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FEBRUARY 2010 NEWSLETTER


From Molly

Thank you to all of you for getting your re-enrollments back promptly. It is so helpful to have this information to guide us in making important decisions for the fall.

Thank you also to Emma Kindblom (5th grader), Jake Grondin (sixth grader), and Andrew Faulstich (7th grader who graduated from PVMS last year) for giving tours at our recent OPEN HOUSE. We like to let parents meet some of the students who have been attending PVMS for a number of years.

All is going well in the classrooms. The toddler class has had several new students who have started since we returned from the holiday break. It seems that this class is filling a niche in the community - a small learning environment for toddlers (rather than a day care center).

Keep warm!
Calendar for February - April
February 5 FIRST FRIDAY PARENT COFFEE 8:30 am
February 7 WINTER FAMILY FUN EVENT 1-3 pm
February 10 TAG SALE in Upper El classroom
February 15-19 WINTER BREAK SCHOOL CLOSED
March 5 FIRST FRIDAY PARENT COFFEE 8:30 am
March 25 SCIENCE FAIR
March 26 CURRICULUM DAY
April 2 FIRST FRIDAY PARENT COFFEE 8:30 am
April 10 AUCTION
April 19-23 SPRING BREAK SCHOOL CLOSED
WINTER FAMILY FUN EVENT Sunday, FEB 7th 1-3 pm
Thanks to an energetic and committed group of parents, we now have an ice skating rink in the back of the school! And thanks to the change in the weather yesterday, it is now frozen. The rink was created specifically for the WINTER FAMILY FUN EVENT, which will be held next Sunday, February 7th from 1-3 pm. Please plan to attend, even if you don't skate. There will be other games, inside and outside and hot chocolate for all.

Judy Curran, a volunteer from radKIDS (radkids.org), will be on hand to distribute free child identification kits, which include an inkless fingerprint kit, a wallet card and DNA collection swabs. This kit will enable you to create a brochure-type file describing your child, with fingerprints, photo, and all identifying information. You keep this information at home in a safe place, in case it is ever needed. Information on radKIDS will be available to those of you who may be interested.
Nicole's maternity leave
Nicole Langone, Children's House Head Teacher will be taking several months off as a maternity leave. Her due date is April 1st, so we anticipate that she will leave a week or two prior to that. I am working on hiring a substitute Montessori teacher and will make an announcement when that is settled.

Rosemary Gossman will continue in the class, as usual.

Nicole will return to Children's House South in the fall.
Box Tops
All those General Mills Box Tops that families are saving and dropping off in our collection box add up. This period we received a check for $161.20. Thanks to Leah Dow for taking charge of this ongoing project.
Annual Fund Donations
We want to thank the following people who have made donations to this year's annual fund, as of January 20th:

Rosetta Angelica-Adornato
Jeanne Labonte
Gail Supanich
Mary VanLeeuwen
Cathy and David Nortz
Adam Peck
Nick and Marie Spellman
Justin and Joy Weir
Alan and Christine Druckenmmiller
Susan and Robert Barnard
Marilyn Groth
Jeanne and Allen Krieger
William Mahoney
Mr. and Mrs. Verner Drohan
Andrew Faulstich
Anonymous
AUCTION
PVMS will hold its annual auction in early April. The auction will be held at All American Gymnastics, in Wilbraham, along with an event for children so that whole families can attend. We also hope that this will draw some families from outside of our school community.

We are asking everyone to brainstorm for our biggest fundraiser of the year, our Silent Auction.

We are requesting that you submit ideas for companies, businesses etc that may donate money, items or services to offer at the auction. If anyone has a contact with someone, we ask that you reach out to them and request their help. Any idea matters!

Please email all ideas to Leah Dow at: leahdow@verizon.net with PVMS in the subject line

UNICEF and OPEN PANTRY THANK YOUS
We received a thank you note and certificate from UNICEF thanking PVMS families for their collection of $147.46.

We also received very nice thank yous from the Open Pantry Teen Living Program - handwritten notes of appreciation from the young parents who received our gifts at holiday time (HUGs).
LATE MORNING DROP OFF OF CHILDREN
If you bring your child to school after the teachers have gone into the building, we ask that you follow these guidelines:

If your child is an Elementary student, he/she may get out of your car on their own - but please do not drive away until you see that they have entered the building.

If your child is a Children's House student, we ask that you go up the ramp to get the key which opens the blue doors. Open the blue door and walk your child to his/her hook and help them get their coat, lunchbox etc. put away and then open the door and make sure that they enter the classroom. There was recently a situation where a child who had been dropped off late was discovered lingering in the coatroom. The teachers have no way of knowing that your child has arrived unless you walk them into the classroom.

