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March 2010


From Molly
Hello everyone,

I hope you winter lovers are enjoying the snow that we have finally gotten. For those that prefer warmer seasons, take heart - it's March!

Things are going very well at school. The children are happy and settled in their classes. Our toddlers are developing so much - lots more language being used by them. Many of the toddlers will be transitioning into a Children's House class in the fall.

We will offer both a Children's House and Toddler Class summer Montessori session, with hours til 4 pm. Contact the office for an enrollment form.

We are looking for someone who is interested in teaching a summer Science or Computer camp for elementary children. Let me know if you have a lead.


Calendar
March 3 Loaves and Fishes
March 25 Science Fair
March 26 Curriculum Day (no classes)
April 1 Grandparents Day
April 19-23 Spring Break NO SCHOOL
April 29 Earth Day Celebration
May 20 Spring Performance
June 9 Graduation for Kindergarten and 6th Grade
June 10 Last Day of School
June 21 First Day of Summer Program (toddler & CH)
Substitute teacher for Nicole
We have hired Christine Druckenmiller to sub for Nicole, in Children's House South, during the last months of this school year, when she will be on maternity leave. The Druckenmillers have been at PVMS for several years and Christine is an experienced teacher and parent. In the last few years, she has begun to be trained in Montessori (both preschool and elementary) so we are pleased to be able to have her expertise in our school.

Christine, and her husband Alan, have adult children, as well as two younger ones: Kegan in Children's House North, and Samantha in Lower El East.

We have scheduled a Meet and Greet on Thursday March 11th from 4-5 pm for parents. Please come to Children's House South and introduce yourself to Christine.

Christine has started to be in the classroom one day a week, increasing to two days this week. Next week she will be with Nicole and Rosemary each morning. This should help to make a smooth transition for the children.

Nevertheless, we will all miss Nicole and look forward to her return in September. Nicole plans to come on the spring field trip with the children.
First Friday Parent Coffee March 5th 8:30 - 9:30 am
Our next First Friday Parent Coffee will be on Friday, March 5th from 8:30 - 9:30 am. These coffee hours have been popular and much enjoyed, so please stop in if you are available.
Loaves and Fishes
All PVMS families will share in making a meal for the Loaves and Fishes kitchen, to be served by the Upper Elementary class. Notices have gone 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 (including ziploc bags) and all baking items be at school by 9 am Monday, March 1st and the more perishable and all sandwich items items be brought in by 9 am Wednesday morning, March 3rd. Your child's notice will specifically show which item is requested and when it should be brought in. As all of the classes will be busy making sandwiches and cookies, it is important that we have all of the ingredients available at the start of the requested day.
Haitian Relief
The school children of PVMS have raised nearly $1200 to help the people of Haiti. Different children chose different approaches to raising money: a bake sale, cooking breakfast at Dad's workplace, taking money from a savings account to donate, doing chores, having a tag sale. Our dual goals of helping the Haitian people and helping our children to be empowered to help other people have been accomplished!
PVMS Auction April 10th
On Saturday, April 10th, from 2-4 pm at All American Gymnastics Academy in Wilbraham, PVMS will be hosting our annual spring silent auction.

There will be a class for the children run by a professional (for a fee) so that you can bring your children.

Save the date!
FACEBOOK
The PTO has set up a Facebook page, so check it out and become a "friend".
SPANISH with Paula Wicks
NEWSLETTER/FEBRERO, 2010/ ESPANOL


Overview:
Vocabulary:
(pre through level 3) - parts of the body
(levels 4 and 5/6) - house vocabulary

Grammar:
singular and plural nouns: Es la/el_______.
Son las/los______________.

forming questions

noun/adjective agreement



CHILDREN"S HOUSES/ESPANOL


We have been practicing the Spanish words for parts of the body during the month of February. The children enjoyed singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" en espanol
"Cabeza, Hombros, Piernas, Pies". We sang it the traditional way and then we added a few spare "parts" to the verses! We also enjoyed the song "Tia Monica" which practiced parts of the body as well.

