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Mrs. Hood: Amigos!

Is it true? How’s it possible!? Are we really a week away from ending our school year? It seems like it was  yesterday when we were welcoming the toddlers into our school! Your children have been working as busy bees from day one and they have challenged themselves in every way. We couldn’t be more proud to see how much each one of them has accomplished in different areas, one of them being great social-emotional development.  It’s incredible to see the type of friendships that have been born between them and how socialization has started to be very important to them. This is a great sign of growth!

At the beginning of the school year it is usual to see a lot of  toddlers parallel playing… children are aware of other little human beings around them but they are not interested in really connecting with them. They might look into each other’s eyes but as their thinking is still so concrete they actually just seem interested in the “little ball” with the nice color that moves so it’s logical they decide to explore it. This is what we normally call: poking each other’s eyes. It’s also common to see a toddler curiously trying to explore another child’s face with their index  finger and the other toddler thinking he is just receiving something to taste. Yeap! We call that one finger biting! Ouch!

Thankfully the connection has developed and as they have matured, it’s now common to see the children waiting for their friends at the door, inviting each other to play together, having logical conversations, joking and making each other laugh, hugging and verbally expressing their affection for each other. Amigos are the best!

As we enjoy the last couple of days together as a little family, we spent quality time outdoors this week singing, walking, running, building, digging, chasing each other, laying in the sun, talking, exploring nature and of course, naming worms. We also explored peas for food tasting!

We can’t wait for all the fun planned for next week. On Wednesday 6/8 is our Toddler’s Water Day and we will be having our Crossing the Bridge ceremony on Friday 6/10. Please refer to the email sent with all the instructions.

We wish you a beautiful weekend,

Mrs. Hood and Ms Maria


Lower El: 100 Mile Celebration

The 100 mile club program has been used by schools all over the nation since 1993 in an effort to prevent childhood inactivity. The 100 Mile Club program improves the health and well-being of children at school through daily physical activity in a noncompetitive, supportive, and fully-inclusive environment. Children can choose to run, walk, skip, or roll 100 miles over the course of the school year.

Congratulations to our Lower Elementary students for working towards and achieving one common goal!


Mrs. Wilson: Love for All Creatures Big or Small

We are focusing on insects and pond life in the last two weeks. This week the children were exposed to new language material with insect and pond vocabulary. They are learning about the life cycle of a ladybug and recognize the similarities it has to the butterfly. While outside the children can explore a sensory bin filled with soil, tree bark, and worms (fake). We also look around to find the insects hiding underneath the tree stumps. The children learned a new song called Head, Thorax, Abdomen, in tune to Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.

We teach the children to be respectful to any insects we find whether in our school or out in nature. If we see an insect in our school we carefully remove it and free it outside to go back to its family. All living creatures big or small, we love them all!


Upper El: At Nature’s Classroom

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” -John Muir

What an incredible week we had! Our time at Nature’s Classroom was packed with fresh air, nature, educational activities, and fun!

Each day we spent time hiking in the woods, learning about animals and plants that we found there; even tasting wintergreen, eastern hemlock, and white pine. We learned how to make a fire, and during our second fire we enjoyed some tasty s’mores. We did many team building activities in the classroom and on the challenge course and learned how important it is to listen to one another and give everyone a chance to use their voice. During our classroom time we learned about the Salem Witch Trials, made water rockets (which I’ll be sending you a video of), and used our knowledge of biomes and animals to play a game of WWF.

Another highlight of the trip was the food! Your children finished their plates at every meal and went back for seconds, and sometimes thirds. They took turns acting as “waitrons” at each meal; setting, clearing, and cleaning the table.

I observed many acts of kindness and cooperation shared among the children throughout our trip. Our group leader, Anna commented to me that she had not seen such a kind, thoughtful group before and she could clearly see how much they care about and take care of each other.

 

I leave you with this meditation by Jack Kornfield.

“However difficult the times, suffering is not the end of the story. Love is. May your spirit be strong. May you be safe and protected. May you be filled with deep healing. May you be held by love.” 


