Welcome back, families and friends! New and exciting things are in the works for the New Year. The hand bells were initially introduced in Music class and have expanded into the classroom. One passionate music lover; i.e., elementary student, is assisting teaching staff in giving bell lessons and plans to expand out into directing the SmarterBell choir. Often, one can walk by the elementary classroom and hear the joyous sound of bells being explored.
Final editing of the leaf/tree research has been wrapping up as Science Fair projects are ramping up. Students learned about how to make a science experiment proposal and other key steps leading up to our science fair in a two day lesson that included guides and paperwork to fill out for the initial steps. Also, students have started a beautiful quilt to auction at the up-coming Art Extravaganza. Save up your money, everyone is going to want this special classroom artifact to cherish for years to come with their child!
Despite all of the additional days off due to various reasons, students came back to school hungry for lessons, ready to show Mastery and diligent to work. The winter break let many ideas meld in their minds, allowing for a completeness to come to fruition for many students that were challenged by particular concepts or lessons. It has been enjoyable to see the students satisfied with their accomplishments.
To prepare for the Valentine’s Day party, most students have started their quilling projects to create their own unique cards to share with their friends. While the goal of quilling is to teach our elementary students a skill they can use to create things down the road, an underlying importance is the development of concentration and the small muscles in the hand to improve handwriting.
Computer skills are being learned by all. Many students have used computers at home or school, surfing the web or playing games. Most students have not used all of the features in word documents or been responsible for navigating the computer in relation to files and memory sticks. The Elementary students are going to be experts by the end of this year with all of the hard work they are doing!
This week, the students broke into two teams and had to write instructions on how to make and eat a peanut butter sandwich. Miss Beth and Sarah followed the directions to a “T” and did not have the sandwiches they dreamed of. However, this activity allowed the students to practice and develop a more keen sense of detail for writing their science proposals!
Also, as I am sure, your child may have let you know the visit of the worms to our classroom. A generous parent came into our classroom and worked with the students on conducting a complete experiment including collecting data and analyzing data. In the experiment, students learned about how worms communicate with each other by collecting happy worm mucus and angry worm mucus and seeing which mucus the worms were attracted to. All of the students had a blast participating with their worms and found value in the communication abilities of a worm!
Our first day back was quite exciting as we rode the bus to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for our World of Rocks class. Students were excited as the entered the classroom of the museum. At each table rock specimens had been placed for us to examine. Our first task was to determine if the rocks were sedimentary, igneous, or metamorphic. After we labeled our rocks, we began learning more about each rock type.
We learned about two different types of volcanoes and the differences in their eruptions, and how this causes different rocks to form. At the end of our class we identified over 10 rocks by their scientific names. Students were both amazed and intrigued by all the differences between rocks.
The day back in the classroom was extremely focused and meditative in an unusual way as if the students missed working in the classroom fervently. Walking on the line was near perfection and students settled into work immediately. It was a day of extremely productive, self-chosen work along with more exploration of the Timeline of Human Beings and some new dance moves for our up-coming Christmas show. Students also completed 100 bags for the church to fill with food to donate to the homeless with unique decorations and up-lifting messages to bring happiness to others who may need our support.
Friday, our students had fun eating lunch together and showing off their favorite sport in the form of spirit wear during our celebration of winning the Box-Tops contest. Brandy ran a mini-contest for the kids on a trivia question about her apparel that the kids had a blast guessing. Thank you parents for making this happen!
Even though our students attend specialized classes for various subjects, all of those subjects are available and on-going throughout the week as students are interested. This week, a focal point on music and art came in the form of a book from South Korea, “The Yellow Umbrella”, which is a book read in dramatic music [as opposed to words] and is the journey of umbrellas and rain. Some students were inspired to start creating their own books by sketching out ideas of pages to paint. Also musically related, students worked hard on their articulation of words to improve their Run-DMC song’s speed and clarity. Be prepared to see their literary skills at work!
Students really seemed to feel the winter break coming and were extremely focused on Mastery and finishing projects. Every student achieved Mastery in at least one or more lessons this week. Also, the props for the Christmas show were made by the students along with the cute sewing project the students took home to give as Christmas presents. The weather did not deter the students from some heavy duty physical exertion during recess as tag and basketball have become extremely popular in the gym. They really seemed to be relishing their last bit of school before leaving.