We made a face using a heart as the cabeza. The following week we completed the body using a larger heart and adding los brazos (arms) las piernas(legs) las manos (hands) and los pies (feet..). The children love doing the little art projects! To end our practice of the parts of the body, the children created a junk person using household items and toys.
Each group created a very imaginative person! We will end the month with a practice of the Spanish words for the seasons of the year.


KINDERGARTEN

We spent some of February listening to the story "The Mitten" or "El Miton" by Jan Brett. The children "sewed" a large paper mitten together using yarn and decorated it using doilies. In the story, the mitten is all white and the doillies made a nice contrast.

We heard the story in English and then in Spanish. The children heard it a final time en espanol and as I told the story, they put the pictures of the animals inside the mitten. Of course, their favorite part was the sneeze at the end when all of the animals came flying out of the mitten!

We made a silly face on the white board and practiced the words for the face en espanol. The children created their own silly face on paper as well. We traced one of the children and will end out February drawing in the features and labeling them in Spanish.




LOWER ELEMENTARY/FEBRERO

READING AND ILLUSTRATING:
Level 1 Poem, "Pin Pon"
Level 2 Poem, "El Reloj"

Level 3 Story "Mi Perro"

All levels studied the parts of the body en espanol during the month of febrero. Basically we learned about singular and plural nouns using the phrases: Es el______, Es la_______, Son los_________, and Son las____________. We also practiced how adjectives (mostly colors) agree with both singular and plural nouns.

Each level did some type of parts of the body project. Level one made a clown face and attached it to a labeled body which they had to cut and assemble. Level Two used a coffee filter as the cabeza and added features and yarn as hair. They attached it to a bowl and added construction paper strips arms and legs and foam hands and feet. Level Three reviewed school vocabulary by using it as the features for a paper plate cabeza. They stuffed a paper bag with newspaper and attached the head as well as paper strips for the arms and legs. We traced our own hands and feet and attached them as well. We will spend the last week of February presenting our stellar projects and practicing our vocabulary and grammar in the process.

Both levels One and Two enjoy presenting their poems to the entire lower el class once the poems have been memorized. We usually do some type of visual to show as well. I invite the children in the audience to participate in a telling of the poem after the Spanish class has presented it. I am always amazed at how they remember the poems from year to year. The Third Level has just finished reading and illustrating a story about their pet dog. Their oral reading and translating is coming along and the illustrations are precious.


UPPER ELEMENTARY/FEBRERO


LEVEL FOUR-The children continue to enjoy the Spanish Vocabulary Challenge at the beginning of each class as a way to practice writing. We just completed a house project involving a moving van. The children wrote out packing lists for each room of the house. The lists had to include four items for each room using the grammar structure: (number)
noun (color).. This was a opportunity to practice a little noun/adjective agreement. We learned how to say "a" and "some" en espanol. The "uno" gets shortened to "un" with a singular noun and the "una" has to agree with a feminine noun. What fun! Anyway, back to the project---Next the children made a moving van. They outlined the furniture in a color , in accordance with their individual packing lists . They pasted the furniture and accessories in their vans. We presented them orally and also did some written work as well .

LEVEL FIVE/SIX-Although we did practice "house" vocab, especially in our writing, we did not do a specific project associated with house words. Instead we have been concentrating on reading and writing in our story "La Familia Marin". This is a chapter book by Marshall Schneider written in the present tense. It is easy to read and to understand. The children are really improving in their oral reading and in answering questions in complete sentences. It is slow going at first; but, usually I see a big leap in understanding by the second or third chapter! Reading a chapter book provides tons of opportunities to practice verbs, various grammar points, sentence structure, as well as improving oral reading and comprehension skills. This is a good introduction to Level Six which is mostly reading and writing. The children are becoming quite good at answering questions using the information (verbs, vocab) provided them in the question itself.
Upper & Lower Elementary Art with Christie Hester-Moore
This month in Art we have started a unit designed to introduce students to some of the techniques used in creating Indigenous Australian art. We will also explore the inspiration and meaning behind this art work. Over the next couple of months I will be introducing several projects that will be inspired by certain aspects of Aboriginal art work.

