This Week in Upper El

“Joy, feeling one’s own value, being appreciated and loved by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul.” -Maria Montessori

The Autobiography Project is nearing completion after three months of gathering information, interviewing family members, and writing research papers. Upper El students have done an amazing job preparing to present their projects. Apart from working on their papers and slide shows, they are also preparing presentation boards. There is a real sense of accomplishment as everything is coming together after so much focused work. While working, there is a palpable sense of joy among the students, and they are enjoying learning more about each other throughout this process. I hope you appreciated the opportunity this project provided to connect and share details of your family’s history with your child.

We are eagerly anticipating welcoming you for presentations on Thursday evening. The evening will begin with oral presentations. Each student has chosen a chapter of their autobiography to present to the whole group. After the formal presentations, you will be invited to move around the room, and the children will present the rest of their autobiographies in a gallery style. Please remember the following in preparation for Thursday night:

  • Children should dress in neat attire appropriate for a formal presentation.
  • Please arrive promptly. We will begin presentations at 5:00.
  • There is no shuttle bus for this event. Please park at the school.
  • Children with siblings in middle school and lower elementary will present first.

Please check your child’s backpack for information about our overnight field trip to Nature’s Classroom. There are important documents to be filled out and returned to school, which are coming home with students today.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Karen & Krystin

This Week in Upper El

We had a great time volunteering this week, assembling bags for the Brian O’Connell Homeless Project. We spent our morning loading individual bags with necessities. The children were very enthusiastic about helping their neighbors in need, and their spirits were high.

Autobiographies are almost complete! Students have been working hard to finish their chapters and have made incredible progress. We will wrap up the finishing touches on all of the chapters at the beginning of next week, make edits, and prepare oral presentations. We look forward to welcoming families to school on Thursday, March 7th, at 5:00. Students with siblings in Middle School will present first so families can attend the Middle School presentations at 6:00.

In our history lesson this week, we looked at characteristics that make us human. Our biology lesson focused on looking at one animal group and its vital functions. Students are now starting research on their chosen animal, using the information they have learned about vital functions, classroom books, and online resources to write reports on their animals. In geometry, fourth graders learned that all triangles having the same base and height are equivalent. Fifth graders learned one way to find the area of trapezoids. Next week, fifths will learn two other ways to find the area of trapezoids.

Wishing you a fantastic weekend,
Karen and Krystin

This Week in Upper El

We had a fun week filled with bubbles, baking, and learning.

On Wednesday, the Connecticut Science Center came to our school to teach the children about the science of bubbles. They learned about the essential ingredients and environment needed to create bubbles through interactive presentations. They also tested out creating bubbles in different shapes, holding bubbles in their hands, popping bubbles, and even being inside a bubble.

In history, we explored the Cro-Magnon people and compared them to Homo neanderthalensis people. The students discovered that we share a common ancestor with Neanderthals and that Neanderthals, along with us, share a common ancestor with Homo erectus.

Fourth-grade students learned about finding equivalence between a regular polygon and a rectangle in geometry. They learned to compare the perimeter of the polygon to the base of the rectangle and the apothem of the polygon to the height of the rectangle. Meanwhile, fifth-grade students learned to find the area of right-angled triangles using three different formulas.

Our biology lesson focused on animals’ vital functions of support and movement. We discussed exoskeletons vs. endoskeletons and the animals that have each. We looked closely at jointed and non-jointed animals, invertebrates, and vertebrates.

Fourth-grade grammar examined plural vs. singular nouns and the rules for forming plurals. Fifth-grade students learned about limiting vs. descriptive adjectives and three degrees of comparison in adjectives: quality, comparative, and superlative.

We are making significant progress on our autobiographies, and everyone is excited about this project. We have a few more weeks to complete rough drafts and final papers and prepare for presentations. Thank you for your support in helping your child at home during this project.

Have a lovely weekend,

Karen and Krystin

This Week in Upper El

“Education between the ages of six to twelve is not a direct continuation of that which has gone before, though it is built upon that basis. Psychologically there is a decided change in personality, and we recognize that nature has made this a period for the aquisition of culture, just as the former was for the absorption of the environment.” -Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential

Maria Montessori identified different stages in children’s development, which she called the Planes of Development. Each stage is divided into six-year periods: 0-6, 6-12, and 12-18, with each period further categorized into three-year segments. Each stage has a primary focus, and children at each stage exhibit specific characteristics. Montessori teachers use this information to create age-appropriate environments and lessons for their students.