We do ask that you follow this procedure, rather than waving to the teachers to ask them to open the doors for you.

Thanks so much!
HAITI DONATIONS
Some of our PVMS children have been earning money so that they can make a donation to HAITI. One child held a pre-order bake sale and she and her parents have donated all of the proceeds to Partners in Health. Another child did some cleaning work at home to earn some extra money to donate. The Upper Elementary class has decided to donate the money that they have been saving, together, to Partners in Health. These children have been helped to feel empowered to make a positive difference in the world. They know that their contributions will help people who have lost everything in the recent earthquake.

1. Please send in your donations for HAITI from your child by Friday, February 5th. Checks can be made out to Partners in Health or cash is accepted.

2. On February 10th, the Upper Elementary class will be holding a tag sale for the parents of the younger children. They figured that since they are older and bigger that their outgrown clothes or toys might have interest to parents in the school. Their tag sale will be open during LUNCH and AFTER SCHOOL on that day. Please stop in and support their efforts. All proceeds from this tag sale will go to HAITI.
UPPER ELEMENTARY with Pamela Kinn and Donna Wegge
Winter, in New England, can be pretty yucky. Today the students would have done as well going home in boats as they did in the family cars. It is when the weather is cold, gray, wet, and/or dreary, that school is the best place to be. Children continue to learn, explore new concepts, smile, laugh, and grow.

After some introductory discussions and projects, we have begun our study of ancient civilizations. The students have chosen a time period and location and are working in groups to learn about how the culture in that time and place fulfilled its fundamental needs. The ancient Incas, Mayas, Egyptians, and Greeks are all fascinating cultures. The students are already eagerly poring over books and internet articles eager to learn about these ancient people.

The vital functions of animals work also continues. We have already looked at how different kinds of animals handle respiration, nutrition, movement and support, and circulation. The presentations have enough silliness to be memorable, and the follow-up practices help the kids to use the information in the context of kinds of animals.
Our reading work has been focused on poetry. We have been reading poems, sharing favorites with the class, looking at how poems are constructed, what makes them enjoyable, and how they compare to each other. In addition to reading poetry, we have written about poems, and have even tried writing some poetry ourselves. Reading and writing are also part of our work in science and social studies.

Although several of our math lessons have recently focused on fractions, math tends to be open-ended as the students capably choose things that they need to practice or things that they would like to explore. Area and perimeter have been fun lately as the students discover the formulas using shapes that can be turned into rectangles. We then compare the base and height of our new polygon and adapt the rectangle formula.

n a topic closely related to area, we will be celebrating Pi Day in a special way this year. Dr. Andrew Perry, who does math enrichment with our class, brought a book called 314 Ways to Celebrate Pi Day. The students want to choose activities and hold a Pi Day Celebration on March 14th, which happens to be the same day as the next PVMS open house. It is a Sunday, so we could invite students and friends from other schools. Watch for details in the future.

As you know PVMS is looking for ways to help the people in Haiti. The Upper El students decided that it would be good to hold a tag sale. It sounded like a great idea to me! Families can send in things that their children have outgrown (clothing, toys, games, books, etc) and the kids will price them and offer them for sale in our classroom on February 10th from 11:30 to 12:30 and from 2:45 until 5:30. Parents of younger children may find new treasures at a bargain price!

LOWER ELEMENTARY EAST with Susan Hershey and Donna Wegge

We're taking a break in our study of Australia to travel to Europe. Right now we are learning which countries are in Europe, as well as their capitals, bodies of water, mountains, and climates. The third year students have each chosen one European country to research and write a report about.
Then they will present what they have learned to the rest of the class.

The current book that I am reading aloud to the class is a biography of Ben Franklin. We are all amazed at his many accomplishments (did you know that he invented the odometer?). In small groups, the students have been reading aloud (to me and each other) a series of traditional stories. Most recently, we enjoyed the tale of Paul Bunyan, and now we are reading Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle." As well as reading, we also discuss sequence of events, characters, reality/fantasy, similes, and many other aspects of literature.

In our study of the very early history of the earth, we read about the transformation of the planet from fiery ball of gas and solid matter to the formation of oceans and mountains. We discussed the role of volcanoes and the rocky plates that make up the earth's crust. As part of our exploration of this time, we did experiments of condensation and evaporation and wrote them up using the framework of the scientific method. Currently, we are reading about and exploring the Paleozoic Era. This leads us to such topics as ice ages, the movements of continents, and developing life forms. We are learning about invertebrates right now, and will go on to study the vertebrate classes, beginning with fish and amphibians as well as less complex plant forms, such as mosses and ferns.

