A Peek at Our Week | Week of September 4th

This week we continued our work, Great Lessons, and team building. We finished our Great Lessons with The Story of Numbers which talks about the history of number systems from ancient civilizations to modern day. We began our supplemental Great Lessons by discussing The Story of Geometry and The Story of the Babylonians. Students were assessed on their Spelling skills this week and began Reading Group. Two of our reading groups are reading short stories, one group is reading “The Mouse and the Motorcycle,” and another is reading “The Secret Garden.”

To begin exploring the Solar System, students chose a planet or star they would like to represent. We made a model to represent the distance of planets from the sun using the scale 1 step = 36 million miles. The student that chose Neptune had to take 78 steps from the student representing the sun to show that Neptune is 2.8 billion miles away! After making our model, we discussed information about each planet.





Dr. Montessori believed in giving Elementary students a “Cosmic Education” where they are introduced to real specimens for a deeper understanding and to recognize the interrelationship of all living things. Montessori classrooms have pets and plants to learn from and to care for. Each day students are responsible for feeding, replacing water, and maintaining a clean habitat for our guinea pig, fish, ants, and snake. This student is replacing Kernel’s water after washing his dish. He also misted Kernel’s habitat to help him as he prepares to shed! getting the best filter water from https://www.aquaoxfilters.com/product/whole-house-water-filtration-system/ would be the best option here with no doubt.




These first-year students are working together on the 8 Bead Chain. Bead Chains are a material used in Primary, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary classrooms, in different ways. After gathering all of their materials and placing the arrows as they did in the Primary room, these students began recording the multiples of eight. They made it up to the equation 8 x 22 and are still working!




Students in Montessori classrooms are encouraged to follow their interests. In the Elementary classroom, this is often seen through independent research. Students are able to take the time to do independent research because these projects incorporate many skills at once. By the time this student’s shark research is completed and presented, the student will have used skills from language, grammar, biology, geography, spelling, handwriting, and public speaking.


A Peek into Next Week
Next week we will begin Spelling and Handwriting lessons. New students will begin lowercase cursive handwriting while returning students are moving on to uppercase cursive letters. We have optional Taekwondo and Dance Demos next week. Students will be studying nouns, taxonomy of vertebrates, landforms, the Pythagorean Theorem, and much more!

REMINDER: The STEM Program Meeting is Tuesday, September 12, at 5:30 p.m., in the Elementary Room. Please let us know if you are attending!

A Peek at Our Week | Week of August 28th

The first two weeks in a Montessori Elementary Classroom are typically spent sharing time between working and team building. As many of you have seen in your own children, the Second Plane of Development (ages 6-12) is a time of great interest in social interaction. Dr. Montessori recognized this time as a crucial period for learning how to interact with others personally and professionally, and believed this should be valued and nurtured just as much as academic development. This first week we have explored Montessori’s Great Lessons about the coming of the universe, life, humans, and language. We have reviewed some of our skills from last year, have had returning students explain new Elementary work to first year students, and have learned how to communicate as a team!

This student is working to read numbers on our Checkerboard. The Checkerboard is a Montessori Math Material that allows students to multiply up to a nine-digit multiplicand by up to a four-digit multiplier. Each square on the Checkerboard represents a certain place value. After this student is comfortable reading numbers into the hundred millions, he will beginning multiplying using our Montessori Bead Bars. The Checkerboard will allow him to practice his multiplication facts and feel confident in place value before abstractly multiplying on paper.


Montessori designed the Great Lessons to capture the imagination of the Elementary child. These lessons give a broad introduction to the concepts students will study in detail throughout their time in Elementary. We begin with the largest idea (the universe) and move into stories about the beginning of language and numbers. It is a right of passage for Upper Elementary students to take part in presenting this information to their younger peers.



 These students are demonstrating a playground conflict. Students split into three groups and shared the right and wrong way to handle different situations in the classroom, on the playground, or at home. We practiced using our Conflict Resolution Card which helps students independently work through disagreements at school by using “I-Messages” and coming up with a solution together. Using student skits and teacher modeling is a large part of introducing and reminding students of rules and routines.


