Newsletters 2007-2008

Graduation 2007
Well, after all the anticipating and rehearsing, suddenly Spring Performance is over and it's June and time to think about goodbyes. It is an inevitable part of working in a school community such as this, that we are always saying goodbye to children who have become important members of our community.

Our graduating sixth graders this year, Marisa Zorzi (mom, Judy, is a teacher here and father, Mark), Valerie Zavalunov (parents Viktoriya and Ernest), Neda Bahrehmand (parents Megan and Manouch), and Scott Barnard (parents Susan and Robert) have all been at PVMS for many years. Luke Pelletier, fifth grader, has been at PVMS for seven years and is moving on to Wilbraham Monson for sixth grade and beyond (parents Lori and Luke and little sister, Julia, will continue with PVMS). We have had the opportunity to watch these students confidently demonstrate and build on their strengths as well as work on and develop their areas of relative weakness. They leave PVMS with much knowledge and compassion. They have been a part of a strong classroom community, learned to be positive and supportive with each other but also to talk about and solve misunderstandings or disagreements that have arisen. Montessori education is about much more than academics. We say goodbye to these young people and look forward to hearing how they are faring in their new schools.

We also must say goodbye to some of our long-time families who may be moving or perhaps have just run out of children to enroll at PVMS. We are sorry to see you go - but we'll look forward to future visits.


MARTINI NIGHT Lots of you have let us know that you are planning to attend the Martini Night on April 17th from 6 to 9 p.m. To help us with our planning, we'd like to encourage you to purchase your tickets early. If you have exact change or a check, tickets can be purchased at drop off or pick up time. A drawing will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday for a special item (to be announced) that we know you will enjoy receiving. Each ticket purchased before Friday at 3 p.m. will equal one entry in the drawing.

SCIENCE FAIR The elementary children are all preparing a science project display to demonstrate the learning that they have been doing on a science topic. All families are invited to come to the school on Thursday, April 3 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. to view the projects. It is always an inspiring and fun event!

EARTH DAY Our Earth Day celebration is on April 17th this year. The morning will be spent with the children rotating between classrooms and partaking in projects which will give them ideas for how to care for our earth. In the afternoon, the older children will spend some time cleaning up the Camp Wilder area behind our school. Volunteers are requested for both morning and afternoon activities.

ANNUAL FUND As you get ready to file your taxes, please consider making a tax-free donation to our Annual Fund. This year, the donations will be used to update our playgrounds. Thank you.

If your child (all ages and grades) has outgrown their winter outdoor clothing, particularly snowpants or snow boots, and you don't have plans to pass them on to someone else, we are always in need of extra outerwear for children who have forgotten to bring their own to school, and would appreciate your donation of any of these items to PVMS.

We have received brochures, along with a few $10 coupons, for STCC's College for kids. This is a summer program that they describe as one "designed for serious students in grades 2-11 having creative talents and a desire to learn and share new ideas". There is an extensive offering of courses that sound very interesting. Brochures are in our school office.


This summer, as usual, PVMS will offer a six-week summer program for children ages 3 to 6. This is a theme-based, arts and crafts and socialization program. The program runs from June 23 to August 3. Call or stop by the office for a brochure.


UPPER ELEMENTARY with Pamela Kinn and Judy Zorzi

The Upper Elementary classroom has been immersed in the Revolutionary Period of American History. As we worked on our timeline of American history, we have paused often to compare the experience and beliefs of the explorers, the existing culture of the Native Americans, and the European settlers. The book, Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes, has brought the revolutionary period to life in our discussions. We have come to see the Sons of Liberty as people facing difficult choices. Discussions about the perspectives of the Whigs and Tories took on new life as the students decided that it would be fun to debate the issues of that time as a Whig or Tory. These students are not only learning about American history, but they are learning from the experiences of the framers of our constitution. In true Montessori fashion, with a small nudge toward learning, these students have worked toward understanding this period of our history.

Our language work has also been impacted by our cultural studies. In literature circles reading work, the students have been choosing from stories written by American authors. It is obvious from the animated discussions that they are enjoying their reading material. Work in grammar is blended into writing as students begin to use their knowledge of parts of speech and sentence structure. Sometimes, their ideas for their own written work provide the impetus for a new lesson in punctuation and structure. Much of their writing is tied either to cultural studies or reading material. Writing is a natural means of communicating with others. The growth is impressive as the year progresses.

Geometry and math, too, have become more individualized as students begin to see this work as mastering tools for exploring their world. Sometimes it seems as though we take such small steps, yet, before long the students have a depth of understanding that is impressive to witness. This is obvious as visitors watch the Upper Elementary students solve complicated area problems, not just by "using" a formula, but by understanding how a formula is derived. This work makes sense, it is very natural to them. So many adults tell them, "I wish I had learned it that way." We are very happy that we learn math and geometry by exploration, using many senses and tools to build a thorough understanding of each concept. Recently a student commented that dividing decimals was not difficult, it makes perfect sense if you understand decimals. Small steps lead to great understanding.

NEWS FROM LOWER ELEMENTARY EAST with Susan Hershey and Nina Granger

We would like to welcome our new friends, Sara and Atilla. They come to us from a Montessori school in the western part of the state, and are quickly becoming integral members of our class.

After listening to many creation stories from around the world, we have finally begun our study of the earth with the subject of volcanoes. We have talked about the make-up and parts of volcanoes, looked at igneous rocks (did you know that pumice is a rock that floats?), and of course have created several eruptions, thanks to Ethan's donation of a volcano from the book fair. Topics coming up will be parts of the earth and the formation of mountains.

In the area of biology, we have been looking at the unique life cycle of amphibians, how the process of metamorphosis changes these animals from water- dwelling creatures to land-dwelling ones. We are learning the definitions of the external parts of a frog, and we are in the process of making our class frog book.

For the more people-oriented aspect of our cultural studies, we have begun thinking about the fundamental need of people, and how we meet these needs. We are making books covering four of these needs: food, clothing, shelter, and transportation and what these look like in our culture. This will lead to comparing how different cultures meet these same needs and how these needs have been met over the centuries.

With the recent arrival of spring, we were fortunate to have Hayden's mother, Lisa, come to our class to talk about the myths and science of seasonal change, to talk about some ways of celebrating the seasons, and to make wheels of the seasons with the children.

Our language curriculum is much more individualized, but I thought you would like to know some of the concepts that most of the children are working on. These include: parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, article), alphabetical order, capitalization rules, punctuation rules, syllables, compound words, and contractions.

May all of you have a warm and wonderful spring.

LOWER ELEMENTARY WEST with Sue Foerster and Lucy Maleshefski

Spring is here?! Where has the time gone? The upcoming weeks will be busy before break. Of course the children are excited about this week's Science Fair. All are preparing!
To begin with, I'll catch you up on a couple of highlights from the last few weeks. Then this month's news is from the children!

Morgan and Erin Rhindress arranged for a friend to bring in the pup that she is training for Fidelco, which is a guide dog foundation. Julie is a foster mom to dogs, who will later go into a program for the sight impaired. Her last pup, named Lucy, has gone on to higher training. The children loved the presentation.

We also made over eighty or so sandwiches for Loaves and Fishes. Thank you to Marie Spellman and Amie Ryan for running the assembly line!

Lastly, Pi(e) Day was celebrated school wide. It was quite a sight to see all the pie partners sharing together. The older and younger pairings are so sweet! The chocolate cream pies were quite a hit!


Emma has just returned from Florida for two weeks and she missed her bunny who was staying with us.

Marthe and her family are going to the Turks and Caicos Islands for a family vacation.

Morgan's grandmother just came back from Paris, France. She went in the Eiffel Tower and she went to Italy.

Lauren is going to Cape Cod and they will be staying at the Cape Codder where there are water slides. She loves her dog, Buster.

Andrew has a new dog named Bella.

Liliana and her family have just returned from Spain. She saw the Roman Aqueduct and she also went to see another palace called Alcazar of Segovia where Isabella the 11 was crowned queen.

Ella is going to Hawaii this summer!

Nonni is going to be in an ice show at Smead Arena, (Blunt Park) April 12, 2008. She is performing to When You Wish Upon A Star.

Elizabeth is also performing in the same ice show performing to the Polar Express Theme.

UP COMING: Science Fair!
Earth Day!

CHILDREN'S HOUSE NORTH with Andrea and Sara

Hello and thank you for spending some TIME with me! This is the TIME of year when it feels as if TIME is moving faster - we adults may begin rushing and getting ready for spring and the children may feel the change in weather (some may call it "Spring Fever")! Just remember to take the TIME to absorb and experience the many different smells, sounds, and new beginnings developing within your environment.

Taking a look back our annual Loaves & Fishes meal was another success! Our class participated in preparing and baking the sweet treat of the lunch oatmeal raisin cookies. Thank you for donating all the other necessary items needed to complete the meal. Also, looking back on Pi(e) Day we couldn't have done it without the apple pie donations. The piece most enjoyed was watching the children meet up with their "Pi(e) Partners" and sharing their piece of pie together. This year, Ashley, the music teacher, helped join everyone together in singing to the meaning of Pi(e)!

I hope some of you have heard about our many experiments with liquid. We started discussing what different liquids looked, smelled, and felt like while using water, vinegar, syrup, and oil. Many answers consisted of slimy, wet, and sticky OR smells like salad or juice. In other aspects of liquid work, we made predictions, observations, and experienced with solubility with liquids and solids (soluble or insoluble), the "Rainbow in the Jar" and how the primary colors make up all other colors, layering liquids of different weights to determine density, defining viscosity with dropping objects in liquids of different densities to determine the speed it falls, and how objects of different weights settle within the different liquids. Most everyone had an opportunity to express, experiment, and share during these group presentations. The curiosity about this work demonstrated the growth and maturity of the children within a group setting observing patience, respect of others, and increased attention span.

Keep your ears open for our next area of exploration!!!

Important Dates in April: Earth Day Celebration April 17th
Spring Break April 21st 25th


During our group reading, we have recently finished the last of the Ramona books that we will be sharing and have started reading and discussing the life of Matilda, the genius. We are nearly finished with putting our final touches together on the Ramona Story - Paper collection - all the children participated in writing and drawing stories, comments, and/or favorite readings which will be added to the classroom library for all to enjoy.

We have recently enjoyed the beginning of Spring by taking another walk to "The Rocks". The children look forward to this special treat after each book we finish reading, writing, and discussing! While walking out to the rocks, we observed the pond life, changes in trees, arrival of birds, and felt the warm strong breeze on our faces!

We will be starting on activities and projects with Sound. This will include making a variety of projects involving the discrimination of sound and how sound travels, etc. I am in need of empty cardboard tissue boxes and vegetable cans (I would like everyone to be able to make their own). If you can donate any of these items for these projects that would be helpful. Thank you!

I look forward to a fun next few weeks!



The playground has emerged at last from its deep blanket of snow and ice, and even the final glacier at the foot of the slide has finally melted away. How lovely to get ready to go out in five minutes again!

We've had a lot of help from our class families in the last two months:

- Sophia, Joshua's mom, spent a morning helping the children prepare and cook about eight dozen oatmeal cookies for the annual Loaves & Fishes meal. It was very satisfying to have something that smelled and looked so delicious to send along.

- Kirsten, Astrid's mom, came in one morning with three instruments: an oboe, a French horn, and an oboe d'amor. She showed us the double reeds and played all three for us. The music was so beautiful, the children (and staff) were spellbound. What a treat!

- Maria, Konrad's mom, came in one afternoon with a wonderful presentation of polymers. After acting out the role of monomers and polymers, the children donned goggles and stirred their "slime" concoctions, watching the changes from familiar looking liquid to "slime" when the crosslinker (a borax solution) was added..... What fun everybody had!

