Lower Elementary: We Are a Patchwork Quilt

We start every morning with a community gathering. During this time, the children are enjoying practicing the songs they’ve learned in music class for our upcoming holiday concert. Thank you, Ms. Kim, for sharing your beautiful piano accompaniments with our class!

On Tuesday, we had a four legged friend come to visit. Aris, a Newtown K9 came to show off a few tricks with Officer Felicia and Officer Matt. The children were thrilled to hear that he’s only two years old and has already caught two bank robbers! Thank you for your service, Officers Aris, Felicia, and Matt.

We are continuing to work hard as the holidays are fast approaching. In geometry, the first years had a blast listening to the “Love Story of the Lines” while learning about convergent, divergent and parallel lines. Then, they used the Box of Sticks to demonstrate their understanding. After learning about the common protractor last week, the second years are working on measuring angles with a common protractor. Last but not least, the third years enjoyed their supplementary angles lesson.


Lower Elementary: We Count Our Blessings

“One by one, we count our blessings as we come to share this bread. Let us gather ’round the table, join our hands, and bow our heads. May our hearts always be thankful for the gifts that we receive. One by one, we count our blessings with our friends and family.” -John Farrell

Last week was a beautiful celebration of all we are thankful for. We spent last Monday baking bread together with the generous donations and help from our wonderful parents. Special thanks to Magda, Christine, and Tameria for spending their morning working with the children. On Tuesday, we shared with each other as a class that we are thankful for many things. Among the most mentioned were: family, friends, our homes, the Earth, enough food, and our school. Wednesday was spent at our Thanksgiving ceremony. We gave thanks with a poem and a song before sharing bread with all of the children in the school.

Our daily, uninterrupted work cycle has many benefits. It allows the opportunity for children to learn to concentrate, work on tasks until completion, and to participate in the planning of the work they will complete each day. They learn to work cooperatively with peers at their own grade level as well as younger and older children. This time also allows us to work individually with each child, giving lessons and providing guidance and help as needed with their work. It is also this work cycle that provides us with the ability to individualize math, spelling, and language lessons. The children have been hard at work this week, happily working with friends and independently.


Lower Elementary: A Busy Work Week!

In Lower Elementary we place great emphasis on meaningful academic work for each individual child. During their two to three hour long work cycle,  the children are able to plan their work and then chose the order in which they would like to accomplish it. This creates a feeling of ownership and focus within the children.

We have many different types of math going on in our classroom with multiple materials being used for the different operations. The Stamp Game is useful for all operations such as addition, multiplication, subtraction and division. The checkerboard is a favorite material used for multiplication. In geometry, the first years are enjoying learning about straight and curved lined shapes as well using the Pinwheels to sensorially explore that triangles construct many other shapes. The second years are learning how to add and subtract angles using the Montessori protractor.

The third years are exploring the body functions and external parts of seaweed in biology. The children love working collaboratively with one another on this work!


Lower Elementary: The Three Year Cycle

The Montessori three year cycle in Lower Elementary provides the space and time for children to develop interpersonal skills by interacting with and learning among children of different ages. They learn how to cooperate with one another and to respect each other. First year children are the observers, learning from the second and third year children. Second year children are no longer the youngest, but are still learning from the thirds, while practicing for next year by helping younger classmates. This year is as important as the first and third year of their time in the classroom, this is their growth year. The third year children are the leaders; teaching the younger children while also setting a good example for them. Throughout this three year process the children gain confidence, competence and learn how to interact with a diverse peer group. They gain great social skills, preparing them for success many years down the road.

This week we learned about the fundamental needs of humans and then focused specifically on nutrition. The children learned that they have material and spiritual needs. They answered the question, “What do you need to live?” Together, they brainstormed a list of their needs. In our discussion of nutrition, we focused on the sources of the nutrients we eat.


Holiday Festivities in Lower Elementary!

Halloween was a fun filled day! We started our morning by joining Upper Elementary and Middle School friends on a march around the school. We then celebrated and enjoyed some delicious treats in the classroom! (Thank you to the parents who brought snacks in).

