Let It Snow!

It was wonderful to get back to school after our long Thanksgiving break. The children had a great time playing in the snow this week! Thank you for making sure your child has the proper clothing for our outside play: warm coat, snow pants, hat, mittens or gloves, and boots.

The children enjoyed baking bread last week to share at our Thanksgiving celebration. Thank you to all those who donated ingredients and thank you to Kristina, Tameria, and Christi for spending your morning baking with the children. The breads were all delicious and we had a great time sharing them with the rest of the school while we sampled the bread from other classes.

In our history lessons we are learning about the cycles of time and fundamental human needs. Within that context, we are also studying six different time periods throughout history. The children were introduced to a 19 foot long timeline which starts with prehistory and ends with our current year. The time period we studied first is Prehistory. During our lesson, a set of cards which contain information about the fundamental needs of people living in the time period of prehistory was placed at the correct spot on the timeline while we discussed the information as a class. Many of the children are enjoying taking the cards out during work cycle and reading the information while placing them on the timeline.


Geometry Galore

Geometry was a hot topic this week!

The first years worked on a lesson illustrating the concepts of point, line, surface, and solid. They enjoyed listening to a humorous story about the concepts, which were portrayed as sound effects. The purpose of this presentation is for the children to understand the concept of a solid, which is the foundation of their future geometry learning.

In addition, the second years were hard at work putting their Montessori protractor skills to the test. Before beginning the new lesson, as a review we had fun making different types of angles with our bodies (right, acute, obtuse). Next, the children learned how to measure the angles of acute, right, and obtuse triangles on the Montessori protractor. Some children discovered that all triangles are 180 degrees! How awesome!

Last but not least, the third years continued their study of polygons. They have learned about the region, vertex, side, perimeter, angle, base, and diagonal of the polygon. The children are in the process of concretely discovering how many diagonals can be formed in each polygon with five sides through ten sides using a class favorite – the box of sticks. They had a blast working with friends creating different polygons and exploring the diagonals with rubber bands.

We will be going on a field trip on Tuesday, December 10, to Stepping Stones Museum. The bus will be arriving at 9:00 and we will be back at school around 2:00. For this trip we are allowed to take three parent volunteers. We still have room for two more! If you would like to help chaperone, please email me.


La La La Si Si Si

It was a fun and exciting week in Lower Elementary!

First year students learned about using right scalene triangles to form different sized pinwheels in geometry. They worked in small groups to practice making them together. They have enjoyed doing this work during work cycle this week. Second year students learned about straights, channels, and canals in geography. After a discussion about the Panama Canal, they watched a short time-lapse video of a trip through the famous canal. Third year students led discussion groups after a lesson on the cycles of time. They also discussed with their groups things that are necessary for survival. This is an ongoing lesson which will lead to a large group discussion of fundamental human needs next week.

We are very excited to welcome a new third grade friend to our class this week! All of the children are being kind and helpful and are enjoying getting to know her!

We have been incorporating movement into our morning mindfulness this week when it has been too cold to go outside. We are learning to silently follow stretching movements while focusing on our breathing. We are also learning songs during our morning meeting time. This week we learned a fun singing game called “La La La Si Si Si.” While singing this song, we played a clapping game with a partner and learned to switch partners during the song. The children had a lot of fun with this game.

Thank you for arriving by 8:20 each morning. Arriving on time gives your children a chance to move outside on most days, engaging their brains and muscles and priming their bodies to learn. We come inside by 8:30 and, after singing a song together, we practice mindfulness. This is further preparation for the day ahead and is an essential part of the beginning of our day. After a few minutes of mindfulness, we read together and then the children spend some focused time planning their work cycle. This time to prepare allows them to get started on their work as soon as our morning meeting ends. Children who arrive in time to participate in all of these elements have the advantage of a smooth and peaceful start to their day.


Senjua Dedende Senjua

 

We have begun learning about the lives of children from around the world. It is so important for children to appreciate cultural differences. One way we have been doing this is by reading books which allow the voice of the culture to be heard. It is imperative for children to learn about some of the unique and amazing things that come from other ways of life. This can promote creativity, collaboration, and higher level thinking.

Another way of promoting diversity is learning songs from across the globe. After attending an insightful workshop about creating community through singing and dance at the Montessori Schools of Connecticut Conference this past week, Karen and I were inspired by the beautiful diverse music we learned. One song we brought back to the classroom, that the children learned, is called Senjua. This is originally a Ghanaian song/story about a boy named Senjua. This piece has been taken up by students in Ghana and other surrounding countries, being sung as a victory song.

Dancing and playing singing games has a powerful effect on children. When we dance and sing together we become more alert, creative, happier, and connected to one another. Singing games and dances enable joyful human connection and create community. When children are happy and physically engaged, they become better students.

Global Culinary Night is Thursday, November 14th, from 6:00-7:00 pm.

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. The dish can be homemade or purchased from a local restaurant. We hope you join us as we celebrate the wonderful cultural diversity at our school! This is an entire family event not be missed. Kindly RSVP by November 11th.  RSVP here today.

Halloween Fun!

This week we enjoyed cooperative activities while celebrating Halloween. The children worked in groups of four and each group was led by a third grade student. They discussed and planned the designs for carving their pumpkins. First they discussed and came to an agreement as a group, then they sketched their plan out on paper. The following day, they made their sketches on pumpkins. After sketching their plans, they cut, scooped, and carved their pumpkins. This annual Lower Elementary activity is a wonderful way for the children to practice cooperation and compromise.

We had a great time wearing our costumes to school and participating in the Halloween parade through the hallways of school. The primary and toddler children lined the hallways to watch the parade as elementary and middle school students proudly displayed their costumes.

In continuing with our biology lessons, the third year students had the opportunity to visit the middle school science lab. Mr. Brown expanded on their initial lesson on seaweed and the children learned to use the microscopes to look at the cells of seaweed plants. They enjoyed their lesson with Mr. Brown and we look forward to more visits to the science lab throughout the year as the third year students continue their study of plants.


Music Time!

All of the Lower Elementary students were experiencing and exploring musical concepts, which are meter, rhythm, beat, pitch, and melody.  Third year students learned the meter of the song, exploring where the bar line lies, experiencing the phrase of the song. Second year students learned pitch of the musical note by singing ‘Sorida’ and moving with Kodaly Hand signs (Do Re Mi…).  First year students experienced beat and rhythm through chanting, singing, and dancing with the song ‘Welcome to Music’.


Motivated Learners

 

One of the beautiful parts of a Montessori work cycle is the autonomy and independence that happen so naturally. The different types of work that go on in the classroom simultaneously are an example of this. How wonderful is it that the children have freedom and responsibility to plan their work day and work together with their peers? One of my favorite parts about an Elementary Montessori classroom is that you see children constantly collaboratively learning with and from one another on a daily basis. There are many benefits to this work. Working with a friend teaches children patience, respect for another’s strengths and challenges, and the give and take while compromising while collaborating.

The small bead frame is a current classroom favorite! It is a math material which can be used to add, multiply, and subtract. Students use this before moving to abstraction when completing math problems for most operations. Another loved math material is test tube division. This material helps clarify the analytic procedure of the operation. Here, the result is not simply to find the answer, but also to find out the hierarchical value of the beads (the dividend) given to each single unit of the divisor.


Biologists Hard at Work

“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.