We are very fortunate to have Samantha's mother, Christine, spend time in our classroom each Tuesday, to teach sewing. She began before the December break, helping each child create a beautiful braided wreath. Now, she has gone back to basics: threading a needle, tying a knot, and making a booklet of the basic stitches. The students look forward to her weekly visits and enjoy learning these new skills. Thanks, Christine.
Lower El West with Sue and Lucy

Greetings! Just as we're getting back into our old routines, after such a long break,- February break is three weeks away!

Since last sharing news, we have been working on:

Language- parts of speech, dictionary work, idioms, paragraph writing, sentence work, possessives.


Math- story problems, memorization of facts, rounding off numbers

Cultural- land forms work which is then applied to research on Australia's land/water forms, classification of animals, animal research.

We enjoyed a presentation on the didgeridoo, by Barbara Weinberg, before break. We all were quite excited about hearing it played. Many children got to play it as well. We learned how they were made, the process by which it makes sound and how to make one as well. Thanks to Molly for arranging this visit!

Anyone have a Platypus to bring in?

Please make sure the children have outside clothes for all types of weather because the children need to be able to go outside as much as possible. Extra gloves and socks are needed for each child, for days that they get wet the first time outside. If you have borrowed the classroom extras, please return them so that we have back up. Thank you!

Coming up:

Science Fair (start planning)
Mid-year Progress Reports

CHILDREN'S HOUSE NORTH with Andrea Thibert and Sara Liptak

Happy 2010! Our classroom is an energetic, growing environment. It is apparent the academic, social/emotional, physical, and individual abilities and skills continue to develop and progress as a result of the environment. Consistent expectations, order of materials, and allowing repetition and individual choice promotes growth and development.

At this time, most of the children have improved their ability to attend the group activities and I will be expanding the length and/or time of the groups. The lessons and presentations presently relate to the Geography, Science, Sensorial, Language and Math areas of the classroom, as well as, reading books and discussing important current events.

Presently, during group time, we review the Metal Inset shapes (circle, square, triangle, rectangle, oval, ellipse, pentagon, curvilinear triangle, and quatrefoil) and the Geometric Solids (cube, cone, sphere, square based pyramid, triangular pyramid, cylinder, ellipsoid, ovoid, rectangular prism, and triangular prism).

We also discussed the holidays and traditions that occurred over the past several weeks such as; Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Three Kings Day, and New Year's Day.

As always, group time supports opportunities to present diverse topics and lessons. This past month, we read about Martin Luther King Jr. and how he helped change the laws in our society. Our discussion opened with reviewing the ideas and views MLK helped change regarding how people were treated because of their differences in skin color. We then shared similarities and differences among each other in the classroom using hair and eye color, shade of skin, height, etc. The children were moved and surprised that our society was unfair and people were not treated as equals because of differences in skin color.

We will be starting Physical Science over the next few weeks, beginning with the study of liquids and solids. I look forward to presenting these activities and lessons with the children.

I would like to thank the families that attended Move-Up Night (the families of the current Toddlers and Pre-K). It is never too soon to think about your child's next school year. If you have any questions regarding next year please don't hesitate to call us!
Afternoon Kindergarten with Andrea and Sara
Our afternoons continue to be busy and focused. We are currently reading "The Trumpeter of the Swan" by E.B. White. This class absolutely loves hearing chapter books. Their enthusiasm with the daily reviewing and predicting helps keep the reading fun.

As always, the children are enjoying Yoga with Laura and Spanish with Paula. Recently, Paula shared Three Kings Day with a story, presentation and discussion. The children loved it. Both Laura and Paula are enthusiastic teachers and the children respect them greatly.

The children continue to work in their journals. They are gaining confidence and mastering new skills weekly. Sara and I continue to work with each child individually on handwriting every Thursday. This handwriting work gets added to their journals as well.

The most recent activities the children have been enjoying are building Mazes using the Red Rods and the Number Rods and also creating extensions with the Brown Stairs and the Pink Tower. First they make the blue prints and designs of what they are going to build, and then they build. They have been demonstrating extensive and creative extensions of the Montessori materials and I have enjoyed observing this growth and development.

