Explorations of Elementary December 2016 Newsletter
December was a short, but exciting month. We spent much of December reviewing lessons and getting ready for the Christmas show. Most of the time in a Montessori Elementary classroom, we present lessons in small or large groups because of the need to collaborate at this age. One of the privileges we have of being a multi-age classroom is the time we can take to review things one-on-one with students to prepare them for the new lessons the New Year will bring, while other students continue their own choices of challenging work. This month students continued their independent research. Some students were researching vertebrates, while others were researching the different vertebrates and invertebrates in different time periods.
Our student studying the human body did experiments to learn about the heart and the lungs. To show how blood pumps out of the heart, we used a bucket full of water and a tennis ball with a hole cut into it. Each student filled up the ball with water and squeezed it to pump the “blood” out. We discussed the way blood enters into our heart and where the blood goes when the heart pumps it out. We looked at photos of blood cells and watched a video of how it moves through different parts of the body. These students practiced checking their pulse and tried different activities to make their hearts beat faster!
We created our own lung to demonstrate the way our diaphragm and lungs work together to circulate oxygen. In our bodies, when you inhale, your diaphragm goes down and your lungs inflate, and when you exhale, your diaphragm rises and your lungs deflate. We blew one breath into our top balloon to make our “lung.” When each student pulled on the bottom balloon, or diaphragm, the balloon would inflate, just like our lungs. When the students would release the balloon, or diaphragm, the balloon would deflate, demonstrating how we exhale.
Along with learning how our bodies work, we spent a lot of time working on our life skills. Some students baked bread for our class as part of a measuring lesson. We enjoyed watching the bread being kneaded, rising, and baking in the machine throughout the day, as well as enjoying the smell! After it was done, we all tried it together and shared with Ms. Courtney’s class. On Pajama Day, we worked together to bake Christmas cookies. We had to measure, mix, roll out the dough, cut the cookies, and wash the dishes. When the cookies were done, we made frosting to cover them with. We enjoyed the cookies and our visiting friends’ company while watching The Tale of Despereaux. The students that read the book were excited for this part of the day!
While we were working hard with independent research, group work, and studying the human body, we also had to prepare for the Christmas Show! A lot of hard (and fun) work from the students goes into putting on the Elementary portion of the show. Our students came up with a list of countries they were interested in learning about, then once we narrowed it down, each group had to research their Christmas tradition. The students then worked as a team to write their scripts, design their costumes, and make their own props. After that we had to practice, practice, practice. While the performances seem brief, the amount of teamwork and dedication from the students is something they are so proud of! Thank you to all of the families for your help practicing, putting together costumes, and attending the performance! We couldn’t do this without you!
Things to do at home this month to reinforce our themes:
Look for our words of the week when reading a story, cut out pictures beginning with the letters of the week.
Practice using the different synonyms of the week in a sentence together.
You can view this link to give you more information on how the math materials are used in the Montessori classroom http://www.montessorialbum.com/montessori/index.php?title=Math. You may also google the name of the work to find more videos and information on the purpose of that material.
Mr. John will be sending homework home to reinforce these lessons. Please turn homework into the orange box outside of Mr. John’s classroom. Please email him if you have any questions: email@example.com.
What I will learn this month in Ms. Kristen’s class…
Themes of the Week (in addition to Montessori Work time)
1/2: Ground Rules Review
-Care of The Environment-Rolling a rug, tucking in a chair, etc.
-Grace and Courtesy-How to greet another, how to get a friends attention, how to say please and thank you, etc.
-Reviewing Classroom Rules and Manners
-Friendship Game- The children will guess who’s voice they hear to practice listening.
-Reviewing kind words and phrases.
1/9: Peace Makers
-Maria Montessori-Her life, mission, and how she was a peacemaker.
-Mother Theresa- Her life, mission, and how she was a peacemaker.
-Martin Luther King-His life, mission, and how he was a peacemaker.
-Discussing how we are also able to be peacemakers.
-Discussing how to build each other up. Introducing a sand sculpture making activities which will teach how to give compliments
*NO SCHOOL Friday 1/13: Teacher In Service Day
1/16: Healthy Eating
-Learning about the food pyramid.
