“For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” -Henry Beston
This week we started the study of life. Animals are more familiar to children than plants, and vertebrates are the most familiar animals. Throughout the year, first and second grade children will study five classes of vertebrate animals and third grade children will study five classes of plants in evolutionary order. We will learn about fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals as well as seaweed, moss, ferns, pine trees, and flowering plants.
First year students learned about the external parts of fish. We started with a little in-school field trip to the Middle School science room to observe Mr. Brown’s fish. Mr. Brown facilitated a discussion about the external parts of the fish. We will follow up next week with an introduction to classroom materials of fish.
Second year students also took a little trip to the science room to learn about the body functions of fish. Mr. Brown reviewed the external parts of fish and then the children examined the internal parts of the fish the Middle School students are working on dissecting. They will be introduced to our classroom body functions of fish materials next week.
Third year students learned about the external parts of seaweed. We started by examining three different types of seaweed brought in by Ms. Beckett. The children used a magnifying glass to get a closer look and they also compared how different the three types of seaweed looked and felt. We will take a third grade trip to the science room next week to examine seaweed under a microscope. Thirds years will also continue learning about seaweed next week with lessons on its body functions.
“We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are a part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. This idea helps the mind of the child to become fixed, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied, having found the universal centre of himself with all things.” -Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential
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 us 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, as are we.
Last week, we enjoyed a day out of the classroom at Blue Jay Orchards! Since we had so many leftover apples from our trip, we made some delicious treats as a class to share this week. On Tuesday we made applesauce and on Thursday we made apple crisp. The children enjoyed peeling and slicing the apples for these tasty fall snacks.
“When the child goes out, it is the world itself that offers itself to him. Let us take the child out to show him real things instead of making objects which represent ideas and closing them in cupboards (From Childhood to Adolescence – Maria Montessori).”
An important part of Montessori education is letting children experience the wonders of our world. Taking outings increases independence and creates opportunities for the children to bond with one another and make lasting memories. We enjoyed our first field trip of the year today. It was a beautiful fall day and we filled our bags with delicious apples. Next week, the children will cook with some of the apples we picked.
Earlier this week we had a rainy day indoor recess. We observed the children peacefully enjoying activities together in small and large groups. It was heartwarming to see some of the older children teaching younger ones how to use the materials from our game cabinet. Playing inside gives the children the opportunity to spend quality time with classmates they don’t usually work with during the morning work cycle.
Each morning we start off our day with mindful meditation/movement. 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.
For the past few weeks we have been 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.
In the Art Studio, our young artists from Lower Elementary through Middle School kicked off the school year by putting on a Tiny Art Show! Each artist was given a choice between various small canvases, paper, and even shells to create their tiny artwork on. Students practiced layering art materials such as colorful sharpies and tempera paints, as well as practicing color mixing techniques. There was no specific prompt for what to paint, but rather it was an opportunity for each young artist to trust their creativity and express themselves. The challenge, however, was the small size restriction. Students had to problem solve ways in which they could fit their designs and ideas onto the tiny canvases, as well as how to carefully apply paint with small paintbrushes so as not to lose any detail. It was wonderful to see the variety of artwork created!
Once their tiny artwork was complete, we set up a display in the hallway for the whole school to enjoy. Magnifying glasses were set up with the display so everyone could take a closer look at all of the wonderfully unique tiny works of art!
We had a great second full week of school! We enjoyed our first Community Service day when the Middle School students came to help us with our work. All of the students, Lower Elementary and Middle School, benefit from this experience. We get to have extra individualized attention while connecting with the elders of our school. The Middle School students get to experience the wonderful feeling of giving help where needed. We love the days our older friends visit!
We are diving right into our Writer’s Workshop lessons. Our first unit in each grade focuses on writing true stories about our own lives. The children participate in separate mini-lessons by grade level and then spend some quiet time writing and practicing the new skills they are learning. During this time, Ms. Beckett and I are able to move around the room and conference with individual students, giving them 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 Writer’s Workshop for many.
Each Friday afternoon we have Friday Fun. This is a time when the children socialize with each other and build our Lower Elementary community, making bonds and creating memories. Whenever possible, during this time we enjoy going to our outdoor classroom and playing in the woods. Spending time in nature is incredibly valuable and it is wonderful to watch the children be creative and play, no equipment needed!
I’m so excited to be part of the FWM family and share my passion for language with the children here! In World Language, the children have been diving into stories each class. Storytelling helps students acquire language in a compelling manner and allows them to see words used in context rather than simply learning them in isolation. The children learn actions to correspond with new vocabulary words.
In alignment with their author study for September, primary classes heard Oso Pardo, Oso Pardo, ¿Qué ves ahí? (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? By Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle). With the story, they were presented with names of different animals along with their colors. Next, we will work on categorizing living and non-living things, just as they are doing for science this month.
Lower Elementary has been acquiring the skills to discuss which foods we like and do not like. They have been using the story, ¡No me gusta! from the No Me Digas elementary Spanish curriculum. We have been singing and sharing about our favorite and least favorite foods.
Upper Elementary has practiced retelling stories and sequencing with the stories Isabel va a la escuela and Los Peces, and Los Tiburones, all from The Storyteller’s Corner. They have learned to talk about leaving or staying, how they are feeling, and they have practiced counting 0-10 and backward.
Middle School just started our Free Voluntary Reading, which is at the beginning of each class. All middle schoolers choose a book to read and spend the first five to ten minutes of class reading in Spanish. Aside from this, they have been singing and hearing stories to say who people are, what they say, and what they like and do not like to do. Then they applied these skills to begin writing their own stories about themselves.
It feels great to be back! The children came in energized and ready to go. They are quickly settling into our routines, rekindling old friendships, and making new ones each day. Our third year group has been such an asset to our class by mentoring and guiding the younger and new students through this transition period. It’s heartwarming to see the connections being made. If this is any indication for the year to come, we are all in for a spectacular school year!
It is important to intentionally build community at the beginning of the school year. This year, one of our community building activities was discussing as a class what makes each of us feel peaceful and then the children represented those ideas on doves. They will hang from our ceiling for the rest of the year to help set a peaceful tone in our classroom. Feel free to stop by and check them out!
Mrs. Sankey and I are both so thrilled to have such a diverse group of children with us this year and are looking forward to the learning and growing we will do as a community.