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Mrs. Hood’s Class: With My Eyes and My Hands!

What a short fun week we had! We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving break with your loved ones and got to enjoy some fun time outdoors with your little ones on our first snow of the season.

This week we gather together with all the children and said good bye to autumn, giving a big welcoming to winter! Using the book Mouse’s First Snow by Lauren Thompson, we got to discuss the different things we can do during the winter. This created conversations and some children got to express their favorite things to do during this new season. We LOVE watching your children grow and be able to put into words what they are thinking!

This week we also introduced painting on the easel. There are three main objectives of this exercise. First, the development of hand-eye coordination. Dipping the paintbrush in and out of the paint pot requires a steady hand and a keen eye, working simultaneously. Second, small motor control. Holding the paintbrush and whooshing it across the paper in the direction you want it to go is hard work when you’re small. Think of all the pre-writing skills they are learning just by holding the brush! Third, and I have to say my favorite goal, creative independence! There are no rules when it comes to painting. There is no predetermined product, just a process. The children can plan their own painting, from start to finish without any interference from adult rules or directions. The only thing they must remember is to paint only on the paper. Their sense of satisfaction after they finish their masterpiece is just incredible to witness!

Hand-eye coordination is one of the most important parts of the learning process. It helps your child track the movements of their hands with their eyes, which is essential for reading and decoding. Because your child also uses their visual system with hand-eye coordination, it can greatly impact their writing skills and handwriting as they use their eyes to guide, direct, and control their hand movements across the page as they write letters and words.

As we enter the holiday season new works have been introduced. Some of the favorites have been placing little ornaments onto the Christmas tree, placing candles on the Menorah, putting together the seasons puzzle, making gingerbread men with our homemade gingerbread playdough, transferring and spooning ornaments, and flipping pretend latkes in the pan.

For food tasting we explored and tasted clementines. The children loved it!

Some new books your children seemed to enjoy are: Hannukah Is Coming by Tract Newman, The Child In the Manger by Liesbet Slegers, and Germs Are Not For Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick.


Let It Snow!

It was wonderful to get back to school after our long Thanksgiving break. The children had a great time playing in the snow this week! Thank you for making sure your child has the proper clothing for our outside play: warm coat, snow pants, hat, mittens or gloves, and boots.

The children enjoyed baking bread last week to share at our Thanksgiving celebration. Thank you to all those who donated ingredients and thank you to Kristina, Tameria, and Christi for spending your morning baking with the children. The breads were all delicious and we had a great time sharing them with the rest of the school while we sampled the bread from other classes.

In our history lessons we are learning about the cycles of time and fundamental human needs. Within that context, we are also studying six different time periods throughout history. The children were introduced to a 19 foot long timeline which starts with prehistory and ends with our current year. The time period we studied first is Prehistory. During our lesson, a set of cards which contain information about the fundamental needs of people living in the time period of prehistory was placed at the correct spot on the timeline while we discussed the information as a class. Many of the children are enjoying taking the cards out during work cycle and reading the information while placing them on the timeline.


Montessori Beyond Middle School

An excerpt from an excellent and interesting article by Jonathan Wolff and Marc Seldin about what a secondary Montessori education could look like. Enjoy!

“There is no reason to doubt that, had Dr. Montessori lived, she would not only have further detailed Secondary education, she would have doubtless contributed much more guidance to university aged early adults. If so, she would have begun by asking “What are the human needs of such people?” and “What are the needs of the culture they are participating in and contributing to?”

In the third plane of development, it is thought that questions of identity are paramount. “Who am I?” They ask. “How do I fit into this world? What group am I part of?” One begins to look for areas where they can contribute, to begin to be both independent and to find meaningful ways to take part in the world. They begin to take an interest in economic activity, so it is common for Montessori programs to offer service-learning entrepreneurial opportunities. Emotionally, this is a time of great insecurity, although we see at Montessori high schools that a supportive environment can greatly ameliorate the risks and excesses of this stage.

In contrast, we know that at the fourth plane these early adults are much more confident. They have more than an inkling of who they are, and many begin university with some idea of how they intend to contribute to the world. We would say that, at this age, the questions they are asking are “What is my cosmic task?” and “How may I begin this great work?”

The merging of the early adult into their culture is the primary activity of the university years, and so actual integration into that culture must be part of that task. It is not enough for the student to, as Dr. Montessori put it, reside within the “four walls” for their university years. They should be actively involved in the larger world in some manner that is meaningful for their personal pursuits. In traditional universities this is accomplished through optional internships. We believe Dr. Montessori would find this insufficient to the needs of the early adult.

