Upper El: International Day of Peace 2023

“We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.” -Dr. Maria Montessori

Every year, on the 21st of September, the International Day of Peace is observed worldwide. This day was established by the United Nations 42 years ago and is a reminder for all of us to commit to building a culture of peace. Montessori schools celebrate this day from New Zealand to Hawaii by singing for peace. Our school joined in on Thursday, with toddlers through eighth-grade gathering on the field to sing “Light a Candle For Peace” as a whole school. It was a beautiful celebration, with upper elementary and middle school students signing the lyrics while singing the song.

After our Peace Day gathering, Upper El students enthusiastically and sweetly volunteered to help some of our toddlers move from the field to the toddler playground, taking their hands and walking beside them. We also have some fifth-grade students volunteering daily to walk three-year-olds to dismissal and a waiting list of students who want to help next week. I am consistently impressed with their willingness to be helpful and kind. Our fourth- and fifth-grade students emerge as school leaders during their Upper Elementary years.

Another highlight of our week was a visit from guest speaker Kelsey Tainsh. Kelsey is a world champion athlete and acclaimed professional speaker who has survived two brain tumors, one at five and one at fifteen, and a stroke during her second surgery to remove her brain tumor. She inspires audiences through her life experience and met with Upper El and Middle School students, delivering her message of kindness, inclusion, and acceptance.

**A reminder that on Thursday, 9/28, we will travel to the Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport from 10 to 2 for a day of high ropes and fun! Closed-toed sneakers and a bagged lunch from home are needed. We have two parent volunteers and are happy to welcome more! Just let me know if you’d like to join us.

Wishing you a peaceful long weekend,

Karen and Deb

New Beginnings in Upper El

Welcome to a new school year, Upper Elementary families! We had a fantastic first two weeks filled with getting to know each other, sharing, and learning. We even had our first birthday breakfast. Thank you to Luke’s family for joining us and bringing delicious cookies!

We have enjoyed hearing book reports on the summer reading the students completed. Each child that was ready to share, read their book report and then answered questions from their classmates. It was fun to hear about the different genres and authors that students explored during their time off.

This week, we started our history, biology, geometry, math, and spelling lessons.  In history, we began learning about humans’ closest living relatives and where humans fit into the classification of life. We discovered that humans are vertebrates, mammals, and primates. In biology, we will be learning about the vital functions of animals this year. We started our lessons by looking at the classification system and five kingdoms of life. In geometry, fourth years learned about congruent, similar, and equivalent shapes. Fifth years learned to prove and define equivalence between a parallelogram and a rectangle. We also began individual lessons and work in spelling and math. Each student has their own spelling words and has met with me to determine where their math lessons begin this year. All students are already working hard and collaborating on research and other assignments with friends.

We’ve also had a lot of fun this week with group-building games, building our class playlist, and playing on the field, playground, and in the woods of the outdoor classroom.

We are looking forward to our first field trip of the year on September 28, from 10:00-2:00. We will be going to the Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport with Middle School to participate in their ropes course. Students will need a bagged lunch that day and should not bring anything that needs to be heated. I would love to have some parent volunteers join us on this trip. If you are interested, please send me an email. I will send each student’s waivers, which need to be signed, in a separate email.

Thank you for adhering to your child’s scheduled, staggered arrival and dismissal time. Unless your child has a sibling at the middle school level or you have registered for early drop-off, arrival for elementary is from 8:10 to 8:20, and dismissal is from 3:00 to 3:20. 

We are looking forward to seeing you next Thursday, September 21st, at 5:30 for Curriculum Night!

Have a wonderful weekend! For those celebrating Rosh Hashanah, Shanah Tovah!

Karen and Deb

Upper El: Have a great summer!

Thank you to every student for a fantastic year! Have an awesome summer. You earned it!

Thank you, Upper El families, for placing your beautiful children in our care!

A special thank you to the Januski family for caring for our cavies over the summer.