The Montessori Work Cycle, Another Head of School for the Day, Summer Camp is ON! No School on Monday, Memorial Day

The Montessori Work Cycle

“The mind takes some time to develop interest, to be set in motion, to get warmed up into a subject, to attain a state of profitable work. If at this time there is interruption, not only is a period of profitable work lost, but the interruption produces an unpleasant sensation which is identical to fatigue.”

-Dr. Maria Montessori, What You Should Know About Your Child

As an adult, think about what you need to do your best work? 

  • What should your workspace look like? 
  • What do you need from others? 
  • What restrictions do you need removed in order to meet your goals?

Dr. Montessori spent years observing children as they played. She recognized that significant learning takes place during play, so much so that she called it the “child’s work”.  

Children, even very young children, have the potential for intense concentration. Children do have the innate ability to work through problems and come to solutions all on their own. 

Montessori saw that they want to do these things and they do it with a sense of self-satisfaction; not because it is demanded or expected. 

What Montessori realized is that we, as adults, often imagine the children require more help than they actually do, or that we must offer rewards or incentives to ensure they do their schoolwork. What children really need is time, respect, and an environment where they can focus deeply on their work.

So, the work period or the work cycle was born. Generally spanning between two or three hours in the morning, this precious time is a cornerstone of Montessori education.

How does it begin?

The start of the work can vary from classroom to classroom but typically begins as children arrive in the morning. For some classes, there may be a whole class morning meeting or circle time at the start or end of the work cycle.

A typical day begins with the child hanging their belongings in their locker, changing into their indoor shoes, and greeting their teacher as they walk into the room. Children may say hello to a friend or two, take a moment to transition themselves, and then select a work from the shelf.  

Prior to age six the children will often work by themselves, but near their peers. They may lay out a work rug, set up their material, and delve into a deeply concentrated state. They use the materials in the way they have been taught, then clean up and replace everything when they are done. 

In the classrooms with children older than age six, the start of the day can be a bit noisier and more chaotic due to their level of social development and their desire for social connection. They still get to work rather quickly, although it’s often in the form of group or partner work.

What do the teachers in the room do?

A Montessori classroom typically has two adults present: the teacher and an assistant. The assistant busies themselves with ensuring the room stays neat and orderly and that everything the children need is available to them. If children need help or redirection, the assistant is quick to engage while still allowing the child to maintain an appropriate level of independence.

This allows the head teacher to focus on two main tasks: observation and presenting lessons. During the work cycle, teachers give lessons to individual students or small groups of children. Adults in a Montessori classroom do their best not to interrupt the work of the child. 

Do children really focus the entire time?

Can anyone truly focus for three hours straight without a break? 

This is one of the reasons our environments are designed for students to meet their own needs independently:  If they feel hungry, they are welcome to have a snack. If they need to use the restroom, they don’t need to ask permission. Even if they just need to get up and stretch their legs or look out a window – we do not prevent children from doing these things. Allowing for breaks lets us all focus better in the long run.

There is one interesting phenomenon worth mentioning here. Sometime around 10:00-10:30 in the morning, toward the end of the work cycle, classroom communities often experience what we refer to as false fatigue. 

Like clockwork, the volume of the children’s voices will rise, there is noticeably less engagement with the materials, and fewer children are sitting in one place – rather they seem to be wandering around the room. 

The adult instinct is to ring a bell and make a plea for re-engagement, but we have learned to hold back. False fatigue is a normal part of the flow of the day. If we pause, observe, and wait even two or three minutes, we will see the children find their way back into their work. It can be pretty amazing to observe.

Curious to see what a morning work cycle looks like in action? We would love to have you visit. Please contact Paromita at pduttkunzweiler@fraserwoods.com to arrange an in class observation. 

Head of School for the Day

Olivia Labastida was FWM’s Head of School for the day on Friday, May 27th. Olivia began the day with the 8th years as they delivered the weekly news in the FWM Commons. Olivia announced, “Popsicles for everyone and extra recess for Lower El, Upper El, and Middle School.

Olivia took her place at the desk in the head of the school’s office and called to check in and say hi to her family. After that, Olivia got right to work. She visited several classrooms to get a real look at the work that goes on in each of our classrooms at FWM, just as Ms. Gina does.

