Explorations of Elementary | January 2016

Elementary students seemed to miss their work over the break! They entered the classroom with enthusiasm and drive to accomplish new goals for the New Year.

Several students have been interested in how their body works, and how nutrition effects their body. The presentation we had in December from an older student really inspired these kids to understand what it means to make healthy food choices and how to care for their bodies. They have been learning about food groups, food pyramids/plates, and how to read food labels. They are currently researching the best foods for to eat and creating healthy menus for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. They will continue this project through February studying digestion, energy and exercise, and how our bodies work.

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Other students are continuing our study of Ancient Civilizations with Ancient Egypt. This is by far the most popular civilization we have looked at, and one the students have been looking forward to learning more about. They began their research by drawing a map of Egypt as it looked in 3100 B.C. They discovered how important the Nile River was to the survival of the people of Egypt. They also learned of a game children used to play called Senet. Students decided to make this game for our classroom out of clay, cardboard, paints and craft sticks. They even made rules and have taught other students how to play. They will be continuing their research into February and have a presentation for their parents at Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences. Their research will also be displayed in the school gym when they finish.
The students had a choice of which book they wanted to read for our next reading group session. Some chose the classic, Robinson Crusoe; others decided to read the biography of Helen Keller; while the third group is reading a favorite form my days in school, Hatchet. Students were placed in groups depending on their book choice and everyone is excited each week to meet and discuss what they are reading.
As a large group students are preparing for our Elementary Wax Museum event. Our students began research on a famous American of their choice for this event. At our “museum” each student will stand in front of a backdrop they design and pretend to be a wax version of their American. Students will dress as their person. On each student’s backdrop there will be a “button” and visitors to the museum will press the button. When it is pressed the wax person will come to life and tell the audience about their life and their accomplishments.

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Through their research students are learning about the life, family, career accomplishments, and contribution to history of their chosen American. They will be writing a research paper, designing a backdrop and writing their presentation speech which they will present during the event.
Our Wax Museum will take place on: Tuesday March 15th at 6:00 pm. Grandparents, family and friends are welcome to come see your child shine in our Wax Museum!
We ended the month of January with one Going-Out Experience and one Physical Education Field Trip.
Our Going-Out Experience was planned by Olivia and Ainsley to the Cleveland Aquarium. They had the opportunity to see sharks up close and personal and ask questions to the divers. They pet stingrays and enjoyed a scavenger hunt through the aquarium.

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If you have never experienced Laser Quest with 20 elementary students, you have never experienced Laser Quest. This was such a fun trip and we learned a few things too! Students ate pizza and played the first game of Laser Tag, splitting into two teams – adults vs. students. Students were very confident they were going to win and made it clear before leaving school the teachers and parents should be afraid. Well, it didn’t quite work out as they planned, but I think they all had fun. After the first game, we learned how lasers work and different ways they are used. Students discovered they can be used for surgery, cutting materials, and of course laser tag. Then it was time to play our second game. This time it was boys vs. girls. The dads certainly came to play, leading the boys to a victory.

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Exploration of Elementary December 2015

Explorations of Elementary – December 2015

After Thanksgiving break students were excited to get back to work. Several of our older elementary students began researching Ancient Rome and Greece. They set their own deadlines and dove into their work. They drew maps of the empires, clothing, and made lists of all the famous gods and goddesses. It was amazing to watch them wonder through history exploring the things that stood out the them and were the most interesting in their minds. I was even more impressed with their work ethic throughout the research. Nothing was assigned, but every topic was covered and they all worked together to complete their work. I am excited to hear their presentation when we return from break.

Other students were looking into their personal family history by creating a timeline of the family members living in their houses. They also explored the Story of Numbers and Story of Writing. These are two of the Montessori Great Lessons discussed in elementary each year. We talk about how writing and numbers came to be and how they have changed over time to better serve the needs of humans as we learn and grow. We look at visual timelines, charts, and examples of various styles of writing and numbers. The kids love to see how other people used to write and how it is similar or different from how they write today.

Of course, with Christmas approaching we spent time preparing for our annual Christmas Show. This year the students voted to perform the play, The Nutcracker. Parts were chosen and everyone worked diligently to learn their lines. We read several versions of the book, watched the Disney version of the story, and some students even went to see the ballet with their families.

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I was very impressed with how well each student learned their part, memorized their lines, and helped each other perform well. I think their favorite part was creating all of the props. The students designed what we needed based upon the script, and went to work!