Halloween provides us with such a good opportunity for cooperative work led by our elder students! Cooperative work gives students the chance to share the responsibility to make choices, solve problems among themselves, and deal with conflicting ideas. First, the children worked in small groups, which were led by third years, making a plan for how they wanted to carve their pumpkins. Once the plan was made, then it was time to get their hands dirty! They worked as a team to empty all of the seeds out of the pumpkin and then carved out the design they brainstormed together. We have such a kindhearted, collaborative, and creative group of children in our class this year!

Global Culinary Night is Thursday, November 8th from 6:30-8:00pm.

This is a FWM entire family event.

Grab your “passport” and travel along with us as we visit countries near and far, sampling foods at each stop! This community event is for FWM families to gather together and share a unique dish from their cultural, ethnic, or regional background while also sampling dishes from other FWM families’ cultures.


Lower Elementary Hard at Work

We love starting our day by centering ourselves while listening to soft, peaceful music. We spend about five minutes doing this before we start our work time every morning. The children are getting better every day at learning to be still and quiet, giving their minds a break by paying attention only to their breathing.

Often times children at different grade levels enjoy working together. Our Biology material, First Knowledge of the Five Kingdoms, provides an opportunity to do just that while allowing each child to challenge her(him)self. At the beginning level, children work with the animal identification cards. These increase in difficulty, respectively, with the plant, fungi, protoctista, and prokaryote identification cards. This week some first grade students teamed up to work with the animal cards while a third grade friend worked with the fungi cards alongside them.

After children learn a lesson in geometry, they use their hands and work with materials to solidify their understanding of the concepts they are learning about. Recently, some students learned about perpendicular and oblique lines. They followed up by using a material called the Box of Sticks to make the different types of lines. They learned to use a measuring angle – which is a right angle – to check their perpendicular lines.

First, second, and third grade students are currently learning about physical geography. Third graders are learning to identify and label the water forms of each continent, starting with North America. Second grade students are building on their lessons from last year by learning about advanced land and water forms; most recently lagoon, fjord, cove, gulf, and bay. First graders are learning about inverted land and water forms. This week they learned about capes and bays. The beginning lessons start with the children making the forms using clay and water and then they make a representation of it using construction paper.


Lower Elementary: Enjoying Fall Outdoors

“There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all of the life to be found around them in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees which speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving.” -Maria Montessori

We spend as much time in the outdoor classroom as possible; from lessons, to discovery, and playing in the woods. Being in nature promotes creativity, imagination, and responsibility as well as connecting us with the natural world. The outdoor environment allows children to interact meaningfully with their surroundings and think freely. We also have been enjoying learning how to nature journal and taking time to appreciate the beauty around us. This week we had our first history lesson on the study of time where we learned about the different cycles of time on Earth. We discussed seasons, phases of the moon, movement of the stars in the night sky, and day and night.

The children learned how to use the Cosmic Mat material for independent work on the creation of the universe. They have been enjoying taking out this work during our morning work cycle!


Lower Elementary – Learning About the Universe

 

The physical universe, most physicists now agree, came into being between fifteen and twenty billion years ago. If present notions are correct, we can contemplate conditions that existed a minute fraction of a second following the Big Bang, the explosion that gave birth to the cosmic egg. There was a time when what appears now as the entire universe was the size of our Earth, and before that the size of an orange, and before that the size of the head of a pin. That was about one thousandth of a billionth of a second after the beginning. Counting backwards through unimaginably small time intervals and conditions that can be described but not imagined, we can approach time zero, but we can never quite reach it. And we certainly cannot talk about anything before that cataclysmic event. Science comes to a halt there. The end of its tether. There is nothing on the other side that the human mind can grasp.

– Dawn of a Millennium by Erich Harth

We have had a fun week, full of learning! The third year students told the story of the creation of the universe to the younger students, a rite of passage for third years. They read the story and did demonstrations to illustrate scientific concepts. This is the first of Maria Montessori’s Five Great Lessons.

We followed this first Great Lesson with a trip to the planetarium at the Talcott Mountain Science Center to learn more about our universe and solar system. The children heard descriptions and attributes of the planets, learned how a sundial works while standing on a giant sundial, and learned about galaxies, constellations, and stars in the universe during an information-packed planetarium presentation.

We had a wonderful week and it was exciting to do some learning outside of school!