November 2009

from Molly
Hello to all! This newsletter begins a change in our newsletters. We will now have a short newsletter piece monthly from all of the head teachers, rather than every other month. This way, we can better keep you in touch with all of the great work going on in the classrooms.

USED PAPERBACK BOOK COLLECTION - a note from Rachel, Grade 2

My Brownie troop, Troop 210 at the Center School in Longmeadow, is collecting used paperback adult books for the Veterans' Home. If you would like to help the veterans, you can have your child bring the books to the school between Monday Nov. 2 and Friday Nov. 6. We were thinking that we could put a bin in each classroom. On Friday November 6 my Brownie Troop will go to the Veterans' Home and give them the books.

Thank You,

Rachel Perry
Second Grade
Sue and Lucy's Class



4 MOM'S NIGHT 6 pm - 7:30 pm
There are two parking spots which are reserved for Toddler Class parents, so that they may have easy access to the Toddler Class doorway with their child and the extra bags they may be carrying. Thank you for your awareness of this request.
On November 20, teachers will offer conferences to all parents. This is a time to discuss the specifics of your child's classroom activities and work. Please call the office to sign up for a time slot.

There is NO SCHOOL for the children this day.
We have sent home UNICEF boxes for your convenience. This is an optional activity for your family and may be sent back to school next week. School will compile the money and forward to UNICEF.
On November 24th, we observe SHARING DAY at PVMS. On this day, the children are paired up with their SHARING DAY PARTNER, who is a child enrolled in a different program at PVMS. The Elementary children are partnered with a child in CHILDREN'S HOUSE or TODDLER CLASS and spends some time with them, getting to know them through doing activities together. This is a much anticipated day for the children and staff. It gives them a chance to connect with children that they might not get a chance to get to know.
MUSIC with Leticia Davies
Dear Parents,

I wanted to introduce myself. I am Leticia Davies, the new music teacher at Pioneer Valley Montessori. The children call me Miss Leticia. I am so happy and grateful to be given the opportunity to work with the children at the school. The teachers and students have given me a warm welcome in my first weeks.

At the moment, we are working on the voice as our instrument. Exploring what makes sound, what is music, how to warm up our voices and be ready to be an instrument. I have learned that the children like a wide variety of musical styles and that they enjoy singing.

In the elementary classes, we have been experimenting with clapping and chanting games, singing songs about Autumn and learning how to sing in rounds. I have brought in instruments to demonstrate rhythm and timing, loud and soft playing, and accompanying ourselves as we sing. The children are receiving song sheets weekly to build their song books.

In the Toddler room, the little ones are warming up to me and the big guitar! They are moving from watchers, who are taking it all in, to active participators. I look forward to more movement and singing.

In the Children's Houses, we have been singing and playing finger games, learning songs in Spanish, English, and French, moving our bodies and playing instruments to develop our rhythm. The emphasis, again has been on the current season.

Music is not only active participation but learning to be good listeners for ourselves and our friends. Most importantly, we are learning to be successful musicians and to have fun while making music.

I look forward to working with each of the children during this year.


Miss Leticia
ART with Christie Hester-Moore
Upper and Lower Elementary Art

Greetings everyone it's hard to believe that we are already six classes into the new school year. I say this every year and it still holds true. It is always a pleasure to welcome back existing students as well as students who are new to the PVMS family.

At the start of the School year everyone is eager to become reacquainted and share their experiences and adventures from summer. Keeping this in mind, I wanted to create a lesson plan in which students could share some of the meaningful aspects of their lives and learn about an artist who's work reflects a great deal of her life Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Frida Kahlo is one of Mexico's most well-known artists. Kahlo is best known for her self-portraits. In her work, she often used surrealist imagery to express her feelings, experiences and views on life. It is important to note that Kahlo never viewed her work as surrealistic. She is quoted as saying, "I never painted my dreams - I painted my own reality." Frida Kahlo's work was so personal that it was very much like a visual diary.

Over the course of the next six sessions, we began our lesson by viewing some of Frida Kahlo's art work and discussed how the events of her life influenced her work. Using a mirror each student took a few minutes to study their faces making different expressions. While referring to their reflections, the students drew a self-portrait. Later, we discussed the important events, people, activities and places in their lives and how they could translate these events into a second self-portrait inspired by Kahlo's work.