Even though most of the week rotated around preparing for Friday night’s show, students also worked on lessons. Wednesday, the students spent the morning attending the Latin Festival. Students broke into teams and played Latin festival games, competed in Limbo and enjoyed a special feast together. All had a great time. Friday, the students had a pajama day complete with popcorn, movies and a special sharing time with friends. Everyone rested all snuggled in their pajamas, covers and pillows relaxing before the “Big Night”.
This week, students really took a close look at all of their performance pieces they were preparing for the school performance and stepped up their individual focal points while practicing with friends. Each Elementary student had a special part in the program focused on them and also, a diverse part in all of our group performances. Students put their best foot forward showing their newly honed skills of dancing to various song styles and eras, acting, speaking, playing piano and also, playing hand bells. The Elementary students were phenomenal Friday night.
In December both Latin classes focused on the Roman festival of the Saturnalia.
After learning how the ancient Romans celebrated this holiday, the students participated in activities related to the festival. For example, they learned to gamble with knuckle bones, a favorite game played by the Romans. The students also constructed and arranged boughs in the custom of the ancients. In addition, they designed and decorated Saturnalia cards. Finally, on December 17th the classes participated in a re-enactment of the Saturnalia by playing various games and enjoying Sigillaria, dolls normally exchanged during the feast.
Week 17 – 18
Happy Winter Break! See you in the New Year: 2015!
Starting out the week, students got a closer look at plants in preparation for our up-coming “Leaf Walk” fieldtrip! Hopefully, you noticed their “Parts of a Plant” artwork on the bulletin board. They will be learning about plants and leaves in more depth throughout the next couple of weeks. Also, this week, students are playing games and hearing stories in relation to “The Noun” to kick off our initial steps into the Grammar Boxes. The Grammar Boxes have activities that solidify the function of each word in a sentence. Including the activities the student completes with his or her friends, the students are learning to symbolize each word, leading to Sentence Analyses which helps us know what our options are to building interesting and varying sentence structures that will develop into your child’s writing “style” and the capability of understanding others’ styles.
A highlight this week is budding new research by students. Students have really enjoyed all of our new reference and non-fiction books that several families have donated. The pictures with the information are outstanding! Thank you for supporting our student’s quest for knowledge. Another highlight is our students who have elected to join dance. The music has started grooving and students have been busting out the moves in the gym already! We will get to enjoy their preparations at the next school performance event.
Constructing the Elementary classroom to meet the needs of the Elementary student, one will often view the Elementary classroom as a flexible workshop or laboratory for experimenting, imagination and exploration. The classroom as a whole has been conducting the first experiment that highlights the Needs of Plants. Each plant of the four plants potted for the experiment were labeled to track the outcome of the results of the exclusion of heat, light and water, each, separately. They have found that heat is one of the most critical aspects that can determine the success of a plant to live. The plant that had heat taken away did not last the weekend! As stewards of the earth, our class saved the plant and it is happily prospering as new greenery in our environment.
This week many students have begun Fractions lessons and continue to progress in all the other areas in lessons. Also, our class went on our very first official fieldtrip: The Leaf Walk at Holden Arboretum. Holden Arboretum is considered the largest outdoor Museum or collection of trees and woody plants in the entire United States. The students rode the public school bus, some for the very first time! Using a map and clues, students found the correct trees and collected one leaf from the ground that belonged to that tree. Discussions about the correct identification and interesting facts about some of the trees were enjoyed by all along the path. The classroom leaf collection returned to the school with the students to be used as a more in-depth research project of the leaves by all the students.
Monday was a busy day as students showed mastery, explored art projects, learned a new song and took Spelling quizzes. This day of the week often is the most productive day of the week as students seem to dive into work as if they miss the classroom and their work time. They also look forward to our Community Meeting on Mondays where we come together as a community and decide how to deal with issues during the week, make exciting announcements of opportunities and have voting rights to make important decisions. Recently, many sign-up sheets have been made available for students, by students, to hold a Fall Festival, join a book club, to perform in a play and many others. Our students are confident in their interests and their abilities to lead others!
Surprisingly, our students rescued another plant from our on-going experiment. The plant without water had sunk so low, students were worried that it could not be saved but they found that the plant stood up half way by the next morning with a drink of water! Discussions of the length of time the plant could last without additional water compared to the lack of heat created some debate and theories about the plants’ needs.