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They cut out a fireplace, mantle, Christmas tree, and made a beautiful candy gate. They added flair with colorful painting and three-dimensional decorations. Our play was a wonderful success. I was so proud of the students!

To kick off our break students came to school in their pajamas (so did the teachers) and had a blast playing games and watching Christmas movies. This is such a fun day for everyone! The highlight was joining Ms. Courtney’s class to play Pie in the Face.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Explorations of Elementary November 2015

Explorations of Elementary

Students were diligently focused on completing their research projects during the first part of November. Some students were finalizing their planet pizzas with slices of information about their chosen planet, while others were further back in history during the time of the dinosaurs. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students were proud to present their first full research report, complete with maps, drawings, visual aids, a bibliography, and a creative presentation. All of the research was displayed at our Thanksgiving Feast for families to enjoy together.

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A highlight of the month was our field trip to the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum. We began our tour in the Discover World where we were able to follow up with our dinosaur research as we learned more about several dinosaurs we had researched, and one special dinosaur, the Allosaurus. In this Natural History Island we were able to create fossils and see how archaeologists dig for fossils, and we enjoyed an authentic mastodon skeleton, whose fossilized remains were discovered in the Canton area.

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In geography we have been designing various types of maps. Several students have mapped out their bedroom, while others have been working on state capitols and coastal plains. A few older students were very impressed with our new Bohr Diagram. We learned the parts of an atom and how to build an atom on the board. Each student helped create hydrogen, then oxygen. The then discovered that atoms sometimes like to share electrons, so we had hydrogen and oxygen share. Every eye in the lesson grew wider when they discovered why water is sometimes referred to as H2O. Aha moments make teaching so joyous! 🙂


Explorations of Elementary October 2015

Explorations of Elementary

Our trip to Hale Farm was one of the best field trips! Each student enjoyed the walk along the beautiful grounds and the fall colors surrounding us. We began in the wagon house, where we saw several different styles of carriages once used. We then ventured into the barn where we learned about a special crop commonly referred to as broom corn. This corn was grown and used to make sturdy brooms for sweeping floors and long brooms to clean rafters in the barns.

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From here we went into the home and saw how the women would have made candles, yarn, and cider. We watched a farmer hitch up a team of bulls used to plow fields. I think everyone’s favorite part was watching the blacksmith create a hook and seeing a classmate “punished” in the old schoolhouse, by standing in the corner with a book on her head. We also watched a glassblower create a beautiful red glass cup. Everyone agreed this was a great trip and they all want to return soon.

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Our elementary Reading Groups meet every Tuesday afternoon to spend time reading as a small group. We have divided up into three small groups, each reading different books. All three groups spend time doing language and grammar work, and practicing reading fluency aloud. One group has been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl. This group has been focusing on types of nouns, syllables, compound words, and rules of capitalization. They recently began making a Capitalization Rule Book, in which they are writing all the rules to reference when they write. Another group has been reading short stories from the Junior Great Book series, poetry, and the children’s classic Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, and Rumpelstiltskin. This group has been focusing on new vocabulary and learning definitions by using context clues and the dictionary. The third group has been reading the biography of Jackie Robinson, which has been a favorite for many of them. This group has also been studying types of adjectives. They learned there are two adjective classes (descriptive and limiting), and discussed 8 other types of adjectives within these classes.

Throughout the week students choose three spelling activities to complete in order to practice their words. These activities can be writing a sentence using spelling words, writing spelling words in cursive, or putting them in alphabetical order, to name a few. Then each Friday Ms. Sara meets with students to go over their personal spelling activities. She then quizzes them on their list and helps them choose new spelling words for the next week.

Students planned a wonderful Halloween party full of crafts, board games, and Halloween themed food. And no party is complete without decorations! The class volunteered to join a committee of either decorations, food, games, or crafts. Then each committee made a list of supplies needed to fulfill their duties and hung the list on the wall in the hallway for families to bring in. On the day of the party students enjoyed seeing each other’s costumes, playing their favorite board games with each other, creating a Frankenstein and spider craft, and of course getting candy!

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The food committee was so dedicated to making pumpkins out of oranges, mummies out of pretzels and string cheese, ghosts out of bananas and chocolate chips, puppy chow with candy corn, and pizza to create the ultimate Halloween themed meal.

