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APRIL NEWSLETTER

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from MOLLY
Grandparents/Grandfriend's Day today was a wonderful, exciting day for all. It is such a treat to see the warm relationships between the children and their grandparents - and nice for me to have the opportunity to talk with some of the grandparents and have a greater sense of your families. It is a tiring day though and I'm sure the children will show it tonight at home.

Hopefully, we have seen the end of the lice problem. All in all, we did not have many incidents of lice but it is never a happy subject to deal with, and I know it is extremely difficult for those of you that had to go through the shampoo treatment and combing, and all that is involved. Please do continue to check your child's hair periodically and treat or re-treat as necessary.

On a happier note, some staff/faculty members went to the annual American Montessori Society conference, which was held in Boston this year. It is two and a half days filled with workshops and meetings and talking with colleagues. It is inspiring for the teachers to be with so many other committed Montessorians.

Enjoy the next few days of sunshine!

Molly


CALENDAR
April 1 Grandparents Day
April 19-23 Spring Break NO SCHOOL
April 29 Earth Day Celebration
May 20 Spring Performance 6 pm
June 9 Graduation for Kindergarten and 6th Grade 6 pm
June 10 Last Day of School - half day
June 21 First Day of Summer Classes (Toddler & CH)
PVMS AUCTION www.biddingforgood.com/pvms
Our auction is online right now and bidding is open. I'm very impressed with the auction website that we are using - it's very similar to ebay and quite easy to use.

Some of the items will be sold only on the website and some will go to our in person auction on Saturday, April 10th at All American Gymnastics at 2 pm. There are a great variety of donated items such as: homemade spaghetti sauce, farm fresh eggs, a bird walk with one of our teachers, gift cards to various restaurants, vacations, jewelry and much more. Please check it out and see if there are things that would be of use to you. The profits go to our Playground Fund. We have been accumulating money the last couple of years but, as you know, playgrounds are terribly expensive. We are hoping that this will bring us close to our goal. Thanks for your support.
AUSTRALIA PRESENTATION
On April 16th, we will host Iluka Harris, a native of Australia, who will offer activities and information to the different classrooms on Australia. We eagerly look forward to this visit.
SUMMER CLASSES for Toddlers and Children's House
We are enrolling children now for our 9 weeks of summer Montessori classes. Children's House students may be enrolled by the week. Toddlers by each 3 week session. If you need another enrollment form, email the office and we will send it home with your child (admin@pvms.org). I will put one on the website that you can download.
WOLF TALK
enjoy two presentations by Michael LaBlanc, which will feature one of the wolves that Mr. LaBlanc cares for in his Wolf Talk compound in Gardner. There will be a shorter presentation for the Children's House children (but not the Toddlers) and a more detailed and longer one for the elementary children.

The first part of the morning will consist of our usual activities of planting, nature scavenger hunt, and recycled art activities.
Baby Shower For Nicole
Kate Wurm and Katie Robinson presented gifts from the families to Nicole, just before she went on maternity leave.
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ENROLLMENT FOR FALL 2010
Our enrollment for the fall is going very well. Many of our current toddlers will be going into the Children's House classes in September. This will add a new level of tranquility to the beginning of the school year since many of the youngest children will already be used to the Montessori way.

Fall enrollment in the Children's Houses is complete very early this year, and we have a waiting list. The Toddler Class has begun enrolling for the fall, as well, but there are spaces left still.

As an aside, we joyfully filled our last space in the new Toddler Class last week. This program has been an amazing success in it's first year of operation. Mary Ann Ross, Head Teacher, and Janice Merrill, Assistant Teacher, are providing a stimulating and loving environment for these youngest members of our community. There is nothing like it in the Springfield area!
SUGGESTIONS FOR PARENTS
I received this from the parent of a recent PVMS graduate, with this note:

"More proof that you are all at PVMS doing the right thing."


Creativity Killers
March 25, 2010

I always view problems as opportunities in work clothes.
-Henry Kaiser

In The Creative Spirit (Plume, 1993), a book based on a PBS series on creativity, authors Daniel Goleman, Paul Kaufman, and Michael Ray point out these common ways adults discourage creativity in children:

1. Surveillance - Hovering over kids, making them feel that they're constantly being watched while they are working . . . under constant observation, the risk-taking, creative urge goes underground and hides.

2. Evaluation - When we constantly make kids worry about how they are doing, they ignore satisfaction with their accomplishments.