- Ben, Amber's dad, came in last Wednesday with Boots, their ball python, who has visited annually now for three years, and feels like a friend to second, third, and fourth year students. Boots is large, and after hearing about snakes' scales and vertebrae and ability to "smell" with the tongue, it was really interesting to actually feel Boots' muscular form and smooth scales. We are all grateful for this wonderful connection with the animal world, and everyone took a turn touching Boots. At least half of the class also followed Amber's lead and stood with the patient snake gently wrapped around their shoulders.

- Jenn, Michael's mom, continues biweekly handwriting work with the children.

- Shannon, Timmy's mom, continues monthly lunch coverage.
Thank you so very much to all of you!!! Your contributions of time, effort, and talents make our class rich!

Other activities going on lately include:
- Pi Day on 3.14, children's house students were partnered with elementary students for a school-wide gathering to eat the delicious pies we all made. The CH students love getting together with the big kids.
- Exploring simple machines - with levers, wheels, and pulleys, the children figured out how to move heavy loads (such as classmates, teachers, and rocks).
- Asia -- after a brief look at China, we are focusing on India. We learned an Indian greeting: "Namaste." We are listening to a tape of Ravi Shankar on the sitar while grinding spices for a (mild) vegetarian curry we will cook and eat during the first week of April.
- Animal kingdom -- our brief amphibian work complete, we have been learning a little about reptiles much enhanced by the visit from Boots! Birds will be next.

April 17th Earth Day celebration. Volunteers needed. Also, look for a notice requesting your help with "zero-trash" lunches.
April 30th Grandparents' Day
May 22nd All school production
May 23rd All school cast (pizza) party
June 4th Field trip to Springfield Science Museum and Forest Park. Chaperones needed.

CHILDREN'S HOUSE WEST with Tamara Balis and Rosemary Gossman

Dear Parents,

Spring is springing, and we are all delighted! We have been enjoying our time outdoors, and the numerous topics of interest provided by the changing season. We have discovered beetles and buds, and love the discussions growing from in the emerging life.

The students have transitioned well to new guidance. These are a wonderful group of children and I am enjoying working with and learning from them immensely. We are so busy working that time slips away during the work cycle.

Our focus has shifted to Europe. The children are exploring the names and political boundaries of the countries, as well as the lifestyle of various cultures. I am looking for volunteers for cooking projects! (I'll provide the recipe. ) If you are interested, let me know.

We are also studying nutrition. We have been discussing fruits and vegetables, and trying something new at our weekly "tasting". So far we have enjoyed star fruit and also tasted radishes.

Students have been juicing oranges, peeling and cutting cucumbers and carrots, and peeling and slicing hard-boiled eggs. Yum! We soon will be discussing good fats (that help our brain grow) and milling flaxseed, trying some fish and avocado, as well.

When you are contributing snack, please help us by providing a nice array of fruits and veggies, and maybe some interesting food that we don't often eat.

We just finished learning all the names of the geometric solids. I am always amazed at how absorbent the mind truly is. You may be hearing about prisms, square-based pyramids and ovoids. (An ovoid is the shape of an egg. )

We are also preparing for our spring production. We can't wait to share our new songs with you. We have learned to say hello in six new languages, and practice each morning during group time.

Thank you all for your gracious support during the past month. Everyone has been welcoming and kind. I already loved PVMS as a parent, and now am thoroughly enjoying being a staff member.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Warm wishes,

Tamara Balis

Hello everyone -

We are at that time of year when there is a lot going on - and then suddenly the year is over!

Here is the event schedule:

Thursday May 22 SPRING PERFORMANCE at Kiley Middle School 6:30 p.m.
Friday May 23 CAST PARTY - pizza for all children for lunch

Friday June 6 MYSTERY TRIP for elementary students
Thursday June 12 LAST DAY FOR STUDENTS - usual hours
Monday June 23 SUMMER PROGRAM begins


On Thursday, May 22th at 6:30 p.m. we will present our musical Spring Performance. All of the children will be participating. If your child cannot attend, please let his/her teacher know so that we can plan around that. Ashley Butler, our music teacher, has arranged a delightful evening for parents, relatives and friends. This year it is called "Around the World". Tickets are on sale in the main office - just send in your order forms. We will be having the performance professionally videotaped and DVDs will also be available. We will be taking orders for the DVDs on the same order form. So this year, please leave your video camera at home and sit back and enjoy the music.

Elementary children are asked to wear black (or dark) pants and a white shirt. Children's House children may wear any colors. Please make sure that your children are wearing shoes that they can walk safely in since they will be going on and off the stage in dim lighting, by way of a set of stairs. Thank you.

On Friday May 23rd, all students will enjoy a pizza lunch at 11 a.m. (so morning children can participate). If your child is a 3 day student and you would like her or him to take part in this tradition, we would be happy for this. Please talk with your child's teacher to discuss what time your child should arrive.

On Wednesday evening, June 11th, we will hold graduation ceremonies for Sixth Graders and Kindergarten students. This year Graduation will again be held in the social hall of the First Congregational Church at the rotary in East Longmeadow. The hall is spacious and there is plenty of parking. We will have dessert and beverages after the ceremony. We invite all students and families who would like to attend to help our graduates celebrate their achievement.



The Upper and Lower Elementary students have just completed studying some of the work of Picasso. In the late 1930's, Pablo Picasso pioneered a unique interpretation of the Portrait that is reflected in a series of paintings during that time period. These works were inspired by the artist's detailed study of how the human form could be manipulated. Picasso incorporated features from two lines of research: Cubist-style dissociation, where the subject is portrayed from various angles at the same time; and children's drawings with their great freedom of expression.
After learning a bit about Picasso's life and the history of his abstract portraits we completed several assignments to get the students thinking about how they could manipulate the human form in a portrait of their own.

Each of the following exercises was designed to inspire the children to looking at the human form in a new and different way.

Exercise #1: Create a portrait in chalk pastel, cut it apart, and then reconstruct in an abstract way.

Exercise #2: Looking at the person across from you draw a portrait of them without looking down at your paper.

Exercise #3: Draw a portrait of someone with your eyes closed.

Exercise #4: Draw a portrait of someone with your pencil never leaving the paper using one continuous line.

For the final assignment each student had to create their own version of a Picasso-esque painted portrait done in acrylics. This work was then assembled into a personal portfolio to take home.

Junior Great Books

First Year students have completed "The Mermaid's Comb". They completed this unit by building dioramas based on the story as well as writing mini book reports. The children took turns presenting their reports and fielding questions from their peers.

On March 4th, all PVMS students and staff will again share in making a meal for the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen, to be served by the Upper Elementary class. Notices have been sent home with specific items that will be needed to make the meal. Please be sure to note when your items will be needed at school - we are asking that the less perishable items be at the school no later than Friday, February 29, and the very perishable items be brought in on Monday morning March 3. Your child's notice will specifically show which item is requested and when it should be brought in.

This month PVMS will offer Pi(e) Day for the children in the different level programs to enjoy together. For those of you who were here in previous years, you may remember when Pie Day was held the day before Thanksgiving break. We are enjoying the same tradition of the older children as Pie Partners to the younger ones, who accompany them down to the multi-purpose room to eat a piece of pie together. This year, we are celebrating it on March 14th (3.14) to add in the mathematical possibilities, especially for the older children to appreciate. The teachers will be making some easier pies with the children, but we have need for HOME-BAKED APPLE PIES from parents. We understand that many of you do not have the time to bake pies, but if you do and would like to donate a pie or two, please call the office and speak to Margaret.

This summer, PVMS is planning for some upgrading for the Upper Elementary classroom, including rugs, furniture and new computers. We are excited to be planning for our largest class in a few years, with eight or nine fourth year students moving into the Upper Elementary program. If you have any ideas or would like to be part of the process, please speak with Pamela or Molly.

A parent of a sixth grader recently spoke with me about her child's visit to the MacDuffie School. At MacDuffie, admission personnel made a point to tell the parents of this child that they thought that it a good plan for our students to finish the sixth grade here at PVMS and transition to MacDuffie for seventh grade. They were very complimentary on how well-prepared our students are and that we "must have a wonderful program". We know that! - but it's nice to get that feedback from the community.

Maria Gomez, a parent of one of our students and a professor at Mt. Holyoke is offering three science workshops for children ages 4-7 years old. The workshops will be held at the Wilbraham Library. The ad is at:

The PVMS Board of Trustees is sponsoring MARTINI NIGHT, a fundraiser being on April 17th starting at 6 pm at Shakago's in downtown Springfield. We will be holding some raffles and need a few people to help Dawn collect a few great prizes. Please contact Molly at school or Dawn Henry at 413-221-5168 or Thanks for helping us make this evening a success.

The teachers and I have been discussing a modification of the Spanish program in which we will have levels of Spanish classes rather than the expectation that all children in one grade will be at the same level of Spanish. This aligns with the individualized approach that Montessori offers children in the classroom subjects. You will hear more about this over the next months.

A parent asked about PVMS offering after school language classes in French. I'd like to look into this possibility, so if you know of anyone who might be interested in teaching French to elementary aged children at our school, please have them call Molly.

SPANISH - Enero y Febrero - From Paula Wicks

January's topic was los partes del cuerpo- parts of the body. We sang a "Face" song and practiced with a magnetic face game. We made a person out of "junk" to practice body words and heard a silly story about a magician trying to make "pelo" (hair) appear on his friend's cabeza! "Cabeza, hombros, piernas, pies" (Head, shoulders, knees and toes) is a favorite song. At the end of enero, we reviewed shapes - las formas. The children passed around bean bag formas to practice the words. We made pictures out of shapes.

In February, we practiced clothes words. We packed a suitcase. We hung out the wash. We dressed felt dolls with felt clothes. We learned a song about getting dressed to the tune "Good Night Ladies."

Vocabulary - La cabeza
Ojos eyes
Orejas ears
Nariz nose
Boca mouth
Pelo hair

Vocabulary - La Ropa
Pantalones pants
Camisa shirt
Calcetines socks
Tenis sneakers
Chaqueta jacket
Vestido dress

Have fun practicing at home!

January's studies included "La Casa" words. Each level did some sort of house project which included words for the front of the house; the rooms in the house, and furniture in each room. I met with the children individually and asked them questions to practice "It's the _____", "Es la _____ or Es el _____." and noun/color agreement "La _____ es (color)." or "El _____ es (color)." "The _____ is (color).

In February we studied "Los Partes del Cuerpo" - parts of the body. Each level worked on a person project. After vacation and into early March, the children will present their projects to the class.

First Year students learned "Eenie Meenie Miney Mo" en espanol and are now studying "La Boca" which is about things on your head (cabeza) and what each does. For example; La nariz para oler (The nose to smell).

Second Year students worked on a story called "Wrong Notes" - Las Notas Malas. Each child named the main character in the story and filled in some missing words. We're doing a page just about every class. They're getting to be pretty good readers.

Third Year students created "La Casa del Gigante" The Giant's House. They got a lot of practice writing on each page. The pictures are truly wonderful. We are about to begin a story about playing in the snow.

A reminder: You should be seeing Spanish work coming home each week. Please take the time to read the comments and practice with your child. Gracias!


Fourth Year - In January we finished our family trees and presented them to the class. Practice sentences: Es la/el (family member). La/El (family member) se llama (name). Next we went on to emotion words and the verb "estar". We practiced conjugating the verb and practicing subject/verb emotion agreement. The children enjoyed the sentence game in which I gave an emotions sentence and they had to put it together with their subject, verb, emotion cards. In February we progressed to house words. They sketched the outside of the house, labeled it, and wrote descriptive sentences about it. A good chance to practice prepositions and noun/color agreement! We reviewed and learned some new furniture words and proceeded to design rooms inside the house. Their projects will be presented at the end of February or early March.

