Blog

Mrs. Semmah: Fall Activities

Fall is here. The trees change their colors to red, brown, orange, and yellow. It is finally fresh, cool, and beautiful outdoors. In my classroom, I love to use the seasonal shift to introduce new learning concepts and activities in a new way. These are some of the fall lessons the young learners have been enjoying.

Fall bin is an open sensory experience for a child who wants some individual time to explore the texture of different objects. It includes red lentils, colored autumn leaves, red pears, apples, brown beads, and scoops. Once I open the sensory table, it invites many children to discover the sensation of many fall items that have been around them at home or that they see in nature.

Fall sorting and transferring work. We have these fabulous tiny gourds, pumpkins, and apples that are perfect for fine motor skills. I put them in a little bowl next to an orange ice cube and in an orange tray for the child to transfer from one side to the other. The children can repeat the transferring activity as much as they want, then put the bowl back on the shelf. This repetition is perfecting the child’s hand-eye coordination and allowing them to gain confidence in mastering the skill.

Leaf in the art corner. Leaf rubbing is a simple Montessori activity. Using a crayon, the child rubs the paper that is placed on a laminated leaf. The result is beautiful and appealing. It is also an introduction to botany. Fall colors are presented in our individualized tray as well as on the easel. Children enjoy painting and mixing colors daily. It adds to the presence of the fall season in our beautiful classroom.

Wishing you a happy fall,

Semmah and  Sara


Mrs. Wilson: Tasting Butternut Squash and Exploring a Sunflower

This week we started working on getting more into our daily routines. From changing our shoes when we arrive, to learning how to set and prepare our lunches before we sit down to eat, soon our classroom will have a rhythm and flow and these routines will come naturally to the children.

On Tuesday we celebrated our friend’s 2nd birthday. She brought in the book Humpty Dumpty to share with the class. Thank you!

The children had a chance to taste and explore a butternut squash. Like the last three times, they guessed apple and were surprised when a butternut squash was revealed. When we held the squash we felt how heavy it was and that it was smooth and it didn’t have a scent. When I cut in half we were able to see the bright orange coloring and that it did have a scent. Most of the children tasted the squash. Some liked it, and some not so much.

We also explored a sunflower and talked about the different parts of the flower. The children were able to use a magnifying glass to take a closer look at all of the parts. Another activity available is for the children to use their fine motor skills to pull out the seeds.


Middle School: Week in Review

Humanities

Grade 6 Humanities students continued to work on their organizational writing. They watched a brief TED talk by time-lapse photographer, Louis Schwartzberg who shows some of his work on a documentary about gratitude. Then students responded in writing, discussing how they can show gratitude each day. Students were encouraged to read each other’s responses and comment on their writing. This builds their written discussion skills as well as practice giving positive, specific feedback when peer reviewing writing. Next they looked at and discussed how form affects writing, using two poems by E.E. Cummings as their exemplars. Finally, 6th grade students also practiced their editing skills and completed a unit of vocabulary.

 

Grade 7 Humanities worked this week on their Religions of China research presentations. They completed research using guided questions to help them, and then they began Google Slides presentations that they will be giving to their classmates next week to teach them about the religion and the role it plays/played in Chinese history. Students also completed a unit of vocabulary.

 

8th grade Humanities classes finished reading short stories to prepare them for their irony in literature essay. This week, they read, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “Sentry” by Frederick Brown, both with excellent examples of situational irony. For Poetry Tuesday, students read “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost and discussed the notion of boundaries and tradition. When are boundaries necessary? When should traditions be preserved v. changed?  Finally, they completed an additional unit of vocabulary.

 

Science

6th year Earth Science students just finished their unit, Fossils and Studying Earth’s Past. This week they began their unit, Tectonic Plates. Within this unit, students will learn about the literal driving force behind what shapes our planet. Next week, students will begin planning their stop motion videos representing the effects that convection currents have on the movement of tectonic plates and formation of our continents. 

7th year Physical Science students spent the week conducting several hands-on activities identifying characteristic and non-characteristic physical properties of matter. Students were able to explain what properties of matter remain the same compared to those that are different through observation, regardless of shape, size, or color. Students tested how to identify salt water from sugar water by testing the solution’s electrical conductivity. 
 