 One of our team building activities was called “Perimeter Pass.” Students had to pass a ball, using only their legs, to the child on their right. Once a child passed the ball, they had to run to the end of the line to wait for their next turn. Students had to communicate to the person next to them in order to be successful. These activities build community and leadership skills that are necessary at school and at home. Our students made it completely around the gym!





A Peek into Next Week
Next week we will be finishing up our Great Lessons and learning about their supplementary lessons like “The Story of Geometry,” which discusses how the rope stretchers of Ancient Egypt used right-angled triangles to section off property around the Nile. We will be diving into new lessons and Reading Group. Students will also have their Spelling Assessment.


Reminder: There is NO SCHOOL Monday for Labor Day.


Explorations of Elementary 2017 May-June Newsletter

Explorations of Elementary 2017 May Newsletter

We wrapped up the year with a lot of great projects. The students have worked hard all year and continued that hard work this month to present research to each other. We worked on number lines, learned about the layers of soil and science stations in Antarctica, performed for our grandparents, and ate lunch prepared by our classmates on a budget.



Our students practiced their piano, recorder, and Latin skills in preparation for Grandparents Day! Our students that take lessons, played a few songs on the piano for all of the grandparents. All students played songs on the recorder in groups. To showcase their Latin skills, they shared information about the Solar System and Roman Numerals and performed some short skits about gods and goddesses. Students then presented classroom materials to their grandparents and explained what they work on during the day. Thank you to all the grandparents that were able to make it! The students love sharing their knowledge.



Three of our students learned about budgeting this month. They practiced keeping track of spending with an allowance and determined the difference in what things we need and what things we want. To put this skill to use, our students made a grocery list and traveled to the store to purchase supplies to make lunch for their classmates. These students planned so well that they came in over $10 under budget! The day after their trip, these students prepared macaroni and cheese, grapes, carrots, gummies, and ice cream for their classmates. All students enjoyed having a meal made by their friends.



Our first-year students have been learning about Simple Machines for the last several weeks. After learning about them and practicing with our classroom material, they prepared to build their own machine. Each student needed to draw a sketch and make a list of supplies before building their machine. They collected supplies and got to work building. When their machines were built, they made Science Experiment Cards that listed the supplies, procedures, what would be observed, the explanation, and the cleanup process. The first-year students presented these machines to the class in small groups, then had them available for practice.



While our first years were studying Simple Machines, our second, third, and fourth year students learned the geographic features of the Earth. These students put their knowledge together to create an imaginary island using at least 10 of the features they had studied. After drawing the outline of their island, students colored and labeled the features based on a theme (Elements, Universal Studios, etc.). Some of these students traced their island on graph paper and cut it apart until they had formed a rectangle. From this new rectangle, they were able to find a base and height for the area of their island. Other students answered questions about their island, its inhabitants, and its climate. One student wrote the history of her island and wrote an anthem with a friend. I hope all of you took the time to check out this great work.



Field Day was an exciting end-of-the-year adventure. We attended Ms. Courtney’s talent show, played board games, card games, group games and video games with the best gaming mouse for cs go. We were able to enjoy the weather by eating lunch outside. After lunch, we had a boys v. girls water balloon and water gun fight. We went down the water slide with Ms. Courtney’s friends! After our fun in the water, we came in to have treats and enjoy a movie.


Thank you for such a great year. Have a relaxing summer! See you in August!




Explorations of Elementary 2017 April Newsletter

Explorations of Elementary 2017 April Newsletter

We were busy preparing for the International Festival this month, but had plenty of time to work, experiment, and take care of our environment, inside and out! This month we had a student create and laminate a lesson about foxes, had a week of Earth Day activities, completed plant experiments, baked and build our Periodic Table out of cookies, and spent time in the garden!

There are many things we love about our Montessori classroom, but one of the best parts has to be when students take the initiative to create something to share their knowledge with others. A second-grade student is fascinated by foxes. She wanted to create a way to share her knowledge with others. She researched the few things she did not already know and created a fox fact card game inspired by a capitals of South America card game where students “slapped” the answer. She drew and colored each type of fox and wrote a matching fact card for the fox drawings. After double checking and correcting any spelling or grammatical errors, she laminated her work to prepare it for lessons. Finally, this student was ready to present her lesson to friends. She called students to the lesson, had them record it on their work plans, then presented her knowledge. Students are always excited to learn from each other and are respectful participants!

