December 2009

December 21-January 1st SCHOOL CLOSED
January 18 SCHOOL CLOSED Martin Luther King Day
January 21 MOVE UP NIGHT 5:30-6:30
January 21 OPEN HOUSE for new families

February 15-19 SCHOOL CLOSED

During the Holiday Season, PVMS has been having a HUGS Collection ( Hats, Undies, Gloves and Socks) of new items for many years for the Jefferson Avenue Shelter in Springfield, which served families in transition from unsafe environments. In the beginning of 2009, the Shelter changed its mission to house young mothers (ages 15 to 20 years) with children between the ages of 5 months and 5 years. This year our collection will encompass both the young children and the mothers. We will still collect the same items, but they will be specific to these age ranges. Our collection is always greatly appreciated by the shelter. While underwear purchases may not be appropriate for the mothers, hats, socks and gloves or mittens will be. We hope you will consider participating.
The students in the Upper Elementary class will offer a musical performance for their families on Tuesday, December 15 at 6:30 pm. This event will be held at the school.
Starting in January, each Friday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., we invite any and all parents who are available to stop in to meet and chat with each other - downstairs in the Afterschool room. We hope that this is a time that works for people. Please give feedback. Coffee will be available - bring munchies to share.
MOVE UP NIGHT - January 21 5:30 p.m.
On Thursday, January 21st the classes will be hosting parents of children who will be eligible for the next higher program in Fall 2010.

The Children's House teachers will offer a presentation on the Montessori Third Year (Kindergarten) for the parents of children who will be of kindergarten age for Fall 2009 This will be in Children's House North.

The parents of children who will be eligible for first grade are invited to visit the Lower Elementary classrooms for a presentation and question and answer session. You will have the opportunity to explore the classrooms and talk to parents of current students also.

Pamela Kinn, Upper Elementary head teacher, will present an orientation to the Upper Elementary program and will be pleased to answer your questions and show you the classroom.

All presentations will go from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
TODDLER CLASS with Mary Ann Ross and Janice Merrill
This month we welcomed two new classmates, Tess and Caitlin. We are so happy to have them as part of our class. They each have a sibling in Nicole and Rosemary's class.

Thank you to Madison's family for donating the natural anti-bacterial hand soap made especially for small children. With all the hand washing I'm sure it will make a difference.

In a few weeks, we will be starting our December school break. During this time it is a good idea to remind your child now and then about school so they understand that they will be returning. When school reopens in January, it is not uncommon for separation difficulties to resurface in some children. In the event that this happens, just be as positive and reassuring as you were when they first started school. These feelings usually pass in a short time.

We wish you all a joyful and peaceful holiday season.
CHILDREN'S HOUSE SOUTH - with Nicole Langone, Rosemary Gossman and Gerri Haynes
November's Newsletter

During the month of November we have been working on a new song that Ms. Leticia has taught us. The song is a oldie but a goodie, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." She has given us the American Sign Language gestures that go with the song and the children are so excited to be learning the signs to one of their favorite songs.

We also had firefighter Keno as a special visitor in the classroom to teach us fire safety in school and at home. Firefighter Keno was extremely child friendly and went over, step by step, what to do if there is ever a fire in our homes. I believe he took some of the fear away for the children by explaining what all of his different protective clothing was for, and how the clothing felt and how the equipment sounded. When he was completely dressed he got down on his hands and knees and told the children that if you ever see someone like this in your house that it's ok because they are they're to help you and to keep you safe. He reassured the children that the firefighters would help them and please do not hide or run away from the firefighters - they just want to help. He asked that parents please do fire drills at home with the whole family so that you and your children know a safe route out to increase the safety of your families.

I would like to remind families that as the weather is changing day by day to please send your children to school with the following: Winter coats, hats, mittens (not gloves), and boots. When we start having snow please put their snow pants in their tote bags so we can all participate in outdoor recess. I would prefer that you not send scarves to school to avoid any choking concerns on the playground.

Thank you and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Nicole Langone

CHILDREN'S HOUSE NORTH - with Andea Thibert and Sara Liptak

The children are continuing to settle nicely into the routines and expectations of the classroom and are moving forward with their individual goals. Various friendships, relationships, and peer groups continue to develop and the multi-age classroom helps support their social growth and needs.

This past month, during group time, we discussed different emotions and expressions using large photographs. The children had the opportunity to identify and express each emotion and share how and/or why it occurred. This activity was both exciting and important, as most children enjoy sharing and need to express personal feelings.

Also during group time, we had a wonderful presentation on the importance of fire safety. A local firefighter, "Firefighter Keno", demonstrated and discussed the importance of a firefighters gear and clothing. The children were both a bit apprehensive and excited with touching and seeing all the necessary equipment and gear worn by firefighters. "Firefighter Keno" was engaging and sensitive to all the children during the presentation and discussed the importance of practicing fire drills and school and home. The finale was walking through a fire truck, hearing the sirens, and seeing the flashing lights!