3. Rewards - The excessive use of prizes . . . deprives a child of the in trinsic pleasure of creative activity.

4. Competition - Putting kids in a win-lose situation, where only one person can come out on top . . . negates the process [that] children progress at their own rates.

5. Over-control - Constantly telling kid how to do things . . . often leaves children feeling like their originality is a mistake and any exploration a waste of time.

6. Restricting choice - Telling children which activities they should engage in instead of letting them follow where their curiosity and passion lead . . . again restricts active exploration and experimentation that might lead to creative discovery and production.

7. Pressure - Establishing grandiose expectations for a child's performance . . . often ends up instilling aversion for a subject or activity. . . . Unreasonably high expectations often pressure children to perform and conform within strictly prescribed guidelines, and, again, deter experimentation, exploration, and innovation. Grandiose expectations are often beyond children's developmental capabilities.
TODDLER CLASS with Mary Ann Ross and Janice Merrill
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In March, three new children, Sydney, Payton and Lana became a part of our little community. We want to welcome our new friends and their families. Over the past few months, our class has grown and some of the new students have been sad to leave their families. It has been very heart warming to see the veteran class members reaching out to console those that are upset. At times the new children were more receptive to the comfort of another child than a teacher.

At last spring is here - and no one could be happier than the toddlers! They can finally run free without the mounds of clothing their little bodies had to carry. Many of them had stopped using the slide this winter because they couldn't fit with their snow pants on. At last the sandbox can be opened to use the cherished trucks that were imprisoned under the cover all winter.

During group time, our new season of spring was introduced with stories, Forsythia branch observation and a discussion on the signs of spring. As the weather gets warmer we hope to start planting vegetables and flowers that will be transplanted outside. The children will be introduced to the care of plants and what conditions they need to grow. Currently we are growing herbs in our classroom and hope to use them in food preparations as soon as the cold and flu season comes to an end. The toddlers will observe Earth Day by doing some planting to bring home and a group art project made from recyclable items.

We are still talking about the interesting animals of Australia. Cooking some traditional foods will also give the children another opportunity to learn about this far away continent.

Some of the children have been going home with large pieces of art work. The refrigerator can only hold so much and it is hard to put them in the recycle box with out hurt feelings. Here is a way of recycling them without diminishing their value. Those large masterpieces can be turned into custom gift wrap for important friends and family members.

CHILDREN'S HOUSE NORTH with Andrea Thibert and Sara Liptak
Hello everyone! I'm happy to report that recently I attended the annual American Montessori Conference. This experience has renewed my understanding and compassion to the children's individual needs, as well as heightened my inner creativity. I was particularly inspired by a seminar given by Frank Leto, a music/song writer and teacher in New Mexico. His workshop shared new ideas with the use of musical instruments and also new twists to some familiar songs. I am thrilled to apply these new techniques and ideas in the classroom along with a few new materials taught at the workshop.

I would like to welcome Leonardo to our classroom. Leo is just joining our classroom family and is making an excellent transition with the help of all his new friends. Everyone is demonstrating patience, kindness, and understanding with helping Leo feel comfortable and welcome.

Currently we are studying amphibians. We started with a discussion of the characteristics and the different types of amphibians. Some children remembered, from previous year's presentations, that they lay eggs and are cold-blooded, and that frogs, toads, newts, and salamanders are all different types of amphibians. However, no one was prepared for my surprise amphibian guest; a Northeastern tiger salamander (a yellow spotted salamander). Ask your child the story about how I came across this special creature.

Of course, the recent changes of materials and activities done on curriculum day are quite successful. The children are learning to measure with coffee grounds, sift with flour, and estimate with pouring into different vessels in the Practical Life area. The new estimating how many jelly beans in the jar activity is in constant use, as well as, the new magnetic number activity in the Math area. Also, in the Language area, the newly founded foam magnetic letters (from the conference) for story writing or spelling is re-inspiring our writers and attracting our beginners. Continuing on with the magnetic concept, the children are enjoying the magnetic geometric shapes, in the Sensorial Area, as well. Also, the children are beginning to recognize the various magnetic materials throughout the classroom, and we will be further exploring different magnetic activities throughout the month.


With Peace,
Andrea & Sara
CHILDREN'S HOUSE SOUTH with Christine Druckenmiller and Rosemary Gossman
Children's House South

I want to thank the parents and the students for my warm welcome to Children's House South. The children have all made a nice transition to having me as their teacher and are busily working in all areas of the classroom.

