This year Lower Elementary is learning about the Composition of the Earth. This unit on physical geography follows the Sun and Earth study that we explored last year, and provides the children with a more intensive study of the planet. The goal is to provide an impressionistic understanding of the Earth’s composition and formation.
This week, the children were encouraged to think back to the Creation Story; how the world changed from a gaseous and liquid state to an increasingly solid one. We had a discussion about how the Earth cooled, and the heavy elements settled into the center, while the lighter ones rose to the surface. This was just like the experiment we did with oil, water and molasses, and how the molasses poured right through the lighter oil and water.
Students learned that the heavy inner part is called the barysphere. This includes the inner and outer core, plus the mantle, that we spoke of in the last lesson. The outer layer is called the lithosphere, which in the last lesson we called the crust. The thin layer of water surrounding the Earth is called the hydrosphere and the air around the Earth is called the atmosphere.
We are thrilled to be back at school! The students hopped right back into their work like we never left. It’s amazing how the children can adapt and overcome any circumstances that are thrown their way! A huge thank you to the middle school community for making us feel so welcomed by making us a card. Even though we can’t gather as a whole school this year, it’s heart warming to know the sense of community is still here.
We are diving right into our Writer’s Workshop lessons and the children are loving it! Our first unit focuses on writing true stories about our own lives; “small moment” stories. The children participate in a mini lesson and then spend some quiet time writing and practicing the new skills they are learning. This week the children have learned about how to stretch out their memories by magnifying a small moment and adding details. To help solidify this objective, we have been dissecting the book Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. We did this by finding a powerful part in the story, deciding what made the part powerful, and finding details and examples in the passage that proved it. After our mini lessons, Ms. Mary and I move around the room and conference with individual students, giving help and instruction where needed.
We periodically get together as a whole group and share our writing with each other; this is a favorite part of Writers Workshop for many. This year, our author’s circle looks a bit different in order to facilitate the social distancing guidelines, but that is okay! Some children shared from their work spots, and others wanted to come up to the front of the classroom to read. How incredibly wonderful is it that the children feel safe and respected, and as a result, want to share their writing with their peers!
This week the children were immersed in geometry. The first years had a lesson on the first constructive triangle box. This lesson consists of a review of geometric language learned thus far and introduces an exploration of the relationship between triangles and quadrilaterals. It demonstrates in a sensorial way that triangles construct many other shapes such as: parallelograms, squares, rectangles, rhombuses, and trapezoids.
The second graders love using the box of sticks to further explore the study of angles. They have been using this material to construct right, acute, and obtuse angles; we even enjoyed making these angles with our bodies! This week, the group received a new lesson on convex and reflex angles. This was a complex lesson but I was impressed with the way the second years absorbed this new information.
The third years have been working so hard discovering new ways to use the Montessori protractor. So far this year we have reviewed how to multiply angles using the protractor and we learned to divide angles as well! This week, the children enjoyed exploring the common protractor. The purpose of this is to acquaint the children with the method of constructing and measuring angles.
This week the third year students told the first of Maria Montessori’s Five Great Lessons, the Creation of the Universe. The third years have been working so hard for the past few weeks, preparing and practicing, to give this lesson to the younger students. Even though the third years told me they were nervous about being the “teachers” and presenting this lesson to the class, they leaned into the discomfort and did an outstanding job. What an amazing thing to witness! They should all be so proud of themselves.
The children also enjoyed their first classification lesson, learning about living vs. non living. This was a group discussion which introduced the concept of life by contrasting living organisms with non-living matter. We used our class pet, Rocky, and a rock from outdoors to facilitate the discussion. The children were thrilled to observe and touch our leopard gecko! The objective of this lesson was to distinguish living organisms by these functions: metabolism, growth, reproduction, response to stimuli and adaption to the environment.
Each morning we start off our day with mindful meditation. Mindfulness meditation is something I love to do with the children because it teaches them to slow down, notice how their bodies are feeling at that exact moment, and to focus on their breathing. We often assume breathing is just a natural skill; everyone knows how to inhale and exhale. But breathing is more than that. Being aware of our breath not only helps us manage the difficulties of everyday life, it also helps develop compassion, empathy, and concentration. This is an exercise where children practice focusing on the present, instead of worrying about the past and uncertainties of the future. It helps us become aware of how we feel at a given moment.
Our Lower Elementary classroom consists of students who love to work collaboratively and individually. There are many benefits to collaborative work. Working with a friend teaches children patience, respect for another’s strengths and challenges, and the give and take while compromising during collaboration. One of the beauties of work cycle is that different types of work go on simultaneously. Children can be working on a variety of language, math, geometry, cultural, and spelling work. This is a supportive classroom community of learners!
What an eventful week Lower Elementary had! We kicked this week off by celebrating the International Day of Peace. This year, Ms. Ulacco organized such a beautiful way to recognize this special day, meanwhile keeping us safe. Instead of gathering as a school community and singing out on the field, the Lower Elementary gathered as a smaller community and learned the corresponding sign language to Light a Candle for Peace. This was such a special and intimate celebration in the class. The children were engaged and intrigued learning the new signs for the familiar song.
This year, we have started to incorporate journal writing every day at the start of the work cycle. In their journals the children can write about their feelings, thoughts, things that make them happy or sad, a story, song, or poem. This is a safe place for students to express themselves. Studies have show that journaling about our experiences, thoughts, and feelings can help lower stress levels and boost problem solving abilities. The act of reflecting and expressing feelings privately can help children recognize their emotions and regulate them. Sometimes I provide prompts for the students to encourage them to self-reflect. This week we wrote about what we were grateful for, something we are proud of, and made positive “I am” statements.
This week we started preparing for our creation story with some science demonstrations. The purpose of these demonstrations is to illustrate concepts explored through the story of the creation of the universe. The creation story provides an impressionistic demonstration of the origins of life. The story is designed to impart a sense of wonder and awe, to instill respect for all that has happened, and to ignite interest in scientific investigation.
We have been lucky to have such beautiful weather this week! It’s beginning to feel like fall, and we are loving it. Each morning, when the weather permits, we start with recess on the field. Some activities the children enjoy partaking in during the morning movement are soccer, jumping rope, walking laps, and playing make believe. This is a vital part of the day, to get the body moving before a busy day of work ahead.
Please remind your child to wear something BLUE on Monday, September 21 to recognize and celebrate the International Day of Peace. Blue is the universal color of peace.