Fifth Year - In January we finished our town maps and the verb "estar" for location. We went on to emotion expressions with the verb "estar" and expressions with the verb "tener". I am impressed that they understand how to make the emotion agree with the subject and verb "estar." That they can keep those expressions separate from the "tener" expressions is nothing short of a miracle! Fifth years not only did the front of the house, the rooms, and the furniture; but, they also learned "yard" vocabulary. Setting a table was a fun activity. The house projects will be presented in early March.

Sixth Year - What an impressive group of students! They are reading, comprehending, and writing in conjunction with the book "A Trip to Mexico." We are also doing grammar in conjunction with each chapter. In January and February we have studied sentences with two verbs; the first is conjugated and the second stays in the infinitive. We have also been studying direct objects.

Please take a moment to review any papers which may come home from Spanish class. If you have not seen any, have your child check his Spanish notebook!! Sixth year work is largely in their notebooks, as it is integrated in grammar and reading lessons which must remain at school. Now Fourth and Fifth years .. you should be seeing their work! Thanks for your help!

ART and JUNIOR GREAT BOOKS Christie Hester-Moore


Upper Elementary and Second year students have just completed an assignment where they designed and created miniature three-dimensional houses made entirely out of cardboard. Each student was given the basic components for their structure as a starting point and a few guide lines to get them started. The results were amazing! The students came up with creative additions and solutions to customize their houses. Many students were so excited by this project that they plan to continue working on it at home.

The third year students have just completed an assignment on carving and sculpture. Students started out with an idea session in which they brainstormed about possible inspirations for the faux stone blocks they would be carving into. I think each of them have gained an appreciation for the strength and skill involved in this art form. It was very challenging for them to carve into their faux stone blocks and they used muscles they didn't know they had.

The first year students have just completed their mask and this project should be coming home shortly if not already. ( January's newsletter has extended details on this project.)


First year students have just started a new story entitled, "The Mermaid's Comb." This is the story of a kind boy and a mermaid who help each other and become friends. We have just completed our first reading of this story and are reviewing new vocabulary .

Second year students have just completed their first quiz for "The Blue Moose" and are finishing up the corrections on their old work. We will be starting a new story soon.

Third year students are currently reading a Japanese folk tale entitled, "Ooka and the Honest Thief". It is the story of a magistrate who is called to decide the fate of a thief who steals to feed his family. We have had many lively discussions about the choices that our main characters make and how the students feel this case should be decided. We are also in the process of reviewing the vocabulary for this story.

Fourth year students are reading a story entitled "Wisdom Wages and Folly's Pay." This is a comical story that explores the merits of advice. The students have just finished a written assignment detailing examples of good and bad advice that they have received.

click to expand
The Upper Elementary children accepting the computer that they won from Whalley Computers (see article below)

Thank you to all of you who have returned your re-enrollment forms letting us know of your educational plans for your children for next year. It is so important to us in our planning for our next academic year. There are a couple of months in the middle of the year when my attention is drawn to the next school year. When we make whatever decisions need to be made for the future, then our focus can come back to enjoying the current year.

Teachers are attending two different Montessori conferences in February and March. The first conference was in Austin last weekend and was attended by Sue Foerster, Lower Elementary Head Teacher, and Molly Reynolds, Head of School. This was the first Montessori conference that focused on Special Education and was full of useful ideas and resources.

In March, three teachers and the Head of School will be heading to Washington D.C. for the Annual American Montessori Society Conference. This is a 3-day conference full of workshops for every level teacher, as well as for heads of school. It is important that our teachers have these opportunities to gain knowledge and find inspiration.

To recall and celebrate the positive contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred February 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of Black abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation's bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month.

In each classroom at PVMS, the teachers are taking this opportunity to talk about slavery, the history of racism in our country and the civil rights movement, as well as talking about the contributions of past and current African American men and women.

WGBY (Channel 57) is airing African American Lives: Season 2 beginning February 6th. The featured people will include: Maya Angelou, Bliss Broyard, Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman, Tom Joyner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Chris Rock and Tina Turner.

Each program will be sending home information about how they would like to celebrate Valentine's Day with your children. Look for this flyer in your child's bag or backpack.

We are having a respite from the cold weather right now, but we will certainly get another visit from Old Man Winter, so please remember to send in appropriate outdoor winter clothes: snowsuit, mittens, boots and hat.

Also, you might consider sending in a warmer blanket if your child naps at school. It can feel cool on the cots in winter months.

SCIENCE FAIR - The date of the Science Fair has been changed to Thursday, April 3rd from 6-7:30 p.m. This event is for elementary students to create displays to demonstrate their science projects. The entire school is invited to come and enjoy the displays.

On March 4th, PVMS families will provide a meal for the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen in Springfield. This is a school-wide event that we organize every year. We will send home a notice with a request that your family donate some small portion of the meal. The elementary children prepare the main part of the meal and the Children's House classes make cookies. The oldest children go to the soup kitchen and help to serve the meal to community members.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a Public Health Advisory recommending that no child under the age of 2 years be given any over the counter cough or cold medicines. Children may suffer some serious and in some cases, life-threatening side effects. The FDA is currently reviewing the effects of these medicines in children ages 2-11. Until their review is complete, here are a few of their recommendations for parents and caregivers:
- Follow the dosing directions on the label of any over-the-counter medicines.
-Remember that these products are NOT a cure for a cough or cold and they will not shorten the length of the common cold.
-Only use the measuring spoon or cup that comes with the medicine or ones that are specially made for measuring medicines.
-Always contact a doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

For more information and a full list of the FDA's recommendations, visit:

A child in the CH program has been diagnosed with mononucleosis. Here is a summary of symptoms: Mono begins with flu-like symptoms - fever, headache and a general malaise and lethargy. After a few days, the lymph glands begin to swell. Most people develop a sore throat, which can be very severe, with inflamed tonsils. A fever can develop and may last up to three weeks. Please contact your pediatrician if you have questions or think your child may have mono.


Count birds for 15 minutes -- or more if you like -- from February 15 to 18, and have some fun, as well as helping with bird conservation! The Great Backyard Bird Count is led by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and is sponsored by Wild Birds Unlimited. When you participate as a "citizen scientist", the information you collect and send
in helps ornithologists know what's happening with bird populations all over the country.

Individuals, families, and school groups can all have a great time counting birds, whether outside a window, or on a walk in a park or out in the woods. It's free, and beginners are welcome -- it's okay to count just the birds you're familiar with, and extra resources are available to learn some new ones if you'd like.

After you're done counting, send in your results by computer or mail, and take a look on the computer at how the tallies go up all over the United States and Canada. Last year over 81,000 checklists were sent in, counting over 11 million birds! For more information: or you can call local contact Shemaya Laurel at 413-538-5772

There is a really nice set of resources for kids, at

The Upper Elementary Class has had an exciting time in recent months. Late in November, in passing, I heard an advertisement for a "Technology Makeover Contest." Luckily Susan Hershey had heard the same advertisement and was able to write down the company name - Whalley Computers of Southwick, MA. I explained to the students that to enter the contest, we had to write a 100 word essay explaining why PVMS should win the technology makeover. My expectation was that the students would each write a paragraph or so explaining why they thought the prize should go to us, and then we would share our ideas and write one essay from the class.The students had other ideas.

They all wrote wonderful compositions about the problems with our current computers and why new computers would help them in their work. Several wrote 100 word essays by themselves, others partnered with another child. In the end, instead of sending one essay, I sent a cover letter and attached many 100 word essays from our class.

The contest results were announced at a technology fair, and we came in 6th out of 150 entries. These amazing students competed with adults and placed sixth! They won a new HP desktop computer for our classroom. The people at Whalley Computers were very impressed with the essays and with the initiative taken by the children.

During this time we continued to read, write, work on math, learn about human biology, and study early American history. They returned from the December break ready to get back to the business of learning. It's always nice to see that on weeks that I allow them to choose and plan work for themselves, they often choose exactly what I would have thought they needed to practice, and then they choose something new and challenging.

Last week, we published the first PVMS Post, our new Upper Elementary newspaper. Carol LaLiberte volunteered her time and expertise to give the students the experience of publishing a newspaper. They learned about all of the different jobs involved in putting out a paper, chose the areas in which they would like to work, and decided what their target audience would find interesting. Then they interviewed, wrote, edited, edited more, typed, drew, did the layout, and finally distributed the first edition. Many thanks to Carol for all of her time and effort, and to Nina for her help with layout. This type of project provides many opportunities for learning in a multitude of areas, and it is fun!

LOWER EL WEST NEWS with Sue and Lucy

2008 is here and we are noticing, as in the past, that everyone seems to have grown since break. This reflects physical growth at first glance, but emotional growth for many is also measured as I think back to September! This growth is nice to see, but it also reminds us of how the third year students are thinking about moving on. They are very excited! Later on mixed emotions seem to surface (how sweet!).

Since vacation, we have been trying to get into our stride again making choices and fitting in assignments for the Enhanced Curriculum classes. This year we are sending home a new interim report which should offer more feedback to parents about progress, concerns etc. I'd like some feedback about this new report if / when you have time to share it.

Move Up Day was busy. The children moving up to first year next September spent some time in both of the Lower El classrooms. Many of them knew some of their past classmates and that was helpful in making them feel more comfortable. We first made our introductions and then partnered up. When looking around, we saw some being given a tour, many holding or looking at the animals, and some doing work related activities. Everyone passed through our room going into Susan's. This seemed to work out well.

That same evening was the opportunity for our interested parents to come and hear about some of what happens in Lower El. Susan and I met with a nice group, gave an overview and answered questions. It's nice to match the face of the child to his or her parents. We do encourage parents interested in Lower El to visit and get a sense of what goes on in the classes. We hope that you come away with a feeling of just how enriched this learning environment, both in terms of the active learning going on and the positive emotional climate.

We have been working on:

LANGUAGE: Pronouns, contractions, comprehension questions, 3rd year book reports, research, punctuation, capitalization, stories, paragraph work (3rd year), reading Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.

MATH: mad minutes, word problems, fractions, inequalities, missing addends exp. 8+?=13

CULTURAL: animal tracks, hibernation, wood working, sewing machine 101.

UP COMING: Loaves and Fishes meal

Ice cream making and eating with Marie Spellman

The Chinese New Year presented by Marie Spellman

A presentation by Julie who is a volunteer trainer of puppies who become trained for the sight impaired. Thank you Erin and Morgan Rhindress

Science Fair - April 3 6-7:30 Thursday (this is a change from your calendar)


December was a busy time for celebrations. We learned about Hanukkah, St. Nicholas Day (Netherlands), and Kwanzaa. We also talked about how animals prepare for the winter and studied different kinds of animal tracks.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays we have silent reading and then I read to the children. Our current chapter book is Abel's Island about a mouse who gets stranded on an island and uses his wits to survive. We are writing a "book report" that each child will bring home at the end of the story.

We have recently started doing "mad minutes." This is a timed activity in which the children have one minute to complete 20 addition problems. Since it is impossible to do this while counting on fingers, the children are encouraged to start memorizing their math facts. They love it and won't let a week go by without doing it.

One of our cultural activities this month has been learning about a few African-Americans who have made important contributions to our country. We have talked about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, George Washington Carver and his scientific achievements, and Louis Armstrong and his much-loved music. We will also be talking about Rosa Parks and her important role in the struggle for equal rights for all.

Our focus in science right now is fish. We have located the external parts on our fish model. The children are reading and learning the definitions for each of these parts, and we will be making a class book about the fish.

Upcoming events: Loaves and Fishes meal, science fair.

