Ms. Brandy’s Corner – February 2014

Tallmadge School

Our class has been going on a wild and courageous adventure with the great Robinson Crusoe throughout the month of February. Before reading each student made a list of what they thought they would need if they were stranded on a deserted island. I was impressed with many of the items. Several students said they would bring weapons for hunting food, seeds to plant crops and a dog or cat for companionship. Other items that made the lists were an iPad, a game system and favorite stuffed animals. We then discussed that a deserted island most likely would not have electricity, which was extremely disappointing to our tech-savvy students.

1017As we journeyed around the globe with Crusoe, students were asked if they would make the same choices he did throughout the story. The class was split when deciding to leave their families or stay home at the beginning, but as the journey progressed, each child became more and more excited about the adventures. We finished the story last week and students are now working on building models of Crusoe’s island and home or writing their own adventure story. Stay tuned for photos of their projects next month!

We have also focused on human anatomy this past month in biology. Children were fascinated to learn about the inner workings of their bodies, especially their heart and brain. As we read books about each organ students asked questions and researched their answers. We learned the names of each lobe of the brain and their functions. We learned how to use a stethoscope and check our heart rates. Students loved checking their heart rate, doing an activity, and then re-checking their heart rate to see what happened.

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In our Geometry studies students have been focusing on types of triangles and angles. We read a story about how geometry came to be and have been using our infamous Box of Sticks to create the seven different triangles (right-angled isosceles, right-angled scalene, acute-angled isosceles, acute-angled scalene, obtuse-angled isosceles, obtuse-angled scalene, and equilateral equiangular.)

1050Excitement overflows each Monday afternoon as students prepare for their Latin class with Magister Tom (Mr. Tom McCaffrey). I have been so proud of each child as they answer Magister Tom’s questions about English words derived from Latin and their ability to remember, from week to week, their new Latin vocabulary. They have learned simple greetings, feminine and masculine forms of nouns and verbs, as well as plural forms. This past week, their favorite activity was answering questions in Latin. Magister Tom would ask, “Quis est?” and point to the table. Every hand shot up in excitement to answer “Est mensa.” They can say over 30 words after just a couple of lessons and their pronunciation is fantastic! We have made labels for our classroom in Latin and students enjoy reading the label and placing it in the correct spot.

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One goal of mine is to provide the children with several experiences outside of the classroom. This past month we went to Playhouse Square in Cleveland to see a show called Dino-Light. This was a show done without words, using only light and music to convey the emotions of the characters. The story was about a scientist who built a dinosaur, but the dinosaur was missing a heart. The scientist gave the dinosaur a heart in hopes he would became a kind and loving dinosaur. The scientist and his dinosaur were separated and they searched for each other throughout the play. In the end, the dinosaur defeated his foe to save the life of the scientist, thus showing his love. The play was fantastic, but my heart melted when we completed our “End of the Day Journal” entry and Annika said she had a lesson on friendship because the dinosaur in the play learned to love and care for another person, just like a true friend.


Brandy’s Corner – January 2014

The Elementary Journey
When the child enters our elementary classroom, he will find himself in an environment full of knowledge waiting to be discovered. His academic studies will be challenged with the curriculum outlined below, and his life skills will be nurtured, allowing him to grow into the person he was created to be.

Life Skills
There is no tangible measurement of character, initiative or inner drive; yet these are the life skills your child will develop at Absorbent Minds Montessori School. Weekly and daily goal setting, encouraged and reinforced by the teacher, guides the work of the elementary student; thus creating a strong sense of ownership of their education. Responsibility has the power to educate through self-direction. Your child’s confidence and self-esteem will grow and flourish as he learns to challenge himself until he becomes proficient in a skill. This personal drive will catapult your child into a world of information where his work ethic will create the character he needs to become a truly great person.

Mathematics/Geometry
Every child uses the environment around him to learn, thus creating his Absorbent Mind. This, in conjunction with what we have discovered through current research of the hand constructing the neurological pathways of the brain, we can conclude, that mathematics is made easy if its roots can be implanted in the work of the hand that is developing the mind. Children are provided the opportunity to touch, feel and experience math. Every material takes the child on a tangible journey through operations, memorization, graphing, fractions, square and cube roots, the study of lines, angles, area, and equivalence. Through these experiences guided by the hand, each student discovers the process of how an answer is found, and gains an understanding of why an answer is correct.

Language
From birth, all children pass through a period in which they can only pronounce syllable; then in early childhood they pronounce whole words, and finally, as a young student they use to perfection all the rules of syntax and grammar. Our curriculum encompasses reading, print and cursive handwriting, spelling, grammar, creative writing, research, and oral presentation. Through stories, charts, timelines, purposefully created materials and carefully chosen books we enable the child to develop an understanding of language. Junior Great Books and studies of the Classics enrich each child’s reading experience. Discussions of life lessons learned from characters in stories such as Robinson Crusoe and Anne of Green Gables equips your child with creative thinking skills she will carry with her in all areas of life. “Learning to read and write becomes a delightful exercise, a loving guide to lead the child along pleasant pathways to the discovery of things he has actually performed. Yes, the child will suddenly find himself, one day, in possession of a little composition, a little ‘work of art,’ that has issued from his own pen!” (Maria Montessori. The Montessori Elementary Material.)

Biology/Physical Science
We believe curiosity is the foundation of all discovery. Our Montessori science curriculum seeks to cultivate the child’s natural curiosity and to allow children to discover the answers to all of their “why” questions. Through science we facilitate the child’s understanding and admiration for all living things and respect for our interconnectedness with nature. The universe and its parts are brought into your child’s hands through experimentation. Scientific study at Absorbent Minds Montessori School concentrates on the process of question, hypothesis, procedure, observation, data analysis and conclusion (the Scientific Method). This method teaches children to think before deciding, to use a logical method of discovery and testing, and to use data to evaluate results and arrive at a thoughtful conclusion. Along with the process, the science curriculum provides each child a basic knowledge of chemistry, matter, energy, simple machines, water, engineering, and magnetism.

Cultural Subjects (History/ Geography)
The imagination of the elementary child flourishes when information is presented in the form of a story. Historical stories have the power to awaken the child’s imagination and take him on a tour of creation. This introduction will grab the child’s attention and encourage him to research the areas he find most interesting. As children discover new places through history, their interest in Geography intensifies. They start asking “where,” “why,” and “how.” The natural thirst for knowledge drives the child’s cultural studies through the solar system, physical and economic geography, map reading, vexillology (study of flags), and the study of rocks, minerals and biomes.

“Education boils down to two things: the student putting in the work to educate himself, and the teacher getting the student’s attention long enough and deeply enough to get him started and help keep him going.” (Oliver DeMille. A Thomas Jefferson Education. 2009.) Absorbent Minds Montessori School believes the child creates his own mental muscles, using what he finds in the world around him to accomplish this task. We call this type of mentality “The Absorbent Mind.” Through our prepared environment and curriculum beginning in preschool continuing throughout 4th grade your child will be equipped to develop his mind, body and soul.


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!