Blog

Upper El’s Week

“As we observe children, we see the vitality of their spirit, the maximum effort put forth in all they do, the intuition, attention and focus they bring to all life’s events, and the sheer joy they experience in living.” -Maria Montessori

An observer of our Upper Elementary classroom would see most of the children collaborating on their work; this is intentional. Montessori elementary communities are designed to support this collaboration because it is recognized as a need for this age group. Elementary children crave interaction, not just in a purely social setting, but also in organized groups where they are focused on a goal with their peers. At this age, children form strong attachments to friends and want to be surrounded by their peers. For this reason, most of their work is collaborative, with the exception of when they are working on individualized skills. This is also the phase for “acquisition of culture” (Montessori). This is one reason why there is such a strong focus on learning about how people throughout history have contributed to society. The children assimilate this new knowledge about history as they are learning to contribute to their own world, classroom and beyond.

There is a great energy in the air the week leading up to a holiday. These children managed to harness that energy this week and put it into their work. They had great focus, working on assignments and research together. They were quite busy with math and vocabulary lessons and assignments as well as their collaboration on our class timeline of humans.

I’m really proud of these students for their leadership in our school community, leading the way with our composting program. Each day, two Upper El students went around to each classroom and collected their food scraps from the day and deposited them in our composting bin. Each day we saw increased participation throughout the school. Way to go Upper El! I leave you with this poem, spontaneously written by Cecelia.

Composting

Composting is good
You can compost wood

What can you compost?
Not a steel post

Wood chips, wood chips, you can compost that
But maybe not a big wet hat

Remember to compost every single day
And after you do, say “Yay!”


Suggestions and Strategies for Stress-Free Evenings

Dear Fraser Woods Families,

There are many ways for families to establish an after school or evening routine, and those routines will look different depending upon the age of your child/children. 

After picking up at dismissal, there may be rush-hour traffic, hungry kids, and homework – either assigned by your child’s teacher or suggested/required by you, which make weeknights stressful for any parent or caregiver. Families with multiple children will notice this time is trickier to manage because each child has their own learning style. 

You can manage these chaotic periods with strategies that fit your family and make this time of day smoother. 

  1. Snack

Studies show that nutrition affects children’s behavior and may reduce or increase attention and focus. Too much sugar and/or artificial coloring, may make it more difficult for children to focus.

Have a healthy snack ready for your child. You can pack a small cooler filled with nutritious food and water every afternoon, so that the kids have something to eat while you are driving home or to after-school activities. You can also have a snack ready when your child walks in the door (whole-grain crackers with natural sun or nut butter and an apple; a slice of cold turkey or ham and an orange; or a banana, etc.)

  1. Establish Your Own Routine- in other words, do what works for your family

Creating routines that work with your child/children is important in managing evening chaos. Some families may find that their child’s emotions are heightened after a long school day. 

So experiment with your child’s schedule. Try doing homework at different times, or breaking it into small chunks. Another strategy is having someone (parent, older sibling, babysitter)  sit with them, reading a book or working on another quiet activity; it provides reassurance.

Make the routine clear by creating a chart or poster with your child of the things that need to be accomplished that day: feed the dog, go to soccer practice, finish homework, read for 20 minutes, etc. 

  1. Be Realistic

Some children can take a shower, brush their teeth, and get into pajamas in a half-hour, but others can’t.

Your expectations about what your child can do independently and which tasks need your support will help you with feeling frustrated.

Lauren Braswell, Ph.D., a clinical child psychologist, agrees that realistic expectations help the evening go smoother. “I see families struggle with what they can change and what they have to accept,” she says. If it takes your child longer to get through the evening chores or nightly homework, that’s just the way it is”.

  1. Physical Activity

For some children, it’s hard to tackle homework or chores immediately after school. One way to help your child focus is through exercise. 

“Evidence shows that 20 or 30 minutes of exercise-taking a walk, playing in the backyard, doing some jumping jacks-can help a child focus for about 45 minutes to an hour afterward,” says John Ratey, M.D., an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. 

  1. Sleep

A good night’s sleep is so important, yet many children have difficulty with sleep routines for a variety of different reasons (restless, overtired, night time fears, etc.).  

“Routines that may start with a warm bath, tooth-brushing, and some light stretching or calming breathing techniques, followed by reading a story, can help your child prepare their body and their mind for a good night’s rest.”

  1. Be Mindful of Your Words

When your priorities collide with your child’s, parents can feel overwhelmed. We want to avoid an edgy tone of voice or using harsh words. 

Instead of saying, “You seem distracted,” try “Let’s work on finding a way to focus,” or “I know homework isn’t fun, but we need to get it done. So let’s get focused.”