CHILDREN'S HOUSE SOUTH with Mary and Nicole

Halfway through winter already! The children have become much more efficient at getting dressed in all their snow gear at the end of the morning. What took 20 to 25 minutes at first is now accomplished in a mere 10 to 12 minutes. Older children helping younger ones is part of this improvement.

In December, we completed our invertebrate work with spiders, and spent most of January working on our first vertebrates, fish. Besides learning some of the parts of a fish, and looking at some of their fascinating variations, we had fun with fishy artwork, including large undersea sponge paintings. Timmy's mom Shannon helped us start this project, and Mary and Elsa's mom Lisa helped us with finishing it. Thanks Shannon and Lisa! We have now begun amphibians.

Thank you to Charlotte, Emma, Ella, Anne, Michael, and Jenn for the St. Lucia day presentation. With costumes, candles, tasty treats, a dance, and a little Swedish singing, the class greatly enjoyed this traditional celebration in mid-December.

Although we are not actively working on planets right now, here's an update of some of the easily visible celestial sights of February, taken from The Old Farmer's Almanac, 2008. Venus and Jupiter are close together in the pre-dawn southeast sky early in the month try 6:30 AM on the 1st, for example. On the 4th, the crescent moon will be below them. Venus is closer to the horizon each day, and is near Mercury from the 24th through the end of the month. Mars slightly reddish - is easily visible high in the sky at nightfall. And if that's not enough, we will be able to see a total lunar eclipse on the 20th-21st, if weather cooperates. The eclipse begins at 8:43 PM, ends at 12:09 AM, with totality beginning at 10:01 PM.

To Jenn, Michael's mom for her ongoing help with handwriting, and to Shannon, Timmy's mom, for monthly lunch coverage, many thanks again.


Feb. 14th Valentine's Day celebration watch for separate notice.
March 4th - Loaves and fishes food preparation. We need one parent volunteer to help us make lots of oatmeal cookies on Monday, March 3rd.

CHILDREN'S HOUSE NORTH with Andrea and Sara

Hello parents! I would like to start by mentioning that the Mid-Year Update Reports will be coming home on Wednesday, February 13. There will be two copies in the envelope; one for you to keep and one for you to sign and return to me. A conference is not necessary at this time unless requested on the report or if I have spoken to you previously. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to call me or write me a note and I would be happy to review anything as needed (via phone or in person).

Other upcoming events in February:
Valentine's Day Thursday, February 14 - if you choose to send in valentines for your child to distribute, please remember to keep it simple and have fun.
Winter Break February 18 22nd - Enjoy!!!

The children are diligently working throughout all areas of the classroom, which is just what they need to be doing this time of the year. We have just started studying reptiles and Tortie the tortoise is back! We will be discussing the parts of the turtle, as well as other activities in both the art and zoology/science area of the classroom for each child to explore.

Geography is still a major part of many of the children's daily activities. I hope you have enjoyed the push pin maps and the labeled and colored maps your children have created. It takes great concentration skills and the ability to focus for lengths of time to complete these detailed maps.

The new Practical Life activities certainly are a big hit this past week. The more advanced pouring, tweezing, scooping, lacing, etc. are just some of the variety of "works" for learning self mastery, self control, concentration, organization, and the ability to focus and carry through with an activity.

As always, Math and Language are an important part of each child's daily life. Each child continues to work through these curriculum areas at his or her own pace.

I have an unusual request; I am looking for the green velcro strips that come on different produce products (I have found them on the red or green leaf lettuce). They come in handy for securing number rolls and any other work that needs to be secured (rubber bands often damage the paper). Be on the lookout when you bring your groceries home.

AFTERNOON KINDERGARTEN CLASS with Andrea, Janice, and Sara

The children have been enjoying the many Ramona books we have been reading. The Ramona story/paper book will be coming home with your child to review and return.

The children are working in many areas in the classroom. Math and Language activities continue to be the first priority to complete in the kindergarten class. Sensorial, Geography, and Art are the favorite free choice activities.

We will be focusing on the area of Physical Science this month. Liquids/Solids and Magnets are the first topics the children will learn about. I have many hands-on experiments and lessons to introduce to the class. They will be learning what a hypothesis is and will be writing up the experiments.

Starting this month, each child will have the opportunity to bring Ziggy the Zebra (our classroom stuffed animal) home and write about the adventures he has had with your family that weekend. Please allow your child to write and illustrate their own experiences. This is a great language activity to help the children develop their written expression. There will be more details in the journal for you and your child to follow. I hope you and your child enjoy this activity.

Also, ask your child about "Caps for Sale" - it's our favorite rainy day skit.

Well that's it for now. May peace fill you and your children's lives.

CHILDREN'S HOUSE WEST Andi Stephan & Rosemary Gossman

Congratulations Sara! She welcomed the arrival of Caroline Parker born 7th of January. As Sara is away on maternity leave during January and February, I feel privileged to be working with her children.

Many of you know me as Max and Aria's mom (Max is in Andrea's class); However, I am an AMI certified professional who taught primary classes early in my career. With much support from Rosemary, the children haven't missed a beat in their individual curriculum needs and requirements.

Upon my arrival, we were knee deep in snow, so it was inevitable for the children to have a great interest in cutting paper snowflakes and bring this "winter wonderland" into our classroom environment. We also did an experiment freezing water and discovering water's freezing/melting point.

To welcome Caroline Parker, the class made a delightful card and enclosed it with a class gift (baby's first doll), which we sent to Sara and the baby. The interest in this new baby initiated the study of the human body. The children have had opportunities to learn about the life cycle of a human, and name the parts of the human body, skeleton and organs. The children especially enjoyed tracing and coloring their own bodies. "Baby washing" is presently a favorite activity for many.

Other topics discussed this month included Martin Luther King, Jr., peacemaking, problem solving and respecting ourselves, each other, our personal space, and our classroom. Presently, we are expanding our knowledge of our earth with the study of the land and water forms.

As we are in the middle of the winter season, and try to get outside to play when the weather permits, please remember to send in all necessary outerwear and mark it with your child's name. Many of our little ones still need a lot of adult assistance when getting ready for playtime. Parents can help expedite this process by providing outerwear that is easy for your child to put on and take off; and, by encouraging your child to dress on his/her own. These small steps help your child to become more independent and successful.

In February, we look forward to:

February 7 - Chinese New Year celebration
February 14 - Valentines Day celebration
February 18-22 Winter break


News from Head of School

I have just returned from co-chairing an AISNE (Association of Independent Schools of New England) accreditation team, which met for 4 days to visit, evaluate and make a recommendation as to whether AISNE should accredit this school. It was a fascinating and educational experience for me to be part of this team and to get an inside look at all aspects of another school's functioning. I got many ideas for things to implement here at PVMS. Other members of the team were teachers from two Montessori schools, a board chair of a school, a business manager of another school and another head of a Montessori school. It was so challenging to organize the exploration of the school and to put together the written 50 page report. PVMS has been accredited by AISNE for 16 years. Every 10 years, a school must be re-accredited. Our next re-accreditation will be in 2011.

HUGS Collection
We will be collecting Hats, Underwear, Gloves and Scarves from now until the 18th, when we will drop it off at a shelter for women and children. There is a listing of the ages of the children that we have sent home. Please call the office if you have any questions.

The PTSO and the school want to thank you all for supporting the several two fundraising activities lately at the school.

The total for the Sally Foster Fundraiser will be posted on the website in a couple of days.
This money goes to the PTSO and will be used to fund various activities for our school families over the rest of the school year. Sally Foster contacted us to say that you can still order products online and that PVMS will receive 50% of every purchase, as long as you enter our school code: 0378301. If you also enter the promo code SF07HOLIDAY you will receive a free $20 gift with any purchase.

The USBOURN Book Fair raised $632 from a sale of $2524 books during the sale period. This money is earmarked for Library purchases, primarily books for the children. Our Usbourn consultant, Aimee Engley, sent me a note with the check, which stated, "I want to thank Andi Stephan for her organization and help with the entire event. She really goes above and beyond to make sure that everything runs smoothly and that your school, parents and I have everything we need to make this a successful event." I second that statement. Thank you Andi!

The children that collected for UNICEF this year, raised $32, which we forwarded to UNICEF.

On Friday in Susan Hershey's Lower Elementary class, there was a spontaneous discussion among the children regarding "what school is about". Here is some of what those children suggested: learning, teaching, being creative, helping, listening, having fun, loving, doing work, enjoying work, being nice, being smart, cooking together, respecting everyone, being healthy, making friends, being peaceful, sharing, cooperating, laughing together and eating together. Sounds good to me!

We have only a short time until our Winter Break, which starts after school on December 18th. School classes will resume on January 2nd. I hope you all have a safe and warm vacation time and we'll see you in the New Year.


Our class is starting to feel like a community. The children are all well acquainted now, with us and with each other, and I am often given the gift of watching them help one another. One day when I dropped my clipboard and papers went flying, five children appeared instantly to gather them, and then went back to their work. They are also becoming increasingly adept and responsible in doing their cleanup chores at the end of the morning.

Our planet work is winding down. We have briefly discussed gravity, orbit and revolution, as well as the sun and the individual planets. I hope you have had a chance to view some of the visible planets with your child, and have heard the "Family of the Sun" song. Let me know if you want a copy of the song, and keep an eye on for viewing updates. Just now, Venus is very bright in the pre-dawn sky, well above the horizon in the southeast. Also, on December 23rd, Mars (high in the sky this month) will be visible near the 13th full moon of the year.

We are still working on invertebrates. We looked at shellfish, and picked apart a conch egg case to see the tiny conches inside, about the size of grains of sand. We are finishing up our insect work, and will work briefly on spiders before moving on to our first vertebrate, fish.

Dad's night and Mom's night were a treat for all of us. The children loved the chance to share their work, their friends, and their classroom with you all. Thanks for coming! Thanks too, to all of our chaperones on the Pell Farm field trip. We had a lovely time, and couldn't do it without you.

We loved our school wide sharing day, just before Thanksgiving. The elementary students divided among the three children's houses, and read books and worked with the younger children, who were delighted to spend this time with the "big kids".

Thank you to Jenn, Michael's mom, for ongoing help with handwriting. It makes a big difference having her focused attention on grip and direction for letter formation, and the children love it. Thank you to Shannon, Timmy's mom, for monthly lunch coverage, giving Nicole and me precious time to talk and plan.
Thank you to Trish, Mason's mom, for her help with the gorgeous leaf prints the children made.

With the colder weather, in addition to a warm coat, please send a hat and mittens (much easier for us than gloves, unless your child can don them independently consider the idea of 200 fingers needing help). And whenever it snows, until all snow is melted from our playground, children need snow pants and boots as well. And please label everything!


Time is certainly turning quickly these days and the children are anticipating the winter break. With all that is going on in our busy lives, the classroom remains the children's place of peace and continuity, as well as, the ongoing, ever-changing abilities and relationships. I am pleased to welcome our new classroom member Anastasia (Sia) to our classroom at this time.
I hope the children expressed some thoughts regarding "Sharing Day" before the Thanksgiving Break the children from the Upper and Lower Elementary classes joined our classrooms for activities and reading! It was a new and different way to get together as a school the children enjoyed being together in the classroom atmosphere.
As always, the children continue to work through the curriculum areas both independently and teacher instructed as well. I am pleased with both the children's acceptance and willingness of teacher directed activities and their independent, self-chosen activities as well.
In Geography, many children are creating map collections of all the individual continents involving labeling, coloring, matching, etc. The flags, globes, land/air/water/ matching, and the land and water forms continue to be continuously in use at all levels.
The Botany cabinet and the leaf classification/matching cards, in the beginning of November, were of considerable use when recognizing the many different types of leaves and their changes during the season. Hopefully some of you may have spent some time reviewing the leaf booklets that may have come home.
As always the Art, Sensorial, and Practical Life curriculum areas are ever-changing and always in use. The most important skills and abilities are developing within these areas academic, social, and physical. Most importantly - with repetition of these activities comes mastery, with mastery comes confidence, and from there the learning possibilities are endless. Also, listening to the conversations that take place during these activities is delightful and informative!
I am extremely impressed with both the Language and Math work taking place throughout all levels of the classroom. I'm sure most of you are enjoying the story-papers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. coming home these days. The children are truly working hard in these areas!