I hope all the families enjoyed being part of "Mom's Night" this year. It was very well attended and I know that your children really enjoy having you spend time in his/her classroom. They love showing off all that they have learned.

This time of year can be so hectic! Please try to keep your child's routine and schedule as close to "normal" as possible. Also, a good night's sleep is vital to your child's health and unfortunately this sometimes gets interrupted during the holiday season. Children need consistent routines, healthy nutritious foods, and of course LOVE to remain happy and healthy!

We have just finished reading "Olga Da Polga" and have started the "Pippi Longstocking" series. The children are really enjoying the adventures of Pippi. We are spending a lot of time reviewing and discussing Pippi's inappropriate behavior and lack of safety during the readings. I am enjoying this particular group of children, as they are eager and happy to listen to the readings and share their thoughts.

Our weekly journal writing and our recently started handwriting has been progressing and developing nicely during the afternoon. The children are excited with each new journal page.

We are currently trying to squeeze in our last few nature walks before the weather changes. The children particularly enjoyed this past walk to collect pine cones for a special project. First, the children wrote a picture/story paper to their family and then decorated a pine cone. I hope you all enjoyed your special story and pine cone from your child.

With peace,
LOWER ELEMENTARY WEST - with Sue Foerster and Lucy Maleshefski
Greetings from Lower EL West. The holidays are soon upon us and the children have been busily creating their Sharing Day Cards. They are excited about delivering it to their partner in the Childrens' Houses and wondering how their introductions will go. Nick is pleased that he has the same partner as last year and was happy that his partner actually remembered him. So much gained from so seemingly a small gesture as sharing time together.

There were no classes last Friday so that parents and teachers could have conferences and I'd like to thank our parents for taking the time to arrange their schedules etc. in order to attend. It is very a short time in which to share a small glimpse into a child's life at school and at home. I see it is a great opportunity for me to learn about the children as well. In this way, we are both better able to understand how best to support and meet your children's needs. We both want happy eager learners! I encourage and appreciate feedback.

Mom's Night was a calm but busy evening. The children are so engaged and happy to have this special time with moms, grandmothers and even aunts. Sorry about having no snack due to our vigilance against the Swine Flu!

The weather men tell us that the cold weather is coming so please send children with the appropriate weather clothing! They go OUT most days.

Coming up: Family celebrations shared with the students, pasta luncheon.

Lastly, remember these helpful hints, taken from Christmas Ideas 2006 magazine. Buy a greener tree. You can buy a potted tree and plant it later or find organic tree growers by visiting Also another favorite - make the package part of the gift. Wrap a package in a silk scarf or wrap baked goods in a large dinner napkin made from organic cloth. Enjoy your time together.
Happy Holidays!
Sue and Lucy

LOWER ELEMENTARY EAST - with Susan Hershey and Donna Wegge

Our ongoing study of Australia has moved on to the unique animals that inhabit that continent. We have read about the kangaroo, koala, frilled lizard, platypus, and Tasmanian devil, among others. We will be watching a video of these animals, and soon each student will choose one animal to research and write a report about.

For history, these past few weeks, we have been looking at the Montessori Timeline of Life a history of the earth and the development of life here. So far we have had an overview of the geologic eras: Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic, and their divisions. After the first of the year, we will look at each era in greater detail.

We have also been spending quite a bit of time working on geometry concepts. We have explored kinds of lines, such as horizontal, parallel, and perpendicular; and kinds of angles: straight, right, acute, and obtuse. Looking at both angles and sides, we identified different types of triangles. The geometry box has been a fun way to make these different lines, angles, and triangles.

Best wishes to everyone for the holidays, and a safe and happy new year.
UPPER ELEMENTARY with Pamela Kinn and Donna Wegge
The Upper Elementary study of ancient civilizations has begun. We began with a visit to the Springfield Museums at the end of October. In addition to visiting the new Springfield History Museum, the Upper Elementary Class visited the George Walter Vincent Smith art museum. We learned about how mummies were created and saw some artifacts from ancient Egypt. We also learned about some Roman myths and participated in reading a Roman myth play. Many of the statues in that museum are from Greek and Roman myths. It was a great start for our unit. Thank you to Leeza Cable, Ann Kindblom, and Erin Rhindress for helping with the trip.

The study of ancient civilizations is closely related to the history of writing. The students have learned that the period of human history before people had written language is called pre-history. Civilization begins with the ability to write events down. We have discussed the development of language and will be doing some work based on this lesson. The history of earth's earliest civilizations will be woven into this framework. It is a wonderful topic with endless possibilities for the students to learn and grow in many areas.