Instead of saying, “You’re making a mess,” or “You’re getting a little sloppy,” try “Could you use a hand?” or “How can I help you clean this up?”

Instead of saying, “There are no monsters in your closet, just go to bed,” try “Lots of kids have scary dreams. How do you want to get rid of the monsters?” or “How about I stay in the room for a while until you fall asleep?”

When pressure is getting the best of you, focus on your ultimate parenting goal. Says Dr. Lauren Braswell, Ph.D., a clinical child psychologist, “Teach your child to be self-sufficient and preserve a loving parent/child relationship at all costs.”

Gina Tryforos

Assistant Head of School & Student Support Coordinator


Mrs. Hood: Attitude of Gratitude

One of the main highlights of this week was our baking day, preparing for our Thanksgiving celebration next Tuesday. Children listened to the names of ingredients and had the opportunity to touch, smell, watch and help with the mixing of the ingredients of a delicious Vegan banana bread.  On Monday the whole class will work together to prepare homemade butter as well. We can’t wait to celebrate and take time to let our thankful hearts speak, one more time.

Showing gratitude is an important part of who we are as humans. It strengthens our relationships and our connection to our communities and even makes us happier and more compassionate people. Although adults understand the worth in expressing gratitude, young children find it more difficult. Gratitude involves being sensitive and empathetic to others, and truly appreciating what others do for you. While children can quickly learn to say please and thank you, it takes time and guidance to help them truly learn to be grateful.

Dr. Montessori implicitly understood the value in fostering a grateful nature in children and helping them become compassionate citizens of the world. That’s why in our Montessori environment, gratitude is key. We regularly take time with each of our students to express thankfulness for specific things.

I find The Thankful Book by Todd Parr a great resource to use with the toddlers when we are learning about Gratitude. They really enjoy it and I highly recommend it for all the families to have at home.  It has been great to hear our verbal toddlers start expressing thankfulness.

On another note, we introduced the work: How to clean a dry spill on a table. Children are practicing how to use a small crumb brush and dustpan and are learning the difference on what brush and dustpan to use when either cleaning the tables or the floors.

Since water activities have been more present in our environment, children  were also introduced to how to use a floor mop. Children have been enjoying straining cranberries in the sensory bin and mopping the floor has been a great extension to encourage independence, order and concentration.

For food tasting we explored plantains and my Latino heart couldn’t feel happier! Children seemed to really enjoy it, so feel free to ask me how to prepare it at home if you don’t know already. Es delicioso!

We also celebrated another birthday! I can’t believe how fast these little humans are growing!

As your family prepares for next week’s festivities, we wish you peace and happiness.

We are thankful for you, for your support and for entrusting us with your little one!

Have a great weekend,

Mrs. Hood’s and Ms. Bethann

Just a reminder, Tuesday, November 22nd is a half-day for all students with an early dismissal at 11:30 am.

We want to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving Break!


Mrs. Semmah: Giving Thanks

The education of even a small child, therefore, does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life. 

    –Maria Montessori

For many, the holiday season is a time for giving. Perhaps more than ever, it is so important for our children to understand that giving does not have to be a materialistic gift. Simple and heartfelt words of love and friendship will last much longer than most anything that can be bought from a shelf. It can be an amazing and powerful gift to our children, if in all the hustle and bustle of the holidays we take time to slow down and model being grateful.

This week we asked each child to share what they are thankful for. While their messages will make you smile and warm your heart, there is beauty in their simplicity.

Søren– I am thankful  to go to New York city and seeing the pictures.

Carter– I am thankful when Daddy makes tents with me at home..

Jonathan– I am thankful to go to Disney World and to go to Lego World..

LuciaI am thankful to go to Mexico with my family.

Ruscher– I am  also thankful for my dogs and my goats. 

Ella– I am thankful for my Mommy and Daddy. My Grandpa too. 

Simone– I am thankful for my Mommy and Daddy because they hug me..

Oliver– I am thankful for my sister because she hugs me. I like it when she walks with me to my class.

Remington– I am thankful for my Daddy and my Mommy. She is so beautiful,

David– I love when my Mommy comes to school and lets me go on the playground.

Elsie– I am thankful for my daddy because he plays with me when he comes home.   

Casey–  I am thankful for my Mom and Dad. My Mommy reads me books at night time.

Savina– I am thankful for bunny cat. She sleeps with me every night. 

Lemon– I am thankful for my Mom making breakfast for me.

Charlotte — I am thankful for my Mommy  and my Daddy. My Daddy flies planes

Katie– I am thankful for my Mommy and Daddy. They give me big  hugs.     