Wow.this class is putting out the work INDEPENDENTLY! They love the stories during reading time and re-creating books! They have decided to turn the Trumpet of the Swan story-paper book into a library book (because it is so large) as some of you may have seen already. In addition to the wonderful writing and reading explosions, we have enjoyed participating in the many of the "All About Me" presentations during the last several weeks. First, we enjoyed Tristan's dad, John, and his demonstration on gravity using Tristan's favorite area of interest ROLLER COASTERS. John thoughtfully prepared activities, discussions, and a question/answer follow up group for the children to participate in, as well as, baked Irish Bread for us to share! Thank you Tristan and John! Our next presentation on Ghana, with Kayla's dad, Tony, was fascinating. Tony brought in traditional clothing relevant to the area his family resides, told stories, sang songs, and shared family pictures of Kayla and her family from Africa. It was so interesting to hear about. We also enjoyed hearing from Tommy's mom, Shirley, and her stories and pictures from China. Shirley read the class books, shared traditional family vacation pictures, sang traditional children songs, and discussed the significance of the Chinese education to Tommy and his family. All of these presentations have been both important and exciting to our afternoon class and I thank all the parents who have participated so far and also those who are planning to join us, in the future (I know schedules are tight we are flexible).
It's been a pleasure!

with Peace,


Greetings! We hope you enjoy the updates from Children's House West. It's been a busy room over the last few months. Just as the cold weather has settled in, the children too have settled in nicely; creating a peaceful classroom community. Each child is a unique part of our special whole. Friendships have formed, songs have been learned, routines are expected and respected, comfort and trust have children opening up and sharing freely, and the children are eager to work.
With winter approaching, we've been discussing the warm items everyone should be bringing to school. For snow weather we're hoping everyone can bring in boots, snowpants, hats, mittens, and coats. Putting your child's name on any of these garments is incredibly helpful to Rosemary and I as we will be helping 20 children get ready for the outdoors each day.
Since our last newsletter we've had quite a few events at school. We enjoyed a field trip to Pell Farm. Thank you to all of the parents who helped chaperone that day. At Halloween, Sophia's family brought in small pumpkins and paints. Everyone enjoyed painting their pumpkin and bringing it home. Thank you Leah, Christopher, and Sophia!
We also had the school Halloween party and picture day. We are excited to have a picture of our current class to put up near the snack table. Mom's night and Dad's night were both fun evening events. Some children enjoyed sharing their favorite parts the following day. We also had the book fair, and thank you to all the families who donated books to our room! The library is always a popular place in our room, and now we have an even wider selection of wonderful books to choose from. We also received some great peace and conflict resolution books from Kayla's family earlier in the year, thank you! Before Thanksgiving we had Sharing Day where children from the elementary classrooms visited our room and did various activities with the children. It was a nice experience for everyone, and we hope they will come back for another visit some time.
Some of the work we've been doing in the classroom has got children thinking about the whole world. We've talked a lot about the continents and are now looking at North America. We'll study its countries, people, culture, and geography.
We have talked about invertebrates and vertebrates, and what makes them different. Next we will study mammals and their different characteristics and names.
We enjoyed learning about trees, and the changing of seasons. With that brought on the discussions of migration, harvesting, hunting and gathering, and hibernation. There are so many topics to talk about, and the children are so enthusiastic to learn and share. We'll have lots more to share about our classroom for our next newsletter to you!


December is almost here and we've already seen our first snow fall! We're aware of the time past when looking at the growth of the children. They have become a cooperative group and also grown individually. We in Montessori say that the group has become normalized. They are familiar with routines, expectations, care of each of each other, and their environment. It is rewarding plus enjoyable to see their confidence and happiness.

Mom's and Dad's Night were popular, fun events. The children cleaned their environment and prepared snacks. The pumpkin squares made from a roasted pumpkin were delicious. The children also enjoyed eating the roasted seeds.

Thank you for your patience in regards to your child's conference. I'm trying to set up times for the few parents that I haven't met with. Please call if you have not heard from me with convenient times. I appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers during my mom's illness.

Our book fair contributions from Nonni, Emma, Brendan, Nico and Angelica Mushenko, Russell and Martha, Josephine and Nick are a wonderful addition to our classroom library!

Sharing Day was new this year. The children from Lower EL and Upper EL went to the Children's House in small groups to pair off and read or do work with a younger partner. It is always such a touching sight to see the whole school involved in this way. Later, the Lower El classes and Upper El shared a jointly made fruit salad together. We talked about what we were thankful for and they had time to talk to one another. All of the multi-aged groupings of children that morning demonstrated such grace and courtesy!

We have been studying:
Language: adverb/ verb work, prefixes, suffixes, plurals, dictionary usage, alphabetical order, letter writing, research, reading Aesop's Fables to prepare for our trip to the theatre production, (which was enjoyed by all!)
Math: mad minutes, stamp game, less than greater than, story problems, division, multiplication.
Cultural: leaf work, tree work, map work. Alexis brought in information regarding the sponsoring of an injured or rescued seal from the Marine Animals Rescue Team at Mystic Aquarium. The children have been writing letters to go home to inform parents of this. They need to earn $1.30 each in order for us to sponsor a seal which will hopefully be released. Great idea!

Our special event for December is our holiday luncheon. We will be sending home a notice regarding this.

Upcoming: winter break,
cursive for our first year in the New Year.
reading program

Until next year
Have a healthy peaceful break!
Sue and Lucy


We have been so busy, the time has flown by, and it's December already. Some of the areas of study we have all been working on include:
geometry - concepts of solid, surface, line, point
time - creating a time line by making a tally mark for each day
vowels and consonants
lots of autumn-related concepts and topics, including trees and leaves,
pumpkins, bulbs (we planted daffodils in the Peace Garden), harvest
characteristics of vertebrates and invertebrates
land and water forms
continents and oceans - each child made his/her own map

We have had three visitors come in to share with us. Haylee's mother helped with the cooking of chili that we made with the dried beans from my garden that the children removed from their pods. Hayden's mother shared with us her knowledge of wool and all the processes it goes through from sheep to blanket. Then she helped us make little sheep from real wool. Finally, Maya's mother came in to talk to us about the Hindu celebration of Diwali. She also showed us clothing and other items from daily life in India and talked to us about that interesting country.
Our Sharing Day just before Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. Each of the children in our class spent some time in one of the Children's House classes, sharing books, art projects, practical life and sensorial activities. We also chopped up the fruit that the children brought in, added it to the fruit from the other elementary classes, and shared a delicious fruit salad with them in the afternoon.
The field trip at the end of the month was to the Theaterworks production of Aesop's fables. The interactive nature of this puppet performance caught the children's interest and had them laughing a lot. Back in the classroom, we have listened to many of the fables, are writing about our favorite one, and have the opportunity to make paper bag puppets to take home.

Susan Hershey

UPPER ELEMENTARY - Pamela and Judy

Wow! It's already December!? In one sense, it seems as though we just began the school year yesterday. Then I watch the children. They have formed a comfortable, safe, helpful group. Ideas are shared, projects are planned, and support is offered as they go about the business of learning.
When I think of all the topics explored and skills mastered, I am amazed by their capacity to learn. We have studied the Work of Wind, and each child researched a topic related to weather and shared a project with the class.
Our early explorations of climate, environment, and cultures on each continent have now found focus in the Americas. We have begun a timeline of American History. The students planned and calculated appropriate scales, and carefully measured and drew the base. Others are researching early cultures on our culture. We will share the things we discover in the appropriate spot on the timeline.
In just a few short months, their vocabulary, understanding of grammar, and written work has grown. Some have just this year begun to study parts of speech in depth, and are learning how to diagram sentences. The older students, too, have moved into new territory in grammar. The fifth year students are working to diagram sentences with direct and indirect objects, adverbial extensions, predicate adjectives, or predicate nominatives. The sixth year students have begun to conjugate verbs in the perfect tense, the progressive tense, and the perfect progressive tense. They enjoy a challenge, and they work hard.
There are always many things different things going on in our math work. I watch the students for mastery and readiness for the next step, but often they decide for themselves that they want to know how to do a certain kind of math problem. We do a P.O.D. (Problem of the Day) each morning. This gives the students practice in logical reasoning and problem solving. We sometimes take problems from a book, but more often, we invent a problem that has to do with our lives. We have done problems involving the attendance records of the Big E, the relative cost of pumpkins, and the square inches of wrapping paper required to cover a box. It is exciting to see students, who began the year hesitant to try a multi-step problem, confidently doing three or four steps to find a solution. The older students often choose different ways to solve a problem, and they enjoy sharing their logic with each other.
So, it is December already, and the students have already grown academically as well as physically.

Pamela Kinn

Happy New Year to all of you!

The classes are now back to their routines after all of the excitement of the holiday and vacation time. We grownups can hardly believe that it is 2008 now, and about halfway through the school year.

Sara Hannah, Children's House head teacher, has had her new baby. She and her husband David have named their healthy bay Caroline Parker Hannah. We all look forward to meeting her - we hear that she has lots of dark hair and looks just like Sara!

This Thursday night, September 17th, we will be hosting MoveUp Night from 5:30 - 6:30. This hour is for parents of currently enrolled students who will be eligible to move up to the next higher program at PVMS. There will be a presentation on Montessori Kindergarten in Children's House South with Mary VanLeuwen and Andrea Thibert. In Lower Elementary West, Sue Foerster and Susan Hershey will talk about that program. Pamela Kinn will present information and answer questions about the Upper Elementary class.

At 6:30, our Open House will begin. This is for any families from the surrounding communities who are interested in PVMS for Fall 2008. Please invite any neighbors or friends who are looking for a good program for their children.


Please note the following corrections on your PVMS calendars:

On our page-by-page calendar: Martin Luther King Day is shown on the wrong day it is actually on Monday, January 21. The month of August at the end is 2008, not 2007.

On the single page calendar: there is a Curriculum Day (teacher work day) on March 28, and there should be a box around that date indicating there are no classes on that day.


We received a thank you letter from the JEFFERSON AVENUE SHELTER thanking PVMS families for the many items donated to our HUGS Collection.

HOOD SOX TOPS Our families collected 550 caps for which we received a total of $27.50.

SALLY FOSTER Our total for the wrapping paper/gift fundraiser was $1833. Thank you to all families who helped the PTSO by supporting this fundraiser.


We want to thank PVMS families for making this year's Usbourne Book Fair successful. We raised a total cash amount of 2524.65 which is slightly higher than last year. The pre-order option was very well received and comprised nearly half of our total cash amount of book sales. Our teachrs received 66 books and educational materials valued at $582.68. Over a quarter of our total cash amount. Becxause of the generolsity of our parents, not only did our classrooms received some very fine books, but the PTSO received 25% of our total proceeds or $652. Thank you again for your generous support.

SPANISH with Paula Wicks

Children's Houses

Noviembre y Diciembre

The end of Octobre, beginning of Noviembre found us practicing encima (on top) and debajo (under). We used a sheet to practice. Especially fun (of course) was "debajo d e la sabana!" We practiced family words madre (mother) padre (father) nino (boy) nina (girl). We sorted pictures and guessed which side up a plate with madre and padre on it would land- kind of like "heads or tails." We've just begun "house" words with the outside first. We "built" a casa with a techo (roof), a chimenea (chimney), a puerta (door) and lots of ventanas (windows). We learned a little song about living en la casa con (with) mi familia.

