Starting out the week, students got a closer look at plants in preparation for our up-coming “Leaf Walk” fieldtrip! Hopefully, you noticed their “Parts of a Plant” artwork on the bulletin board. They will be learning about plants and leaves in more depth throughout the next couple of weeks. Also, this week, students are playing games and hearing stories in relation to “The Noun” to kick off our initial steps into the Grammar Boxes. The Grammar Boxes have activities that solidify the function of each word in a sentence. Including the activities the student completes with his or her friends, the students are learning to symbolize each word, leading to Sentence Analyses which helps us know what our options are to building interesting and varying sentence structures that will develop into your child’s writing “style” and the capability of understanding others’ styles.
A highlight this week is budding new research by students. Students have really enjoyed all of our new reference and non-fiction books that several families have donated. The pictures with the information are outstanding! Thank you for supporting our student’s quest for knowledge. Another highlight is our students who have elected to join dance. The music has started grooving and students have been busting out the moves in the gym already! We will get to enjoy their preparations at the next school performance event.
Constructing the Elementary classroom to meet the needs of the Elementary student, one will often view the Elementary classroom as a flexible workshop or laboratory for experimenting, imagination and exploration. The classroom as a whole has been conducting the first experiment that highlights the Needs of Plants. Each plant of the four plants potted for the experiment were labeled to track the outcome of the results of the exclusion of heat, light and water, each, separately. They have found that heat is one of the most critical aspects that can determine the success of a plant to live. The plant that had heat taken away did not last the weekend! As stewards of the earth, our class saved the plant and it is happily prospering as new greenery in our environment.
This week many students have begun Fractions lessons and continue to progress in all the other areas in lessons. Also, our class went on our very first official fieldtrip: The Leaf Walk at Holden Arboretum. Holden Arboretum is considered the largest outdoor Museum or collection of trees and woody plants in the entire United States. The students rode the public school bus, some for the very first time! Using a map and clues, students found the correct trees and collected one leaf from the ground that belonged to that tree. Discussions about the correct identification and interesting facts about some of the trees were enjoyed by all along the path. The classroom leaf collection returned to the school with the students to be used as a more in-depth research project of the leaves by all the students.
Monday was a busy day as students showed mastery, explored art projects, learned a new song and took Spelling quizzes. This day of the week often is the most productive day of the week as students seem to dive into work as if they miss the classroom and their work time. They also look forward to our Community Meeting on Mondays where we come together as a community and decide how to deal with issues during the week, make exciting announcements of opportunities and have voting rights to make important decisions. Recently, many sign-up sheets have been made available for students, by students, to hold a Fall Festival, join a book club, to perform in a play and many others. Our students are confident in their interests and their abilities to lead others!
Surprisingly, our students rescued another plant from our on-going experiment. The plant without water had sunk so low, students were worried that it could not be saved but they found that the plant stood up half way by the next morning with a drink of water! Discussions of the length of time the plant could last without additional water compared to the lack of heat created some debate and theories about the plants’ needs.
Along the lines of looking at our environment, How Wolves Change Rivers was an interesting short film students viewed Monday. Students were amazed by the immense impact of reintroducing the wolf back into the Yellowstone Park after many years of humans ridding the area of wolves. The plant and animal life completely changed in a positive way and in turn, the geography of the land and river changed. A lesson in how connected we all really are! Check out the video online: http://youtube.com/watch?v=ysa50BhXz-Q.
In Math, Squaring lessons have been enjoyed by some students interested in new materials in the classroom that were not available last year. Squaring lessons are closely related to the Multiples lessons in that students start seeing that one Math concept is the same but used in a different perspective, over and over again. Squaring and Cubing lessons will then lead the students to see the connections over time to Powers and other advanced Math offered in the Montessori classroom.
“If the idea of the universe be presented to the child in the right way, it will do more for him than just arouse his interest, for it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying. The child’s mind then will become fixed and can work. The knowledge he then acquires is organized and systematic; his intelligence becomes whole and complete because of the vision of the whole that has been presented to him and his interest spreads to all, for all are linked, and have their place in the universe on which his mind is centered. (Montessori, Maria 1973 To Educate the Human Potential Kalakshetra Press, India)”.
In preparation to our first visit of the Tallmadge library next week, student leaf/tree research projects are under way! Many students have already started collecting facts about their special leaf that they selected and others look forward to searching for books at the library. Each student will complete one research project alone and two research projects with a team. The class project will be bound into a book that will feature a hands-on leaf and tree matching game.
Our annual Halloween party planners kicked it into gear this week, preparing games, crafts and food for all to enjoy! Halloween celebrations began with two costume parades and a community lunch with fun yet creepy food. The students bowled, pinned the hat on the witch, raced in relay races sweeping pumpkins and carrying candy corn on spoons in the gym. Everyone entered the donut eating contest that was sticky and hilarious. The day ended with three spectacular crafts: a spider on a web, a walking spider and a bat-like monster! Boo!
For October the Grade 1 and 2 class continued to practice words related to the family. In order to reinforce the family vocabulary, the students learned about a real family that lived in the Roman town of Vindolanda in northern Britain. For a supplement, they also looked at a video and pictures from the archaeological site of Vindolanda and from Hadrian’s Wall.
The Grade 3 and 4 class learned the terms subject, verb, and direct object.
The students translated short sentences on flash cards and were able to identify these grammatical terms successfully. In addition, they watched a short video showing a modern version of a Roman banquet.
In the first two months, the physical education program has already embarked on a plethora of sports. We kicked off the year with a game of capture the flag – it’s an all-time favorite and a great way to get all the kids excited about movement.
A rainy Friday lent itself to a nice indoor game of hockey. The gym was transformed into a hockey rink which even included penalty boxes…its not hockey without a penalty box, right? I can already see growth in the returning students. Last year the students only scored one goal during our field hockey games and this year we had well over ten goals…amazing!
A great addition this year will be our ‘field trips” to the park around the corner from the school. We already ventured there this fall, playing a game that combines both tennis and baseball. All the kids enjoyed the twist on baseball by hitting the ball with a tennis racquet.
Track and field heats up with a tight race for “fastest kid in the class.” Maddie was the undisputed champ last year but many other students have increased their speed over the summer and are giving her a run for her money. Something tells me Maddie will be ready to run during our next timed event.
We have some fun field trips scheduled for this year. Our first is coming up soon with a trip to the Football Hall of Fame. I look forward to learning all about the history of the NFL with the kids.