Great Work to ALL!
CHILDREN'S HOUSE SOUTH - with Nicole Langone, Rosemary Gossman and Gerri Haynes
Since the month of December is so full of excitement for the children I decided to have some projects in the classroom to help keep their minds off of the "elf on the shelf" and other such things. We made a paper chain that the students decorated and then we wrote down how many days until we went on vacation. We would go around the group and the children would have to think about how many links were left and give me an estimation of how many days they thought was left. It was a great way to incorporate some extra math and vocabulary into our day. A parent, Kate Wurm, came into the classroom to do a project making bird feeders out of pinecones, lard, and seeds with the students. This was followed by a book at group time learning all about birds. The entire class was able to take part in this activity and seemed to enjoy themselves. It was great for all ages because the younger students were able to explore with their hands how the lard felt when they touched it and how the bird seed was sticking to the lard and that it was hard to get off their hands afterwards. The whole lesson was very sensorial and tactile for them. The older students thought it was a great idea because it was a way to help the birds have enough food during winter time.

The following week Kate returned to do another project for the kindergarten students about chemical reactions. The children combined vinegar and baking soda and watched what happened. Kate was really surprised at how much the children understood and took in. She is used to working with college students and found it fascinating that the students were so interested and observant.

Coming back from vacation, the students were happy to see one another again. The class is working hard on the fundamentals of the Montessori curriculum this month. For some, this is pouring and scooping and for others it is the movable alphabet and the trinomial cube. The activities are individualized depending on where your child is in his/her development. Special projects are interesting and fun, but it is also important to have times when the children have time to explore the beautiful and brilliant Montessori materials, which Dr. Montessori developed out of her study and observations of children.

Sincerely,

Nicole
TODDLER CLASS with Mary Ann and Janice
The toddler class is growing by leaps and bounds! In January, we welcomed Dax, Aidan, Narayan, Alejandro and Rhys. Our new students are becoming comfortable thanks to the friendliness of their fellow classmates.

All the children returned to school easily after the holiday break. Several came back with increased language skills and confidence. It just goes to show toddler development is very much like New England weather: just wait a minute it will change.

This past month several new activities were introduced due to interests of the children. Counting, visual discrimination and practical life activities have been added to the shelves. The children have enjoyed visits from Paula, our school Spanish teacher. She casually talks with them and offers some Spanish vocabulary.

The snow added a wonderful addition to outdoor fun, but the process of getting ready to go out, as you can imagine, is a challenge. We are very fortunate to have some older students who come to help the children get into their snow suits. Thanks to those Upper Elementary students who come to our aid each day, getting us outside faster and happier.
AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM with Maxine & Gerri and Margaret & Donna
We hope you all had a nice holiday season! Our Children's House group is happy to be together once more.

The big attraction this winter has been the snow! The after school children have had a great time making mini snowmen, snow angels, and simply enjoying each other playing outdoors. A gentle reminder- since we do go outdoors every day possible, the children need to come to school each day with warm coats, hats, mittens, snow pants and snow boots so that everyone can be comfortable.
Indoors, we crafted woolly mittens, some to bring home and some which hung on the tree on our door. We also worked on 3-D fireplaces with twigs gathered on the playground serving as the "logs". The after school group enjoyed our own supermarket complete with grocery carts, in our play kitchen area.

This month, as we spend more time inside, due to the cold and the ice, the water table has been a popular activity. The children measure and pour, and we also filled the table with birdseed, to sift and shovel. The easel continues to attract our budding artists, who create with paints, stamp designs, markers, and gluing paper shapes into interesting collages.

Everyone cut out glittering icicles and wiggle eyed penguins, which are now giving our door lots of personality! These will go home at the end of the month.

In December, the elementary group stayed busy with many projects - colored wooden snowflakes, mini yarn wreaths, snow and tree mazes, menorahs for the windows, and winter word searches.

We enjoyed watching a, "Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer" movie. This month we are looking forward to seeing the movie, "Air Bud".

In our room, we have been working on winter themed activity sheets, and we are beginning a large group paint-by-numbers piece.

When we are not inhibited by snow and rain, we try to get outside as much as possible!

All of us in the after school program are enjoying the start of 2010!

Maxine, Gerri, Margaret, and Donna
Art with Christie Hester-Moore
Lower and Upper Elementary Art

Hello everyone and Happy New Year! By now you've more than likely seen and received the wonderful snowman ornaments. Your children made them to give as gifts before the Winter break. Each student put a great deal of care, thought and creativity into the project. Many of you, who have had students here at PVMS over the years, know that we try whenever possible to focus awareness on ways we can be kind to our environment. We also work on ways we can recycle materials and reduce our waste. To that end, each student used balls of old newspaper to create the internal structure of their ornament. The ornaments were then covered and sculpted into a paper mache pulp that was allowed to dry. Finally, the big finish was when everyone painted their snowmen and added a snow-like glitter.

In the coming weeks we will be focusing on indigenous Australian Art. This is in keeping with this year's school wide focus on the continent of Australia. We will also be planning and working on projects to support the PVMS annual auction.