We continue to practice verbs through movement and our song "Asi, Asi". We practice colors with another song (to the tune "Have You Ever Seen a Lassie") called "If You Are Wearing (Spanish color.)" We practice school vocabulary with the "Pollito-Chicken" song and counting with the "Ten Little Indians" tune and Spanish numbers and names of objects.

Just before winter break we learned a little about "Las Posadas" which is celebrated at this time of year in Mexico, and many Spanish speaking countries. You may have seen the "Fish" poem and the glitter fish that your child made in conjunction with that cultural study.

Spanish-Lower El

Noviembre, Diciembre

Grade 1 - The poem for Noviembre was "Pin Pon." The children memorized this poem and made a paper puppet. We began our study of family words and made a family tree which the children were able to speak about: Es el------. Es la-----. We practiced prepositions encima de (on top) and debajo de (under) in conjunction with school vocabulary. The children made paper mochilas (backpacks) and put in school vocabulary as well. As winter break approached, we heard a Mexican Christmas story and made a poinsettia which is native to Mexico.

Vocabulary: madre- mother Padre - father abuela - grandmother abuelo -gandfather hijo -son
hija -daughter encima de -on top debajo de - under
School vocabulary came home in paper mochilas.

Grade 2: Family vocabulary is Grade 1 plus tia (aunt) and ho (uncle). The Second Years also made and discussed family trees: Es la-----. Es el-----. And also Mi (family vocabulary) se llama his/her name. We went on to emotions vocabulary and the practice sentences:Yo estay-----. I am-----
Tj estas -----. You are-----.

We made a sentence game to practice our vocabulary. We acted our emotions. This is the first time this year for agreement practice-masculine/feminine and the children are doing well!
Emotions vocab: Contento, contenta - happy, cans ado(a) - sleepy, enfermo(a) - sick,
Triste - sad, enojado(a) - angry, asustado(a) - scared

Our preposition list:
Encima de - on top of, debajo de - under, detras de - behind, delante de - in front of, en - in (on).

We practiced with the school vocabulary and the verb "esta."
El/la (school) esta (preposition) (school). Before winter break we did a color review with the poem "Nana Nanita" in conjunction with our "las Posadas" studies. We discussed Christmas in Mexico.

Grade 3 - Family vocabulary is First & Second Years' lists plus primo/prima-cousin, hermano/hermana- brother/sister. They made and discussed the family trees. We practiced d Como se llama tu (family member)? What's your (family) name? Mi (family) se llama (name).

Our preposition practice was similar to Second Year's with the addition of "al lado de "-next to. Our emotions vocab added "preocupado/preocupada"- worried, as well as El/Ella esta"-----(He/She is-----.) The third years are "old hands" at masculine/feminine agreement and are working hard at singular-plural agreement as well.

Just before winter break, the children took turns reading "Las Posadas" and discussing vocabulary in the story. Their craft was a paper lantern. The Mexican people carry "faroles" in their processions during Las Posadas.

Spanish Upper El, Noviembre, Diciembre

Fourth Years - Meeting just once a week. The progress has been slow, but, steady! We spent time practicing the prepositions (3rd year list plus cerca de- near, lejos de- far, and entre- in between) and the full conjugation for the verb "estar". We practiced with school vocabulary. We've also been working on noun/color agreement-masculine/feminine and singular/plural. The fourth years performed a short play "Ruidos Otonales" (Autumn Sounds) for the kindergarteners. We've just begun our family vocab. Unit. For the holidays, they will be reading the Mexican Christmas story in Spanish and discussing it. They will also make poinsettia pinwheels.

Fifth Years-True to other Fifth Years, this is a pivotal year en espanol. Grammar is starting to make more sense. Vocabulary is more or less already learned in First through Fourth Year. At the same time, it is a struggle to get Fifth Years to proof-read, which is essential to Spanish! We've studied school vocab with the addition of classes (historia, matematica, etc.) and how to tell time. We've reviewed family vocabulary with the addition of places in the city and in conjunction with prepositions. We've revisited noun/adjective agreement and verb conjunctions for -ar,-er, and -ir verbs plus a few irregular verbs. We're about to take a little quiz on family, city, estar, and prepositions. We took a little break from all of our studies by decorating "La Rama" and discussing Las Parrandas" in Puerto Rico and "Las Posadas" in Mexico.

Sixth Years - We're practicing all of the vocabulary and grammar and oral reading we've learned in five years when we read the chapters in "A Trip to Mexico." We're learning a lot of new vocabulary and new grammar. We're practicing our pronunciation. We're learning how to answer questions in complete sentences and how to form questions and statements. When they apply themselves, they are quite a capable bunch! Occasionally I throw in some grammar from my high school text books. We had a little quiz on pages 1-7 before the winter break. The Sixth Years joined the Fifth Years for the "Rama" decorating.

ART - Christie Hester-Moore

Both the Upper and Lower Elementary students have been learning and working on mask making and print making. You may have had the pleasure of seeing some of our students' work on display throughout the school.

During the unit on mask making, we took a look at the different cultures around the world that use masks in ceremonies, story telling and celebrations. The children examined different examples of African and Asian masks. Students talked about masks they had seen or were displayed in their own homes. They related the use of masks to their personal experience of Halloween. The students then designed and created their own masks out of recycled cardboard, paints, glue, raffia, and beads. The results were beautiful and imaginative. Some of the masks were inspired by favorite animals or people, while other masks were abstract.

Our unit on printmaking was incorporated into calendars that students took home to share as gifts this holiday season. Printmaking is a multi-step process. Traditionally artists will use sharp carving implements to create designs in wood or linoleum and then apply pigments with a brayer. They then transfer their designs on to paper or other materials. In class, we alter this technique some what (for safety's sake) with a product that students can carve with pencils or toothpicks.

JUNIOR GREAT BOOKS - Christie Hester-Moore

First Year Students have just finished listening to the story "The Lion at School". It is about friendship and facing ones fears. Students not only listened to this story but, are participating in a variety of activities designed to enhance their understanding of the material and encourage them to express their ideas. The children are introduced to vocabulary they may be unfamiliar with. They also draw pictures of specific events in the story which requires them to be good listeners so they can recall the details of the story and express them in their drawings.

Second Year students are currently reading the story, "The Blue Moose" which is a story about a friendship that takes place in a restaurant in Maine. Students have just completed an assignment where they designed a menu for their own restaurants. Just before the vacation, we enjoyed a snack of gingerbread and students took turns sharing with the class the menu they designed.

Third Year students have just finished reading a story entitled, "The Monster Who Grew Small", which is the story of small a boy who learns to conquer his fears because of his desire to help others. We are currently working on vocabulary and a writing assignment related to this story.

Fourth Year Students have recently finished reading a story by author Langston Hughes entitled, "Thank You M'am". We started this unit by taking a look at the life and some of the work of Hughes. In this story, the main character is driven to a desperate act by his circumstances and receives kindness and understanding from an unlikely source.

November 2007 Newsletter

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Sally Foster giftwrap fundraiser. Some parents took the catalog to work and encouraged co-workers to look through the catalog: others shared it with family and friends. Thank you everyone. The money raised will be used to support the PTSO activities this year. The PTSO organizes the Fall and Spring Family Picnics, the Winter Family Event, the Halloween Party and other events. They also pay for the tote bags for the Children's House students. Thank you to Judy Zorzi for chairing this event. If you forgot your order on Friday, you can send it in on Monday morning or order online this weekend.

Once again this year, sixth year student, Marisa Zorzi has single-handedly promoted the collection of Sox Tops (specially labeled milk tops). She makes the collection boxes and sends off the tops periodically. She is perhaps motivated by the possibility of winning a visit from a Red Sox player to our school, but whatever her reasons, we appreciate it! Go Red Sox!!!

Adoption is a way that many people use to build their families. Some families adopt infants domestically, other families adopt toddlers and children internationally; still others adopt older children from our foster care system. Many lives are touched by adoption. These days, it is the rare person who doesn't know someone who has adopted or who is adopted. There are also, of course, many women and men who have made adoption plans for their biological children who they were unable to raise themselves.

Our staff have periodic trainings in adoption to assure that they are being sensitive to the needs and feelings of adoptive children and their families. At the end of this month, Maura Geary, a mother of a PVMS child, will talk to our elementary classes about adoption. We want our children to use language that is sensitive to the reality of adoption: saying "birthmother" (instead of "real mother"), "made an adoption plan" (instead of "gave up for adoption") for instance. We want them to understand that children whose birth parents made an adoption plan for them are children who are greatly loved by both their birth parents and their adoptive parents.

Last month, Dr. Shannon Whalen, a health educator (and PVMS parent), offered Puberty Classes to our Upper Elementary families. Two of her students assisted her and provided sensitive, important information to these older children. Thank you Dr. Whalen!

On Wednesday November 7th, PVMS invites all Moms or older female friends to come visit your child's classroom between 6 pm until 7:30. See what work your child is excited about currently and share a snack with him or her. Please park next to the school in the wooded parking areas unless there is a mobility issue. Bring a flashlight for finding your car later in the dark!

There are no classes on conference day. The conferences are scheduled for twenty minutes each between 8 a.m. and 2:20 p.m. Please call the school office at 782-3108 to schedule an appointment. If you are unable to meet that day, please speak with your child's teacher to find another time that you can meet to discuss your child's progress. Childcare will be available during your conference. The USBOURN BOOKFAIR will be going on that day in the AfterSchool room. Any pre-ordered books will be available that day and there will be lots of books available for purchase. These books have been suggested by PVMS teachers.

As mentioned earlier this week, there is an area of the website for current parents only. The user id is: parent and the password is: pvms0708c to view this area. If you would like to take part in the Parent discussion forum, you must create your own user id and password. Also on the website, you can now find financial aid applications and instructions, as well as school applications.

MUSIC NOTES from Ashley Butler
I am so pleased to be a part of PVMS. I have really enjoyed working with everyone, and I am looking forward an exciting year.
In the Children's Houses, we are learning a new song each week, many of which have dances to go with them. The children especially like the "Froggy Song" (Five little frogs). We are also working on circle dances and composing basic rhythmic patterns using our fruits (plum, grapefruit, pineapple, and watermelon), each of which represents a different rhythmic idea. In the next couple months, we will continue to learn new songs and compose longer rhythmic patterns. We will also be learning new dances.
In the Lower Elementary class, we have been doing several rhythmic and movement activities, including dance, the Name Game, and rhythmic fruits. We have also been learning songs that have accompanying dances, such as "Hello, Good Morning" and "Bow Wow Wow". Additionally, we are beginning to study musical form through listening and movement. We are setting the foundation to start singing rounds, and we will soon begin reading music. We will be learning more complex songs and dances, and we will prepare ourselves to compose short pieces. We will also be studying more musical vocabulary.
In the Upper Elementary class, we have been learning some difficult songs, but the students are doing really well with them. We have been learning about the different periods in music history, and we have started to learn to read music in both the treble and bass clefs. We have been studying musical vocabulary and learning about musical form. Additionally, we have been working on a complex circle dance. In the next couple months, we will continue to learn about music history and theory, and we will learn new songs from many different genres of music. We will begin to compose, and we are also going to begin playing the recorder.
In Chorus, we are learning songs from all around the world, including "Siyahamba," which is from Africa, and "An Musik," which is German. We have been working on rounds, such as "Hey Ho, Nobody Home." We also play games such as "Down By the Bay" every week, and we end with "Round and Round We Go," which we are beginning to sing as a round. We will soon begin to work on songs for the show in May.
Again, I am so happy to have joined the staff at PVMS. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

ART AND JUNIOR GREAT BOOKS with Christie Hester-Moore


Hello everyone. It is hard to believe that November is here already. I always like to start my first newsletter of the school year with a brief explanation of the Junior Great Books curriculum so that parents with students new to the Upper of Lower Elementary school program will have a clear understanding of this class.