This month first year students enjoyed their science experiments! These students brought in leaves to do a leaf rubbing to label all of the parts. We then crushed the leaves in a mortar and pestle. After crushing our leaves, we added them to a glass with rubbing alcohol. In the days that followed we observed that the alcohol broke down the chlorophyll leaving us with the colors these leaves would have turned in the Fall. After about a week, our leaves were all brown.

These students also performed another Energy Transformation experiment. This time we used water and an egg beater. We started with cold water, made a hypothesis, and continued to use the egg beater until we heated the water!

Second year students continued their rock and mineral research by making rain sticks. They learned about Tibetan rain sticks and different places around the world that used rain sticks before the science was created to predict the weather. Students decorated their rain sticks with markers, ribbons, and feathers. It ended up raining the day we made them!

These students also created “Layers of the Soil” booklets and collected soil samples. In May, they will be doing an experiment to see the different layers and types of soil they have collected from around the school.

The week before Earth Day, we talked about how we can make a difference, even as Elementary children. On our first day, we discussed littering and cleaned up the yard next to the school. Students were so excited to make a difference, that they asked to continue cleaning up litter during their recess! On the second day, we talked about oil spills and how people try to help the animals that were harmed in the spill. We did an experiment with oil, water, and feathers. Each student dipped a feather in oil, then tried rinsing it off with just water, which is all many animals would have to try to clean themselves, and found this wouldn’t work. We then used dish soap to clean the feathers and talked about the steps taken to try to heal these animals. Another day we did some weeding in our garden and planted bee-friendly flowers. We also wrote pledges to take care of the Earth.

Our second, third, and fourth year students have been working with the Bohr Diagram to build elements from the Periodic Table. Students chose at least 25 elements to build and record. After a few months of practice, we decided to build our own Periodic Table out of cookies! Students had to measure and mix all of their ingredients. They cut and kept track of cookies. Students mixed and dyed frosting. After all the dishes were washed and the table was assembled, each student was responsible for labeling atomic number, chemical symbol, and atomic mass of 15-20 cookies using food dye markers. These students were so proud of their hard work and tasty cookies! Thank you to everyone that stopped by to try them!

Here’s to a marvelous May!




Explorations of Elementary May 2017 Overview

Explorations of Elementary May 2017 Overview


  • Our first-year students will present their Simple Machines to the class in small group lessons. Students will be invited to repeat these lessons as a work choice. First year students will also begin studying how animals satisfy their needs and how scientists classify animals. These students will create a chart comparing external characteristics of vertebrates and invertebrates.
  • Second year students will be focusing on many physical science experiments this month. They will experiment with surface tension, fountains, and a water pressure column.
  • Third year students will focus on internal systems of birds and mammals and will compare and contrast all the internal systems of vertebrates. Third years will also learn about the Roman Arch.
  • Students researching the human body will complete their project this month and have it available for display before the end of the school year.
  • Fourth year students will finish up research on the five kingdoms by comparing and contrasting all groups. These students will study etymologies and figures of speech.
  • We will be studying the continent of Antarctica. We will discuss the scientists there, learn about its flag, and create a self-test to assess our knowledge.
  • Math and Language lessons are given to children based on individual needs, instead of age level.

Reading Groups

  • One group is reading Ramona and Beezus. A second group is reading the first book from the Ivy and Bean Another group is reading A Series of Unfortunate Events: Carnivorous Carnival. The fourth group is finishing up Maniac Magee and moving on to The Phantom Tollbooth.
  • For Writer’s Workshop this month we will continue our work with “All Abouts.” Students will be writing about partners and themselves.

