocabulary this month.
time with the toddlers continues to be filled with joy and peace! A perfect way
to start the busy week! We have been
singing in Spanish and in English –Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, The Train
Song, and Asi, Asi. A part of each of
these songs is in Spanish. The children
are just beginning to repeat a few words here and there! I continue to spend snack time with them,
chatting away en espanol about food and drink.
HOUSES—Upon returning from the winter vacation, we reviewed family vocabulary
with a matching game and some rather unusual families. The children enjoyed peeking under the
different colored houses (color review!) to see which family lived there! We got to practice the word “familia” as
well! We made a “triste” (sad) and
“contento” (happy) plate for practice at home. We also played a matching game to practice
these two words. We added the element of
color as well as emotion to make the match.
The children enjoyed “feeding” the dog with dog treats. Each had a toy dog. Under each dog was a number from one to
ten. The children had to count in
Spanish and feed the dog his bones! We even had a few cats and fish in the mix!
celebrated “El Dia de Los Tres Reyes” or Three Kings Day for the first
Kindergarten Spanish class of 2017. The
children enjoyed learning about this custom.
We decorated paper crowns in honor of the three wise men from the
Epiphany story. We decorated a paper bag
and filled it with “straw” (for the camels, of course!) shredded paper. As the
children pretended to sleep, Los Tres Reyes came with small gifts for each
child. We wrote a list of family words
for our Spanish folders and labeled pictures with our Spanish words “madre, padre,
nino, nina, and bebe”. We began our
winter reading project, “The Mitten” or “El Miton”. The children laced a large mitten with white
yarn and decorated it all in white. On
to animals in febrero!
ELEMENTARY—We had started the family vocabulary before vacation and needed to
review once we returned in January! All
levels worked on various family trees to practice our vocabulary. We also continued with our poetry and
reading: Level One: Osito, Osito (Poem),
Level Two: AEIOU, Arbolito de Peru
(poem), Level Three: Mi Familia, a short
story. All levels created a family tree
and presented the tree to the Spanish class.
Levels One and Two created a tree based on their own families. Level Three chose a planet and created little
aliens with Spanish names to inhabit their planet. They created a last name using the color of
the planet and the name of the planet.
Emotion vocabulary was practiced next.
Each level worked on a sentence game using the verb “estar” and the
emotion vocabulary. We did an emotion
snowman project to practice as well.
ELEMENTARY—Each level of Upper Elementary seems to be at a different place this
month; so, I’ll report level by level!
Four—We finished up our school vocabulary and went on to practice family
vocabulary. We created a family tree of
a fictional family. Each member of the
family had a first and middle Spanish name and a last name of the student’s choosing. Their trees had pictures to go along with the
names. We continued to work on our story
“Grande Y Mas Grande” which provided opportunities for oral reading,
translating and writing. We reviewed
all vocabulary before beginning emotions vocabulary. We used the verb “estar” with a full
conjugation. We practiced agreement
between subject, verb and emotion. They
created a sentence game to practice verb, subject and emotion. On to an emotions snowman project en febrero!
Five—Our study of family vocabulary was practiced with the verbs “ser” “estar”
and “ir”. We practiced the vocabulary
with a map of a small town which each child created. They named all of the streets, placed
buildings in the town and proceeded to place the family in different
locations. Good practice for the
prepositions as well. For the emotions,
these students had two verbs: estar and
tener. Their sentence game was a bit
more complicated!!! We have begun to get
very comfortable with the reading and translating of our seahorse story, “El
Caballito del Mar.”
Six—We have begun our reading of the chapter book “Un Viaje a Mexico.” We are proceeding slowly, usually with
several lessons on vocabulary and grammar before we actually read and
translate. There is also a big emphasis
on learning to use their Spanish notebooks!
Being organized is so important!
The students have begun to organize their notebooks so that they can
find what they need to read, write, and translate! We are off to a good start!
JUNIOR GREAT BOOKS
levels began stories which were interrupted by the winter vacation! We ended up re-reading the stories as a
review and going on to complete them by the end of the month. We continue to work on time
management—completing work both in the Lower El classroom and in Junior Great
Two—The children took turns reading our story “The Frog Went A-Traveling” if
they wanted a chance to read. I am happy
to report that all of the children read at least one paragraph! We discussed whether we did or did not feel
sorry for the frog by the end of the story.
We created a picture showing our opinion. We discussed a place which we would like to
visit. We wrote about it and we drew a
picture of it. We discussed the story,
created a cover for all of our work, and put the work together for home! Our next story, “The Happy Lion”, will begin
stories which the children will be responsible for reading instead of hearing
the stories read to them. Exciting!
Three—The children read “The Jackal and the Partridge” again to get re-
acquainted with the story. We discussed the word “cunning” as it referred to
the partridge in the story. We found
places in the story in which the partridge was good at making plans and the
places in which she used a sneaky trick to get what she was after. An important theme of the story was
“Friendship”. The students wrote a letter to the Jackal informing him what he
needs to do to have a good experience with friendship! We garnered all of our work after discussing
the story and off it went to home! We
are ready to start a new collection of stories in February!