Olivia and Ms. Gina talked about how we can bring back the annual school dance. Our parent’s association were the planners and organizers; however, Olivia worked on two themes for the dance we hope to back.

All in all, a GREAT day for a Head of School!

Enhanced Police Presence

Given the tragedy in Texas, it was confirmed with me Wednesday morning that Newtown Police will provide an enhanced presence at all schools including FWM. In addition, our security company briefed our guard before he arrived on Wednesday as to the heightened protocols he is to take.

Summer Camp is ON

We are happy to let you know that we have enough students registered for camp to run all of our programs. Registration is still open!

If you would like your child to participate in FWM’s Summer Camp, please register as soon as possible. 

To Register:

  1. Log in to your  MyFWM.org account
  2. Click on PARENTS Widget and click FWM PROGRAMS
  3. Find the program and click REGISTRATION DETAILS

Click here for the:

FWM School Calendar 2022-2023

Memorial Day-Monday, May 30- No School

Wishing you a warm and Happy Memorial Day; let us remember all our heroes who have left us while preserving our lives, our freedom, and our country.


Warm-Up Games & Wiffle Ball in PE!

 

Lower and Upper Elementary participated in a Wiffle Ball Unit.  Students learned how to run the bases and how to hold a wiffle ball. In addition, they learned how to throw and receive a ball, as well as batting off a tee.  Students also had a choice for the ball to be pitched to them instead of using the tee.  Throwing a ball is not just physical, it is also cognitive. A child has to plan how much force to put into each toss, where to aim to keep the ball from going too high or low, and when to release.  The benefits of wiffle ball include:  improved balance, coordination, strength and stamina, motor skill development, social skills development, improved self-confidence, and sportsmanship.

Before the start of PE class, students participate in warm-up running games. Some favorites are:  Rock, Paper Scissors, Earth Day Tag, Sports Tag, Ice Cream Tag, and Pluck the Turkey.  Once a week we run laps for our warm-ups for our 100 Mile Club.  Warm-ups in Physical Education prepare the body for movement.  A warm-up allows the body to gradually increase its heart rate and body temperature which would reduce the risk of injury.


Mrs. Doyle’s Class: Fun At Flanders

 

On Thursday, the Kindergarten children spent time at Flanders Nature Center in Woodbury.  First, we gathered our nets and took a hike through the woods to the Botany Pond. The children then had the opportunity to catch and identify amphibians, reptiles, and insects. We found tadpoles, beetles, newts, giant water bugs, and salamanders.  We observed turtles resting on a rock, fish swimming, and even found one of those elusive frogs.  When we were done, we released any living thing we had collected and then climbed aboard for a tractor ride.  We observed a blue heron flying and landing and got up close to a beaver lodge.  It was both informative and impressive to speak with a Flanders volunteer, who explained how and why the beavers dam up a culvert each night.  Walking back, several children shared what a great day it was! Flanders is open to the public and we encourage you to take advantage of this amazingly beautiful nature center.  They also offer several summer programs.  You can find more information on their website.

Wishing you all a week filled with much peace and love.

Michelle & Liset


Mrs. Lopes: Field Trip to Flanders

On Thursday, our Kindergarten children went on a field trip to Flanders Nature Center in Woodbury, CT.  This was a great introduction to amphibians and the life cycle of a frog.  The children first took a hike through the woods to a pond.  Once at the pond they were introduced to some of the species that live there and were given nets to do some exploration on their own.  We had so much fun catching tadpoles, newts, dragonfly nymphs, and even a large green frog!  We then went on a hayride through the fields where we witnessed a blue heron searching for food.  We also learned about the beaver family who built a lodge in the nature center’s pond and continues to dam up the town’s water supply.  We got to talk with one of the nature center’s staff who was unclogging the pipe while we were there and said he has to unclog the pipe every 2-3 days!

I would encourage you all to visit the beautiful Flanders Nature Center for a fun outdoor family activity: www.flandersnaturecenter.org.

In addition to a field trip, we also had a few toddlers visit our classroom this week and on Tuesday we had a visit from Maggie, a member of the Newtown Strong Therapy Dogs!

Wishing you a peaceful week,

Amanda and Heather