The students are in the process of finishing up their projects and I'm sure they will be excited to share their work with you and some of their knowledge about an amazing artist.

In closing, there area couple of issues I'd like to make you aware of:

1) Art meets once a week on Mondays for forty-five minutes and while we are currently working with colored pencils and crayons, in coming weeks, we will be using materials that could possibly stain clothing so please remind your students to "dress for mess". Nothing impedes the creative process more than worrying about ruining a great new outfit.

2) I try to make every effort for students to make up missed class time due to absentees. There are also times when some students want or need more time. We do have a limited amount of time and only meet once a week. So, at times, some students may choose to finish their projects at home or on a "free art day" (a day put aside for students to finish up old work or experiment with art forms that interest them. There are about two or three each school year.)

That's all for now and as Frida Kahlo would say, "Viva la Vida!" That means, "Long live life!"

SPANISH with Paula Wicks

After a hectic septiembre of organizing our Spanish notebooks, filling them with some basic vocab(colors, numbers, weather, calendar words),
and working on posters or books about ourselves, we are on to October!

Overview: School vocabulary
Noche de Brujas (Halloween)
Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Children's Houses: We have been practicing numbers by singing a song to the tune of "Ten Little Indians" during our group time together. We
made flash cards or a birthday cake with candles to practice numbers as well. We hung "apples " on an apple tree to count ,too! We practice colors
with a song to the tune of "Have You Ever Seen a Lassie?" during our group time. We sorted objects of different colors. For both numbers and colors, we placed felt leaves on a tree and then pretended the wind blew them off. Each card the children chose had a colored leaf with a number on it. We continued on with school vocabulary. The children enjoyed playing the matching game to practice our vocab.. We ended the month of October with a lesson on shapes either on a face or on a Jack-o-Lantern.
My hope at this level is that the children will become familiar with hearing and responding to Spanish, as well as remember some of the words .

Kindergarten: We practiced writing our Spanish names on name tags and we decorated them. Now when the children come to class, they have to find their Spanish name and sit on that rug! We made puppets and used them not only to practice features of the face, but also some basic greetings- "hola, adios, buenos dias and buenas noches." We worked with matching the number words with the actual numerals. We played number bingo as well. At the end of October, we decorated a pumpkin and practiced the
"face" words . I am enjoying working with the "Ks" and reinforcing the espanol they practiced on Mondays and Thursdays in their classrooms!

Lower ElementaryFirst Years-- Poem for October-Cinco Calabasas! The children have enjoyed learning the poem and have shared it with their classmates in Lower El. Along with school vocab we learned the definite articles,"el" and "la". We also practiced the colors with this vocab. The children are learning that the color word goes after the noun en espanol and has to agree with it (masculine/feminine) as well. We did a little backpack project to practice colors and school vocab. We are learning the prepositions"encima
de" (on top of) and debajo de" (under) also to practice with school words. School bingo is a favorite activity!

Second Years-Poem for October-Tres Fantasmas. We are trying hard to memorize the poem so that we can share it with the rest of Lower El. It is proving to be a challenge! We will make little ghosts (fantasmas) out of lollipops to help us along! Second Years have also been practicing school
vocab and have learned how to form the plural of these words. We are practicing noun/color agreement and prepositions with the school vocabulary
The children made a Match-A-Word game. For Dia de los Muertos, we will make a skull mask and hear a story about this special day.

Third Years-Poem for October-Las Tumbas. The children have enjoyed memorizing this poem, especially the Ja, Ja, Ja (Ha, Ha, Ha) part! We hope that Lower El will enjoy it ,too! Third Years have studied school vocabulary with four definites articles-el,la,los,las. They can form the plural and are continuing to practice agreement-Masculine/feminine and singular/plural. They are practicing agreement with the colors as well. We are studying the verb "estar" with the prepositions. For Dia de los Muertos, we will hear a story and make a skull mobile.

There are two groups of UpperEl children this year. Each group meets twice a week. We continue to learn vocabulary;but, the emphasis is on reading and understanding both the written and spoken word. We do a lot of the writing in class
so that I can monitor it and make corrections in a timely manner! I try to speak Spanish as much as I can and will resort to English only in an emergency!!