Our first project explored the origin and meaning behind Aboriginal Dot Painting. Many of you may already be somewhat familiar with this art form since it is so closely associated with Australia but if you have not the following websites offer some wonderful examples of this beautiful art form (http://tribal works.com/Aboriginal-Art-Dot-Painting-Gallery.htm and http://dotpainting.org).

Aborigines originally used dot paintings as a way of communicating important information, ritual practices and tribal history. These paintings were filled with symbolism and considered sacred-often the information depicted was secret, and only select members of the tribe were allowed to know the meaning.

We began by looking at several examples of dot paintings and then we discussed them, paying particular attention to the choice of colors, shapes and overall designs. Many of the students noted the abstract feel of this art form and that at times they could interpret what was viewed in several different ways. One aspect that students seemed to agree on was the references to nature found in this art work.

Using construction paper and pencils, students created their own designs. When they were finished they used cotton swabs and acrylic paint to color in their designs. Each student tried to stay true to the feel and inspiration of the Aboriginal dot art that we viewed in class and the results were quite nice.

Each student also researched an animal native to the continent of Australia that will provide inspiration for an exciting project that he or she will create for the auction in April.

Have a wonderful month and I will talk with you soon.
Christie
Afterschool with Maxine and Geri (Children's House) & Margaret and Donna (Elementary)
The cold weather in February didn't stop us in Children's House from getting some fresh air almost everyday. Playing Duck-Duck-Goose in the snow was the favorite outdoor game.

We had a snowstorm indoors-small, colorful tissue snowflakes we cut out to decorate the tree on our door. The children also cut large white, lacy snowflakes to bring home.

We used the housekeeping area this month as a Fix-it Shop. A visit from George, our school caretaker, who was in the After School room to repair our broken doll crib, became the center of attention. The children were so interested in George's work that he kindly took the time to show them his tools and how they worked. This inspired the children to "fix" all the "broken" tables and chairs in our room- just like George! This activity became a good lesson in sharing, as we have only two hammers, two screwdrivers, and one drill in the toolbox, and all our little carpenters wanted to work at once!

Our group entertained each other with our free standing puppet theater. Every afternoon, the children lined up the chairs, and took turns behind the curtain or seated in the audience. The bug puppets seemed to be their favorites.

You may have walked into our room to see a flock of colorful birds taking flight- with the help of our friends! We traced one hand and foot of each child on colored paper to cut out and assemble a flapping bird. They were delighted!

On indoor days we tried "shaving cream finger painting". The children loved the feel and scent, as they practiced drawing, numbers and letters in the foam.

On Groundhog Day, we read a story about the groundhog seeing his shadow, which turned out to be true. We then colored pictures of groundhogs to take home.

Valentine cards were created from a variety of materials set out for the children to cut, glue and stick. We are sure some of these cards were presented to you on Valentines Day!

The Elementary Afterschool group has been focusing on Football, because of the Superbowl, and winter sports, to tie in with the Olympics. To this end, we watched a football themed movie, and colored the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints' logos, as well as getting to know the mascots of the Vancouver Olympics.

We celebrated Groundhog Day with a cooking project- Groundhog Mud Pie! Delicious!


Recently, we received a donation of two large cork boards, and three 2009 Australian themed calendars from the Cameron family. We used the calendars to make new art mats for afterschool, and the cork boards have been installed as our wonderful new art display area.

Since we have not had as many opportunities to go outside, the elementary children have found a renewed interest in Lego building, and in our always popular Art Cart.

We have had a busy winter month in the Afterschool Program!

Maxine, Gerri, Margaret and Donna
Toddler Room with Mary Ann Ross and Janice Merrill
Hopefully everyone had a fun and rejuvenating week off. It appears that the children's noses also had a chance to recuperate. It was nice to see their smiling faces as they returned, ready and eager to get back to their work.

This year our school theme is Australia. The children were introduced to the continent by looking at a globe which was passed around during our group time. They have been learning about the animals that live in Australia through stories and song. So far we have read about koala bears, kookaburra birds and kangaroos. Each week we will learn about a new animal.

A few parents have asked about the songs we sing during our group time. Most of the songs are ones that are familiar, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", "Itsy, Bitsy Spider"," The Wheels On the Bus" and "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. The words to "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" are below.