Along the lines of looking at our environment, How Wolves Change Rivers was an interesting short film students viewed Monday. Students were amazed by the immense impact of reintroducing the wolf back into the Yellowstone Park after many years of humans ridding the area of wolves. The plant and animal life completely changed in a positive way and in turn, the geography of the land and river changed. A lesson in how connected we all really are! Check out the video online: http://youtube.com/watch?v=ysa50BhXz-Q.
In Math, Squaring lessons have been enjoyed by some students interested in new materials in the classroom that were not available last year. Squaring lessons are closely related to the Multiples lessons in that students start seeing that one Math concept is the same but used in a different perspective, over and over again. Squaring and Cubing lessons will then lead the students to see the connections over time to Powers and other advanced Math offered in the Montessori classroom.
“If the idea of the universe be presented to the child in the right way, it will do more for him than just arouse his interest, for it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying. The child’s mind then will become fixed and can work. The knowledge he then acquires is organized and systematic; his intelligence becomes whole and complete because of the vision of the whole that has been presented to him and his interest spreads to all, for all are linked, and have their place in the universe on which his mind is centered. (Montessori, Maria 1973 To Educate the Human Potential Kalakshetra Press, India)”.
In preparation to our first visit of the Tallmadge library next week, student leaf/tree research projects are under way! Many students have already started collecting facts about their special leaf that they selected and others look forward to searching for books at the library. Each student will complete one research project alone and two research projects with a team. The class project will be bound into a book that will feature a hands-on leaf and tree matching game.
Our annual Halloween party planners kicked it into gear this week, preparing games, crafts and food for all to enjoy! Halloween celebrations began with two costume parades and a community lunch with fun yet creepy food. The students bowled, pinned the hat on the witch, raced in relay races sweeping pumpkins and carrying candy corn on spoons in the gym. Everyone entered the donut eating contest that was sticky and hilarious. The day ended with three spectacular crafts: a spider on a web, a walking spider and a bat-like monster! Boo!
For October the Grade 1 and 2 class continued to practice words related to the family. In order to reinforce the family vocabulary, the students learned about a real family that lived in the Roman town of Vindolanda in northern Britain. For a supplement, they also looked at a video and pictures from the archaeological site of Vindolanda and from Hadrian’s Wall.
The Grade 3 and 4 class learned the terms subject, verb, and direct object.
The students translated short sentences on flash cards and were able to identify these grammatical terms successfully. In addition, they watched a short video showing a modern version of a Roman banquet.
In the first two months, the physical education program has already embarked on a plethora of sports. We kicked off the year with a game of capture the flag – it’s an all-time favorite and a great way to get all the kids excited about movement.
A rainy Friday lent itself to a nice indoor game of hockey. The gym was transformed into a hockey rink which even included penalty boxes…its not hockey without a penalty box, right? I can already see growth in the returning students. Last year the students only scored one goal during our field hockey games and this year we had well over ten goals…amazing!
A great addition this year will be our ‘field trips” to the park around the corner from the school. We already ventured there this fall, playing a game that combines both tennis and baseball. All the kids enjoyed the twist on baseball by hitting the ball with a tennis racquet.
Track and field heats up with a tight race for “fastest kid in the class.” Maddie was the undisputed champ last year but many other students have increased their speed over the summer and are giving her a run for her money. Something tells me Maddie will be ready to run during our next timed event.
We have some fun field trips scheduled for this year. Our first is coming up soon with a trip to the Football Hall of Fame. I look forward to learning all about the history of the NFL with the kids.
The Elementary students and teachers got acquainted with each other, the classroom and procedures. Old friends and new friends came together to hear three of the Great Stories: “God Who Has No Hands”,” The Coming of Life” and “The Coming of Human Beings”. These stories engage the Elementary student’s imagination to grasp the amazing ideas of how the Earth, plants, animals and human beings came to be and ultimately depend upon each other within the laws of the universe.
Singing, book making and poetry reading have all commenced for the year. Students have received lessons in all of the areas of the classroom: History, Physical Education, Music, Art, Biology, Language, Geometry, Geography and Math. Excitedly, our class held its first “Community Meeting”, kicking off the year with a formal forum for students and teachers to come together and create our environment through peaceful communication, creative solutions and abundant opportunities for all.
