Blog

Mrs. Hood: Cluck, Cluck!

Exposing children to real animal life in the classroom is of great benefit to them. From touching, observing, and caring for them to understanding the delicacy and uniqueness of all life, the children’s focus sharpens and the sensorial experiences are absorbed by them in incredible ways!

This week we introduced the life cycle of a chicken! From using object models and matching works to watching a very short video of a chicken hatching out of an egg, children started to get curious about the topic of the week. Then we received the gift of 18 gorgeous fertilized eggs and we were supplied with a perfectly sized hatcher to watch the magic happening in front of our eyes! Children have been working intentionally to make sure the eggs are taken care of. They have the opportunity to turn the eggs very gently one time each morning! It’s great to see how careful they all are and the respect they show when handling the eggs! Children love to stand by the hatcher and watch the eggs quietly, hearing the sound, feeling the vibration and the soft heat that it emits. We are all so excited!

To add to the excitement, we were visited by two four month old Ameraucana chickens- their names are Shell and Henrietta! This type of chicken lays beautiful blue eggs. Children were in awe! They had the opportunity to pet them, feed them, and hold them! It was a great experience!

Thank you so much to the Heggland family for making all this happen! Your support to our classroom is incredibly valuable! It was so fun!

On another note, our beautiful hungry caterpillars have already reached the chrysalis stage and children can’t wait to see the butterflies coming out! There is magic all around!

Thanks to all the parents that were able to attend the Parent-Child Morning! It was great to see you having a nice time with your child and getting a closer glimpse of what happens in their Montessori world here at school!

Next week the children who will be moving to the Primary program in the fall will be visiting one of the Primary environments for 20-30 minutes and spending some quality time with our amazing Primary guides and some welcoming peers. A more detailed email about this event will be sent shortly!

For those who celebrate this holiday weekend, please enjoy!


The Impossible Whopper and “lab meat”

As a self-proclaimed tech enthusiast, I enjoy reading about start-ups, futuristic ideas, innovative inventions, and all things in the nerdy-tech realm. (Not like I probably have to say that “outloud”!) I have been reading articles and learning about “lab meat” and plant based wannabe meats for the past few years and wanted to share a few articles with our community, especially because our students are talking about it in our MakerSpace classes.

It has also become more prevalent in the news since April 1st when Burger King introduced the IMPOSSIBLE WHOPPER, in St. Louis! The Impossible Whopper is a vegetarian version of its signature sandwich.

What is it made of? Well, “Impossible patties are made from soy protein concentrate and potato protein, with fat from coconut and sunflower oils, all bound together with methyl cellulose, a laxative. The meaty flavor (and perhaps the metallic aftertaste) comes from iron-rich heme, a molecule that exists in every living organism. In animals, it is the part of hemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood. In this case, heme is created through the miracle of genetic manipulation. The DNA of soy leghemoglobin is inserted into yeast, which is then fermented, and the blood-red heme is extracted from that.”

If you haven’t had time to read about “lab meat”, “plant based meat”, or this is a completely new topic for you- check out a few articles below.

I hope it creates some eventful dinner table conversations for your family.

 


Happenings & Events

Art Show on Wednesday, April 17th from 3:30-5:30pm.  Please come to the Commons to see Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Middle School student artwork. Ms. Reid, the art teacher, will be present to answer questions.  Please park at Sand Hill Plaza -shuttle buses will begin at 3:30pm.

Pizza & Salad Dinner on Wednesday, April 17th from 5:00-6:00pm.  The Middle School students will be serving pizza, salad, and drinks to the community.  Please come support the students and enjoy a meal with your family.  To sign-up for the dinner please click here.  Please park at Sand Hill Plaza -shuttle buses will begin at 3:30pm.

Parent & Child Night on Wednesday, April 17th from 5:30-6:30pm.  You and your child are invited to attend an hour of educational engagement.  Parents/ caregivers will have an opportunity to learn about the different Montessori works from their children in the classroom.  This event is open to all parents in Primary through Elementary.  Please park at Sand Hill Plaza -shuttle buses will begin at 3:30pm.

All School Early Dismissal on Friday, April 19th at 11:30am.  No after school care is offered on this day.

Late Opening on Monday, April 22nd at 10:30am.   This is a Faculty In-Service morning –  there is no Before Care Option.

Science Fair on Thursday, April 25 at 8:30am and also 6:30pm.  Upper Elementary and Middle School students present.