As winter winds down and the snow disappears it's very tempting to entertain thoughts of leaving your child's snow pants and boots at home. Please keep sending all the winter gear because it takes awhile for the play yard to dry out. You will be able to keep them at home by June. (smile)


Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Head, shoulders, knees and toes
Knees and toes
Head, shoulders, knees and toes
Knees and toes

Eyes and ears and mouth and nose

Head, shoulders, knees and toes
Knees and toes

(Repeat)

Afterschool project
CHILDREN' S HOUSE NORTH WITH ANDREA & SARA
Hello to all! The children are adjusting well after the short winter break. The familiarity and consistency helps keep these transitions smooth for everyone.

The new changes of work activities made on Curriculum day are in continuous use. Practical Life and Sensorial activities appear to be the most desirable at this time. Color mixing, table scrubbing, and the trinomial cube are just a few to mention.

Together we discovered a few new concepts about liquids. During group time, the children experimented with water, vinegar, corn syrup, and oil by touching and smelling each liquid. After discriminating each liquid we then hypothesized and discovered which liquids were soluble and insoluble together.

March is an important month for our school. We will be making our annual Loaves and Fishes meal. Our class is responsible for making the oatmeal raisin cookies. This will be a great opportunity to discuss the needs of others around us who are not as fortunate.

Please remember to continue to send your child's outdoor winter clothing. The playground still has snowy, wet areas and it can be cold out!


AFTERNOON KINDERGARTEN

We are currently reading "The School Mouse" during our chapter reading time. Ask your child why Flora is so different from the rest of her brothers and sisters.

A thank you to Ayana's dad - Kevin for reading to our class.

We also discovered a few new concepts about liquids too! In addition to discriminating different liquids and finding out what is soluble and insoluble together, we discovered how different solids are soluble and insoluble as well. Of course, we hypothesized what would happen if we added salt and pepper to the water and which solids would mix or not mix together and then explored together. We will be exploring a bit more with liquids read on next month to find out!




Lower Elememtary East with Susan and Donna
Welcome back from what we hope was a fun and relaxing February vacation for everyone.

After a few weeks of researching in books and on the internet, the third year students completed their reports and presented them to the class. The European countries chosen were Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. The reports were all typed (with a bit of help, I think), and all included a map, flag, and/or pictures. We listened with interest as each student gave their report, explaining what they had learned about their chosen country. We even had samples of typical foods, including Portuguese pastries and Swiss chocolates. Everyone did a great job on their first attempt at report writing.

In our study of the ancient history of the earth, we have moved on to the Mesozoic Era (does the name "Jurassic" ring a bell?). The predominant type of animal during this time is the reptile, specifically, the dinosaur. Each student will choose a particular dinosaur to read and write about. The Cenozoic Era with its development of birds and mammals comes next. Following this, we will continue on to the Montessori Third Great Lesson and begin our study of the development of human communities, the common needs of people, and how people throughout time have met those needs.
Besides the everyday work with the operations, memorizing math facts, and story problems, we have also been doing work with fractions: adding fractions with the same denominator, adding fractions that add up to more than one; and geometry: types of lines, regular and irregular polygons, and soon, closed curved figures and parts of a circle.

March events to look for: preparing a meal for Loaves and fishes, mid-year update reports, Science Fair.
Lower El West with Sue Foerster and Lucy Maleshefski

Greetings!

Since we have changed our newsletter releases to monthly communication, I'd like to vary from the format somewhat and discuss one aspect area of the curriculum.

Handwriting is not an area that gets discussed often, but that is an important skill. The process is not always an easy one for all. It involves processing by the brain to duplicate a given written symbol. A child may be able to perceive the shape and yet not be able to remember or process the steps needed to reproduce it. Where does the letter start? b . Another area of difficulty which may affect the ability to reproduce the written letter, is that the child's mechanical or small muscle control is weak. So many skills involved!

We use the D'Nealian approach since this appears to have the best results for all. Lucy has formal groups once a week to introduce the new letter formation. The children may write on the board 1 on 1 to practice. There are built in strategies for those students who may have perceptual difficulties. The handwriting pages for assigned words or work sheets have specifically drawn lines to help with letter formation. This writing process is especially helpful since there is a flow to it with less stops and starts. First year students are always anxious to start writing in cursive mid-year. Boys and girls alike have great success and feel very good about their work!