After a fun holiday weekend with families and friends, Elementary students returned to school ready to work! Excitement built over the weekend as the previous week, students have dreamed up a goal: Beating the World Record of the longest finger knitting rope in the world. Thank you for all of the generous family donations to the students to support their knitting dreams.
The last two Great Stories piqued the interest of many students: The Story of Our Alphabet and The Story of Our Numerals where students learned the historical development of human recording of communication and amounts. All of the students have been brushing up on old Math concepts lost over the summer break and filling their Personal Dictionaries with new words to learn.
Taking advantage of our beautiful weather, students have learned how to play Australian Dodge Ball and tried their skills at Ultimate Frisbee. An experiment in States of Matter was observed and discussed by the students as we continue to develop an understanding of the Laws of Our Universe. Also, our class had the opportunity to enjoy our school garden’s generous reaping of carrots and tomatoes during lunch one day.
Recently, students have been discussing “The Fundamental Needs of Human Beings” which consist of Material Needs [Nourishment, Protection, Housing, Clothing, Transportation] and Spiritual Needs [Religion, Vanity, Art/Cultural] that all people share in their own unique ways. Students have been quenching their “Art Needs” through the use of Geometry tools and designing with our Metal Insets used for Math and Geometry lessons.
The Elementary study of the Earth and Life on Earth has commenced and students are looking forward to the opportunity of conducting Science experiments that parallel this focus. In addition to classroom lessons, our additional experts that joyfully share their knowledge have started visiting us: Music, Latin and Art. Our first class for self-defense (Tae Kwon Do) located at our Tallmadge campus has also begun.
Speaking of new starts, our classroom celebrated our first birthday of the year! Birthdays will be celebrated in a new approach and we hope you can assist your child with preparing for his or her birthday celebration. Each child will bring 3 pictures that define him or herself to class on the celebration day to share with us. None of the pictures have to be pictures of the student as each student’s perception of this will be unique. Unique is great! Your child will discuss each picture and fellow students will be able to ask questions about the birthday child. Our class will be gifting your student with blessings/good thoughts and compliments as a birthday gift for his or her special day. Do not worry. We will remind you as your child’s birthday nears.
After a long discussion of Science Experiment Safety, the students plunged eagerly into the new Human Body Science Experiments. Experiment Cards will appear on shelves throughout the year in all the areas of study, Biology being first. Many materials have been graciously donated by parents for our Science Experiments. The Elementary class as a whole would like to extend a huge “Thank You!” for past and future donations to our mad scientists at work!
Also, this week, students have started selecting words they would like to learn how to spell. On Fridays and Mondays, as applicable, students take a quiz on their self-selected words. Beware, your student may ask you to spell words; such as, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” or “galluses”. We are all learning new, interesting and unique words!
Lessons have continued in all areas of the classroom. A new interest has sparked in the classroom: Sewing. Some students have learned how to sew a button on fabric and others are making bean bags for our classroom to use during “Walking on the Line”. Measurement lessons have been paralleling this work. Students have been measuring things in the classroom with Small-Non Standard Units, i.e., identical paperclips, to relive how people may have measured things with everyday identical objects to communicate mathematical amounts predating our current standardized method of measurement. In the Story of Geometry, students also got to help demonstrate how the “Rope Stretchers” or “Harpenodapta” of Egypt returned the farmer’s fields to the correct size and space after the annual flood of the Nile through historical surveying processes.
Though students have been learning all kinds of skills and games in relation to Physical Education so far this year, they were excited for the first official class on Friday. With that said, we would like to personally remind parents to ensure that your student brings his or her water bottle to school every day and especially on Fridays. We have had some students forget their water bottles. We want to keep your student properly hydrated to promote their success in health. Students perform physical exertion daily at recess, spontaneous lessons and work; and also, more importantly, during scheduled classes. We like to keep the students moving to promote a healthy lifestyle!
This week, students have finished up their Hero letters and donned red, white and blue in our class picture for the troops. They shared personal thoughts and appreciation to our heroes overseas. Students have been busy working on the four basic operations of Mathematics: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division. Some students are working on Fractions and Multiples, as well. The students have also been working on some basic Language skills, reading Poetry, Writing Creative Stories/Books/Plays and conducting basic Research on various topics.