Our Australian studies have focused on animals this month. Each student has chosen an animal from each of the Vertebrate categories (fish, amphibian, reptile, birds, and mammals). We will be sharing what we have learned as a group next week. They have enjoyed this work and have learned about animal classification in the process.

The Upper El class will be giving a December concert for friends and families. This will be a very informal event meant to share the things we have been doing in music class. Look for a note with details soon.
AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAM with Maxine & Gerri and Margaret & Donna
The beautiful, colorful fall leaves bejeweling the P.V.M.S. tree on our door last month have given way to textured leaves in shades of brown, just like the leaves have outside our windows. But our multi-colored, feathered turkeys lend the door a cheerful entry! No doubt, some of these turkeys have strutted home with the children. They had fun choosing which feathers suited their very own turkey creations.

Our Children's House group has also been working on our "Healthy Meals" 3-D project, cut, glued and arranged on a leaf patterned paper place mat. It was interesting to see the favorite food choices the children carefully made, and then glued onto their paper plates. Some looked quite appetizing!

Since the weather in November was mostly dry,we enjoyed outdoor play nearly every day. Gerri was so nice to rake our abundant fallen leaves over and over into big piles for our group to jump in, and to supervise the jumpers having fun! Now that the leaves have been carted away, we are back to running, climbing and swinging.

This month in the play kitchen area, we set up the "P.V.M.S. Restaurant" with tablecloths and cloth napkins, menus and vases of silk flowers. The children loved setting up, taking orders and serving the play food.

Our easel supplied cut paper shapes for creative glue work, and dot paints which inspired bold, colorful works of art. We are continually surprised by the children's wonderful use of the materials provided!

The Elementary students are happy to be creating fantasy animals - some went home on ribbons as necklaces - with the ever popular fusion beads. Margaret is kept busy ironing the beads to melt them into colorful keepsakes!

Everone enjoyed watching "The Muppets Take Manhatten" movie on one chilly fall afternoon. The kindergarteners were invited to join the older children which was a special treat for them!

Outdoors, the Elementary group was glad to see the tennis court leaf free, which lead them to play many lively basketball games!

The older group will be working on a special Thanksgiving Day project this last week of November.

Then we will all be looking forward to winter fun!

Maxine, Gerri, Margaret and Donna

ART with Christie Hester-Moore
Upper and Lower Elementary Art

It's hard to believe that we are already in December. As you know from last month's newsletter, we recently completed our study of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. I decided that it would be a fun, interesting and informative lesson plan to learn about the Mexican holiday "Dia Los Muerto". This holiday takes place on November 1 and 2, it is also known as Day of the Dead or All Soul's Day.

Dia Los Muertos was one of Frida Kahlos's favorite holidays. This holiday allows families to dedicate time each year to honor those who have passed away. The holiday is viewed as a happy time to remember family and friends. People gather together for Church services, picnics, dancing, and singing while reconnecting with their roots.

Skeletons play a large role in the celebration of Dia Los Muertos and are not viewed as something scary. They are used as decorations and people will often dress up in skeleton costumes for parades and parties. You will also find displays of elaborately dress paper-mache skeletons.

The students viewed pictures of some of the decorations and displays that are set up in honor of this holiday. Paula was kind of enough to share an authentic Dia Los Muertos skeleton she received as a gift that the students found quite interesting. We discussed the significance of this holiday in the Mexican culture and related it to some of holidays that we celebrate that honor someone or something (For example Memorial Day, Veterans' day and Mother's day). The students then built their own skeletons. We started by creating armatures out of aluminum foil and then covered the armatures with plaster cloth. Once dry, each student painted details on to their skeletons using acrylic paints. After the paint dried students designed outfits and accessories for their skeleton using felt, tissues paper and found objects.

Students really enjoyed this lesson and came away with an understanding of a holiday that is important to many within the Mexican culture. They also could see the correlation between this holiday meant to honor loved ones with different holidays and traditions they might celebrated in their own lives.

I like to end by letting parents know that if you have any questions or concerns in regards to material used in class in relation to allergies or for any other reason please don't hesitate to drop me a line. My goal is always to have a safe and enjoyable art experience in class.

Happy holidays and all the best in the coming year!
SPANISH with Paula Wicks

El Espanol/noviembre,2009

Overview: Counting by 2s,3s, and 4s
Emotions/feelings vocabulary
The verbs "estar" and "tener"
Family vocabulary
Locations in a town/city
Prepositon review


We practiced the prepositions "encima" (on top of)
and "debajo" (under) with little table, rugs and cloth squares.
The children enjoyed positioning little bugs using the target vocabulary.

We practiced verbs by doing a variety of actions and
telling about it (Yo__________. I_______________). We also put together a book about verbs called "Yo Puedo/I Can.

The children enjoyed reading their books. We reviewed the colors with turkeys! The children matched the color with the color word. The older students were especially helpful with the reading.