8th year Life Science students are continuing their unit, Structure of Life. Similar to their last unit, Cell Theory, this unit explains how the structure and function of multicellular organisms depends on the interaction of tissues, organs, and organ systems. Students will look to make connections between the functions of a cell’s organelles to those one might be more familiar with in the real world (nucleus – CEO of a company). 
Math
In Transition class, students practiced how to write a numerical sentence from a written statement and how to use formulas and substitute values. This class will have a summative assessment next week to test their understanding of the eight lessons covered in Chapter 2.
In Algebra class, students can find the opposite of a value, testing equivalences using Desmos technology and using related facts to solve sentences for addition and subtraction. This class has taken extra time to master their understanding of using the distributive property and collecting like terms in algebraic expressions.
In Geometry class, students continue to work through Chapter 2 of the UCSMP textbook. This class can identify the properties of a good definition, write bi-conditional statements, and use/interpret Venn Diagrams. Students are excited to start proof statements in the next chapter to come.
Make Joke of the Week: Which tool is best for math? ………………..The multi-pliers.

A Peek into Upper Elementary

The best part of my job is spending time in each of the classrooms. Whether I am covering for a teacher who is out, or I am invited in by the teacher to observe, or I am invited in by a child to celebrate their feeling of accomplishment on a work they are doing or a work they have finished; watching the philosophy in action is always awe inspiring for me.

Here is a peek into Upper Elementary:

The Upper Elementary classroom at FWM offers students in 4th and 5th grades a customized learning environment.   

What does a customized learning environment look like?

The UE program is designed to have a smaller class size with a 1:15 teacher-student ratio. This allows for countless opportunities for individualized attention to each student’s unique learning needs and encourages self-paced learning.

In Montessori, the Upper Elementary Classroom is an extension of the students’ own world. The emotional aspects of being an elementary aged student play a fundamental role in the child’s development and in their day to day time in school. 

We help our students understand how to work, how to fit in, and how to be part of a community in a positive and productive way. At this level, we do not avoid addressing difficulties or issues; instead, we work through them.  

Our community meetings are an example of this. Led by the students with an agenda chosen by the students and supervised by the classroom teacher, the whole class works together to solve problems and discuss issues as they arise in the classroom. Everyone has a voice in making the UE environment a better place to learn and grow together. 

The Montessori Upper Elementary program encourages students to have a strong sense of connection to all of humanity. Our students develop an appreciation of the contributions of their ancestors and of the diverse cultures and countries around the world. They are working to become well prepared to be contributing global citizens. Our goal is for each student to reach their fullest potential in all areas, so they can move forward with confidence in who they are and in their individual abilities.

Reminder: Monday, October 11th  NO SCHOOL

Please mark your calendars Thursday, October 28th — for Virtual Parent conferences. You will receive an email from your child’s teacher to sign up for conferences. 


Mrs. Wilson: Transitioning into October

 

Here we are in the first week of October. Inside the classroom, we have made the transition from apples to pumpkins. In the refinement of the hand area, the children are exposed to materials that are pumpkin-related, such as using orange-colored pompoms for spooning, felt pumpkins to tong, and orange-colored paper straws for posting. For practical life, the children can choose to scrub a pumpkin in the sensory bin.

A gross-motor activity they can choose is pushing a large pumpkin in a wagon.

Food Tasting this week was a Golden Delicious Apple. When I do food tasting I hide the item from the children under a towel. Then we count to 3 and I excitedly lift the towel so they can see what we will be tasting. This makes whatever fruit or vegetable that much more desirable. When I asked the children what they thought it was, they guessed right. “APPLE!”

After tasting the Golden Delicious they each had a turn using the spiralizer. We then turned our apples into delicious applesauce which they were welcomed to enjoy as a special treat.

Parent-teacher conferences are coming up on October 28th! Look for an email on Tuesday with a link to sign up for your conference slot. 

Mrs. Wilson


Mrs. Semmah: The Beauty of the Movable Alphabet

Maria Montessori believes that children have a natural sensitivity for language at a very early age. The children at years three, four, and five have a unique fascination for both written and spoken words. This fascination motivates the children to start reading and writing at a very early stage. Children with good phonemic awareness are often ready and eager to build words before their hands are ready to hold the pencil and write.