Students are starting to show Mastery in new lessons. If your student shares his or her success about “Mastering” a lesson, rest assured, it is a big deal! This “Mastery” is one of the many things that make Montessori so different from the traditional approach of education. The teacher in traditional education gives information to his or her students to learn. Then the class as a group is assessed or tested in some fashion to see if the student has retained or learned that information. Whether all or some of the students have learned that information, the teacher is required to move on to new information as schedule in the traditional method.
Switching methods, in the Montessori method of education, the teacher shows the student how educational learning materials are used, tells stories, offers support, creates an environment conductive to learning and inspires. The student self-guides his or her learning at his or her pace and direction. The teacher observes the student and records the student’s progress. Mastery is attained when the student has mastered the concept or use of a material, lesson or idea. The next step of the learning process for the student is teaching and leading others. The students come to the realizations that there are always new heights learning can take place in and learning is for life. This idea is what separates the two methods vastly. Students do not “move on” when they do not understand information and students gain a self-propelled approach to learning that will last for life!
The two Latin classes have started a new year. For the first-and second-grade group the focus in September has been on learning basic vocabulary, especially words related to the Roman
family. The students have also learned to form and translate simple sentences using various forms of the verb “sum.” In the area of culture the class became familiar with maps of the Roman Empire and Italy.
In the third- and fourth-year class the emphasis has been on reviewing vocabulary first presented last spring. In addition, the group has investigated various aspects of ancient Roman food and
dining. The students helped construct a model of a Roman dining room, complete with Gumbius figures. Finally, the class participated in a banquet featuring foods from ancient Italy.
For the last newsletter article of the year I asked my students to write about their summer plans. The following paragraphs have been typed exactly how each
student wrote them in their journals. I hope you enjoy reading them! Have a wonderful summer!
Sumer Plans by Zach Martinelli – 2nd grade
My Dad sing me up for Basketball camp. My friend Austin is going to sleep over. I’m going to build the chaos tower. I going to play bball. I am play video games, you can come and check this out this new video game coaching site I found. I’m going to create a shirt. I’m going to draw.
Madelyn Wise – 3rd grade
This summer I will go the lake and play with My friends all day. I will ride my bike. I will play in my tree house. I will play on my play set with my cousin and spend time with my family.
Quinn Farkas – 2nd grade
In the summer I will go to camp. I will go swiming with my friends on the weekend. I will go to vacation. I will put up the pool and have ice cream with my friends. We will play dead man on the trampleen. I will play minecraft and build a good world. I will play in the water a lot with my friends. I will have fun and have
lots of treats.
“The Tooth Fairy” by Ryan Baxter – 1st grade
Tonight the tooth fairy is comeing to take your tooth away mommy said. So Ryan put his tooth under his pilow before the tooth fairy take Ryan’s tooth. When it was morning the tooth fairy give me money and some. Ions from my tooth and I’m so happy I got my coins and money. The end.
Summer Plans by Nick Smith – 1st grade
Meet new friends
Look around are new house
Go to new school
Find new playgrounds
Go to are new library
Move to Mulberry St. Iowa City, Iowa
See grandma and grandpa every weekend
“Summer” by Aleksandar Sudar – 1st grade
S is for sun
U is for underwater
M is for meet my new baby brother
M is for many play dates
E is for read everyday
R is for run
Skylar Mamajek – 3rd grade
This summer I will go to camp. I will go on the zip line and I will try to not get stuck. My goal is to win! I will have a good time with my friends at … SB2W (summers best 2 weeks).
Kassie Batchelor – 3rd grade
In summer I’m going to Washington D.C. for 2 days and going to florda 2 weeks later. Where going to Disney my friend Sydney’s house and spending the night and going to my gramas house and my nannys house and the beach. Then when I come back I will stay home for the rest of summer.
Elementary Students along with Kindergarten students worked
together to plant a garden for their garden project at the Tallmadge Campus. Elementary students will work the garden upon their return to school in August. This was a fun morning together and we are looking forward to seeing what our efforts will produce in the fall.