Looking ahead to December, we will do cultural activities centering around the holidays as celebrated in Spanish-speaking countries. We continue to have lots of fun singing songs and
moving during our "line" time at the beginning of each class. We have practiced colors, school words, opposites, and counting with songs and movement.


The children really enjoy matching pictures to words in Spanish. Their reading skills are really coming along. At this level we are concentrating on initial sounds to help us decode the Spanish words. We have done colors, numbers, and school vocabulary this way.

The children enjoyed playing bingo to practice the numbers and colors as well. They labeled just about everything in the After School Room (also known as my Spanish Room) with the school vocabulary labels. First they wrote the missing initial letter and then they taped the label on the appropriate classroom item! Our Spanish notebooks are filling up fast with new vocabulary words.

We worked on a book called "Primer Dia de Escuela" or "First Day of School." We read the book together and I met with each child to do a final page illustrating something that was new (nuevo) to them on the first day of school.

Looking ahead to December, we will be cutting out snowflakes and using them to create a picture of our families. This is a fun way to practice vocabulary and the children love to cut out the snowflakes!


First Years: Poem-"Pito,Pito,Colorito" We are learning a new poem and will soon recite it for the entire class. We have been working on emotion words and the sentence "Yo estoy (feeling). The children
are beginning to understand that the emotion word has to agree with the subject of the sentence-boy or girl.

We have begun family vocabulary. In order to identify the person we are using the sentences "Es el_______. or "Es la________". We are working on a family tree which will show grandparents (abuelos)
mom(madre) dad(padre) son (hijo) and daughter(hija.).

The children continue to practice Spanish outside of class with simples assignments. They are getting used to organizing their work in the Lower El classroom to include their Spansh work. The notebooks
are looking very organized and neat as well.

Looking forward to December, we will hear a Mexican Christmas Story and do simple poinsetta project.

Second Years: Poem-"Las Hojas". The second years will be writing this simple poem and illustrating it with leaves which they will trace. Our emotion work not only includes Yo" sentences;but, "Tu" (You) sentences as well. They practice "Yo estoy____. and Tu estas ___." to tell about their feelings. The children made games to help them practice sentence structure.

We are studying family vocabulary with the added words "tia/tio" aunt/uncle" We will be constructing family trees as well.

Looking ahead, we will be reading a poem called "Nana,Nanita" for the holidays. Of course it is written in Spanish so it will be a challenge! This poem is a good review of color words.

Third Years: Story-"Feliz Cumpleanos" We are color-coding this story by underlining new vocabulary words and drawing pictures of them using the underling color. The children can easily read and understand the books and look forward to adding new pages in each class.

Our emotion vocabulary has added the "He/She" element to the "I" "You" element. They are practicing "Yo estoy_____" Tu estas______. and El/Ella esta_______ to tell about feelings. They
are really getting proficient with the agreement (Masculine/feminine) as well.

Family vocab has added "cousins" (primo and prima) to the list of words from first and second years. I am in the process of deciding whether we will do trees or wreaths as a final project.

Shortly we will begin to write in journal pages for each class. At first this is very difficult for the children. Writing in Spanish is new and challenging for them. After about a month, you would be surprised at how well they rise to the challenge.


Fourth Years-The fourth years begin each class with a vocabulary words challenge. They get to practice old and new vocabulary as well as do a bit of writing. They seem to look forward to completing a new page each class. We practiced emotion words with the full "estar" conjugation (Yo, Tu, El, Ella, Nosotros, Ellos, Ellas). Not only do they
have to be aware of the verb changes with each subject; they also have to make the emotion words agree, masculine and feminine!! Quite an
accomplishment! If quizzes are any indication, this class has certainly done an excellent job with emotions!

We are studying family words with the use of "Se llama"(people's names) and the possessives "Mi/Mis" "My" singular and plural. We are working on a chart of our families. I enjoy hearing from each student as they present their charts to the class, en espanol, of course.

Looking ahead to December, the children will orally read a Mexican Christmas story and answer questions both written and oral.

Our project will be a poinsetta pinwheel.

Fifth/Sixth Years-We continue to work on our writing with journal pages. We write a rough draft during one class, do corrections, and write a final draft the next class. I have noticed that they are making less mistakes as they become accustomed to writing in Spanish. Practice makes perfect!

For our study of emotions, we learned two verbs, "estar" and "tener". Although "estar" is one of the "to be" verbs, the translation of "tener"
is literally "to have". The children have been able to use both verbs with ease and have learned the expressions that go with each verb.

Our study of family will include the members of the family and also locations in town. We are making simple maps, naming the streets,and telling about who works where. This is also a good opportunity
to do a little preposition review as we discuss where buildings are located in town.

In December we will study a poem "La Rama" We will decorate an actual "rama" (Branch) and make "aguinaldos" (gift container) as we study a bit about the culture of South America during the holidays.

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

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