The Junior Great Books curriculum is designed to develop students' reading comprehension. This program will give students many opportunities to interact with thought-provoking stories as they develop their reading, writing, oral communication, and critical thinking skills. All students, whether or not they are fluent readers, will be able to contribute and will grow in their ability to read and enjoy challenging literature.

First Year Students are currently listening to a story entitled, "The Frog Who Went-A-Traveling." It is the story of a clever frog who figures out a way to fly. We have just completed our vocabulary work sheets as well as drawings of places students would like to visit.

Second Year Students are reading "The Red Balloon". This is the story of a lonely boy who is befriended by a red balloon. The second grade Junior Great Books curriculum is quite a step up from the first grade curriculum. Students are responsible for their own text books and are now required to take turns reading aloud in class. In addition to the reading
Requirement students are introduced to more demanding written assignments and vocabulary. I'm pleased to say that the second year students are making the transition very successfully.

Third Year students have been reading a story entitled "The Green Man". This is a story about a selfish young man who comes to realize the importance of caring for others, as well as the environment. This is a simple, yet poignant, story that ties in nicely to our school theme "The World We Share". The children enjoy this story and we have had some interesting conversations about the evolution of Claude, the main character in this story.

Fourth Year students have recently finished reading "The Story of Wang Li". This is the story of a wise young man and his mother. In this story, the main character often uses proverbs to communicate with his mother. We have just finished an assignment where students wrote their own proverbs, so be sure to ask your student about this work.


The focus in art is for students to gain an appreciation and understanding of different art forms and have the chance to interpret these mediums in their own unique and creative ways.

We will also:
Continue the on going theme of utilizing recycled materials
Work on seasonal projects throughout the school year.
Incorporate the school wide theme of "The World We Share" into several projects
throughout the year.

Upper and Lower Elementary students just finished learning about the work of Vincent van Gogh. We look at some of his paintings and discussed the tools, techniques, color palettes, and possible inspirations for his work. Students were than given the opportunity to create their own painting inspired by what they learned and observed in class.
Be sure to look for these works of art to be coming home soon.

SPANISH - Paula Wicks

Hola, Padres! I wanted to give you some general information about our language program. Here is a quick pronunciation guide. A Spanish dictionary will also come in handy. Why not practice some espa ol at home?

Vowels: a ah
e eh (almost ay)
i ee
o o
u oo (spool)

Consonants: Mostly the same as in English with a few additions!

ll yah
c (with e,i) s
c (with a,o,u) k
j huh (h)
h silent
g (with e,i) huh (h)
g (with a,o,u) guh (hard g)
que kay
qui key

Children's Houses:

Spanish meets for half an hour each week. The whole group sings, moves, does counting, calendar, and weather work, and practices vocabulary words. I try to get each child to participate. It's very fast paced! The children have "work" which they can choose to do in school.

Sara Hannah's class Tuesday 9:30-10
Mary's class Wed. 9:30-10
Andrea's class Thurs. 9:30-10

Lower Elementary:

Grades 1-3 meet twice a week for 45 minutes each time. We do calendar, weather, counting and verb work as a warm-up. Sometimes we review past lessons; then on to the lesson! So far we've done "Me" books/posters, school vocabulary and prepositions.

A written assignment is given each week, to be completed in one week's time. It's purpose is practice, but I do look for certain things for each assignment! Is the work completed in a timely manner? (If not, they spend their break working on it!) Is the work neat? Does the work show that they understand the lesson? Check their backpacks for corrected assignments! I also monitor what each child does in Spanish class - Does he/she participate? Does he/she behave? Does he/she know the vocabulary as the unit progresses?

Reading is a part of each grade level. A first grader may be asked to use consonant sounds as clues to reading a word. They may come to recognize numbers and colors. A second grader not only uses consonant clues; but, begins some vowel work as well. Hopefully by the time the child is in third grade they can sound out Spanish words syllable by syllable! They will get practice reading and understanding short, repetitive stories.

Upper Elementary:

This year I have a small group of children who have not had any Spanish! This group meets twice a week for 30 minutes each time. Children in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade meet once a week for 45 minutes. Small group: Mon. 11:00-11:30, Thurs. 12:30-1:00. Grade 4: Thurs. 1:00-1:45. Grade 5: Tues. 12:30-1:15 and Grade 6 1:15-2:00.

Grades 4 & 5 and the small group still spend most of their time expanding their vocabulary, working on grammar, conversing, and reading short stories. (Grades 5 & 6) The focus of Grade 6 is reading! We have two reading books: A Trip to Mexico and A Trip to Spain. I choose one each week, their written work is designed for practice each day. I'll assign a certain section to be completed each day that they're not in Spanish class so that they practice instead of doing it on one day and forgetting about it for the rest of the week! At least that's the way it's supposed to work! Judy keeps her eye on things so that written work runs smoothly. As in Lower Elementary, assignments are expected to be neat and completed on time. Written work, classroom conduct criteria are the same for Upper and Lower Elementary.

Please feel free to call the school if you have any concerns. I will not be able to come to the phone; but, I will call you after school or in the evening if you leave a number where you can be reached.




Wow, it's nearly October already! I am always surprised at how quickly September goes by. I hope that the transitions that autumn brings have gone well for your family. It's likely that one of the biggest transitions for many of your families has been a child's transition to school, especially if you have a preschool age child who is attending school for the first time. Most of the children have by now gotten used to the separation, and are happily coming to class each day.

Our new website is up and running now so check it out. Our web address is the same as it has been, I am so pleased to have the new website because it is one that I can edit easily myself, although I haven't yet learned how to program in all of the fonts, letter size etc edits that I would like to use. I will be great to be able to make changes to different areas of the website, as needed.

We are looking for a family who would be interested in bringing home a very large, paper mache' creature that was made by our Upper Elementary class a few years ago. We used to have The Giant in our hallway, but now that we are more cramped for space, we no longer room for him/her. The Giant is currently outside, on our back steps. He/she would be an interesting addition to your home. Please consider whether you might want to invite The Giant to stay with you!

If you volunteered to be a room parent and have not received a letter from us, please call Molly. We were pleased to have more than one volunteer for each room so we have organized our volunteers into Room Parent Teams, headed by a Team Leader. The Team Leader will be the liaison between the teacher and the Team, and will coordinate the tasks that need to be accomplished. Thanks to all of you that volunteered.

Candace Girard, one of last year's PTSO co-presidents, and Erin Rhindress, last year's yearbook editor, are combining forces to be the PTSO Co-Presidents for the 2007-08 school year. Please offer the PTSO whatever time and support that you can during this year's events for the children.

I'm writing this newsletter from Minneapolis, where I attended a wedding this weekend. I hope that you had good weather for the Fall Family Picnic and that you had the opportunity to meet some other families.

If there are any changes in afternoon pickup please call the school office before 1:45 p.m., so that we can include it on our afternoon message board that is brought around to all the classes.

Thank you for the care that you are taking in the driveway. We notice a lot of patience and safety-conscious driving behavior during pick up and drop off times.

If you are dropping off your child after the teachers have gone inside, please park in a single lane nearest the school. This will facilitate cars behind you being able to get out of the driveway if they are ready sooner than you are.

The Children's House teachers will soon receive some training from Dr. Rae Bannigan over the next couple of weeks to increase their skills in assessing which children may have some special language needs that can best be addressed best during these early years, rather than waiting until the child falls behind in kindergarten or first grade. This training is being supported by the Rosal-Steingrub Fund, which was set up at the end of last year by a family in the school.

The new Lower Elementary East classroom has 9 children in it currently, all first graders. Next year, we will add another group of first graders to the then second graders. Susan Hershey is enjoying her work with this group, most of whom she knows from last year's kindergarten class.

Dawn Henry, the President of the Board of Trustees, is looking for volunteers to help paint the new walls of the classroom. If you would like to be a part of this effort, contact Dawn or Molly Reynolds.

Ashley started music classes last week, which were very well-received by the children. Ashley has a set of goals for each age group, which I'll send out in a future newsletter. Music classes for the Children's Houses included doing some rhythm activities with them. They learned the terms "forte" and "piano". The older children sang some rounds, did rhythm activities and were reminded of some music terminology. Ashley is doing some assessing of what the elementary children already know so that she can create an appropriate curriculum for each group.

We are looking for someone who is willing to shop occasionally for our classes. The most common need is to Costco or BJ's, or the grocery store. This shopping can coincide with your own trips to these places. We would keep a list at the school of items needed, and you could check in with us when you are doing your shopping. If you would be willing to do this, please speak to Margaret Bagge, in the office.

* * * * *





PVMS 4th Grader



Upper Elementary Pamela and Judy

The school year begins gently. Students adjust to their new hours, getting up earlier to make it to school on time. In the classroom we are reviewing concepts studied last year and brushing up on things forgotten, while getting to know our new students.

That lasted about three days. Although we are still reviewing and assessing what has been forgotten and what now suddenly seems easier after a summer's growth, the students were quickly ready to learn new things. They are eager to master new challenges and are asking for advanced lessons.

In language arts the younger students work on a Junior Great Books program while the older students have begun to learn a book discussion system called literature circles. We have already begun our grammar work. This is a spiraling curriculum that begins with parts of speech and builds into a very complex system of analyzing sentences. The students write every week and also write when doing science and social studies work. We will also have a special series of lessons on writing for a newspaper this term. Carol LaLiberte, who writes for several publications, has volunteered to be a guest instructor and teach the students about this type of writing.

Montessori math at the upper elementary level is fun and exciting. We already have new students multiplying 3 digits by 1 digit using the checkerboard (a unique Montessori math material). They want to try 4 digits by 2 now. Students have already practiced adding, subtracting, writing and reading large numbers (they seem to like quadrillions), multiplying, dividing, fractions, decimals, percent, and the order of operations for solving equations. As I said, they didn't waste time on easy things.

We have begun our cultural studies by looking at the earth comparing the living and nonliving things on each continent. We are now comparing possessions of families in other countries with the things found in our own homes. We have begun to relate some earth science to this, and we will be discussing the Montessori "Work of Air" and climate and weather soon.

After we have considered the global view, we will move into American History. Our studies will begin with the first Americans and continue as far into our history as time allows. We would welcome guest presentations on Native Americans from anyone who has a special interest or personal connection to native culture and history. During these years of development, children have a keen sense of right and wrong, fairness and justice, and kindness. They are developing their own moral sense. Understanding cultures, history, and traditions from many perspectives helps them as they work on this very personal, important task.

LOWER EL WEST CLASS NEWS - Sue Foerster and Lucy Maleshefski

Welcome to all of our returning students and new five first year students. This year our class consists of the children, Tony, the guinea pig, Luna, the Degu, Ollie, the Bearded Dragon, Christy, the frog and lastly Lucy, and myself. Christy Moore will be coming in Tues. and Thur. mornings to help out also.

We have enjoyed the calm transition this year and many are quite comfortable with our classroom routines and expectations. Having such a large number of older students, sets quite a different tone to the room.

This last week we have been introduced to our Spanish, Junior Great Books, Art and Music Programs. This requires a lot of transitions for us all. We have also added weekly spelling into the mix. So please watch for words to come home on Mondays to practice during the week. Fridays will be designated as our spelling test day.