TODDLER ROOM - Mary Ann, Cynthia, Carla, Brianna and
we came back from the holiday break we welcomed our newest student Alexandra.
Her big brother is a Toddler class alumnus and is now in the Children’s House.
return to school went smoothly after being away for two weeks. Some children
came back a few inches taller and increased language skills.
January we talked about the season of winter. With the lack of snow and many
mild days we relied on stories, songs and art to illustrate the typical signs
of winter. On the days it was too cold to go outside we brought some snow
indoors. The children were delighted to play with snow without snow pants and
boots. We did wear mittens. They used shovels to fill bowls and made mini
snowmen. It was a good opportunity to talk about the concept of melting and
preparation was added to the practical life area. The children have been
cutting cucumbers, peppers and grinding grain. In our sensorial area we
introduced the concepts of rough and smooth and added some additional shapes to
work with. Due to the popularity of puzzles we rotated the selection
to all for bringing your child’s snow gear to school; it has made going outside
easier. Our upper elementary students have been helping us get the toddlers
dressed to go outside. They are a big help and the toddlers enjoy being with
them. When possible please have your child assist you in getting their
outerwear on. Let’s hope we don’t have
to wear them for too long.
UPPER ELEMENTARY –
Nicole and Terri
The end of January sees the Upper Elementary beginning the big,
deep works of the year. We have most recently begun our work in American
history with discussions around the beginnings of the European discoveries of
North America. The children were horrified to learn about the many nations of
Europe that took advantage of a variety of indigenous people, both in Africa
and in North America in order to build up the colonies. We spoke in depth about
the triangular trade that was developed between the colonies, Africa and
Europe, and how much of the West Indies and Southern colonies were transformed
by plantation farming of crops that originated in Asia. We exchanged thoughts
and feelings about the slavery trade that was run by the Portuguese out of West
Africa, and how these people were used and treated even worse than animals from
the way they were transported to North America to the tireless hours they were
expected to work in the South with little food, and crowded housing.
Going through history in this way is intended to help the children gain a
better grasp on the passage of time as well. Each of the children is in a
small group that will be studying a particular time in U.S. History between the
American Revolution to World War One. After completing extensive
research, to really understand the people and issues of their particular time,
the class as a whole will create a timeline of the United States to see exactly
how it all comes together. The Upper Elementary Curriculum is filled with a
variety of Timelines intended to both inspire and inform children’s research
into a variety of cultural and scientific studies. These colorful and
thoughtful reference materials will serve also as a guide for the children when
they make their own timeline.
The fifth and sixth graders are
beginning their foray into the world of the human body. Every few weeks
we will look at a different system of the human animal examining the cells,
tissues, organs and the system as a whole. Currently, the children are
deep into the study of the skeletal system, learning about the nomenclature,
the makeup, and the diseases of bones. Next we will begin with the muscular
system, and we will dissect a chicken wing to see how muscles, ligaments and
tendons work together to move a joint.
The fourth years have begun on
their journey through understanding the Linnaean system of classification for
living things. We have discussed the various Kingdoms, and the children
have done some research on a living thing of their choosing. They have
put together a beautiful tree of life, that demonstrates the connection of
Kingdom to Phylum to Class with some examples of various Genus and species in
each grouping. It also projects how living organisms became more complex as
they evolved. Soon the children will begin looking at the various systems of
different animals and comparing them.
Through these studies in science
and history, the children continue to practice their skills of researching and
expository writing. With each project they complete, their skills grow,
as they learn how to better edit, and revise so that their work is clearly
communicated in writing; so that it is well-organized, and interesting for
their reader. It is an opportunity for them to apply some of what they
have learned in our Writer’s Workshop, and the Language card studies that are
an ongoing part of the work in the classroom.
We continue our journey in math
learning about the decimal system, square rooting and fractions. Some of
the eldest in the class are learning how to find the square root of a number
through the use of the peg board. Practice allows them to visualize the
problem, and the method is very similar to the racks and tubes division,
resulting in a feeling of familiarity to many students. This work helps the
children to further organize and manipulate numbers so that they gain a deeper
understanding of algebraic thinking. The youngest are practicing their
application of lowest common multiple to find and create equivalent fractions.
This is a lead up to being able to add fractions with unlike
denominators. Scaffolding skills in this way allows the children to focus
on each step separately, and allows for greater success in the final
application. The rest of the children are working on addition of decimals
along with practicing mean, median and mode. After extensive examination of
place value, to really grasp the concept of decimals and their relationship to
fractions, the students are moving swiftly through the operations working with
this part of our number system. The hands-on approach has been really
beneficial to many of the children to understand these concepts.