 


Explorations of Elementary | Week 4 & 5

Explorations of Elementary | Week 4 & 5

In the elementary classroom research is an important part of our history, language, grammar, and science curriculum. We are able to teach almost every subject through research projects. We can introduce students on how to look topics up in a dictionary (alphabetical order); how to use an index (alphabetical order); what an index and glossary are used for; how to read and find factual information versus opinions; how to decipher good information from great information; writing a bibliography (what is a bibliography and plagiarism); how to write full, interesting sentences and make a paragraph flow; how to edit a paper, checking for spelling and grammar mistakes (punctuation and spelling lessons) – just to name a few. 🙂

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We have several research groups going on currently. One group is focusing on Dinosaurs. They exploring different stages scientists believe the earth has gone through and what each stage looked like. They are also learning the different types of dinosaurs, what their names mean, the habitats of dinosaurs during different time periods, and special characteristics of the different dinosaurs.

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Another group is focused on our solar system. Each space researcher has selected one planet of interest and will be learning about the size, make-up, atmosphere, and climate. They will also find out about the moons (if any) of their planet, and about space travel to their planet.

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The third group will be focusing on Ancient Civilizations for the entire school year. Currently, they are learning about Ancient Mesopotamia. This group began with drawing a map of Mesopotamia, identifying current country boundaries, the 3 main areas of Mesopotamia, seas and rivers, and the area formerly known as Mesopotamia. They also started reading about the climate, history, food, clothing, and government of the time. They are compiling their information into a research paper and will give a presentation on the part they find to be the most interesting.

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In the above picture, students are working on equivalent figures.


Explorations of Elementary | Week 3

Explorations of Elementary | Week 3

After several team building activities in the classroom and on the playground, students put their new skills to work on our canoeing adventure in Canal Fulton, Ohio. Children were placed in groups of three and set off down the Tuscawaras River for a three mile excursion. Their first task was of course how to steer a canoe. Several groups went from one side of the river straight across to the opposite side. A few groups even started out backwards. Despite the rough beginning, all teams learned how to communicate, help one another, and everyone reached the checkpoint successfully!

We have planned these team building activities in and out of the classroom at the beginning of the school year with specific intent. Team building is a great way for students to grow in their social skills. It allows students to work together in social situations just as they would in the classroom, their daily lives, or down the road in the workplace.  Team building challenges students to problem solve and execute working with others. It shows them how to be accountable, the value of teammates, and teaches appreciation for others strengths. The skills will lay the foundation for success in working on projects with classmates throughout the school year, as well as later in life. The skills will lay the foundation for success in working on projects with classmates throughout the school year.

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Inside the classroom, students began their study of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. Magister Brandon brought outlines of gods and goddesses and students were to name them, color them with the appropriate clothing, and draw a symbol representing what they were the god or goddess of. On the playground, children enjoyed a competitive game of capture the flag during gym class.

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Two students have discovered a passion for geology and planned our very first “Going Out” Experience of the school year. We will be going to the Kent State Geology lab in October! They can’t wait to see what real geologists get to do everyday.

 


Explorations of Elementary | Week 2

By the start of the second week lessons were in full swing. Several students are enjoying learning new materials like the “Racks and Tubes” that teaches long division, the “Checkerboard”, which teaches multiplication of numbers into the millions by up to a 4-digit multiplier, new science experiments in our “lab”, and the “Box of Sticks”, which introduces the children to concepts of Geometry, such as types and parts of triangles, lines, angles, and polygons. We have even ventured into the theorem of Pythagoras with the right-angle scalene triangle.

Reading groups began this week as well. Students have been divided into three groups. One group is reading classic children’s literature, another is reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the third is reading the biography of Jackie Robinson. This week began our first Art, Music, piano, Latin, and Gym classes. Students were learning how to greet one another in Latin, how to shake hands like the Romans, and what countries made up the Roman Empire. They played scooter soccer and hockey in Gym class.

To end the second week, students had their first Student-Teacher Conference with Ms. Brandy. This is where they must present all of the work they have completed during the week, and the things that are still being worked on. Together, Ms. Brandy and the students, plan the following week so they can stay on track, know what to expect, what is expected, and be accountable for their efforts. This is a time to check and adjust any plans that have been made so the students are successful in their work. This also gives the child a feeling of personal responsibility for their education, and teaches them that the work they do matters.