Spelling Groups

  • The first group will be working on /air/ and /are/ words, /ow/, /ou/, /oi/, and /oy/ words, homophones, and silent letters. The second and third group are working on compound words, words that end in y, and plurals. The fourth group is working on long I spellings, long o spellings, long u and /oo/ spellings, and r controlled vowels. The fifth group will work on tough short vowel sounds and challenging long vowel sounds. All groups will do a Spelling assessment at the end of May.
  • The homework for the month of May will be creating a Word Search. We will be sending home your child’s list of words and a sheet of graph paper for this search. Please assist your child by finding their words before each Monday!

Field Trips and Special Events

  • May 11: Grandparents Day 12:45-2:30
    • Students will be playing recorder and piano, performing short skits from what they’ve learned in Latin, completing a class activity, and then can end the day at the Book Fair with their grandparents!
  • May 12: Moms and Muffins
  • May 29: Memorial Day – NO SCHOOL
  • June 1: Field Day, Last Day of School (No Aftercare)
  • June 2: Kindergarten Graduation



Explorations of Elementary 2017 March Newsletter

March was a busy month preparing for our World’s Fair. Students researched fourteen different points about their chosen country. While researching, students kept their information on note cards in their research folders. Students then used those note cards to write a research paper, make a cover page, and complete a bibliography. After their research was complete, students had to sketch the layout of their trifold including the title of their country, a map of the country, the flag of the country, and other interesting photos or facts. After planning students created their trifold and then practiced presenting their information to each other.

On the evening of our World’s Fair, students were excited to come in costume and to present their research to families and friends. They took breaks to see the work of their friends and try some of the Chinese rice a student prepared!

This month first year students began researching simple machines. They learned simple machines help make work easier for us. They researched inclined planes, screws, wedges, pulleys, lever, and wheels and axles. After learning about each simple machine, students thought of examples for each machine. They then took turns using our simple machine materials to build each type. In April, these students will choose a machine and build it themselves.

Our second year students continued their rock research with a sugar cube experiment. They reviewed the rock cycle and the three types of rocks at the beginning of their sugar lab. Each student took a sugar cube, to represent our sedimentary rocks, then crushed it using a hammer to turn it into sediments.  After crushing each cube, the students had to build a foil boat or pan for their smashed cube. They held their foil pan over a candle flame to melt the sugar. The melted sugar represented magma. After the magma cooled, we discovered this was like an igneous rock. Students decided to redo this experiment many times to see what consistencies they could make!

This month we welcomed our first kindergarten visitors! Each visitor is partnered up with an Elementary child. This child is the guide during the week visit. Our guides are responsible for giving their kindergarten visitor a tour of the classroom and an explanation of the way to do things in the classroom. These guides help the kindergarten students make work choices and answer any questions they may have. This gives the guides an opportunity to be leaders academically and socially to help the visiting students.

We enjoyed Pajama Day before Spring Break! We watched “Homeward Bound” in the morning. In the afternoon, our students made s’mores together from a homemade “cooker” that a student created after our sugar cube experiment. We had a dance party and played board games. Our students were also excited to be able to enjoy outdoor gym class! When you exercise and want to get your muscles relaxed don’t forget to get very effective natural muscle relaxants!

We are looking forward to April with you!




Explorations of Elementary April 2017 Overview

Explorations of Elementary April 2017 Overview


  • Our first-year students will continue their study of Simple Machines by constructing their own machine. Each student will also write an experiment card for their fellow students to be able to use their machine.
  • Second year students will move into the study of main characteristics of vertebrates. This will help them at the end of the year to make a Venn Diagram with the third year students about vertebrates and invertebrates. They will also focus their polygon study on triangles for this month.
  • Third year students will begin an in-depth study of the different groups of the plant kingdom.
  • Students researching the human body will finish up with organs and discuss our largest organ, the skin.
  • Students have been separated into two groups for the International Festival. Two second year students are in charge of each group. One group has chosen to research Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, and the other, Immortal Bridge in China. These groups will write a research paper, create a model of their landmark, and prepare a presentation.
  • We will be studying the continent of Australia. We will look at the currency of Australia, a timeline of the history of Australia, and creating Aboriginal Dot Art.
  • Math and Language lessons are given to children based on individual needs, instead of age level.