At group time, we have been learning about birds. We have studied different types of feathers, different kinds of nests and learned to identify eight common birds. We have learned about the different things they eat and have begun to recognize the birds by their song. We have welcomed the warm weather with a couple of nature hikes, where we paid particular attention to the birds. We will soon be wrapping up our bird unit, and plan to move into a study of plants next.

The kindergartners have begun their study of grammar with an introduction to the noun. They enjoy this work and are anxious to learn more about the different types of words. The younger children have enjoyed recent changes to the practical life area of the classroom. Nutmeg grinding, banana cutting and the flashlight have been the class favorites.

Sincerely,
Christine
AFTERNOON KINDERGARTEN with Andrea and Sara
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The enthusiasm continues throughout the afternoon class. We have been working on the concept of money with various activities and techniques for learning how to count pennies, nickels, dimes, and some work with quarters. The children used the squaring chains and the multiplication box to help with counting.

As with the morning class, we will be exploring and sharing different magnet activities this month. Some children have asked if they could bring in their own magnets from home. Let me know in advance if your child would like to bring in something from home to better plan together this month.

As always, your children vote on what book is read during the chapter reading time. Presently, we are reading "Olga Takes Charge" - a sequel to "The Tales of Olga da Polga" we read earlier in the year. They enjoy listening and relaxing to the tales and journeys of this wild and adventurous guinea pig.

The afternoon class is also taking advantage of the new activities and materials throughout the classroom, as always, they take it to the next level. Their curiosity and love for learning is ever-changing and always developing and is a pleasure to witness.
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LOWER ELEMENTARY EAST with Susan Hershey
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What a pleasure it has been watching the growth of my students in their science fair projects over these past three years! The first year, we were all just learning what it was all about. Last year, there was a lot more detail and more finished products. However, this year I was so impressed. The students (and their families) obviously put a lot of time and effort into the projects. The visual presentations were attractive and informative, and the students did a great job verbally presenting their experiments and demonstrations to their visitors. Congratulations, everyone!

Before we started the Timeline of People in our study of history, one of the students asked if we could do a class project to finish up our Timeline of Life. Since I had been thinking along those lines myself, we brainstormed and came up with an idea that would prove to be fun as well as reinforcing of what the students had learned. I shrank the pictorial representation of the Timeline and taped it to the back of one of our cultural shelves. The students' part of the project was to created clay figures to illustrate the various life forms as they appeared on earth. We had plants from cycads to flowering plants and animals from trilobites to horses. The students had a great time creating many different animals, including an armored fish, octopus, turtle, several dinosaurs, and wooly mammoth. The final product looked great, and we were all proud of our efforts.

For the past several weeks, we have been fortunate to have a special visitor to our class on Thursday and Friday mornings. Katie Caron, a former elementary classroom teacher and specially trained writing instructor, has been sharing with us a method of teaching writing called Writers' Workshop. Through discussion, literature, short lessons, and lots of writing, the students are learning to plan their writing, write a draft, revise, confer with peers about it, edit, illustrate, and finally, prepare the writing for "publishing." We have focused on personal narrative so far, but the technique can also be used for all genres of writing. It is wonderful to see the students so excited about their writing.

We are all looking forward to the warmer weather and getting outside to enjoy it. The area around our school is a great place to look for signs of the changing seasons, and we hope to be taking nature walks out there as the weather gets better. Happy Spring!
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LOWER EL WEST with Sue and Lucy
Spring is here! These last few months always seem to fly by!

Our annual Science Fair was again a wonderful event. The children were excited about their projects and were so appreciative of others' projects, as well. I'm always so impressed by their composure and joy as they present their subject to other children and many adults. It was a packed classroom and enjoyed by all!

Grandparent's / Grandfriend's Day is coming up soon and we look forward to having this special time available. Especially now since I will be visiting my grandson's classroom! Not all children have Grandparents able to visit and so we will set up a table for pictures or other memorabilia which will be displayed and shared.

Please remember that visitors are always welcomed to visit our classroom throughout the year.

Up coming:
Studies of plants
Vacation
Earth Day-(Wolf presentation)
Study of Amphibians
Study of Birds
Presentation on Australia by Aluka Harris
Sue and Lucy
UPPER ELEMENTARY with Pamela Kinn and Donna Wegge
This portion of the newsletter will follow in a few days. Pamela has been out of town.