The Movable Alphabet is for the composition of words. The goal is expression. It is introduced to the children after they have learned sandpaper letters, knowing the phonetic sound of the letters, the letter type (vowel or consonant), and the signs to write. When the children are using the Movable Alphabet, all the letters are in front of them.

Using the Movable Alphabet, the children start to make a connection between the spoken and the written words. This is a powerful connection and the children need to make these discoveries themselves. The children will form CVC words by hearing the sounds, isolating, and blending words like cat, log, and pig.

The Movable Alphabet is an exploration of children’s language and our goal is not to read at this point, which is why we don’t read the words back. It will be the children’s discovery of a magical moment when one day they read the word back.

Virtual Parent-Teacher Conferences are coming up on October 28th! Please look for an email this coming Tuesday with a link for you to sign up for your conference slot. 


Mrs. Hood: Connecting With the Environment!

 

Dr. Maria Montessori introduced Practical Life exercises to provide children with opportunities to perform simple tasks that they have already observed at home. Practical Life exercises enable children to care for themselves, take care of the environment, and develop respect for others.

Care of environment activities encourage the child to interact with the environment, exhibiting respect and love. These activities help the child form a connection with their environment and find a personal responsibility towards it.

As a highlight, this week we introduced to our new students one of the most beloved activities in our Montessori environments: flower arrangement. Second year students were thrilled to observe the work and they were ready to continue sharpening their hand skills and also their leadership skills while modeling this work to new students. This is a beautiful activity that offers so much to your child’s development. Through this exercise, children develop a sense of beauty, the mental task of sequencing, they learn to exercise the judgment of size and capacity in matching flowers to vases and in pouring water, also, manual dexterity as they need to fetch water and use different tools. This activity also indirectly prepares your child for botany studies in our Primary program and offers a great opportunity to work on independence and concentration. Your children love it! We can’t thank you enough for your weekly flower donations!

To close our apple unit studies, we explored a yellow apple during food tasting. Some of the children’s facial expressions when they saw a yellow apple were priceless! They couldn’t believe there were yellow apples! It was so funny to them! Needless to say, they enjoyed every bit of it!

Lastly, here is one of the songs your child has been learning during the last weeks. As children are working on copying finger plays and growing in language, feel free to sing it at home with your child.

Way up high in that apple tree. (place left hand under right elbow and lift right arm with fingers opened forming a tree)

Five red apples smiled down at me. (wiggle fingers)

I shook that tree as hard as I could. (shake right arm and hand)

Down came an apple! Mmmmm it was good! (hide thumb and pretend to eat and apple)

Way up high in the apple tree, 4 red apples smiled down at me (count fingers)

Repeat song until there are zero apples in the tree.

Virtual Parent-Teacher Conferences are coming up on October 28th! Please look for an email this coming Tuesday with a link for you to sign up for your conference slot. 

Reminder: School picture day is next Wednesday October 13th.

Enjoy the holiday weekend,

Mrs. Hood and Ms. Maria 


Upper El Week Five

“They will imitate us in any case. Let us treat them, therefore, with all the kindness which we would wish to help develop in them.” -Maria Montessori

Each week the Upper El students recognize acts of kindness which they observe happening around them. They do this by writing the act they witness down on a paper leaf and placing it inside a box. On Fridays we read each kindness aloud and the person who performed the act of kindness hangs the leaf on our interior classroom door. These kindness leaves accumulate all year and at the end of the school year, the children bring their leaves home. This recognition of kindness has an effect not only on the giver and the receiver of the kindness, but also on the rest of the class as observers.

We continued learning about the classification system in Biology. We looked at the classification systems of the Kingdoms of Protoctista, Prokaryote, Fungi, Plant, and Animal. Our follow up work focuses on Fungi Kingdom, with each student learning a little more about a particular fungus to share with the class next week. In our History lesson about Closest Relatives we learned about cladograms, organizational tools used to compare three species. We also learned about homologies, characteristics that are similar because they may have been inherited from a common ancestor.

Virtual Parent-Teacher Conferences are coming up on October 28th! Please look for an email this coming Tuesday with a link for you to sign up for your conference slot. 

Have a wonderful long weekend!