Fourth Years: One of my students told me that she thought that Spanish was easier this year!! This is a sign that things are falling into place . Fourth Year is often the "Aha" year when things just start to make sense. Vocab is not as much of a chore
because they remember most of it from past years. They are beginning to become comfortable with listening to and writing Espanol. Que Bueno! We are doing more verb work this year and learning conjugations. We are getting used to subject pro-
nouns and how the verb must agree with them. We continue to work hard with agreement between noun and adjective. This is a small group and I can give them lots of attention!

Fifth/Sixth Combo: We are learning about famous hispanic people as a way to begin each class. Along with the school vocabulary, we are learning school subjects and practicing how to tell time. We have a nice little list of school verbs which we continue to learn how to conjugate and use in our writing. Vocabulary should not be much of an issue-they have hadfive or six years of it! We will have quizzes
almost every class (just a little one!) and exams after each unit. We do writing in class so that I can assist. The children do a rough draft of a given subject. I correct it and they write the final draft in their notebooks.

Upper El students celebrated El Dia de Los Muertos by making marigolds-the flower of the dead and skull/ghost pencil toppers. The 5/6 Combo class decorated skull cookies to share with the rest of Upper El.
AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAM with Maxine & Gerri and Margaret & Donna

The After School staff is so happy to welcome all our children back to school!

Maxine and Gerri are in the Children's House room, and Margaret and Donna are with the Elementary students. Gerri and Donna are new to the After School Program. Gerri has been working as a lunch assistant for several years in the Children's House, and Donna is new to our school. We welcome both of them to the After School family!

We have been so lucky to have had beautiful end of summer and early fall weather, allowing us to spend a good part of our time outdoors! The children always have fun running, sliding, climbing, and digging in the sandbox. Our playground looks so nice with the new layer of wood chips. We are having a new climbing piece built to replace the worn tires on our main climbing structure. The elementary students have been enjoying soccer again this fall, and the "new" climbing structure in their area.

We have been working on our new door decoration. We have designed our Montessori tree logo, which we will decorate each month with a seasonal theme. In September we enjoyed apple printing, and we cut out our prints to hang on our tree. In October, we cut and colored leaves and pumpkins to decorate the tree. We have begun to work on leaf rubbings which will festoon our tree in November.

Most of the children participated in making owl trees. They are so cute! Our new easel is a popular spot daily. The children have painted, stamped, colored with crayons, chalk, colored pencils - and I have more easel surprises in store! We love seeing the large, bold pieces they create. Margaret has carved out an area for all the children to display their artwork, and it adds so much to our room!

All the children participated in printing their thumbs on the nameplates that label hooks for their coats and bags.

This year we are planning to do a special activity with the elementary group every week. So far we have made sport ball pillows, watched a movie, and played our dancing game. We plan to do some baking next week. Everyday the children have been enjoying using the art cart, playing Racko, and playing pool. The whole group has been so creative with our paintboxes, transforming our black and white fall scene pages into beautiful autumn colored works of art.

We are off to a great start this year!

Maxine, Gerri, Margaret and Donna
UPPER ELEMENTARY with Pamela Kinn and Donna Wegge
October certainly came in like a lion, but we did enjoy the weather the past few days. October came in like a lion in other ways a well. Now that the children have developed a routine and made their own personal assessments of what they know and want to learn, they have been eagerly working on math, language arts, and cultural subjects.

The class recently read several short stories with nature writing as the theme. After examining the styles, content, and how the nature information was shared, they chose one of the three styles to use for their own work. Each student chose an Australian animal to write about. They made a web or an outline, decided on information to share about their animal, and read from books, encyclopedias, and the internet to find the information they needed. Using their outlines or webs to help organize, they wrote rough drafts. This week they are revising by reading aloud and sharing with friends to find areas of their work that may be confusing. Finally they will edit their essays, stories, or anthologies to correct spelling and punctuation errors. If they wish, they will be able to turn their projects into books complete with illustrations.