Reading Groups

  • Two groups are reading different chapter books from the Junie B. Jones series. A third group completed Bunnicula and is beginning a book from A Series of Unfortunate Events. The fourth group is continuing Hidden Figures and will have a special presentation for the International Festival.
  • For Writer’s Workshop this month we will finish our study of fairy tales. We will begin writing “All Abouts.” Our “All Abouts” will focus on different types of animals. Students will write everything they know about the animal of their choice, then will work with a partner to edit their work.

Spelling Groups

  • Our first group will continue their work reviewing long vowel spellings with long i, long o, and long u. The second groups will focus on silent letters, /aw/ spellings, and /s/ and /j/ spellings. The third group is completing the red level with contractions and moving on to study challenging long vowel words in the orange level. The final spelling group will study suffixes, doubling final consonants, contractions, and complete a final review of their level.
  • The homework for the month of March will be rhyming words for groups 1, 2, and 3. These groups need to write each spelling word once, then two words that rhyme with each word. Groups 4 and 5 will be doing “Code Words.” These students need to create a code for each letter and write their words using the code. The codes can be a symbol for each letter or a number for each letter.

Field Trips and Special Events

  • April 7: Dads and Donuts from 7-7:45am
  • April 7: Laser Quest Gym Field Trip
  • April 14-17: Easter Break – NO SCHOOL
  • April 19: International Festival Rehearsal
  • April 21: International Festival



Explorations of Elementary February Newsletter

Explorations of Elementary February Newsletter

February was a month full of science experiments in our classroom.  While we conduct experiments each month, these experiments seemed to be class favorites.  We began the month with an experiment to determine if beans are monocot or dicots and ended the month studying the cooling process of the body.  In our anatomy lessons, some students continued their study with adding information about the brain and spinal cord, while others put together a child-sized skeleton and labeled its parts.  In Biology, we studied a food web and the interconnectivity of all things on Earth. These name labels are the best for both scholar supplies and projects.

For our experiment about monocots and dicots, we used dried cannellini beans.  We used two beans for each student.  We put one bean in a damp paper towel and hung them in a sunny window to try to grow.  We also did an experiment to try to sprout a seed using the carbon dioxide and saliva in our mouths.  We had to soak the beans overnight in a cup of water, then the next day we placed the beans under our tongues.  We had to keep our mouths closed for 30 minutes!  Some beans were sprouted the next day, some a few days later, and some not at all.  From the growth of both sets of beans, we determined that beans are dicots.

All students participated in our Human Body: Cooling Process experiment.  We used our indoor thermometer for the experiment.  After waiting for the thermometer to reach room temperature, we soaked the bulb in rubbing alcohol.  We then took turns blowing on the bulb of the thermometer.  After about 15 puffs of air, we noticed a drop in the temperature.  We discussed that this is similar to our body producing sweat.  Blowing on the bulb made the liquid rubbing alcohol change to gas and evaporate, taking some heat with it.  Sweat on our bodies also takes heat away from our skin.  Students have tried this experiment over and over.  The most drastic drop in temperature was 4 degrees!

In preparation of our Elementary World’s Fair, we dove right into our 14-Point Study of a country of each child’s choice. Throughout the month, we have listened to traditional music from each country during our research.  Students researched 14 different topics like regions, climate, food, invasions, flora, and fauna.  Students recorded all of this information on note cards.  The next step is writing their research paper, complete with title page and bibliography.  Students will then create a trifold board to display their findings.  Make sure to stop by our World’s Fair on Tuesday, March 7, at 6 pm.

Our second years continued their study of geographic features and rocks by forming different features out of clay.  The students chose geographic features that are located in their country for the World’s Fair.  They have painted their features and will have them on display for you at our event!

Our students studying the body focused on the brain and spinal cord this month.  We learned the different parts of the brain and what they control without our body.  We learned what the spinal cord helps us do and how it works with the brain.  We created a spinal cord model using yarn and paper vertebrae.  Students have continued adding their research to their body model.

Two of our students have created a book club for our class.  At Community Meeting, they shared their idea, the rules for the club, and asked who would like to sign up.  Each Tuesday and Wednesday, our students meet from 9:00-9:30 for Book Club.  They vote on which book to read and take turns reading.  After reading, they discuss what they just read and what might happen next.  This group gives students the opportunity to take on different social roles, which is a need Elementary-aged children have.  Being in different groups and clubs, having different roles in those clubs, and following through with the responsibility of being a member prepares children for different work and social situations they will experience as older children and adults.

