Ms. Brandy’s Corner – November_December 2013

Tallmadge School

The month of November began with my students preparing to lead their first Student/Parent/Teacher conference. In an elementary Montessori classroom there is great freedom, but that freedom can only be achieved if the child is willing to take the responsibility that comes with it. I expect my students to take responsibility for their education. They are responsible for completing every assignment on their Work Plan each week and turning in their work to me when it is completed. In preparation for the conferences each student filled out a paper with a script to help them explain their work. Each child listed the concepts they have learned in Language, Mathematics and Geography to tell their parents. Children also listed their favorite works and had the opportunity to demonstrate these works to their parents. A few of the favorites were Golden Bead Multiplication and Division, Imaginary Island and writing in Cursive. Parents seemed to enjoy watching their children work and learning about the materials in the classroom. Each student ended the conference with telling their parents what their academic goal are for the rest of the year.934

After conferences we spent the next few weeks discussing what we are thankful for and reading about the first Thanksgiving. We discussed why the Pilgrims wanted to come to America and what their needs may have been when they arrived. We discussed how they learned to live in a new land and how the help of one particular Native American named Squanto, saved them from the cold, harsh winter. We made turkeys with feathers listing out what we are thankful for this year. Many of the feathers stated things like school, books, friends and family. It made me so happy to see that the children like school and reading so much!

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We jumped into the Christmas spirit by filling boxes with great toys for active boys and books and special gifts for children less fortunate than ourselves, there were some plantwear accessories included as well. The children truly experienced the joy of giving and the feeling of love for others.

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After Thanksgiving break we dove into practicing for our Christmas play, The Legend of Santa Claus. The children loved acting and enthusiastically got into character during each rehearsal. The children learned a lot about St. Nicholas and acting. They learned about stage presence, developing a character for the audience’s enjoyment, and public speaking. The children’s performance was flawless in front of over 600 people! I was very proud of them.

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932The last week of December we focused on learning about Christmas celebrations around the world. We discussed traditions in England and learned that a popular tradition is the mistletoe. Children made their own mistle’toe’ by tracing their feet, and decorating them with glitter, pom-poms and bells. We read about the history of the mistletoe and learned that the tradition of kissing under it found its origins in the legend of Goddess Frigga and her son Balder. The story goes that life the people on earth was held on the shoulders of Balder. If Balder died life on earth would end. Balder’s enemy, Loki, the God of Evil, killed Balder. It was the sprigs of a mistletoe plant and his mother’s tears that brought him back to life. The legend states that anyone who is kissed under the mistletoe will have love and friendship forever.

English Christmas tradition also gave us the classic story by Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol.’ We read this story and watched the Disney Mickey Mouse version.

The next country we talked about was Germany. We read about how the German children celebrate St. Nicholas day by placing shoes outside their door full of straw for St. Nicholas’s horse. St. Nicholas will fill the shoes with treats. Outdoor markets are a Christmas tradition in Germany where children can get cookies, so naturally, we art cut-out cookies! The decorated Christmas tree is also a tradition that came from Germany. Our craft for Germany was making a tree out of Popsicle sticks and sequins, with a golden start on top!

We read the story of The Nutcracker and talked about the Russian tradition of this beautiful ballet. The children enjoyed the whole story, but most of all, the battle between the Nutcracker and the King of Mice.

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We spent the last day before break in our PJs playing games and watching the movie Prancer. It was fun and relaxing. I hope everyone enjoyed their break!


Ms. Brandy’s Corner – October 2013

Tallmadge School

The month of October was full of a variety of fun activities. We began the month with a Gym class field trip to Downview Golf Course for a little miniature golf excitement and driving range laughter. Some of us were very serious about our golf game, while others found fishing the ball out of the water to be just as much fun! The driving range was thoroughly entertaining for those of us in the audience. The kids enjoyed watching how far their ball would go, attempting to hit the little cart picking up golf balls. Thank you to Mr. Martinelli for planning such a fun outing and to each of our parent volunteers who drove us that day!873In science we studied roots and stems and their functions. We did an experiment with white carnations, celery and colored water. Each flower and celery stalk was placed in blue, yellow or red water for several days. Students made predictions of what was going to happen to each flower/celery, why it would happen, and the time of when it would happen. Each day we kept a log of our observations. Many of us thought the flowers would change to the color of their water. Almost all of us thought red and blue would change first, we were wrong! The flowers in the yellow water turned color first and had the most color by the end of the week. The flowers were interesting, but not nearly as exciting as the celery stalks. We predicted the leaves on the top of the celery would change color like the flowers. They did slightly, but the true surprise came when we cut the celery stalk in half and saw the colors running through the veins. This was a great demonstration of the function of a stem and how it transports nutrients to the other parts of the plant. We also explored electricity by turning on a light bulb with a battery. Mason asked if the size of battery mattered or if more than one battery would change the light. Se we tried it. The size of battery didn’t make much difference, but when the students held three batteries together, the light was very bright! What a fun experiment.874