Explorations of Elementary | Week 1

The first week brought lots of excitement as old friend were reunited after the summer break. We also enjoyed seeing our new friends who have joined our class this year. We would like to welcome Ainsley, Scarlett, Trevor, Harrison, Maddex, Kasey, Nick and David to the world of Elementary! We promise an exciting adventure.

Over the course of the first few days we spent time touring our classroom, reviewing general ground rules, discussing our daily schedules, and setting the stage for a year of incredible growth and learning.

The idea of discussing rules and going over things the kids should already know may sound like a waste of time. However, as with everything in Montessori, there is a reason. This is such an important exercise because the first two or three weeks prepare the students to work productively in the classroom environment. We want the children to be focused on their work and progress through the curriculum. Since we teach so much more than academics, there must be time spent training the children in the ways of work, time management, respect and manners, as well as how to be a good citizen and contributing member of our classroom family. We must be consistent in every aspect during this critical time.

We did find time to bring a little fun into this first week with several new games and team building activities. The favorite game was Australian Dodge-ball where the teachers took on the students. This round, the students won the title, but I foresee a rematch in the near future! One of the favorite team activities was building a bridge to cross the yard as a group, where students used a scooter, pool noodle, hula-hoop, and carpet square. They all had to cross together by using the items to stand on/in. I think everyone learned a thing or two about working together and how to be part of a team.

Everyone enjoyed learning about each other and sharing their own Brown Bag Biography. We saw several pictures of fun family vacations, trophies and medals from sport competitions, and favorite snuggle buddies. It was wonderful to see the things that make each of us unique, and the things that we all have in common. What a wonderful group we are, and what a wonderful year we are going to have together!


Brandy and Beth’s Corner

Week 38

Students are busy creating their Ohio Indian time period on a new Ohio Indian Timeline for our classroom. On Friday, students put their time period onto the blank timeline for all to observe. The time periods consisted of facts, pictures and dates. Also, students are researching and building some models of Indian housing of their favorite Ohio Indian tribe.

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Two more garden plots have been planted next to the playground, featuring peppers, tomatoes and many other edible selections. Quinoa and stevia are our native Indian plants we started from seed and are hoping to successfully grow. A wonderful parent volunteer brought the more mature edible plants, hoping we may get to try some of our produce before summer break. We will have to wait for the rest of our produce to be ready during the fall harvest, a great way to start back to school. Our parent volunteer worked with the students, guiding them in planting. Many students were surprised at their discovery of what manure is and that food is grown with a mixture of organic manure and matter.

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Brandy and Beth’s Corner

Week 35 & 36

Our students traveled to the Natural History Museum for the last time this year. We learned about our Ohio Indians and Indians in general. Then students inspected real artifacts and models of homes that archaeologists use and work with at the Natural History Museum daily. The instructor showed the students how to flint knap which was how Indians made their spear points, arrow heads and knives with our famous Ohio flint. Back at school, students have been introduced to our Native Indian Timeline and the BC/AD (BCE/CE) Timeline so they can delve into the history of Indians more.

Moms and Muffins was a fun way to start a Friday and the mothers got to take home a handmade uniquely crafted box with each student’s picture topping it. Also, preparations for the up and coming Grandparent’s Day started. Students began a Sketchbook Challenge that will allow the students to try new Art Techniques and have a craft that can be finished with their guest that day. Many memories will be shared.

Week 37

The planting of the garden has started! Students worked very hard at turning up the hard soil in the garden with hand tools. Next they removed all of the weeds to have a fresh start, trying their best to get all of the roots to cut down on future weeding. The Elementary students planted our first seeds for our Three Sister’s Garden. Corn is the first plant and then pole beans [or peas] and squash [or pumpkins] will be added. The corn provides the pole beans a place to climb and the squash spreads to block out the weeds. The Indians used this technique for optimum growing and a balanced diet that provided protein when meat was not available. Ask your child about the story of The Three Sisters and learn more about the history of our American heritage!

Grandparents Day was amazing! Our guests joined us for Latin and then spent some special time with their invitee discussing and making art that shared cherished memories to keep. Next, our guests joined the Elementary in the classroom trying out a few favorite work choices. Science Experiment Cards, Math and Timelines were favorite choices.The day ended with a fabulous Musical Performance from the Elementary students that included piano and recorders.

Students have chosen their Ohio Indians Project topics this week and have had further lessons on our BCE/CE Timeline. Other lesson strands that students may have had lessons are Attraction and Gravity and also, Decimal Fractions. Many students have been very interested in working with Money and Multiplication facts.