Kernel shed again this month!  He has grown about 14 inches since we first got him in the fall.  He is now 22 inches long and eats three mice each week.  Our students enjoy petting him and watching him grow.

For our Valentine’s Day Party, we enjoyed cooking together we even got the best utensils for it from the Ivy and Wilde homeware store online.  We made rolled out dough, spread on sauce, sprinkled cheese, and added toppings before baking our heart-shaped pizzas.  We prepared our fruit by washing and chopping grapes and strawberries for everyone to share.  The most exciting part for everyone was making Rice Krispy treats.  We melted our marshmallows and butter on the stove then mixed it together with our Rice Krispies cereal.  The students enjoyed pressing it into the pan.  After cooking together, some students washed dishes while others set the places at our tables.  Sharing these chores helps students become responsible and caring of our environment and each other.

After our lunch together, we played games.  We did a cupid’s arrow contest blowing q-tips out of a straw into a bowl.  The team that got the most q-tips in the bowl in one minute was the winner!  We also played a math facts “sumo wrestling” game.  Two students stood on either side of a rug, back to back.  Math facts were read to the students and the first to answer correctly took a step back.  Once students were heel to heel, they used their bodies to move each other off the mat.  Everyone thought this was a blast!  After our games, the students went to gym.  When they returned, we opened our valentines and shared treats with each other.

We are excited for March with all of our families!




Explorations of Elementary March 2017 Overview

Explorations of Elementary March 2017 Overview


  • Our first-year students will begin a study of simple machines. During this study, they will learn different simple machines, how they work, and how we use them in daily life.  These students will each build their own simple machine at the end of our study.
  • Second year students will put together their knowledge of parts of the flower, monocots and dicots, types of stems, parts of the seed, and different leaf blades to study completeness of flowers.
  • Third year students will begin studying internal systems of vertebrates.
  • Students researching the human body will discuss muscles and the circulatory systems.
  • All students will begin research of landmarks formed naturally from rocks for our International Festival.
  • We will be studying the continent of Asia. We will look at objects and photos from Asia and will talk about many of its capital cities.
  • Math and Language lessons are given to children based on individual needs, instead of age level.

Reading Groups

  • One of our groups will begin reading the Frog and Toad series. Another group will continue My Father’s Dragon.  A third group will be reading Bunnicula. Our last group will be reading Hidden Figures and creating a timeline of the events from this true story.
  • For Writer’s Workshop this month we will study and write fairy tales. We will review popular fairy tales, then in our writing we will change roles of characters and change the problem in different stories.  We will also write our own fairy tale at the end of our study.

Spelling Groups

  • Group 1 will be reviewing all different short vowel sounds, long a spellings, long e spellings, and long i spellings. In class, one activity will be a short/long vowel reference chart where they will draw an example of each short/long vowel sound.  Their other activity will be drawing configurations of each word.
  • Group 2 and 3 will be working on -air, -ear, and -are words, /ow/ and /oi/ words, homophones, and silent letters. This group will be writing silly sentences about each word and writing word cousins.  Word cousins are a list of words that hint at the meaning of each word.
  • Group 4 will be working on prefixes, suffixes, doubling of consonants, and contractions. An activity for this group will be to write true and false questions for another member of their group.  The other activity will be to type each word three times on the computer.
  • Group 5 will be working on adding endings to words that end in e, prefixes, and suffixes. The activities this group will be doing are typing their words on the computer and making a chart of different endings, suffixes, and prefixes.
  • The homework for the month of March will be “Waterfall Writing.” This means writing a word beginning with one letter on the first line, then two letters on the second line, and so on.  An example will come home with their homework the first week.

