Lower Elementary – A Week in Review

The children have been loving our science lessons! Continuing our light lessons from last week, the children explored the concepts that light travels in waves and straight lines. We also had some fun delving into shadow experiments. They learned that shadows are formed when light cannot pass through an opaque body in its path. This was demonstrated by holding an object close to a beam of light from a flashlight. We then held the object further away and turned to its side. The children came to the conclusion that if the object is closer to the light, the shadow is bigger, and if it’s farther away from the light, the shadow gets smaller.

Adding on to our science demonstrations, the children enjoyed learning about the movement of Earth around the Sun. In this demonstration, the gravitational attraction is represented by a bucket, the Earth is represented by the water in the bucket, and Mrs. Sankey represented the Sun. She then swung the bucket in a wide circle around and over her head. The purpose of this was to express that the same force that pushes out on the water and holds it against the bottom of the bucket, is what keeps our world from falling into the Sun. The Earth gets this force as it propels itself through space. What keeps our planet on a steady path around the Sun is the balance between the gravitational attraction of the Earth and Sun and the forward motion of the Earth.

Luminous Lower Elementary

We have had a wonderfully busy and productive week in Lower Elementary. We are enjoying our physical science lessons on light. We discussed the difference between natural light and artificial light and then we went on a walk through the school and took a light survey, seeing how many sources we could find that produce light. Next, we learned that atoms get excited when energy is added in the form of heat or a chemical reaction and light is produced when the excited atoms release their energy in bundles of photons. The children had fun acting out the roles of the atoms and photons as Ms. Beckett verbally added energy. We also discussed what role light plays in the survival of plants. We learned about photosynthesis and chlorophyll and why we see plants as green. We covered a small patch of grass and a leaf on our playground to see what will happen when they aren’t able to collect sunlight. We will be checking on them next week. Finally, we went into a dark room and turned on a flashlight. We noticed that we could see the light at its source and at the point where it bounced off the wall but we could not see its beam. Then we shook a dusty pillow. We noticed that we could then see the beam of light reflecting off the dust particles. We will continue with light lessons over the next few weeks and we will be learning more about light when we go on our April field trip.

In addition to our physical science lessons on light, we had many other small group lessons this week. First year students learned about external parts of amphibians in biology, land and water forms in geography, and oblique and perpendicular lines in geometry. Second year students learned about the body functions of amphibians in biology, advanced land and water forms in geography, and subtracting angles with the Montessori protractor in geometry. Third year students collected moss and examined it under a microscope. They are learning about the external parts and body functions of moss in biology and about constructing right-angled, obtuse-angled, and acute-angled triangles with the box of sticks in geometry.

The children have received their parts for our May musical, Moana Jr. They are working hard already and have been enjoying coming together with Upper Elementary to sing songs from Moana in the mornings before we start our day. The children should bring their scripts to school every day since we will be doing a lot of practicing in the coming weeks. Be on the lookout next week for an email with more information about costumes, props, and parts.

February in Lower Elementary – It’s a Wrap!

We had a very productive week!

The first years have been loving their lessons. They heard the “love story of lines” during geometry this week, where they learned about convergent, divergent, and parallel lines. They used the box of sticks to explore these concepts. In grammar, first years learned about adjectives and had a fun time coming up with silly adjectives to describe nouns. As an extension, they were introduced to a work called the grammar box, where the children practice the parts of speech they have learned so far this year.

The second year group enjoyed learning how to subtract fraction insets using the Montessori protractor; a concept that can be challenging for some, they grasped so quickly! I was impressed. They also had a blast learning about pronouns. The students and I put our heads together to create a short story using no pronouns. The children realized that this was challenging because it sounded ridiculous and very repetitive. However, afterwards we came to the conclusion that pronouns are necessary for every day language!

Last but not least, the third years have been enjoying their hands-on geometry follow-up. They have been using the box of sticks to make equilateral, isosceles and scalene triangles. One student told me that, “This is the most fun geometry I’ve done in lower elementary!” How incredible is that? As for language, the third year group received another sentence analysis lesson. They learned that there can be more than one subject in a sentence and they started using the term predicate in place of action when describing a sentence.

We have an upcoming field trip to the Discovery Museum on Thursday, April 23rd. The bus will leave FWM at 9:30 and will return around 2:00. Children need to pack a bagged lunch that day and should not bring anything that needs to be heated up. We can take three parent volunteers. Please contact us if you are interested!

We are all getting very excited for our upcoming production of Moana Jr. in May. The children will be learning their parts next week and we have already begun singing the songs together in class. If you would like to access the songs for your child to practice, please click on this link.