Levi– I am thankful for taking care of my cat pumpkin.      

Michelle and I are grateful for the time we spend with the children each day and for the relationships we develop with each of you.  Wishing you all a week filled with peace and love.

Kaoutar & Michelle

Just a reminder, Tuesday, November 22nd is a half-day for all students with an early dismissal at 11:30 am.

We want to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving Break!


Mrs. Doyle: Giving Thanks

The education of even a small child, therefore, does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life. 

    –Maria Montessori

For many, the holiday season is a time for giving. Perhaps more than ever, it is so important for our children to understand that giving does not have to be a materialistic gift. Simple and heartfelt words of love and friendship will last much longer than most anything that can be bought from a shelf. It can be an amazing and powerful gift to our children, if in all the hustle and bustle of the holidays we take time to slow down and model being grateful.

This week we asked each child to share what they are thankful for. While their messages will make you smile and warm your heart, there is beauty in their simplicity.

Alex–              Painting because I love to make pictures.

Angie–           My dog Sidney because I like petting him.

Bodie—           My mom because she always makes me dinner.

Ella–               Playing Candy Land with Livie.

EmmaJo–     My cat because she loves me.

Greyson–      My pets because I like to play and snuggle with them.

Harper–        BunBun my rabbit because I bring her everywhere.

Isla–               My Mommy because I spent all my time with her when I was a baby.

Jonathan–    My Mommy and Daddy because they play go-fish with me.

Landon–       My bed because it is so comfortable.

Leo–               My Mommy and Daddy because they let me play sometimes on the tablet.

Melina–         Going outside with my dog.

Olivia–           Leaves because you can make leaf piles and jump in them.

River–            Singing with my Mommy and Daddy.

Saanvi–         Simmi because she snuggles with me.

Stephen–      My dog Asher because he really likes to play with me.

Zara–             Mrs. Doyle because I like to have lessons and learn things.

Maria and I are grateful for the time we spend with the children each day and for the relationships we develop with each of you.  Wishing you all a week filled with peace and love.

Michelle & Maria


Mrs. Lopes: Giving Thanks


The education of even a small child, therefore, does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life.
 

    –Maria Montessori

For many, the holiday season is a time for giving. Perhaps more than ever, it is so important for our children to understand that giving does not have to be a materialistic gift. Simple and heartfelt words of love and friendship will last much longer than most anything that can be bought from a shelf. It can be an amazing and powerful gift to our children, if in all the hustle and bustle of the holidays we take time to slow down and model being grateful.

This week we asked each child to share what they are thankful for. While their messages will make you smile and warm your heart, there is beauty in their simplicity.

 

Kian–       My Mommy because she makes me smoothies.

Advay–    School because I get to play with my friends.

Rowan–   My Mommy and Daddy’s hugs and snuggles because it makes me warm.

Annie—     Valentine’s Day because it’s my favorite holiday.

Sara–        My guinea pigs Nibbles, Kit Kat, and Lola because they snuggle with me.

Desi–        The treasure I found in the dig kit.

Daniel–    Christmas because I like to play in the snow.

Izzy–           I am thankful for my friends because they take care of me.

Arjuna–    My baby pig that I sleep with.

Owen–       Going to the farm with my family.   

Eleanor–   Playing fetch outside with my dog, Dublin.

Nava–         My Mom and Dad because they help me clean up.

Jack–          Numbers because I like to trace them in the sand.

Sullivan–   School because I like to learn.

Noelle–      When my baby sister gives me hugs.

Ayan–         My Dad because he fixes my toys.

Evie–           My brother, Ruscher because he plays with me very much.

Carmen–   My sister because she lets me go in her room and eat candy.

Parker–     My Hot Wheels because they are fast.

Brisa–        Laying under my cherry tree top.

Hema and I are grateful for the time we spend with the children each day and for the relationships we develop with each of you.  Wishing you all a week filled with peace and love.

Amanda & Hema

Just a reminder, Tuesday, November 22nd is a half-day for all students with an early dismissal at 11:30 am.

We want to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving Break!


Lower El at the Eli Whitney Museum

We had an amazing trip to the Eli Whitney Museum on Thursday! We learned about different cultures, studied people and where they live. The children constructed simplified model houses to consider the climates, resources, materials and traditions that define culture. The student’s built two different types of houses; Brazilian stilt houses and pueblo houses. Thank you Tameria Macari, Greg Lewis and Mik Sulkowski for joining us!