Children in the elementary level are in the second plane of development, characterized by the “Elaboration of the Mind and Personality.” Elementary-aged children transition rapidly from concrete thinking to abstract reasoning, developing the ability to solve problems logically. They become more interested in the social world and are highly concerned with justice and fairness.

During the first three years of the elementary plane, lower elementary children are in the “period of construction” and are increasingly interested in comprehending how things work. They develop a strong moral sense and show an interest in culture. In the lower elementary classroom, their needs are met through extended opportunities for reading and writing, more involved group activities, and expanded projects.

In upper elementary, the second three years of the plane, children are in the “period of consolidation” and are working on integrating the lessons of the first three years. Upper elementary children begin to exhibit internal and external order, and the socially challenging behaviors of lower elementary children mature into a more serene and well-ordered nature. Children at this level are more focused, calm, and predictable. They have learned to resolve conflicts using logic and reason and understand things from their peers’ perspectives.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend,
Karen and Krystin

This Week in Upper El

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied together into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality…Before you finish breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize the basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Maria Montessori’s life spanned two world wars, and after the start of the Second World War, although she was already a promoter of peace, she became determined to educate the world about the vital connection between peace and education. She believed that if children grow up with a great respect for humanity, they won’t live in ways that destroy that humanity. They will develop a conscience and a feeling towards life and be incapable of cruelty. Montessori is known worldwide for her contribution to peace between nations; she spent many years laying the foundations of peace through education. Montessori classrooms must be nurturing, respectful, and inclusive places that celebrate our diversity.

I can honestly say that this diverse group of students would be a good model for many to follow in how to work together respectfully, peacefully, and productively. Peace education isn’t a separate curricular area for them. They continually learn to respect their peers’ physical space and collaborate respectfully as they move through each day. They have a powerful sense of peace and social justice at this age and are learning to view conflict as an opportunity for growth and leadership.

Wishing you a peaceful weekend,
Karen & Krystin

This Week in Upper El


Our classroom is buzzing with enthusiasm as we begin our Autobiography Project this week! Each student will be able to share their unique life story with the class through a written account of five chapters. These chapters will delve into their personal experiences, family background, thoughts, and aspirations for the future. This is a significant project for all of us, and we will dedicate the next seven weeks to it. Students will work on their autobiographies in class and at home, honing their writing skills and reflecting on their lives. Once the written portion is complete, they may create a slide presentation to accompany their oral presentation. This project will enhance their public speaking skills and create a treasured keepsake for each student to look back on.

In addition to our focused independent autobiography work this week, we had time to play in the snow and have other group and individual lessons. Geometry lessons focused on finding the area of an acute triangle. In grammar, we learned about indefinite, demonstrative, and possessive adjectives. Our biology lesson this week looked at the vital function of sensitivity.

This Week in Upper El

We had a great and busy week after our winter break. We have a new member in our classroom until the end of next week, Miss Alyssa, a college student studying to become an elementary teacher. She is observing my lessons and working with students during our work cycle. The children welcomed her and enjoyed the extra attention.

We had productive daily group and individual lessons this week. The fourth graders learned about proving equivalence between a trapezoid and a rectangle in geometry. The fifth graders learned how to find the area of a parallelogram.

In biology, we focused on the vital function of circulation and learned that there are two types of circulatory systems: open and closed. We compared the open circulatory system to a fountain and the closed system to a radiator. During their independent follow-up work, students will learn which animals have an open or closed system.

This week, the fourth graders learned about common and proper nouns in grammar work. The fifth graders started their lessons on adjectives, focusing on descriptive, article, and numeral adjectives.

In Literature Circle, students are finishing their book and are excited to start their next book, The Wild Robot Escapes, next week.

In anticipation of snow on the ground when we return to school next week, students will need snow boots, snow pants, winter jackets, hats, and gloves or mittens to enjoy recess in the snow. We go out to play when the temperature is 20 degrees or above, and we love to play in the snow!

This Week in Upper El

We had a fantastic and eventful week just before winter break. We want to extend heartfelt thanks to Rotem and Romy for their amazing and delicious Hanukkah presentation! We had a wonderful time and learned so much! We also had an enjoyable holiday concert, a cozy pajama day, and our Sneaky Snowball gift exchange. We had a blast making holiday decorations with Ms. Krystin. We even managed to fit in some lessons amidst all of the excitement!

We hope you have a wonderful holiday break filled with joyful family celebrations.

See you in the new year!

Lots of love,
Karen and Krystin