The Learning Triangle in Montessori


When a child is given a little leeway, he will at once shout, ’I want to do it!’ But in our schools, which have an environment adapted to children’s needs, they say, ‘Help me to do it alone.’ ~Dr. Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

One of the hallmarks of a Montessori Education is known as the Learning Triangle. The Learning Triangle consists of the environment (classroom), the child, and the teacher.

What does that look like at FWM?

The Environment:

The classroom environment is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, a sense of order and freedom within limits.

The Child:

Given choice, children take advantage of the materials presented in the environment to develop themselves.

The Teacher:

The teacher’s role is that of a Guide, Mentor, and Model or Directress/Director.  After individual lessons are presented to students, the students interact with their teacher when support and/or guidance is needed for the student to work successfully.

We see this at work every day.

In Toddler and Primary the children are interested in real activities with an intelligent purpose. The classroom environment allows for the development of movement, language, work with small objects, toileting, order, music, grace and courtesy, senses, writing, reading, spatial relationships, and mathematics.

In the elementary classrooms, children have a desire for intellectual independence. Students explore their place within the world and come to appreciate the interconnectedness of all things. This is also the “bridge to abstraction” which is the students’ transition from concrete to abstract thinking.

In middle school, students develop self-concern and self-assessment, critical thinking and exploring social and moral values, equity, and social justice. Adolescents also have a desire for emotional independence.

I am humbled by the work of our teachers and ever impressed by the care they take in preparing their classroom environments and the lessons they teach. Observing teachers as they guide, mentor, and model for their students assures me that The Learning Triangle is alive and well in every classroom at FWM.

Upper El: With Gratitude

“History should not be taught as a collection of dates and places. But rather be approached to arouse gratitude and appreciation. This gratitude should be aroused first to the law and order of the universe and the preparation of the environment into which human beings came.” -Maria Montessori

One of my goals for our Upper Elementary students is to become independent and have ownership in their classroom. Some ways we are working toward this are through the organization of the classroom so they are able to be self-sufficient, class-led community meetings that give them decision making power over their school life, and involving them in arranging field trips. I’m looking forward to sharing more about field trips with you soon.

During our annual bread baking last week, Upper El students expressed how much they enjoyed making the pumpkin bread. They decided that they would like to start baking in the classroom on a regular basis. And so we shall! In the coming weeks, I’ll be gathering ingredients and some simple recipes for students to follow independently. Feel free to share any that you have at home. Each recipe will need to be gluten free and nut free.

Next week we will be making sandwiches and collecting hats and mittens for the St. Vincent DePaul Mission in Waterbury. These two volunteer opportunities have become a wonderful tradition in Upper El. It creates a great sense of joy at helping others in a very real and meaningful way. Our class parents sent a sign up for the hats and mittens already and you will soon be receiving one for the ingredients for making sandwiches.

Hoping you have a wonderful weekend!

Mrs. Doyle: It’s Off to Work I Go!

When a child works, he does not do so to attain some further goal.  His objective in working is the work itself. – Maria Montessori

One of Maria Montessori’s more well known quotes is “play is the child’s work.”  We’re sure by now you have heard your child talk about their work at school. Dr. Montessori preferred the word work rather than the word play, to describe the learning process children are constantly undergoing. Work conveys the amount of effort that children put into their physical, social, emotional, and academic growth. As adults, our definition of work has a very different meaning.

Children are driven by a strong unconscious internal growth process to seek out experiences that will meet their needs. Our role as Montessori teachers is to provide a well-prepared environment that encourages children to be independent and learn at their own pace. The children are free to choose their work and to use it repeatedly. So, while they are ‘working’ each child is also building independence, coordination, self-discipline, and concentration.

Enjoy your work!

Michelle & Liset

Lower Elementary Gives Thanks

Last week we had a lot to be grateful for. We spent last Tuesday baking bread together with the generous donations and help from our parents. On Wednesday, we shared with each other as a class that we are thankful for many things. Among the most mentioned were: family, friends, our homes, the Earth, food, and our school.  Also, we enjoyed the pumpkin and banana bread we made as a classroom community!