Couriosity guided our work during the month of April in the elementary classroom. As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, our first through third graders selected Natural Wonders of the World for their International Festival research and presentations. Ryan read about the Amazon Rainforest; Nick discovered the beauty of the Grand Canyon; Aleksandar stuck to his Serbian heritage and researched the Djavolja Varos; Allie and Annika plunged into Victoria Falls; Quinn and Zach bundled up to learn about the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights; Madelyn and Mason revealed the majesty of Mount Everest; and Kassie and Skylar swam through the beautiful Great Barrier Reef. This was quite an extensive project for our students. After selecting their Natural Wonder, they chose topics for their research reports. I provided them with a list of 12 from which to choose, and they narrowed it down to eight that were of interest. After selecting their Wonder and creating an outline, students then called the local library to request books about their Wonder and the topics they wanted to include in their research report. I was impressed with their etiquette on the phone. Even the librarian complimented your children’s manners. Students picked up their library books and began reading. They were so interested to learn about these great places. Everyone asked if we could take a field trip to their Wonder. Wouldn’t that be awesome!The reports were very impressive, full of detail and well written. The next step was to take their new knowledge and write a creative skit to be preformed at the International Festival. Watching their minds race through the possibilities and sharing their ideas was inspiring. Each partnership came up with a different idea and I was so happy with how they turned out. I hope you were able to see the Festival or at least watch the DVD. One of our wonderful parents has been able to get us 12 microscopes, 6 compound and 6 dissecting. Students were given individual lessons on how to operate the two types of microscopes. Continuing to follow the students’ curiosity for nature we explored several natural items under the microscopes. We even looked at our own skin as a cut, then each day as it healed. One creative student came up with the idea to examine a booger. It was quite a hit! We were also amazed at the incredible veins on various kinds of leaves. Students also brought in items from home to examine. Our classic reading adventures this month have been with the fun-loving, energetic Anne of Green Gables. This story has inspired us to get up and act! As we read, if there is an unfamiliar word, our Dictionary Helpers look up the definition and our Actors act out the word as it is used in the story for clarification. These activities have become a joy for us all to watch. A personal favorite, I have enjoyed reading this book with your children. Several of them have finished the book well before the entire class. We will be continuing to read this story into the month of May.
The month of March began with a flurry of art activities. Students added the beautiful finishing touches to their paper mache globes and imaginary islands we had been working on in our geography studies. We also placed the last of our human organs on each student’s body tracing project. Origami was a very popular activity as students designed patterns made from. origami boats, butterflies, and birds. These patterns were framed and part of our auction. Along with several masterpieces constructed in Art class with Ms. Michele, the students proudly displayed their handiwork at our annual Art Extravaganza.
We completed the book Robinson Crusoe in February. Each student chose a final project about the story.
Many of them built Crusoe’s island or his house, while others wrote their own adventure stories. Crusoe at the end of
Each student then presented their project to the class, explaining each detail of their design. It was a great project!
Geometry has continued to be focus for all of us. Typically geometry is not thought of as a subject of study for children in grades 1-3, but Dr. Montessori wanted to open up the child’s mind to the world of mathematics. Along with arithmetic, geometry and algebra are all expressions of the same “mathematical mind” Dr. Montessori desired each child to develop. Geometry is the link in the child’s mind between thinking arithmetically (specific quantities) and thinking in algebraic formulae (generalized ideas/rules of solving algebraic problems).
This is why geometry is so important in our classroom: geometry made specific becomes arithmetic; geometry made general becomes algebra. This month we focused on the study of lines and angles. Students learned that a line is not just a line, but can go on forever, unless cut, then it is a ray, with a distinct origin. We labeled several parts of lines and built them using our Box of Sticks. Next we discovered relationships between lines that are parallel, convergent and divergent. We made up stories about two friends who were walking on these lines to help us remember that convergent lines come together and divergent lines separate. We even drew little stick people to place on the lines we built.
Research is a wonderful way for children to explore and discover. Children are full of questions and they ask them almost constantly. In our classroom, students are encouraged to look up the answers to their questions, first in a book J, then online. It is rare that I just answer their questions. If I answer them, I become the resource, but if the child discovers the answer themselves, not only will they remember it, but they will become resourceful themselves.
This month we began a research project on the Natural Wonders of the World. Each student chose a natural wonder to research and, with a partner, wrote a research paper and skit, as well as designed a display board showcasing their discoveries. The Natural Wonders selected were The Grand Canyon, The Amazon Rainforest, Djavolja Varos (unique rock formations in Serbia), Victoria Falls, Mount Everest, The Great Barrier Reef, and The Aurora Australis (southern lights). The students will present their research skits at our International Festival on April 25th.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!