Wishing you a summer filled with endless adventures and joyful memories. We will miss you!

Karen and Angie

Spirit Week in Upper El

From Field Day in the gym and crazy spirit week themes to our last birthday breakfast, we have had a full week in Upper Elementary. Students brought their enthusiasm to school with them this week, and amazingly, they were somehow able to focus on some end-of-the-year assignments too.

With the smoky weather, we had Field Day inside this year. In the morning, Upper Elementary students ran field day for the primary children, facilitating games like a parachute, obstacle course, and bean bag toss. We ended the morning with a visit to the ice cream truck. In the afternoon, we had our turn at Field Day. Our games included tug-of-war, volleyball, crab soccer, and sack races, to name a few.

We celebrated June and summer birthdays on Friday with delicious fruit (thank you, Bordash family), pancakes, and music, including dancing to the always fun Cotton Eye Joe.

We will send our final blog post of the year next week with a little surprise video. Next week we will also be sending some information about summer work.

Upper El’s Week

We have come to the end of our week of standardized testing, and each student managed the change in routine like a pro. We started each day with recess, followed by yoga and our chapter book. After reading each day, we took two tests, with a break in between. Although a bit unfamiliar with the process, students got better each day. This is the practical life reason we do this testing.

Standardized tests, by nature, have limitations. They focus on assessing a narrow set of academic skills, primarily rote memorization and the regurgitation of information. This approach fails to acknowledge Montessori students’ unique strengths, interests, and talents. The Montessori method encourages children to explore their passions, make connections across subject areas, and develop a deep understanding of concepts through hands-on experiences, aspects of learning overlooked in the standardized testing format.

So, as we reflect on these four days of testing, we are reminded that true education encompasses far more than can be measured by this assessment. Instead, we celebrate the unique strengths and capabilities of our students, who are poised to positively impact the world, armed with a genuine love of learning and a holistic foundation of knowledge.

In that spirit, we share three poems written by Upper Elementary students.

Pet Goose, by Virginia
My pet goose
Somehow got loose
And took my boat
To go for a cruise.

Then my goose
Met a moose
And when the goose
Saw the moose
Goose ran
‘Cause the moose
Screws were loose.

The goose
Left and
He went on a cruise
And then
I never saw that goose again.

Ice Cream Day, by Mia
Yay, hooray, it’s ice cream day!
All the kids come out and play.
And when mothers call for the kids,
Everyone knows what time it is.

Mika, by Lulu
furry, playful, cute
like a pirate she likes her loot
which is usually her beef sticks
she’s really crazy about giving licks
she likes walking in the park
she has a very excited bark
when she’s excited she wags her tail
when she’s at training class she’ll never fail
but sometimes she’s a lot of work
especially when she got hurt
but overall she’s a lot of fun
she likes to chase birds in the sun
once she jumped in a river
but not to eat gross fish liver
sometimes she will bite
or stay up to beg for food all night
sometimes she looks like she is dancing
and if she’s proud she’ll start prancing


Upper El at Nature’s Classroom: Embracing the Great Outdoors

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” –Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Connection with nature and a sense of appreciation for the natural world is more important now than ever. This week, our experience at Nature’s Classroom was an excellent way to achieve this connection. For the last three days, we have been immersed in the great outdoors, having unforgettable experiences from nature hikes and fire-making to pond exploration, science quests, and connecting through quiet evening activities like quiet sing-alongs and a campfire.

One of the highlights of our trip was our nature hikes. With our experienced naturalists, we ventured into the woods, where we encountered an abundance of flora and fauna. Through these hands-on experiences, the children witnessed the beauty of the natural world up close, fostering their curiosity and deepening their understanding of ecological systems. From identifying different plant species to observing wildlife in their natural habitats, our hikes sparked a profound appreciation for the delicate balance of nature.