Junior Great Books were introduced this past month. This is a fantastic interpretive reading and discussion program. Students read a classic work of literature, study it and have small group discussions. Students listen to me read the text, read the text independently and take turns reading together as a group. Along with each story or group of poems, I lead discussions, dramatizations, creative writing activities and art projects. The program’s structure offers children ongoing opportunities to develop their ideas about a challenging work of literature and to share those ideas with others. Junior Great Books focuses on stressing the enjoyment of literature for its own sake, while at the same time, assisting each child with developing comprehension skills, interpretive thinking, and oral and written language skills. By listening to and reflecting on works that are rich in meaning, the students will feel that their efforts at understanding are rewarded, and they will become more motivated to learn and read for themselves.

872The last week of October brought extra candy and high energy. Students planned their own Halloween party and enjoyed every minute of it! Earlier in the month they chose a committee to be a part of for planning the Halloween party. Each committee met to create their portion of the event. The Food Committee created a delicious menu of pizza, chocolate covered strawberries, chips, juice, veggies and dip. We even had silly skeleton straws to drink from. The Decoration Committee came up with covering our room with spider webs, creepy crawly spiders, gel stickers, hanging ghosts and bats, and pumpkins. I think the Game Committee had the most fun planning our mummy wrap with toilet paper, the mystery box, a witch hat ring toss and a worm search game.  To find their worm, students had to dig with their mouth through whipped cream and pull out their gummy worm. Once they found it, it was theirs to eat! Yummm! The mummy wrap was the most popular game, especially since the students turned it into a race to make the fastest mummy. Our Craft Committee came up with an adorable Frankenstein light which turned out nicely. I hope everyone is enjoying them at home!

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I would like to say THANK YOU to Emily Smith (Nick and Elise’s mom) for organizing and planning our Usborne Book Fair. Both classrooms were able to get almost everything on their wish lists. It was a great success! Thank you to all of the parents who supported our school through this book fair.


Ms. Brandy’s Corner – September 2013

Tallmadge School

The start of the school year brought back so many faces I haven’t seen in a year or more. It has been so nice to reunite with my students from years past. I am enjoying teaching a new age group this year and I am excited about all they are learning!

Each day we read from either “Everyday Graces” or “365 Manners Kids Should Know.” While reading one of the stories about family dinners a few of my students asked if we could have a family dinner at school. Of course I didn’t want to pass up this incredible teaching moment, so we did! As a class we created a menu and each student provided a food or drink to share. We rearranged all the tables in our room and sat down to a Family Style Lunch. Students loved asking “Can you please pass the corn?” or “Will you please hand me the salad dressing?” I was impressed with their patience and etiquette. Everyone asked if we could have Family Style Lunch every month.

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Anyone who has walked down the hall outside our classroom has seen our note cards posted along the coat rack. Each day we create a new card telling us the date, weather and current events. It is the responsibility of a new student each day to copy the note card and hang it in the hallway. We are creating our very own class timeline. It is neat to go back and read what was happening a few weeks ago.

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Responsibility and self-government seem to have worked their way out of our society in recent years; however, I am determined to teach them to your children. Responsibility is being accountable for your actions and choices.

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In the Elementary program responsibility is the name of the game. Each 825week I create a Work Plan for every student. This Work Plan is the child’s responsibility to complete throughout the week. They are responsible for managing their time, recording their work in a journal and then presenting it to me at the end of the week. Each student is expected to set educational goals each week based on lessons they have been given. These goals are essentially their classroom “to do list” for the week. Students write their goals on their Work Plan every Monday morning. On Fridays, we have Student/Teacher Conferences where each child presents their work from the week to me. During these conferences I ask each student what work they are most proud of and what work was the most difficult for them to complete. I check their journals and look at the work they have recorded. If they did not meet a goal, they reset the goal for the following week. This is one of my favorite parts of the week!

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We the student of Absorbent Minds, in order to protect our freedom, create fairness, and ensure a peaceful environment, establish this Constitution of Absorbent Minds Montessori School.
1.    Respect other people.
2.    Push in your chair.
3.    Always use kind words.
4.    Do random acts of kindness.
5.    No whining or complaining.
6.    Always include others.
7.    Look out for each other.
8.    No chewing with your mouth open.

9.    No talking with food in your mouth.

I was very impressed with several suggestions made and very happy to see such kind “rules” added to our list. The full Absorbent Minds Montessori School Constitution has been professionally printed and each student signed the final document. Click here to view the Absorbent Minds Constitution.

It is a blessing to me to spend everyday with such a talented group of children. Thank you to every parent for sharing your child with me!