Up coming:

Science Fair - Thanks parents for taking the time to help your children with these projects. It's such a positive experience for the children and provides huge gains for developing self esteem. They do a wonderful job!

Sue and Lucy
UPPER ELEMENTARY with Pamela Kinn and Donna Wegge
The Upper Elementary students have been busy this month. In addition to math, language, science, and social studies work, they finished their power point presentations on Aboriginal Australia, and held the Upper El tag sale to benefit the people of Haiti.
The power point projects were the culmination of learning about both how the fundamental needs of humans were met in Aboriginal Australia, and how to make a power point presentation. The students each chose a fundamental need to research. They then chose important information to share. Next came the fun part. Power point presentations were constructed complete with pictures, cool backgrounds, and some fun special effects. Everyone enjoyed both the making and the sharing of these projects. Margaret O' Shaughnessy and I are working together on these projects to help the students learn how to research, choose important facts to share, put information into their own words, find and place photos, and use the options on the power point program. We will be continuing this work with our next focus on the time period in Australia's history that includes the penal colony (the students will find this very interesting!).

The tag sale was a success. We raised over $250! The students did all of the work and learned many practical life skills in the process. They priced the items (often a small-group discussion), grouped and displayed the items, helped customers, and handled the money. There is no substitute for making change to cement money lessons! The students even set up their own "lay away" system for customers that wanted items but did not have money along. I knew there would be a lot of learning in a tag sale, but I didn't expect young business professionals.
Thanks to the efforts of Leigh Ford, the left over clothing will be going to an organization that is helping Haitian people who are being resettled in other areas, so even the items that didn't sell will be helping the cause.

Thank you to all of the families that sent items in to be sold, helped with the sale, and made purchases to help the Haitian people.
Children's House South Newsletter


Children's House South



Nicole Langone, Rosemary
Gossman, & Gerri Haynes



 



Our classroom is energetic with the
signs of spring arriving. It is apparent in all of the students that the
academic, social/emotional, physical, and individual abilities are continuing
to develop as a result of the Montessori environment. Rosemary, Gerri, and I
remain consistent in our expectations of the classroom which allows the
students to continue developing in their environment that remains predictable
and safe.  These clear limits give the
children an environment in which they know the expectations so that they can
problem solve and handle any new situations that arise.



 



In the past month, the students have been working extra hard
to learn the songs for the Spring Performance, and the American Sign Language
that corresponds with them.  They are
very excited to show their families that they can do sign language. As you all
know, I will not be present as their teacher for the all school performance
because I will have already started my maternity leave.  My hopes are to be present in the audience to
support my class and the entire school. During the spring field trip, I hope to
 be a chaperone to help the teachers and
to take part in the wonderful experience with the students. They mean so much
to me and please know that it is very hard for me to leave them before the
school year is over.



 



At our group time presentations, we have been reading about
animals that are native to Australia. We have talked about the dingo, wombat,
red kangaroos, koala bears, kookaburra birds, and the wallaby. We discussed such
topics as: what are the characteristics that make an animal a marsupial, what
kind of diet the animals like, and if the animal is an herbivore or a
carnivore. We also discuss some of the unique features the animal may have. For
example, the dingo is in the canine family but is a soundless dog that doesn't
bark. The students love to hear the facts about the animals and share stories
about the animals they may have seen at the zoo and parks they have gone to.
They are able to sit and listen to each other for a longer period of time and
are showing a great deal of patience and respect for one another. Hopefully
they are demonstrating the same social skills in their home environments for you
so that you can see what they have been learning on a social level.



 



Finally, I would like to say thank you to all of you parents
that I really love working with your children and they hold a special place in
my heart.  I'm sure I will be busy in the
next few months but I will miss all their smiles and the funny comments that   bring a
smile to my face.  I hope to see all of
you when I return in the fall and look forward to seeing you at the school
functions. Thanks again for all the support this year.



 



 



 



 



 



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

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