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SPANISH with Paula Wicks
Marzo/Espanol 2010


Children's Houses

March was "Clothes" month in the Children's Houses. We packed a suitcase to practice clothes words. We "raced" with the Gingerbread
People game. The children rolled a special dice with suns (for summer) and swnowmen (for winter). Depending on the roll, the chilldren picked either summer or winter clothes to see which cookie would get dressed to play outside first! We have played this game before and it is always a fun way to practice clothes words.

We went on to practice animal vocabulary. We started out with pets. We discussed our own pets and heard a silly story "But No Elephants" by Jerry Smath. I told the story in both English and Spanish. The children enjoyed choosing the animal characters while they heard the story. We also practiced farm animal vocabulary. We chose plastic farm animals from a bag. We found farm animals in a book and practiced not only the animal vocabulary, but counting as well.

We continue to review vocabulary in our circle time at the beginning of each class. We move and sing to practice anything from colors to school vocab to clothes vocab to opposites and verbs.


Kindergarten

We began March by tracing one of the children on a large piece of paper and then labeling the traced person with our body vocabulary. This not only practiced the body vocab;but, initial and final sounds as well as the children wrote the labels for our person. We played the Silly Faces Colorforms game which practiced face vocabulary. We divided up into four teams. The children enjoyed spinning to see which features they would need to choose in order to complete their silly face first.

We did a little "cut and paste" activity to reinforce the clothes vocabulary which was introduced in the Children' Houses. They seem to really enjoy the challenge of writing words en espanol! We added this paper to our collection of vocabulary in our special Kindergarten folders for espanol. The children will be bringing them home at the end of the year. I hope that they will use them throughout the summer vacation to practice!

We ended March with the story "Diez Puntitos Negros" by Donald Cruz. The children enjoyed seeing the pictures in the story made by just ten black dots. We tried of our own pictures as well using diez puntitos negros!


Marzo/espanol Lower Elementary

Overview-Clothes vocabulary
singular and plural nouns
definite articles "el,la los las" to agree with sing/plural nouns
noun/color agreement
sentences "Es la/el____." or "Son los/las____."
the verb "llevar" to wear

Stories and Poems-- Level One: Pin Pon
Level Two: El Reloj
Level Three: Jugando En La Nieve

We practiced clothes vocabulary in March. First Year (Level One) students dressed a boy bear and a girl bear in outfits of their choosing. They then had to choose the appropriate color word to agree with the clothing. Adjectives in Spanish must agree in number (Singular/Plural) and gender (Masculine /Feminine). The words were written out on the project so that they could choose the correct one. Just some practice in agreement!! First Years enjoyed creating the puppet "Pin Pon" and reciting the poem for their classmates.

Second Years (Level Two) practiced clothes vocabulary by using pictures from clothing magazines to dress la madre, el padre, el nino and la nina. Although they could use the pictures for the clothing, they still had to draw the bodies of the people. Very imaginative. Several students had time to "accessorize" their people with such items as jewelry or pets! We told about our pictures in class to practice noun/color agreement. The students are starting to understand this difficult concept more and more as we practice. The Second Years recited the poem "El Reloj" for their classmates. This poem was quite lengthy and they did an excellent job.

Third Years(Level Three) students created el armario (the armoir or closet) to practice clothes vocabulary. They were given a list of clothes which needed to be included in the project and that the clothes needed to be different colors. Some students really challenged themselves by coloring the clothes more than one color. This challenged them to make the colors agree with the noun clothing-not an easy skill!! Many students requested to color and include extra clothes! This group likes the challenge and to go above and beyond what is expected. I'm really proud of them. They seem to have a good grasp of noun/color agreement! They are finishing up the short story "Jugando En La Nieve" This story practiced clothes words and colors.

All levels continue to do calendar, weather, counting (by 2s,3s,4s,5s, &10s) and some verb work to begin each class.


Espanol/Marzo/Upper Elementary

Overview-Level Four: Parts of the Body
Clothes Vocabulary
Story: El Gato"
Level Five: Parts of the Body
The verb "dolerse" to (be) hurt
Clothes Vocabulary
Story: La Familia Marin

Fourth Year Students practiced part of the body by creating a person with a styrofoam head with sequins for the features and a paper and paper cup body! They were able to describe their person with the sentences "Es la/el___" or "Son los/las___" depending on the part of the body. They seemed to enjoy creating the people as well! The story "El Gato" was designed to practice sight words in Spanish.. We made flash cards of the sight words . We read the story and have begun to answer question orally as well as in writing.

We have begun our study of clothes vocabulary by creating cartoon people dressed in different outfits. The idea of "stick" figures seemed to appeal to this group! We practiced noun/color agreement as we described the cartoons.