Our daily, uninterrupted work cycle has many benefits. It allows the opportunity for children to learn to concentrate, work on tasks until completion, and to participate in the planning of the work they will complete each day. They learn to work cooperatively with peers at their own grade level as well as younger and older children. This time also allows us to work individually with each child, giving lessons and providing guidance and help as needed with their work. It is also this work cycle that provides us with the ability to individualize math, spelling, and language lessons. The children have been hard at work this week, happily working with friends and independently.

Mrs. Lopes: Our Human Body

Do you remember wondering as a child how things worked in your body? Where does our food go? Why do we blink or sneeze? How do we get the hiccups? The human body is truly a mystery to the child’s mind and having an in-depth human anatomy lesson is a great way to explore these topics. Using Montessori materials is a wonderful tool for reinforcing the learning and expanding on a normally very difficult subject for children to grasp. Providing lessons like these to children is what sows the seeds for future scientists, doctors, and teachers!

This week your children were introduced to the wonders of our human body. We first introduced and named the parts of our body we can see from the outside. We then began to discuss how there are many parts of our body we cannot see from the outside. Your children were introduced to several of the major organs in our body and their purpose. The children enjoyed exploring and engaging in all the human body works on the shelf.  We have also started our unit on nutrition and the food groups.

On Wednesday, December 1, we celebrated Hanukkah in our classroom.  The children listened to the book Hanukkah Haiku and then shared a snack of latkes, applesauce, sour cream, and apple cider.  Thank you to all the parents who volunteered to contribute to this fun activity, the children really enjoyed it!

Lots of love and peace,

Amanda and Heather

Mrs. Wilson: ‘Tis the Season

The last two weeks began the holiday season. With that comes many wonderful activities that bring joy laughter, and new skills to our environment. Our way of celebrating Thanksgiving is to bake bread. The children patiently waited for their turn to add the ingredients into the bread pan. The children were able to peek inside the bread machine’s window to observe the process of the ingredients mixing, kneading, rising, and then baking. The room was filled with the delightful smell of warm, fresh bread. During that time we all took part in turning heavy cream into butter. That sure was worth all the hard work of shaking the jar. The creamy butter was delicious on top of the bread, which we all sat together and enjoyed the very next day!

This week we started incorporating the next holiday, Hanukkah. We read the book My First Menorah by Salina Yoon. As we went through each of the eight days we added another candle to our classroom’s Menorah. The children used Hanukkah gelt to post inside a container decorated in the colors blue and silver, spooning blue, clear, and silver gems into bowls, and practicing using a dreidle. Each of these materials not only represents Hanukkah but also refines their hand development.

Food Tasting this week was Pomegranate Seeds. They especially enjoyed watching how I used a wooden spoon to wack the seeds out into a bowl. This is a great fruit to enjoy this time of the year as it is full of antioxidants. The pomegranate was a huge hit!

Mrs. Wilson

Middle School: Week in Review

What a great week in Middle School! We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and time with your family and friends. Thank you to everyone who contributed to our bread baking last week. We had a lot of fun in the process, and the breads were delicious.

In keeping with the giving spirit, the 8th grade has adopted two Newtown families in need for the holidays. Their wishlists are posted in these Sign Up Geniuses. Thank you for taking time to help us help these families. Wrapped gifts from the SignUp can be sent in anytime by next Friday, 12/10.

Family #63

Family #9

Also, as it gets colder, we are asking parents to be sure that their Middle School child/children come to school with the appropriate outerwear for the weather, as we will continue going outside even as the temperatures drop. This includes a winter jacket, long pants, and gloves/hat (depending on the temperature). Thank you for helping the teachers with this.


6th year Earth Science students are currently on the unit, Why Earthquakes Occur. Students were able to represent seismic waves by using slinkies throughout each class. Students were able to draw upon past knowledge of tectonic plates as it relates to the sudden release of pressure, resulting in earthquakes. The objectives for this unit are to describe how crustal deformation by plate tectonics causes earthquakes, model the crustal deformation of Earth that causes earthquakes, and explain how scientists study earthquakes and why studying earthquakes is important.