FWM Summer Camp is OPEN for REGISTRATION!  Weekly sessions for summer program offerings for Toddler, Primary, and Elementary age children.  Register online at MyFWM.org under PROGRAMS.


1st Year Laser Cutting

Our 1st years have become my target group of introducing the beginning techniques of using our Glowforge (laser cutter).

 

We started with our acrylic keychains, moved on to a collaborative wooden memory game made from animals, and are currently finishing up a STEAM flower project with Mrs. Reid, our art studio teacher.

 

Laser cutting typically requires CAD drawings and vector files in order for the machines to understand where to cut, engrave, or score. Unlike other machines, I purchased the Glowforge because it also has an extra feature that allows me to use it with all my students: a camera! This means that students can put a drawing into the machine, and we can tell the Glowforge where to cut or where to engrave. This “tracing” feature is what our 1st year students are learning about.

 

Here’s our process:

  1. Research our design
  2. Sketch our design on white board tables
  3. Draw our design on paper using pencil
  4. Get feedback from peers and Ms. Ulacco
  5. Trace the final product using a black marker and a new clean piece of paper.

Once their black and white image is ready to be traced by the machine it is handed in and set aside for me to cut after class is over.

 

Please enjoy the pictures below of our process thus far! Bravo, 1st years!


Mindfulness in the Home

Interesting article by Nancy Alton about how mindfulness can have a positive impact on the family.  The article is called, “How Can Mindfulness Change Your Family, Community, and Life”.  Enjoy!

When Jenny Zenner’s twin boys were babies, she wore the patch of carpet in front of their crib thin as she paced while using the breathing techniques from her mindfulness practice.

“My son Fauss was so fussy that I would ‘om’ to him repeatedly because it was the only way I knew how to shift my own energy. He would start to resonate to me and ‘om hum’ back to me,” says Zenner. On their first airplane descent, Fauss started to get agitated. But instead of crying, he began humming “om.” A fellow passenger looked at her and said, “That’s not unpleasant.”

To Zenner, it was a small, but real, sign of success.

Six years later, Zenner continues to use mindfulness to try to be a better mother — it’s never a place she arrives at, but more of an ongoing journey with successes and challenges. This past holiday season, Fauss asked her to open up an ornament containing a note that read: “Mommy, I wish that you would be better.” Upon further discussion, she learned her son wished she would yell less.

And don’t many of us want to yell less? Sure, we would like to keep the peace and to model good behavior for our kids (not to mention keep our blood pressure down). But increasingly, many families and experts feel that we need to become more mindful in order to strengthen something else that feels as though it’s taken a national beating lately: our empathy and compassion.

If we were to give our own “state of the union” on American empathy, we might say it’s a bit sluggish.

According to one recent review of an empathy and compassion standard assessment taken by 13,000 college students between 1979 and 2009, levels of compassion and empathy levels are lower now than at any time during the past 30 years. That doesn’t even take into account the bruising from this past political season, which definitely spilled over into our kids’ worlds as they watched parents and politicians speak and behave in an unprecedentedly rough way.

And a new global survey, led by William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, found that while the United States ranks in the top 10 empathetic nations in the world, we aren’t number one (that distinction belongs to Ecuador). The U.S. is number seven.

So, we could stand to become more compassionate. But what does mindfulness have to do with it?

Potentially, a lot.

A study conducted at Northeastern University and published in 2013 in Psychological Sciencefound that eight weeks of meditation proved enough to triple the likelihood of a person helping a stranger in distress, such as a person with an injured foot who had nowhere to sit.

Another study, conducted in 2008, found that even just a few minutes of loving-kindness meditation “increased feelings of social connection and positivity” toward strangers, suggesting “that this easily implemented technique may help to increase positive social emotions and decrease social isolation.”

Once we are calmer, we can start viewing life experiences through a wider lens, says Susan Kaiser Greenland, a Los Angeles–based mindfulness and meditation teacher who developed Inner Kids, one of the first mindfulness programs in education, which began in 2001.

It can be helpful to think of mindfulness as a one-two punch. First, it can calm your nervous system when it’s in a reactive, inflexible mode,” Greenland says. Then, compassion is possible, she says. We can listen better, taking on new ideas while holding others’ needs within our thoughts.