Overall, we are finding our flow
in the classroom. That place of balance wherein the work is of the right
challenge and interest so as to be deserving of effort. It is in this
place that children can do their best work in a Montessori environment, as
Maria Montessori has said, “Education is a natural process carried out by the
human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences
in the environment.” So, the child learns by observing what others do. By
experiencing the emotions, the tenacity, the thoughtfulness that is a part of
each of us that is a part of his or her life. By touching, and practicing with
materials, by performing experiments, by actively searching for information,
not simply passively listening. But, if we can tell a story to inspire
their imagination, the child can also learn from this by exploring in his mind
the world that is painted, the moments that are created. I have seen the
excitement incited by stories in our classroom over the last month or so, and
just as all those a-ha moments of learning, it is indeed magical.
ART with Christie
and Lower Elementary
Greetings everyone, it’s hard to believe
that we’re already at the start of February. In class we continue making our
way through the Seven Elements of Art (line, color, texture, space, value,
form, and shape). We have just completed our lesson on texture. Texture is the surface quality that can be
seen and felt. In this lesson each student compiled samples of materials that
had a range of different textures like sand paper, plastic, cardboard, and velvet.
These samples were then attached to one of the texture pages of our workbooks.
The children then chose words to describe what each of these samples felt like
(fluffy, smooth, rough, etc). On the
opposite page, we made sample drawings of different types of textures and
labeled them as well. We discussed the importance of texture and how it can add
interest, dimension, and realism to our art work. It was also noted that
textures do not always feel the way they look; for example, a drawing of tree
bark may look rough, but if you touch the drawing, the paper is still smooth.
The next element that we will be working on is form.
all until next time.
ELEMENTARY with Sherrell and Kim
Observation is central to a well-functioning, effective
Montessori classroom. In order to individualize each child’s educational
program, I need good information on each child. Kim and I have been observing
even more than usual in recent weeks. We are looking to find strengths
and struggles with different skills and abilities, patterns of behavior, and to
identify student tendencies and preferences with regard to their work choices
and readiness. This helps us to anticipate what a child might need in terms of
support, guidance or instruction and to plan for it accordingly. Sometimes,
once that support, guidance or instruction has been given, we then wait to see
if it will have the desired impact, a different impact or no impact at
all. We again “wait while observing,” and we make note of what we might
need to adjust going forward.
Waiting can be hard – especially for adults with
children. Waiting while my son puts on his coat or potty trains can be
frustrating for me. I want to rush in, I want to help him, I want to make it
easier and faster. Most days, I have the self-control to stop, wait and
observe, but some days I don’t. I find the same test of my ability to
trust the process in the classroom at times, so this month’s quote addresses
that very real struggle. In the classroom, we wait for students to learn to
make appropriate work choices. We wait for children to memorize addition facts
or understand that ten units are worth the same as one ten. We wait for her to
master her impulse to shout out or for him to remember to use kind language
with his classmates. We wait. It is so much easier said than done!
and Geometry Notes
There is no
secret that I find Montessori math to be an absolutely amazing
curriculum. The careful plan of introducing and reintroducing materials
and concepts creates a beautifully effective spiral. Our multi-age grouping and
ability to follow the child’s individual needs and interests mean that we have
first, second and third –year students all working on the same concepts and
even the same materials, but with differing levels of understanding and of
Your child may be multiplying and dividing 4 or even
6-digit numbers in class, but unable to multiply 4 × 6. This is normal for a
Montessori classroom. Because of the concrete nature of the didactic materials,
students are able to solve problems that they may not be able to solve
abstractly. And, because of the work they do with those 4 and 6-digit problems,
they will practice and eventually memorize their math facts and internalize the
“borrowing” and “carrying” and “bringing down” we adults tend to use.
Students are full of things to write about, but can
have trouble deciding what to write about in school. For the most part,
students do their best writing when they write the things they know best.
We have been encouraging students to write what they
know and to take that writing through the writing process to publication and
adding it to the classroom library.
In recent weeks, we’ve been focusing on prewriting, which is
getting our ideas ready, and on revising, when we add, remove, move around or
switch words in order to improve our draft.
Currently, students edit their own work with very little
assistance from teachers. This means that through revising and editing, they’ve
done their very best work, even if it is not completely error-free.
Science is a very broad and very deep area of study. We tend
to split it into different concentrations such as Biology, Botany, Chemistry,
Geology, Physics and Ecology to make it easier to study and Montessori embraces
each of these concentrations throughout the elementary program. This month, we
have been studying the Earth, pulling elements of Astronomy, Geology and
Geography as they relate to our home planet. Ask your child about the layers
of the earth or the long black line.
Because we want to share the breadth of the science
curriculum with you, we will have Science Night in April. This will be a
chance for students to share some of the experiments and demonstrations they’ve
conducted over the course of the year. Elementary students will not be
responsible for an individual science project. An invitation to this
event will be sent out as it gets closer.
Students are welcome to bring Valentines for each of their
classmates on Tuesday, February 14. Snacks to share are welcome (if free of
As always, if you have concerns, kudos, or questions, please
reach out. We’d love to hear from you.
Sherrell and Kim