Another highlight was the art of fire-making. Upper El students learned this ancient skill using carbon and flint. Under the guidance of our skilled instructor, Ranger, they discovered the science behind fire ignition and understood how early humans harnessed this powerful element for survival. This activity instilled a sense of self-reliance and respect for the tools and knowledge passed down through generations.

Through our pond exploration, students explored the wonders of aquatic ecosystems. Armed with nets and buckets, they dove into the world of frogs, tadpoles, fish, dragonfly nymphs, and many other captivating macroscopic creatures. This activity helped us develop a sense of environmental stewardship and taught us the importance of protecting these delicate habitats.

Nature’s Classroom isn’t just about exploring nature but also about engaging in scientific inquiry. During our Science Quest, we participated in hands-on experiments that bridged the gap between theory and practice. We learned about air movement, what fire needs to burn, and the effect of releasing carbon dioxide in a closed container. These activities encouraged critical thinking, problem-solving, and a deeper understanding of scientific concepts.

Our trip to Nature’s Classroom was an exceptional experience of connecting with nature and each other. Thank you for allowing your children to share this with us!

Have a great weekend,
Karen and Angie

Upper El at the New York Botanical Gardens

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” -Rachel Carson

Sometimes the best way to learn is through real-world experiences. So this week, we enjoyed stepping out of the classroom and onto a train for our trip to the New York Botanical Gardens for an immersive educational adventure. Keeping with our current botany unit on the vital functions of plants, our focus for this trip was on the fascinating world of native plants.

Excitement was in the air as we boarded the train bound for New York. For some of us, it was our first experience traveling by train. After switching trains once, we arrived in the Bronx, home to the 250-acre Botanical Gardens. Led by our guide Sebastian, we went on a guided tour that took us through various ecosystems found within the gardens. From lush forests to serene meadows, we discovered the diversity of native plants and the vital roles they play in sustaining our environment.

Upper El students were encouraged to engage with the natural world by examining plant specimens up close. At the same time, they learned to identify different species and understand their unique characteristics. Through these examinations, we gained a deeper appreciation for nature’s intricate design. The native plant garden showcased the beauty and importance of indigenous flora. We learned about the significance of preserving native plants and their role in supporting local wildlife. We explored the concept of conservation and discussed ways to contribute to protecting and restoring natural habitats in our community.

This journey to the New York Botanical Gardens allowed Upper El students to develop a sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural world. In addition, it gave them tangible experiences that will leave a lasting impression and inspire a lifelong commitment to environmental stewardship. Thank you very much to Sarah, Jennifer, and Eric for accompanying us on this trip!

Wishing you a delightful weekend,
Karen and Angie

Upper El Botanists

We have had a busy week of botany experiments, research presentations, collaborative work, and fun!

In their work with the Vital Functions of Plants, Upper El students completed five different science experiments. For the five experiments, each student sketched a diagram of the experiment, described the process in their collection of data, and formed a hypothesis about the outcome of each experiment and their opinion of why the outcome was what it was.

In their work, they learned that plants have a sense for water, growing toward it and reaching out, knowing which way to go. They discovered that roots will push through, around, and over rocks, sidewalks, and driveways, and when pushing through isn’t possible, roots find other ways to get water, forming root hairs. These root hairs are so small they can grow between tiny particles of soil, absorbing the thin film of water that surrounds each grain. They then compared roots that form in water and roots that form root hairs. Students tested the acidity of the root hairs and learned that the root hairs change the chemistry of the soil, making it acidic and helping to break up rocks and absorb more nutrients. In our next set of lessons, students are learning about circulation and the upward flow of water in plants. The first of these lessons focused on root pressure and the theory that liquids are pushed up the plant’s stem and pumped up from below. We will finish this set of lessons and experiments next week.

We are happy to share that ALL Upper El students will attend our big trip to Nature’s Classroom from May 24 through 26. The final cost of this trip, including the bus, is $398. 

I leave you with this thought for Mother’s Day weekend. “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dates all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” -Agatha Christie

Wishing you a weekend filled with love,
Karen and Angie