Zenner believes practicing mindfulness as a family has given her kids language regarding their emotions. “This sharing creates an opportunity for all of us to be accountable for our behaviors. Better yet, mindfulness shows us that we can change our behaviors,” she says.

“It’s less about getting it right every time — sometimes I yell — it’s more about this growth mind-set. I (and my kids) can develop skills, and change is possible.”

Parents first

“I’m all for teaching kids how to regulate their emotions. But we need to think about systematic change, and that starts with us, not the kids,” says psychologist Mark. T. Greenberg, the Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research at Penn State University. Greenberg cowrote one of the first social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculums, called PATHS (an acronym for “providing alternative thinking strategies”), in 1991 while he was a professor at the University of Washington.

A 2014 study Greenberg worked on suggests even brief mindfulness training for parents may improve parent-child relationships. One group of the parent participants (all with children in sixth or seventh grade) completed a standard parenting program; another group received a version of the program that also included mindfulness practices; a third group had information on the program sent to their homes. Researchers wanted to know if adding mindfulness to the program would increase its improvement of family life. Parents learned how to do short reflections, how to listen more deeply and how to find compassion for themselves and their children. The mindfulness did enhance the effects of the parenting program. “The teens said it improved the warmth and communication, especially with their fathers but also with their mothers,” Greenberg says.

Practicing mindfulness can help raise the number of best parenting moments and decrease the ones we are ashamed of, sad about or disappointed in.

So, what does mindfulness actually mean? It’s not necessarily a two-week retreat sitting in silence (although a short sitting practice can work for parents and children, Greenberg says). Think simple, daily practices: having gratitude, setting intentions, taking deep breaths to reset yourself when you are emotionally aroused.

As parents, we already know that our children feed off our emotions, says Liliana Lengua, a professor and the director of the University of Washington Center for Child and Family Well-Being (CCFW). “We even may know the most positive and effective parenting practices for our families, but we all are sometimes hampered in our ability to carry those practices out. We are stressed or emotional or reacting with anger. We say, ‘That wasn’t my best parenting moment.’

“Practicing mindfulness can help raise the number of best parenting moments and decrease the ones we are ashamed of, sad about or disappointed in,” Lengua says.

To that end, parents can take mindfulness classes at CCFW that teach stress management, self-compassion and compassion. Lengua says parents who’ve taken the classes, including a mindful parenting class she developed, can manage their stress and their emotions before they try to engage with their children; learn how to have more focused, quality time with their children; and enjoy the time with their children more. Another local mindfulness program is Listening Mothers, an eight-week program offered by the Community of Mindful Parents that helps mothers of new babies reduce stress and increase well-being.

Making mindful families

Teaching mindfulness to kids is all about modeling, says Sarina Behar Natkin, LICSW, a Seattle-based parent coach who has practiced mindfulness with her two girls (now 11 and 8) since they were little. “When a child flips their lid, they won’t choose a [mindfulness] tool from their wheel of choice. You pick something yourself and you do it,” says Natkin. “When you freak out yourself, you say, ‘I’m going to go take a mindful moment for myself. I’ll be back when I’m calmer.’”

Natkin says modeling these practices isn’t about not making mistakes; it’s about making your mistakes visible, verbalizing your discomfort, and using tools to re-frame and calm yourself. Then you can finally fully let go of your 3 p.m. freak-out show.

This verbalization of your techniques begins a shared family mindfulness language, too. The good news is, the more you practice, the less you flip your lid.

For digital natives, mindfulness might be easier than ever now that tools are just a download away. Try free guided audio and video meditation sessions available from Mind Yeti, created by the nonprofit Committee for Children (CFC), which pioneered the widely used SEL curriculum Second Step.

This spring, local digital product design agency Smashing Ideas plans to launch Mindful Powers, a mindfulness app for kids ages 6 and older. When the app’s Mindful Play session begins, the child’s virtual pet, called a Flibbertigibbet,” is in an agitated state. This character is in a 3-D space; the player rotates the body and smooths out all the angular facets with their finger to ease their Flibbertigibbet’s flustered mood.

“Slowly moving their fingertip over their Flibbertigibbet triggers their body’s rest-and-digest response, helping kids regain focus and release stress,” says lead app creator Jessica Barnes, creative director at Smashing Ideas. “Years ago, a speaker I saw asked, ‘Why do we think we are so addicted to our phones?’ It’s a touch interface, and that’s the same soothing feeling you have when you’re petting a cat or dog. That’s what led us to the idea of smoothing out the Flibbertigibbet virtual pet.”