Field Trips and Special Events

  • March 7: Elementary World’s Fair at 6pm.
    • Each child has prepared a research report and display board for a country of their choice. Each child will dress in a costume from their country and explain their findings as you stop by their stand.  Feel welcome to invite family and friends!  Our students have been working so hard!
  • March 13: Our kindergarten students will begin visiting. Some of our students have been paired up to help them and make them feel comfortable in our environment.  This is a great opportunity for even our youngest students to be role models for our visitors!
  • March 14: Cleveland Metro Parks Farmpark Field Trip.
    • Please dress appropriately for the weather. We will be outside almost the entire time we are there.
    • Please pack a disposable lunch in disposable containers.
    • If you have volunteered to drive, you will receive an email soon about which children will be riding in your vehicle, along with directions and the time to arrive, and you need the right maintenance such as an oil change that you could get at sites like http://www.atloceanside.com.
  • March 18: Father/Daughter, Mother/Son School Dance 2-4pm
  • March 24: Pajama Day
  • March 27-31: Spring Break



Explorations of Elementary 2017 January Newsletter

Explorations of Elementary 2017 January Newsletter

We are already a month into 2017, and the students are right back to working hard!  We have had a wonderful month together with exciting, new lessons and practicing our favorite materials from before break.  The Bohr Diagram, using the microscope, and Writer’s Workshop inspired a lot of great learning this month!

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Our field trip to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History was something the students have been looking forward to for a while.  Our tour guide, an archaeologist, was very knowledgeable, patient, and funny.  We started our trip looking at animal fossils that were found in Ohio.  During this part of our fossil workshop, our guide taught us the difference between mastodons and mammoths.  We were even able to hold the fossilized tooth of a mammoth and feel the ridges in the molars where they ground up grass.


While moving through the museum, we talked about different plant and animal life throughout different time periods.  Our guide explained to us that paleontologists and archaeologists use fossils to learn what adaptations animals had, what they ate, what their environment was like, and how they perished.  We also learned how fossils are found, how they are named, and how different museums can share, or trade, fossils.  We were able to hold dinosaur coprolite (from the Greek words Kopros Lithos, meaning “dung stone”) and part of a rib from a dinosaur, probably a long-necked herbivore, that was 150 million years old.

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After our fossil tour and workshop, we enjoyed lunch together, then were able to explore other exhibits on our own.  Our first years are studying the planets, so we made sure to check out information about the formation of the universe and see pictures from the surface of Mars.

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Our second years are studying rocks, so we stopped by the layers of the earth, rock formation, and crystal formation exhibits.

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Our final stop was the exhibit about early humans, and how humans have changed over time, to enrich the study that our fourth years are doing.  After the visit to the museum, we made fossils of our own!

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In the classroom, we have focused on memorization of multiplication facts with the first-year students.  Maria Montessori believed this had to be done before age 8 to really be internalized.  We show students a variety of ways to practice their math facts, so it is interesting, instead of a chore.  Some students have used the Multiplication Finger Charts, some work with bead bars, and some with the Stamp Game.  Having a variety of ways to learn a skill ensures that students can learn something essential to further education in the best way for their learning style.  Having a variety, also allows students to not get bored and to feel confident in their abilities with a material that is just right for them.  To quote Maria Montessori, “Free choice is the highest of all mental processes.”

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Older students have been working with decimal fractions in a variety of ways.  Some students have learned how to read decimal numbers, and build them with our materials, while others are multiplying decimal numbers.

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Our students studying the body focused on the digestive system this month.  We did an experiment using soap, a cotton ball, milk, and food dye to show how bile breaks down fat in your stomach.  We talked about the parts of the digestive system and how they work together to deliver us the nutrients we need from our food.  Along with this, our first-year students practiced reading food labels to find out what in their lunch was the healthiest, and what they had that should only be consumed occasionally.

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Vinny and Kernel also had exciting months.  Vinny the Guinea had a “Magic Kingdom” built for him by a student.  He now has his own place to go through tunnels, over ramps, and eat from the treat tube filled with our homemade treats (a student helps prepare the treats below).  Kernel finally interacted with some students.  After months of me handling him, and students observing, he was ready for students to pet him!  Two brave first graders were the first ones to try!  They were nervous at the beginning, but ended up very proud of themselves.  These pets have already taught our students many lessons on care and compassion.

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We look forward to February with you!