We also attended a fabulous Taekwondo presentation on Tuesday. The World Champion Taekwondo school just recently opened up here in Newtown.  They came to Fraser Woods to do a demonstration of their program.   They spoke to the students about integrity and respect in school as well as demonstrated some awesome skills. These are the fundamentals behind this traditional Korean martial art and they make sure to emphasize that. The kids loved it.

Just a reminder, Tuesday, November 22nd is a half-day for all students with an early dismissal at 11:30 am.

We want to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving Break!


Middle School: Week at a Glance

It was an exciting week in the Middle School community. Students participated in a fun game of floor hockey, they each created a unique clothing brand in STEAM class, and we prepared for the Thanksgiving Day celebration.  Each grade selected a bread of choice to bake and share with our entire school community during our assembly next week. As a reminder, Tuesday November 22nd is an early dismissal at 11:30 am  with no school for the rest of the week. We want to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving Fall Break! 

Humanities: 

6th grade Humanities classes were busy this week. They completed their class novel, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. This week, they led discussions using their own annotations from their nightly independent reading. This has been a breath of fresh air, and the class has been having rich conversations about the novel and how they are reacting to it. It is most exciting, and sometimes surprising, to them when they annotate the same section. The 6th grade also reviewed organization in their writing, particularly in using a topic sentence representative of their paragraph, details to support with transitions incorporated and sometimes used at the end to bridge paragraphs, and a conclusion that wraps up their thoughts. Finally, students completed a unit of vocabulary

7th grade Humanities classes looked at the impact of Mao Zedong and his reign in the first half of the 20th century. This included the Civil War in China, the Japanese-Sino War, and the Cultural Revolution. Next, we are completing a mini-unit of the structure of the US government in connection to the mid-term elections. We completed a broad overview of the 3 branches of government and then focused on the legislative and executive branches. Students will continue this next week. Finally, a unit of vocabulary was completed.
 
8th grade Humanities classes continued to study the formation of the Virginia Colony. They finished a Smithsonian Documentary about the legend of Pocahontas, which explains the myth and her impact on both the Powhatan/Pamunkey people as well as the Virginia colonists. Then, they studied the importance of the cash crop tobacco in the success of the Virginia Colony and as the catalyst to slavery, indentured servitude, and the livelihood of what would be the U.S. Finally, they completed a unit of vocabulary.
Science:
6th year Earth Science students have finished their stop motion videos depicting tectonic plates. Students were able to share ideas with their partner in a collaborative effort to meet each of the objectives. Students did a great job finding creative ways to represent convection currents, the 3 types of plate boundaries (transform, convergent, divergent), and the influence this has on our landscape.
 
7th year Physical Science students have begun their unit “States of Matter”.  The objectives of this unit are for students to be able to draw or model the movement of atoms in a solid, liquid, and gas, explain what happens to the motion and energy of molecules as a substance is heated or cooled, and explain how substances change state.This unit was first introduced by students demonstrating the movement of molecules in a solid (ice) as the energy level was increased (heat applied). Students represented this by moving marbles (molecules) around a tray at different speeds/rates, including how this relates to the temperature, volume, and shape of the given object. 
 
8th year Life Science students have been working on their unit “Cellular Respiration”. This week students were able to represent the first step of cellular respiration (glycolysis) by testing how different amounts of sugar affect the rise of yeast. Students were provided a set amount of yeast and water, with varying amounts of sugar. After the yeast, water, and sugar were added to a graduated cylinder, students were asked to record the rise/height of yeast produced. The results were compared to additional samples tested with varying amounts of sugar. Our next step of cellular respiration to represent will be the Kreb’s Cycle (citric acid cycle). 
 
Math:
This week all math classes participated in a Thanksgiving ‘Meal Plan’ activity. Students were asked to calculate total servings for their guests, make an accurate grocery list and total the cost of purchasing the ingredients to host a fun thanksgiving dinner! As a bonus activity, students could design a seating chart, make a digital invitation and write a toast about what they were most thankful for this year. 
 
In the Pre-Transition math class, students got to investigate using fractions to add mixed numbers or numbers with mixed units in real-world situations. This class can add positive and negative numbers on a number line and identify integer values.
 
In the Transition math class, students were excited to begin Chapter 5 in the UCSMP textbook and started to explore absolute values. This week we learned about simplifying expressions with order of operations and using fact triangles to depict relationships between numbers. 
 
In the Algebra math class, students concluded their learning of Chapter 4. We finished learning about compound inequalities and rearranging complex formulas for indicated variables. Students will begin to learn about Chapter 5 after the Thanksgiving Break! 
 
Math Joke: What do turkeys call a math test? ……and EGGS-amination