Wishing you and your family all the best in the coming year!
SPANISH with Paula Wicks
Espanol, enero,2010

Feliz Ano Nuevo! It's been a productive January.

OVERVIEW:
La Casa/Afuera House Vocab/Outside
La Casa/Adentro House Vocab/Inside (rooms, furniture)
Prepositons/review
Noun(Color) (Number) Noun (Color)
The verb "estar" for location
Sentence structure: Es la/ el___________.

OVERVIEW/READING and WRITING
First Years-Osito, Osito
Second Years-AEIOU, Arbolito de Peru
Third Years-Journal pages/ "Mi Perro"
Fourth Years-Spanish Vocabulary Challenge
Fifth Years-Journal pages/"La Familia Marin"

CHILDREN'S HOUSES

We have been practicing words associated with the house. We acted out "techo" roof/ "chimenea" chimney/"ventana" window/"puerta" door. The children especially liked pretending to knock on la puerta! We made a casa out of a paper bag. We practiced the names of the rooms and placed pictures of furniture in the appropriate room. The children pasted "la cocina"(kitchen) la sala(livingroom), "el bano" (bathroom) and "el dormitorio" (bedroom) on a casa.
We reviewed counting uno hasta diez with a snowman/buttons activity. The children chose a number card and then the correct amount of buttons to place on the snowman. We counted en espanol once the task was completed.
We will finish out the month of enero with vocabulary for the face.

KINDERGARTEN

When we returned from winter break, we celebrated "El Dia de Los Tres Reyes" or Three Kings Day. We decorated a small bag and placed some"straw" inside (for the camels to eat!). We placed a small bowl of water in the center of the circle (for the camels to drink!). The children pretended to sleep and the Three Kings came and brought them gifts. This is an important day in many Latin American countries and is a celebration of the Epiphany.
We are practicing our house vocabulary by making a casa and labeling the different features of the outside to reinforce what we have been practicing in the Children's Houses.
Andrea, Sara, and I have been reading the story "The Mitten" or "El Miton" to the children. The children have laced up paper mitones and have decorated them with paper doilies. As we mention the names of the animals in English and in espanol, the children are able to place them in the miton. This has been an ongoing project which should be finished in February. The children did a wonderful job with the lacing, with the listening, and with the practicing of the vocabulary en espanol!


LOWER ELEMENTARY

First Years have been hard at work practicing house vocabulary. They have done a house project, complete with labels. We are beginning to realize that adjectives go after the noun en espanol. We have been practicing this structure with the colors. The children told about their houses using the sentence pattern: Es la/el__________ and to some extent Es la/el______color.
We continue to complete simple assignments week to week. We have been practicing counting by 2s,3s, and 4s. We do the weather and the calendar at the beginning of each class, as well as our current poem"Osito,Osito".

Second Years have also done a house project. They are getting very proficient at using the colors to describe things and making the colors agree with the noun. Our poem AEIOU, Arbolito de Peru is an excellent way to learn about vowel sounds en espanol. The vowels are pure in Spanish which is very different from the English long and short vowel sounds! I am hoping that this will help them improve their reading skills. Our assignments have involved a little more writing for practice. The children are progressing and practicing their vocabulary.

Third Years are using pictures from magazines to create the rooms of their houses. They continue to write simple sentences in their journal pages as a way to review . We have begun a new story "Mi Perro". We practice oral reading and answering questions en espanol. The illustrations which the children have made are priceless! Third Year assignments involve a lot of writing to practice agreement and sentence structure as well are reading comprehension.

UPPER ELEMENTARY

Fourth Years enjoy the Vocabulary Challenge at the beginning of each class. It's a chance to practice writing in complete sentences and expanding our vocabulary in a fun way. The children have completed room inventories for their house vocab practice. This is a way of practicing "number/noun/color" sentences or phrases. We learned about indefinite article "a". Of course en espanol, there are four ways to say "a" or "some", each way having to agree with the noun. These children have had a lot of practice with the definite articles (el,la los,las) so this is relatively easy for them and will just take a little practice to master!

Fifth/Sixth Years are wrapping up their study of family vocabulary. We are using the verb "ser" to describe family members. We have also practiced two verbs "estar"-to be and "ir"-to go. These are irregular verbs and need a bit of memorization to learn. I am pleased with their progress! The
children created maps to review the prepositions and to practice the verbs estar and ir. We have begun a chapter book called "La Familia Marin". I wanted to expose the children to some oral reading and reading comprehension before next year. This also provides and opportunity to answer questions en espanol, in complete sentences. It is also a good way to expand our vocabulary. It may be slow going;but, I believe that it is a worthwhile endeavor!


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

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