Our look at the "Work of Water" continues. It is truly amazing to learn all of the ways that water shapes our earth. We have also begun our work with animals. The students have learned about the classification of kinds of animals using homologies (things alike) and the Latin nomenclature. We are using our understanding of this system to make a chart of Australian animals showing the animals in each category. They began with one animal, but soon decided that they would each like to add one animal in each of the vertebrate categories.
Math and geometry topics have also kept us all very busy. The children are eager to master basic skills, and the younger children are anxious to do the "cool" work that they see the older students doing. In the past few weeks we have had students working on everything from multi-digit multiplication to the Theorem of Pythagarus (remember a2+b2+c2, for right triangles?). Some students still need to practice the basic math facts, especially multiplication facts up to 10 x 10. The fun, challenging work is much easier when you know the basic facts. You can use travel time in the car to quiz your child and help them memorize these important facts. It is also easy to make up matching games, card games, and dice games to make the work more fun. If your child is not yet solid in this work, and you want ideas, just stop in or email me.

As I see the wonderful work these kids are doing and how eager they are to learn more, I cannot wait to see what they are doing next month
LOWER ELEMENTARY EAST with Susan Hershey and Donna Wegge
Our class has grown by two in the past two weeks. We are very happy to welcome back our old friend, Samantha, whom we have missed while she was away. We are also glad to have Kyla join us as a second-year student. The children have been very eager to show our new classmates the ropes and make them feel comfortable in our class.

We have begun our year-long study of Australia with the geography of this country. After finding it on the globe, we noted its place in the Southern Hemisphere and what that means: when we have winter, they are enjoying summer. We are learning the names of the states of Australia, as well as their capitals. By looking at maps, we are finding the bodies of water that surround Australia (do you know what a "bight" is?). Currently, we are discussing the different physical features of this country, as well as its climate. There are so many interesting things to learn about this land
"down under."

We finished the fourth of our sink/float experiments that we have been writing up according to the scientific method. For this last one, the students had to remember the experiment and our discussion and use their own words to write up the experiment. They did a great job for their first attempt, and I look forward to seeing their growth as we continue with other experiments throughout the year.

Thanks to Ethan's Gramma Sue for donating her time to our class. She comes in each Tuesay to do sewing with the students.

Parent conferences are coming up in a few weeks. If you have any questions or concerns before then, please give me a call at school.
LOWER ELEMENTARY WEST with Sue Foerster and Lucy Maleshefski

Since we wil now be contributing to the newsletter most months, I will be changing the format somewhat. I'd like to provide insight into what is taking place in the classroom, as well as provide some Montessori Philosophy.

Our cultural studies have focused on botany. We have explored leaf parts, leaf research , tree functions and simple, simple lobed and compound leaf types. Of course, enjoying the color changes of the leaves from our classroom window is wonderful!

We have begun our math mad minutes. You should be seeing a sheet of math problems come home weekly showing your child's progress in memorization of math facts. This seems to work since they see their own progress. Please feel free to practice with them since this is one of the areas where repetition is key. This page of problems is done in one minute in order to go on sequentially to the next page.exp. Page one starts with 1 and 2 addition, then 2 and 3 and so forth.

In the language area, we have been working on paragraph writing, creative writing, dictionary work and have had our first spelling tests which we give each Friday. Please study the words with your children. Saying, spelling, and writing the words is helpful.

This year's Dad's Night was well-attended, as always, and seemed to be a pleasant time for all. Lucy and I had an opportunity to visit and watch the happy time. It is always so special to see the children offering snack to their guest and serving them as well. Great time!

Conferences are just around the corner and a time for us to share with you some insight into your child's academics and social development. I enjoy having the opportunity to hear from parents about their children as well!

Upcoming: Mom's night, trip to the new History Museum in Springfield

Thanks to Macy's dad for coming in again and explaining to us about how Sukkot is celebrated. The children enjoyed trying pomegranate seeds and concord grapes.

Thanks to Russell Cable for bringing in a "Pennies for the Class" bottle. Children are encouraged to bring in pennies (earned, found in chairs, etc) to add to the bottle. Once filled, we will vote on a classroom donation or a special event. Children are very excited about this!
CHILDREN'S HOUSE SOUTH with Nicole Langon, Rosemary Gossman and Gerri Haynes
In the month of October, the theme in our classroom has been harvest. We have been talking about the different types of fruits and vegetables that are out during this time of season. The children have been doing leaf rubbing to learn the some of the different types of leaves that are popular for the area. We also have been working on pumpkin scrubbing in preparation of cutting the pumpkin open and scooping out the seeds to bake, and then eat at the snack table. The children loved gutting the seeds and were happy to eat them the next day.