7th year Physical Science students are in the unit, Molecules. This week in class, students were able to represent their own molecule using manipulatives. Students artistically represented the difference between an atom/element, elemental molecule, and compound molecule. The objectives of this unit are to recognize that atoms and molecules are too small to be seen; identify examples of elements, compounds, molecules, and diatomic molecules; describe how the properties of a compound are different from the properties of the elements that form the compound; and, draw atomic diagrams of elements, compounds, and diatomic molecules.

8th year Life Science students are in the unit, Meiosis. Throughout this unit, students will be able to explain when meiosis occurs and in what organisms, describe how chromosomes change and move at each stage of meiosis, determine the number of chromosomes in the gametes of an organism given its parental chromosome number, and explain why meiosis allows diversity of characteristics in offspring, whereas mitosis does not.

In Transition class, students are concluding their learning for Chapter 5, which involves patterns in addition and subtraction problems. This class is continuing to work on how to solve equations in the form x+a< b or x+a=b. This class can also successfully substitute values in a table and use the triangle inequality property to find missing side lengths.
In Algebra class, students began a new chapter this week and are excited to be learning about simplifying algebraic fractions. This class learned about using rates to solve real world problems and can now identify congruent negative fractions. This class will continue to work on converting rates with multiple units and practice setting up complete algebraic fractions from word problems.
In Geometry class, students are able to label congruent figures on any 2D shape and can apply the segment congruent theorem to simple two-column proof statements. Students are confident with using different isometries in order to change or alter a given shape in space. This class concluded the week with a short quiz that tested their learning from Lesson 5.1-5.4.
Math Joke: Why can you never trust math teachers who use graph paper?…….Because they’re always plotting something.
6th grade Humanities students began their independent novels this week. Students selected a novel and will be reading them until winter break. They have reading goals every few days along with a written assignment that will prepare them for our reading discussion. The class will keep track of each other’s plots and ask questions of each other. 6th grade students also completed a unit of vocabulary this week.
In 7th grade Humanities class, students continued reading their class novel, A Gift From Childhood by Baba Wague Diakite. This memoir is about traditional Malian upbringing but also gives glimpses of French occupation and independence from France. We looked at the colonization of the continent of Africa from 1450-late 1900s by European countries and talked about how cultural influences are present in the countries from languages spoken to traditions and city names. The novel also focuses on storytelling as a mode of education, using proverbs and metaphors. The class has recorded all of these as they have been read, and they will be used for a later writing assignment. Finally, the 7th grade completed a unit of vocabulary.
8th grade students completed and presented their career presentations this week! Due to Covid, this project was created as a safe alternative to our usual five-day internship. Students chose a profession, completed research about it, interviewed a professional in the field, and were given the option of visiting a place of business for two days. The topics were Mental Skills Specialist, Chef and Restaurateur, D1 College Coach, Librarian, and College Athletic Administrator. With the diversity of professions, the presentations were interesting and reflected the students’ personal interests. It was great hearing their reflections of the interviews as well! The 8th grade also began their class novel, If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth and began a unit of vocabulary.
Have a beautiful weekend!

Thanksgiving Celebration

Thanksgiving is a holiday when we think about our values such as gratitude, charity, and community. We read a book about gratitude, and we ask children about things they are thankful for. It is so adorable and precious to hear their answers for the things that they are grateful for. Last Tuesday, we baked two banana breads, one for our classroom and the other one for sharing at our school. The children were so happy to measure some of the ingredients, crack the slimy eggs, and mashed the bananas. Each one of the children had a turn to mix the ingredients with a spatula.  On Wednesday, the children joined the big table to enjoy the snack that they made with lots of love and joy, appreciating their friendship and adoring the company of each other.

Wishing you a peaceful weekend.

Kaoutar and Sara