Lower Elementary: Exploring Climate Through Art

This week we had the opportunity to explore weather and climate expressed through art at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT. The children had guided tours in small groups and learned about many of the pieces of art in the weather exhibit. In addition to learning how the pieces were made, they also learned each piece’s connection with climate and weather. We saw a large oil painting of the Florida Everglades and Miami. We also experienced a depiction of the night sky with the big dipper, an interpretation of Chicago snow, a moving piece of art showing a tree in each season of the year, storm clouds, a giant print of a tree trunk, and a piece which was an interpretation of doppler radar images combined with brain scans, among others. We also made a happy discovery while at the museum. One of the pieces we looked at and discussed was a room filled with colorful nylon strips, hung vertically, created by Eva LeWitt who happens to be the daughter of an artist the children studied earlier in the school year, Sol LeWitt.

We have also been busy learning this week in school. The third year students started some geometry lessons on the analysis of a triangle. They explored making equilateral, isosceles, and scalene triangles with the box of sticks material. Second year students learned about pronouns, and individual lessons in math and language took place throughout the work cycles this week for students at each grade level. In Readers and Writers Workshop, we are diving into lessons in our units on reading and writing non-fiction. The children are enjoying learning about writing in this new genre while teaching their peers all about something they are experts in.

Lower Elementary: The Essence of Montessori

“The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.”  ~Maria Montessori

This is one of our favorite quotes from Maria Montessori and this week we saw it come to life. Having been out several days, our first concern was, of course, for the children. We received feedback daily regarding how well the children maintained their work cycle completing meaningful work throughout the week. We could not be more proud of their embodiment of this famous quote.  Enjoy the long weekend!

Riveting Research

If you walk into our Lower Elementary classroom you will find children working on independent/group research throughout the year. The children absolutely love researching topics of their choice as one of their work options during our work cycle. Although research is a frequent, day to day occurrence, this time of year is special because the entire class is focused on one common goal, completing their research projects. This common focus connects us as a class and allows opportunities for the older children to take a mentoring roll and help the younger children who are new to research.

The children were so excited all week as the anticipation of Research Night crept up. They were thrilled to be sharing their projects with people who they love so deeply. The third-year students had their first public speaking experience, presenting before classmates and families. They were amazing! All of the children worked diligently and should be very proud of their work, as are we.

We can still take one more parent volunteer on our upcoming field trip to the Aldrich Museum on February 19th. The bus will be leaving school at 11:30, so if you can make it and are interested, please email Karen or me.

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

A Montessori classroom is a sacred space. Our focus as adults in that space is on what is best for the children and for that reason we treat them with utmost respect. We protect their right to focus and concentrate on their work without interruption from their peers, adults entering the classroom, and even from ourselves. Maria Montessori says, “To assist a child we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely.” The children lead this environment and adults can sometimes distract from this. Each child in a Montessori classroom is working to become independent. To be successful with this independence, the children have to feel empowered to solve their own problems, have a consistent and predictable routine, and have the opportunity to work independently. Our Montessori classroom is a community where we take the growth in independence of each child seriously. We strive to provide a space where the children feel comfortable and confident that they can trust adults to respect their environment. This enables them to become independent and helps to shape them as they grow.

This week the children have been busy working on their research projects in preparation for Research Night next Thursday, February 6th. They are enjoying learning more about the topics they chose and they are looking forward to sharing all of their newly learned information with you! In addition to their research, they have been working hard on their independent and cooperative work. Ms. Beckett and I take turns sitting with the children and observing them as they work each day. By the end of the week we have sat with each and every child in the class. Doing this allows us to see when children are having difficulty with their work or when they are ready to move on to the next lesson. That is the beauty of individualization in a Montessori classroom. Each child gets to move at their own pace and receives the undivided attention of their teacher.

Lower Elementary: A Quiet Week

“I have decided to stick with love, hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

With a fresh year just beginning, this is a great time to help children set a respectful and kind tone for the year ahead. One way we did this was starting the week reading Martin’s Dream Day by Kitty Kelley. This sparked a conversation about how everyone can help make a difference in the world through kindness and respect, just like King did.

Our third year friends took part in the CTP5 standardized test during the work cycle, which left a smaller group in the room. During this time, the students have been enjoying working independently and with their classmates on a variety of work. This includes the Who Am I cards, reading comprehension, stamp game math computation, and much more.

We have an upcoming field trip to the Aldrich Museum on Wednesday, February 19th. We will be having an early lunch here at school and will leave FWM at 11:30 and return at 2pm. We can take three parent volunteers with us. If you haven’t had the opportunity to come with us on a field trip this year and would like to attend, please reach out!

We have noticed some children coming to school without proper winter attire. We go outside every day if the weather is above 20 degrees so please make sure that your child is coming to school with gloves, hat, and a jacket. If there is snow on the ground please send in snow pants and boots as well.