As Dr. Montessori insisted that discussion and collaboration are essential to this plane of development, we would suggest that an ideal university would need to develop a curriculum that integrates seminar style discussions and group projects. As always, she felt grades to be a distraction to real education, so in this university they would be downplayed, or indeed might be absent altogether. At the stage, the ability to self-assess – one’s worth and one’s work – are vital to achieving a successful transition into the world-at-large.

Independence is also a trait that she felt must be nurtured, but not in a sense of isolated empowerment. Her notion of independence might be closer to what we sometimes call “interdependence”, in that she felt an independent individual was not a lone wolf but an active and productive member of society-at-large. We believe this implies that opportunities for such participation should be principal components of higher education; if not available in the community, then such opportunities must be offered within the university environment. Her passages about leadership suggest that cultivating world changing leaders is an important role of the university.

These points may seem similar to the many experimental colleges established along the lines of John Dewey’s vision of progessive education[4]. Both authors of this paper each attended one such college[5], and applaud its ideals.

However, Dr. Montessori’s emphasis on fostering connections with the real culture-at-large sets her vision quite far from the academic ivory towers of many progressive schools. It is apparent that most universities train early adults in the fields to which they hope to eventually join, but neither prepare them for the actual work, nor do they give them much (if any) practical and applied experience in these professions. In contrast, Dr. Montessori’s vision would have these students begin in this period the actual practice of their cosmic task in the context of real life experience.

Following but separate from this is Dr. Montessori’s requirement for these schools to incubate their students’ economic independence. Where Secondary programs often hold class businesses, the needs of the fourth plane require early adults to begin actual participation in economic activity. We have an opportunity to combine this requirement for economic participation with her

  1. emphasis on leadership,
  2. emphasis that these students be prepared to become life-long learners,
  3. emphasis on teaching scientific or what we might call critical analysis

When we integrate all these factors, we come to a startling conclusion. A Montessori inspired university would need to teach entrepreneurial thinking. This is not to say that every early adult at such a university would, or should, become an entrepreneur. But it does seem today that even students of the arts need to know how to understand the needs of their consumers and colleagues and how to clearly communicate their services to them. Political leaders and activists need to understand how to organize and inspire, as well as to raise funds. Learning to recognize a need and lead change is an essential skill of entrepreneurial thinking that can be applied to practically all fields.


Maker Mentor Experience

The MakerSpace has added a new pillar to our forever-growing classroom known as “The Maker Mentor Experience”. This is a unique experience where someone from our community visits the MakerSpace to share a skill, talent, career/job, or passion with our students.

Last week, the MakerSpace had its first Maker Mentor Experience. Former parent, and school nurse, Christina Benoit came in to share her expertise on crocheting. We talked about yarn, knitting, crocheting, as well as dexterity, hand-eye coordination, perseverance, and patience. The students watched in awe as she demonstrated how to use crochet hooks to create a “granny square”. Stitch after stitch we could see the design slowly come into vision from between her hands. After a quick Q & A, Mrs. Benoit then shared with the students a hands-on experience of learning how to “finger knit”. Each student took home their finger knitted bracelet and the new knowledge of crocheting which is now setup as a station in our MakerSpace for students to use.
A special thanks to Mrs. Benoit for sharing her skills with us and lending some light on her passion.
Do you have a skill to share? A passion to present? A career to chat about? Come spend some time with us- and show our makers what their futures can be made of! Email Ms. Ulacco – dulacco@fraserwoods.com

A Season of Hope

With the negativity in the news and the poor and shocking behavior of those in leadership positions in our country, it is easy to begin losing faith in humanity.  However, though December is the darkest month of the year, it is also a time of charity and a time of hope. Below is a true story that reminds us of the power of  goodness.  May the below story inspire you as we move into this holiday season.

There was a jailbreak in Parker County, Texas, in June, and a correctional officer is alive because of it. Inmates were awaiting court appearances in a holding cell when the officer watching over them collapsed. The inmates called out for help. When none appeared, they used their collective weight to break down the cell door. Rather than making a run for it, they went to the officer’s aid, still yelling for help. One even tried the officer’s radio. Eventually, guards heard the commotion and came in. After placing the inmates back in their cell, CPR was performed on the stricken officer, saving his life. “It never crossed my mind not to help, whether he’s got a gun or a badge,” inmate Nick Kelton told WFAA. “If he falls down, I’m gonna help.”