Once the child has soothed her or his pet, the app moves into the Mindful Play Meditation sessions. Kids learn how to master the powers of mindfulness through a progressive series of playful and easy-to-understand stories. “We hope their Flibbertigibbet pet brings them back to learn mindfulness techniques that will last their whole lives. Maybe these kids won’t remember this app 10 years from now, but hopefully these skills will stick,” says Barnes.

It’s really counterintuitive for kids to sit still for five minutes, yet my most reluctant student was hooked after she practiced while sitting on the floor.

Crisscross, mindfulness pose

Although a mindfulness curriculum might feel trendy, Greenberg points out that the SEL program he codeveloped has taught children worldwide to practice “doing turtle” for decades. When children are upset or anxious, they do turtle by taking long, deep breaths before they decide how to behave or respond. He feels that mindfulness activities can be important supplements to existing SEL programs, which many states, including Washington, now require districts to teach.

“Through practicing mindfulness skills in a similar manner that kids practice math facts, students are learning to sharpen their ability to focus their attention,” says Greenberg.

It even has the power to help us be nicer to each other, from the playground to the political arena.

“There’s also a focus on compassion, caring and kindness. Mindfulness is not just about your own inner thoughts and feelings, it’s also about becoming more aware of others. This ability to put yourself in the shoes of another person brings about the thoughts of wanting to relieve the suffering of others. Some say this arises from having compassion for yourself.”

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Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

During the year, I often postulate to students (and even to teachers and staff) about the importance of stepping out of one’s comfort zone, trying something new, and being able to learn from failure.  This past Friday, I embraced my own advice by being the auctioneer at this year’s Spring Gala/Auction.  For those of you who attended, it was obvious I am an unseasoned novice – I found it hard to even keep track of the highest bid!  Thankfully, the auction went very well and the overall Spring Gala was a hit!

To help lighten the mood before I began the auction, I shared a quirky video of my “education” into the world of being an auctioneer.  You can click here to see the video!

In the meantime, for those of you who did not attend the auction, I encourage you to please consider donating to this special event since funds directly support the children’s education at FWM. Please look for an email with more information on post-auction donations or reach out to Alison Kistner.  Her email is akistner@fraserwoods.com.

 


Mrs. Carroll’s Class: Insect Alert!

Insect Alert!

Flowers aren’t the only ones that come out of hiding during spring, after the cold of winter you’ll notice more insects start making their appearance. Curiosity towards these six legged friends hits a high note in April, and we take the cue to “follow the child” and their deep affection for insects. Over the next several weeks we will continue to support your children’s curiosity, exploration, and understanding of insects through hands-on activities, songs, lessons, and outdoor exploration. The intent is to encourage their interest in the diversity, beauty, and joy of nature.

Is a spider an insect? The children know, ask them.

Have a warm and wonderful week!

Cindy & Sharlene

 

 

 

 


Lower Elementary: Polygons, Angles, and Triangles

 

In the Montessori classroom, our work with Geometry brings great enjoyment and satisfaction to the children. They are able to work with materials designed directly for their ages and for the aims of the lessons. They can use the materials for as long as they want. Through working with the materials, the children see relationships between the figures and can start to discover the rules of Geometry which come from these relationships. Although they won’t learn the rules and theorems of Geometry until high school, they are creating the demonstrations for them without even knowing it.

Our work in Geometry this week focused on polygons, angles, and triangles and each lesson used a material called the box of sticks. The first year students learned the difference between concave and convex polygons. Second years learned about adjacent, complementary, and complementary adjacent angles. The third year students learned to classify triangles by sides (equilateral, isosceles, scalene) and angles (right, acute, obtuse).

We have some field trip information for you. On Friday, April 26 we will be going to Loews Theater in Danbury to see the Disney Nature movie, Penguins. Children will be provided with a snack pack at the theater and we will return to school in time for lunch.

On Tuesday, May 21 we will be going on our overnight trip to Camp Jewell in Colebrook. We will return to school on Wednesday, May 22. In the past, this trip has cost around $170, with the cost depending on the number of children going since we divide the cost of the bus. Please do not send any money until we give you a final amount. We will have an informational meeting during the first week of May but please reach out before then with any questions if needed. We will also be sending information to you about the trip, including a packing list.