Fifth Year Students do a little bit of this and that in each class. I want them to practice writing each class and reading orally and translating each class and continuing their study of basic vocabulary as well.. They seem to be catching on to the oral reading and translating quite well. They are getting very proficient at answering question both orally and in writing about the story "La Familia Marin". I think that the class seems to fly by with all that is being accomplished! Hopefully they do too!

The vocabulary for March was mostly parts of the body. They have a good working knowledge of this vocab, so to challenge them I decided to introduce the reflexive verb "dolorse" We use this verb to tell when something hurts! I handed out bandaids to the students. They covered a part of the body and then had to tell what hurt using this reflexive verb. We needed to learn about indirect objects for our study to be complete. They could tell what hurt them (Me duele or Me duelen) , what hurt "you" (Te duele or Te Duelen) and what hurt "he" or "she" (Le duele or Le duelen). Of course they loved the bandaides!!

ART with Christie Hester-Moore
Upper & Lower Elementary Art

Drum roll please!! I am so delighted to announce the completion of the elementary school art work for the auction. It is quite simply amazing. If you have had the chance to walk through the hallways at school you will know what I mean. Every year it is a tremendous undertaking and I never fail to be impressed by how enthusiastic and dedicated our students are. What makes it all the more impressive is that after all the time and effort they put into these masterpieces they are willing to selflessly donate their work to auction in order to support their school. (Talk about school spirit!)

Last year, we came up with the idea of a direct buy out before the auctions so that the families of the student artist would have first dibs on student art work. This was a great success and many of you may have those wonderful batik pillows from last year. Information regarding this opportunity to purchase the student artwork will be forthcoming from the PTO.

To create these pieces, each student researched an animal native to Australia. We used the idea of Aboriginal bark painting as our inspiration. (In traditional Aboriginal art work wood was used as a canvas.) On a 4x6 inch piece of wood they sketched out the animal. The entire piece of wood was then covered in a liquid water color solution. Using acrylic paints and graphite pencil students painted in and added details to their animals. Design elements were added to the 4x6 inch piece of wood using acrylic paints, tooth pick and bamboo skewers. (This was done so that students could replicate as well as experience the tools and techniques an Aboriginal artist might use in their art work.) Each student then mounted their painting against a background of art paper with Aboriginal dot designs on it. We then framed each piece and attached a hanger.

As you can see, this was a multi-step process that represent weeks of hard work. Please support us at the auction and if you get a chance stop by and take look at all the great work that is on display.

All the best,
Christie

AFTERSCHOOL Children's House
The March weather has been erratic. We have had warm, sunny afternoons to play outside, followed by windy, rainy, chilly days for fun inside. We fashioned colorful caps flying in the March wind for this month's door decoration.

Outdoors, the abundance of pine-cones inspired the children to collect mounds of them to fill the wheelbarrows, and push the heaping basins around the play yard. Our group also organized "plant sales" (sticks planted in sand filled pails) and "bakery sales" (sand cakes decorated with pine-cones and sticks). Gerri and I spent a good deal of imaginary money purchasing their creations!

On indoor days, we had bowling games, water play in the sand table, scooters rolling back and forth, and even indoor bubble blowing, one wet afternoon!

We practiced our cutting skills with beautiful scenic calendars, which were donated to us. One after school day the children pasted pictures of big cats- leopards, lions, tigers and pumas, also from a spectacular donated calendar.

Finger painting was a fun - if messy - activity.
We beaded beautiful bracelets with clasps that open and close, just like a jewelry store find!

Large, colorful bugs painted in watercolors, became books to bring home.

Gerri and I are often surprised by the Lego creations the children build; they never tire of these colorful building blocks!

We are looking forward to more warm, spring weather to play outside- but we are planning for in-climate day activities, too!

Happy Spring!


Maxine and Gerri
Children's House Afterschool teachers
AFTERSCHOOL elementary
The elementary children have been stuck indoors for much of the month, but we have been making the most of it with spirited games of Duck Duck Goose and Musical Chairs. The children have also found a renewed interest in fusion beads and LEGO's and they have been very creative with both.

This month we had a few new options on our art cart. We painted wooden fish with tempera paint and have been using the water colors to make some beautiful artwork as well. We also have been making paper airplanes from a kit that fly surprisingly well.

This month to celebrate the arrival of spring we watched The Tale of Despereaux, which features "Soup Day" on the first day of spring. We look forward to a new month and a new season and hopefully a few more days of sun and less days of rain.

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

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