Important Information & Upcoming Events

Giving Tuesday is tomorrow Tuesday, December 3rd.  We hope that you will choose to support FWM on Giving Tuesday with a tax deductible donation here.
Parent Association meeting this Thursday, December 5th – 8:30-9:30am. in the conferencee room. The topic for the “Conversation & Coffee” portion of the meeting is: The Importance of Cultivating Gratitude in Children which will be facilitated by Chris Robertson, Head of School.  The PA meeting is a great way to meet other parents, learn about programming, and to get to hear all the updates about the upcoming Snow Ball and Movie & Trivia Nights. If you go, you’ll be the first to hear about a special STEAM Ladies Night event that is in the works! Have to work? This event is live streamed on YouTube! Stay tuned to PA emails for the link.

Important Information & Upcoming Events

Did you see our recent faculty and staff video debut? If not, you can check out their important video message here!
Thanksgiving Ceremony this Wednesday, November 27th – 9:30am. Internal student only event. The whole school will gather to celebrate our community. Each class tells, in their own way, what they are thankful for. Each class also makes bread and then shares their bread with the rest of the community.
Alumni Visit Day FWM welcomes back all alumni graduates and their families this Wednesday November 27th from 10:00-11:30am. It is an opportunity for them to reconnect with fellow classmates, faculty and visit classrooms.
Early Dismissal for all students this Wednesday, November 27th – 11:30am. No afternoon or after school program on this day. 
NO School due to Thanksgiving Holiday November 28th-29th. We are grateful that your family is part of our FWM community! 
Giving Tuesday is Tuesday, December 3rd.  Mark your calendars. We hope that you will choose to support FWM on Giving Tuesday with a tax deductible donation here.

Developing a Child’s Gratitude

Many people identify Thanksgiving as their favorite holiday.  It’s a day often filled with delicious food, good company, and a common theme that different faiths and backgrounds can appreciate: gratitude.  However, “being grateful” is not a natural behavior and parents need to be intentional about cultivating it in their child.  “No one is born grateful,” says life coach Mary Jane Ryan, author of Attitudes of Gratitude (Conari, 1999). “Recognizing that someone has gone out of the way for you is not a natural behavior for children — it’s learned.”

Below are some ways parents can intentionally develop gratitude in their child.  The information is from an article by Charlotte Latvala which I hope you find useful.  Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Model and have children use “please” and “thank you”.  Use language like, “Thanks for that hug — it made me feel great!” when talking to your child.  Also, insist on these words as well.  After all, “good manners and gratitude overlap,” says New York City etiquette consultant Melissa Leonard, a mother of two young daughters.
  •  Work gratitude into your daily conversation. Lately, we’ve been trying to weave appreciation for mundane things into our everyday talk — “I’m so grateful to have a good cat like Sam!” or “I’m so happy when you listen!”  When you reinforce an idea frequently, it’s more likely to stick. One way to turn up the gratitude in your house is to pick a “thanking” part of the day. Two old-fashioned, tried-and-true ideas: Make saying what good things happened today part of the dinnertime conversation or make bedtime prayers part of your nightly routine.
  •  Have kids help. It happens to all of us: You give your child a chore, but it’s too agonizing watching him 1) take forever to clear the table or 2) make a huge mess mixing the pancake batter. The temptation is always to step in and do it yourself. But the more you do for them, the less they appreciate your efforts. (Don’t you feel more empathy for people who work outside on cold days when you’ve just been out shoveling snow yourself?) By participating in simple household chores like feeding the dog or stacking dirty dishes on the counter, kids realize that all these things take effort.
  •  Find a goodwill project. That doesn’t mean you need to drag your toddler off to a soup kitchen every week, says Lewis. Instead, figure out some way he can actively participate in helping someone else, even if it’s as simple as making cupcakes for a sick neighbor. “As you’re stirring the batter or adding sprinkles,” she says, “talk about how you’re making them for a special person, and how happy the recipient will be.”
  •  Encourage generosity. “We frequently donate toys and clothes to less fortunate kids,” says Hulya Migliorino, of Bloomingdale, New Jersey. “When my daughters see me giving to others, it inspires them to go through their own closets and give something special to those in need, as well.”
  •  Insist on thank-you notes. Paula Goodnight, of Maineville, Ohio, always makes her girls (Rachel, 10, Amelia, 6, and Isabella, 3) write thank-yous for gifts. “When they were toddlers, the cards were just scribbles with my own thank-you attached,” she says. “As they grew, they became drawings, then longer letters.” Younger children can even dictate the letter while you write, says Lewis. “Just the act of saying out loud why he loved the gift will make him feel more grateful,” she says.
  •  Practice saying “no”. Of course kids ask for toys, video games, and candy. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to feel grateful when your every whim is granted. Saying “no” a lot makes saying “yes” that much sweeter.
  •  Be patient. You can’t expect gratitude to develop overnight — it requires weeks, months, even years of reinforcement.