We also went on our first of our two field trips this year. The first was to Pell Farm where the children feed the farm animals some grain pellets, went on a hayride, followed by the boggling hay maze and corn maze. Next, was the grand finale - time to pick out a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch to take home. The weather was beautiful and the children had a wonderful time in the fresh air and open area. It was lots of fun for everyone.

Next month we will be learning about fire safety from a local fireman who was willing to take time out of his vacation to educate the children about fire safety and prevention.

CHILDREN'S HOUSE NORTH with Andea Thibert and Sara Liptak

Another month has come and gone already. October has been an exciting month for both the children and parents. First, we enjoyed our annual fall trip to Pell Farm. Thank you to the many parent chaperones that helped make this trip safe, fun, and enjoyable for everyone. This past month, we also hosted Dad's Night. It was exciting to observe the children showing their dads, grandfathers, uncles, and/or friends around the classroom. Lastly, the children had the pleasure of experiencing Sara's (George's mom) Sukkot presentation. Sukkot is a Jewish holiday celebrated in the fall. Sara discussed the importance of harvest time, built a sukkah (a temporary hut, under the loft, for the children to sit in during the presentation), and read a story about Sukkot. Thank you, Sara, for taking time to share with our class.

The focus of our group activities has been on Grace and Courtesy, Science and Geography lessons. Grace and Courtesy lessons included the discussions on respect for each other and the environment (as shared in last month's newsletter), discussion on germs, presentations on how and when to use tissues, and proper hand washing techniques. Geography lessons involved the presentation of the globe, highlighting the continent names, and a presentation on land, air, and water. Everyone had the opportunity to participate in these lessons.

In Science, we discussed the growth cycle of pumpkins and we read, "Pumpkin Circle", by George Levenson. We then reviewed information on the many varieties of pumpkin seeds and examined the key words highlighted throughout the book (i.e. roots, buds, vines and tendrils). The children then observed the cutting open of a pumpkin. They were surprised how much pulp and how many seeds were inside a sugar pumpkin. Lastly, we discussed the changes of autumn. The changing leaves, weather, and what outdoor clothing is necessary for outdoors.


Our afternoons are busy, busy, busy! You may have heard about your child's portfolio. This continues to be a focus of the children. Weekly, the children work on story-picture papers to put into their portfolios. This past month's writing topics include; a favorite character from the daily chapter reading, copying date of birth and address sentences, or their own idea!

Paula continues to offer Spanish lessons every Tuesday with the kindergarteners. The children love her well planned, exciting activities. The children have a folder in the classroom, with a collection of their Spanish work.

I'm sure you've all heard of, Laura, the yoga teacher. On Wednesdays, Laura joins our class to share her vast knowledge of yoga and peace. There are many benefits of practicing yoga. Peace, physical education, and mental well being are just a few benefits your children are receiving with Laura. Ask your child about their "breathing buddy"!
with peace,
TODDLER CLASS with Mary Ann and Janice
Goodbye tears have given way to hello smiles. The children often recite the names of their classmates as they pass by pictures in the cubbies and some talk about their classmates at home.

Early forms of cooperative play are demonstrated during the toddlers' outdoor time. Even though their language is just emerging, they enjoy engaging each other in marching, games of chase, talking or throwing the ball through the red tube. It's wonderful to see them interact and show affection toward each other.

Everyone seems to have settled in and knows the sequence of the morning schedule. A few children have established their own routines by choosing the same activity at the start of each day. Some days, as if by intuition, the children know it's time for our morning gathering. They take out their carpet circles without prompting and say "sing, sing," which is what we do during this time. Understanding the schedule gives them the security and comfort to move around in the classroom and try new activities.

Fall is a season full of wonders to explore. In the classroom we have pumpkin scrubbing, fall color art activities, food for viewing and tasting, and fall-themed books for story time. While on the playground, we look at the leaves changing color and the children point to the falling leaves. Now that the weather is turning colder everyone will have lots of outer wear, so please remember to label all clothing including boots.
Pioneer Valley Montessori School, 1524 Parker Street, Springfield, MA 01129 • 413-782-3108

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