This newsletter will hopefully provide information to our families so that you have a glimpse into what is being taught in the classroom as well as a source of communication to you about events planned or to provide information about classroom life. As time goes on, questions may arise about our expectations, routines etc. so please feel free to call or plan on a visit. We are still evaluating, placing students into the curriculum and coming together as a group. We're off to a great beginning.

Some things we have been doing:

group activities such as a scavenger hunt, morning sharing, morning
greetings to establish a sense of our community

reviewing math- to get rid of cobwebs

new spelling

shell work

land forms-the study of lakes, islands, isthmus etc.

continent work

The celebration of international Peace Day- the children made pinwheels and placed them in front of the school- what a wonderful sight!

Again, this has been a great beginning to our new year. We look forward to supporting and providing your children with the desire and knowledge to develop into the happy learners that they can become.


Welcome to our new lower elementary classroom I am very excited to be working with the first year children. It has been great to be with my friends from last year's kindergarten group, and I am enjoying getting to know our three new students.
Each morning we have a group meeting, where we take attendance and talk about the calendar and the weather. This is also the time for group lessons in science, geography, or history (the cultural curriculum). Most of the morning is spent with the children focusing on their individual work in spelling, math, language arts, and cultural. I have been very pleased with the work they are doing, even so early in the school year. This takes us to lunch and our afternoons. After the children come in from the playground, we have silent reading, and then I read to them. The chapter book they are listening to right now is Misty of Chincoteague. For the last 45 minutes or so, the children finish any work left undone from the morning and then are free to make other choices in the classroom.
We have a much busier Enhanced Curriculum schedule than we are used to from the Children's House. On Mondays and Wednesdays we meet with Paula for Spanish, as well as Christie for art (Mon.) and Junior Great Books (Wed.). Friday is another busy day with music in the morning and chorus in the afternoon, both with Ashley.
Two other adults who spend time with us each day are Judy, who assists me part-time in the mornings and Nina, who supervises lunch and playground.
Our group cultural work so far has been a review of lessons from last year: living/non-living, plant/animal, land and water forms. The big difference this year is that most of the children can read most of the words! This past week we celebrated the birthday of Johnny Appleseed by reading books about Johnny and about apples, cutting apples in different ways and learning about the different parts, and making our own applesauce.

Please feel free to contact me at school with any questions or concerns you may have. Although I have some time before 8:15 and between 11:45 and 12:15, I am best reached after 2:45 in the afternoon.


Children's House South Mary VanLeeuwen and Nicole Langone

Welcome to all our new and returning class members and to their families! During these first few weeks of school, we have been working on getting to know new friends and learning and reviewing all of the classroom procedures we need to make our classroom a good place to be and to work. Returning students have been very willing to help new students with everything from where to find easel paper to how to put belongings in one's tote bag when it's time to go home. Putting away work one has taken out (in its original location and condition), waiting for a turn with an activity, and speaking quietly to others in the classroom, are beginning to be automatic.

As always, many practical life activities are in use. Work such as pouring, tweezing, table washing, and buttoning buttons on a frame all contribute to a child's concentration as well as adding to his/her independence. The children also love preparing carrots and apples for snack. Everyone also has a classroom cleanup chore for the end of the morning, giving each child a chance to contribute to the group effort of keeping his/her class environment beautiful.

Current work in the sensorial area covers a wide range, matching color tablets or building the pink tower might challenge the youngest children, while the older children can enjoy grading color tablets from darkest to lightest, or building the pink tower while wearing a blindfold.

Math activities in use range from early counting work to placing tiles from 1 to 100 in order on a board. Distinguishing sounds in words, preparing the hand for writing with pushpin paper punching and metal inset activities, building words with moveable alphabet letters and early reading are all going forward in the language area.

Our weekly schedule includes two Enhanced Curriculum Subjects, Spanish with Paula on Wednesday morning, and music with Ashley on Friday morning.

As the cool weather approaches, your child will be wearing more outer clothing that is perhaps unfamiliar to him/her and us. I sometimes find a jacket that has just arrived in our hallway for the very first time and therefore must belong to one of the children present that day and everyone denies having ever seen it. Please label everything!

We are looking forward to:

- field trip to Pell Farm in the morning on Tuesday, October 16
(rain date 23rd)
- Dad's night, Thursday, October 18th
- Mom's night, Wednesday, November 3rd

If you have any questions or concerns, or just want to hear a little about what your child has been doing in class, please phone me (782-3108). Best times are 7:40 8:10, 11:40 12:10, and after 2:40. If those times don't work for you, we'll find one that does.

with Andrea Thibert and Sara Liptak

It's newsletter time already! I would like to acknowledge Andi Stephan, Maxwell's mom, for her extensive time and thoroughly planned efforts she gave to the children during the week I was away with my son. Also, thank you to Sara, for keeping up with everything involved behind the scenes to help make things run as smoothly as possible. It truly takes a team to keep a classroom operating smoothly. I am both honored and thankful to have her as my team member to assist with the everyday and ever-changing, classroom needs.

These past few weeks certainly have been both busy and exciting. During our group time, we've been discussing and demonstrating our classroom Ground Rules (walking in the classroom, using quiet voices, appropriately getting a teacher's attention, respecting each other's work spaces are just a few of the important ones). Both the returning and new children need these basic yet CRITICAL guidelines to help make the classroom community safe and respectful. The children have enjoyed practicing our traditional "Good Morning" and "Days of the Week" songs as part of our daily agenda, as well as, singing the "Deep Blue Sea" name song to learn each other's names.

We have been working on parts of a Tree and Leaf Identification as part of our botany curriculum. There are several activities set up for the children to choose from - "Parts of a Tree" cards, leaf and tree puzzles, and leaf rubbings are some to be mentioned. (A thanks to Andi for sharing her materials with us!) We also have just started working on Plant and Animal distinction.

Geography is an ongoing curriculum that each child builds on throughout the year. The puzzle maps, map coloring, flag re-creating, and land and water forms are the main highlights. As a group, we have had two presentations with the Colored Globe one on the Land, Air, and Water concept and the other on the Continents (some of you may have heard the Continent Song). Each child has had an opportunity to hold the globe, find the land, air, and water, and/or name and locate the different continents. This is just the beginning of our group geography curriculum!

Practical Life or Everyday Living (some may wish to name it) as I have stated countless times - is the heart of the classroom. The prepared activities (pouring, scooping, tweezing, lacing, etc) help develop, strengthen, and refresh the children's fine motor skills in countless ways. The Care of the Environment activities (plant watering, table scrubbing, dusting, dish washing, and sweeping) speak for themselves and many children have enjoyed cleaning and maintaining their classroom environment. In addition to strengthening fine motor skills, Practical Life activities help foster social skills, increase attention span, develop concentration and organization, as well as promote independence within each child.

Our ever-changing Art curriculum also develops fine motor skills with the many activities ranging from painting with watercolors, pasting, gluing, to cutting, hole-punching, and table decorating. Many of the art activities stem from the lessons and presentations given in the Science, Geography, and Cultural curricula.

Watching the children build the Pink Tower or the Brown Stairs for their first time or observing a returning child master a Maze with the Red Length Rods are some of the main Sensorial Activities that are occurring in our room at this time. The Color matching tablets and the Knobless Cylinders are also very popular with the children! The activities and presentations are ENDLESS!!!

Last but definitely not the least; I am in the process of evaluating each child's current math and language skills (ability to count 1-1, numeral/quantity skills, letter/sound recognition, writing skills, etc.). This will take a couple weeks if not several (depending on the child) to complete. Each child is freely choosing activities throughout the Math and Language areas (as well as, the rest of the curriculum areas) and is also receiving individual and small group lessons within these curriculums.

Overall, I am VERY pleased with the start of our school year and look forward to watching our classroom family grow and develop!

Andrea, Janice, and Sara

Our Afternoon Class, with the kindergarten children, is off to an excellent start. As some of you may have heard, we are reading "The Cricket in Times Square". We start our reading time with re-telling the previous day's main events before we move on to our new chapter of the day. The children are REALLY doing a fabulous job with this concept and I am enjoying this greatly. Even before our reading time begins, the children politely join together and sit at the group area to start our Group Greeting (this is when each child greets the child next to him or her with a handshake, establishing eye contact, and replying "Good Afternoon") one at a time within the circle. This is quite a moving experience. We then move on to individual sharing (just a quick, oral version), yoga & stretching, and finally into reading. After reading, we may have a presentation and then move into individual teacher directed activities.

The "All About Me" projects that came home were designed and completed with Andi Stephan (the week she was covering my absence). It was a great way for the children to express their thoughts and become more aware of their personal information (address, phone number, etc.). Once again, thank you Andi for all that you have contributed!!!

After I complete my individual assessments with everyone in this class, we will continue to build on the theme - All about me and focus on family history and individual cultures, etc. I will be sending a letter home soon asking for some information regarding family traditions, cultures, history, etc... I have enjoyed working with this class and look forward to their future success!

Thank you all for your time in reading this newsletter and I hope everyone is enjoying the start of their new year too!



Hello to all of our returning and new children and their families! We are excited for a wonderful year here in our classroom. Our first three weeks of school have been busy and full of new experiences for everyone. There have been many new introductions for the children. We have been becoming comfortable with one another and learning everyone's names. Maybe some of you have heard your child singing 'Deep Blue Sea', it's a song we have been singing to help learn names. The children have also been busy learning and remembering what different areas of the classroom are used for, and how they are kept. Some of the things we have been focusing on have been; walking inside the classroom, talking quietly inside, returning work to its proper place in the room, and how to politely get someone's attention. We are all learning together how to keep our room a beautiful and peaceful place every day. It takes time at the beginning of each new year for us to recognize and establish ways in which we can each care for our environment in and out of the classroom.

The returning children have been nice role models for the new children, lending their helping hand in different circumstances. It is very touching to watch an older child stop what they are doing to show a new friend how to roll up a rug, or how to get their metal inset tray ready for using. The snack table is open all morning, and the children have learned how to prepare their own snack when they are ready for it. They have done a great job learning how to handle the glassware with great care.

Our practical life area of the classroom is getting lots of use. Some of the activities in this area include; hand washing, tweezing, pouring, scooping, lacing, egg beating, and flower arranging. I've noticed some children like to come in and start with the same activity each morning, while others like to come in and have snack right away, and still others choose something different each morning to begin their day. This week we also began apple cutting which the children prepare and bring to the snack table. We got lots of apples from Ziyad's family, and also from Sean M who went apple picking over the weekend; thank you!

Three different topics we have been discussing at group time are; primary colors, living and nonliving things, and Maria Montessori. In the language area we have been working on pushpins, metal insets, and sound boxes. We are practicing our lowercase handwriting with the traceable alphabet. The children are encouraged to write their names with just the first letter uppercase and the following letters lowercase. Some children are already into their workbooks from last year. In the math area current activities are ranging from the number rods counting from one to ten, to the hundred board counting all the way to one hundred, recognizing and organizing all of the numbered pieces.

We have begun our enhanced curriculum studies, which includes Paula coming in to teach us Spanish on Tuesday mornings, and Ashley coming in to do music with us on Friday mornings. You will notice your child bringing home a Spanish worksheet that is usually not colored (sometimes they color them in afterschool). Those are for the children to do at home if they like, but they need help with reading some of the directions.
We look forward to sharing with you the ways in which our classroom grows and changes from now until our next newsletter!

WELCOME from Molly Reynolds
I want to extend a warm welcome to all of our new families and say hello to our returning families, as we begin our new school year. The teachers and I meet on Tuesday for our first staff meeting. We look forward to greeting your children as they come into school later this week or early next week.

As the days and weeks go by, please call or email me or stop in if you have any questions or concerns about your child's experience at Pioneer Valley Montessori School. I want to know each of you personally and want to be available to help out, as needed.

See you soon!

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

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