-Learning about foods that are beneficial for our bodies and what is “ junk food”.
-Learning about the differences between fruits and vegetables.
-Making a healthy snack as a class.
-Singing songs that reinforce healthy food choices.
*NO SCHOOL Monday 1/16: MLK Day
1/23: The Five Senses
-Learning about our sense of hearing and about the different parts of the ear.
-Learning about our sense of taste and the different parts of the tongue.
-Learning about our sense of touch.
-Learning about our sense of smell. Discussing how our nose functions. Letters of the Week: Try to find objects that begin with each letter wherever you go with your child.
Sight Words of the Week: Try to find each word in books as you read to your child.
Things to do at Home this Month to reinforce our themes:
-Practice using “Please” and “Thank You” at home with your child, especially at play time or at the dinner table.
-Find and health recipe to make together as a family.
-Discuss with your child who their favorite peace maker is that they learned about in class.
-Discuss with your child how they can be a peace maker at home.
-Include your child in household chores. Allow them to take part in taking care of their home environment.
Our first year students will continue their planet research with Jupiter and Saturn. These students will also learn about the food chain of different ecosystems. First year students will add to their knowledge of external characteristics of living things by talking about poriferans and cnidarians. In Physical Science, first years will begin their energy transformation study with friction.
Second year students will begin discussing layers of the soil and fossils as part of our yearlong study of rocks and minerals. Second year students will begin their study of the main characteristics (digestive system, circulatory system, movement, etc.) of vertebrates, beginning with fish. These students will study atoms and the Periodic Table using the BOHR Diagram.
Third year students will continue researching the main characteristics of invertebrates, moving on to nematodes. Third year students will add to their taxonomy studies, by classifying the invertebrates we have already researched. We will focus this month on different types of seeds: monocot and dicot. In Physical Science, third year students will discuss energy transformations using a toaster.
Students researching the human body will focus on the digestive system and use their knowledge of the function of the lung and heart to add to their human body model.
Third and fourth year students will begin work with the microscope. They will learn all of the parts of the microscope before becoming “certified” to operate the microscope to observe slides of various living and nonliving things.
All students will learn about national holidays from January, February, and March. All student will begin a 14-Point Study of Europe. Students will work in groups to research fourteen points of study, including climate, languages, industries, geographic features, and customs of different countries in Europe.
Math and Language lessons are given to children based on individual needs, instead of age level.
Our groups will all begin new stories or chapter books. One group will read Madeline. Another group will read Where the Wild Things Are. Our two groups reading chapter books will begin My Father’s Dragon and The Bridge to Terabithia.
This half of the year we will focus on a Writer’s Workshop. This month we will focus on the structure and routines of writing, editing and revising writing, planning short narratives, and partner writing. We will write a short narrative in chronological order and a short narrative that incorporates all five senses.
New spelling groups will begin this month based on assessments from December.
The spelling homework for January will be to write each word three times in cursive. Please make sure your child is writing in cursive at a table, not on the floor, to ensure they are practicing proper form.
Field Trips and Special Events
January 4: School Resumes
January 13: Teacher In-Service Day – NO SCHOOL
January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – NO SCHOOL
January 17: FIELD TRIP to Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Please make sure your child arrives to school on time because we have a fossil workshop scheduled as soon as we arrive at the museum. Please pack a lunch with items that can be thrown away, in a bag that can be thrown away.
Please make sure throughout this month your child comes dressed for the weather. We will be going outside as often as possible.
Our Academic Enrichment time is daily from 12:00-1:00pm. This time is specifically designed for our Kindergarten students to join as a group to work and progress through the advanced materials and lessons in the Montessori primary curriculum with Ms. Courtney. During this time Ms. Courtney also gives additional handwriting and journaling lessons. Throughout the school day in their classroom they are still working individually with their classroom teachers on these and other materials at their level. Please read through what we will be covering during this time together below.
Reading Group Overview | Ms. Faith
Junior Great Books is a foundational reading program that introduces students to a variety of literary genres, while teaching critical thinking and comprehension skills. Our Kindergarten students meet twice a week as a small reading group. During this time, they listen to a story being read to them and take turns reading the story aloud. Students pause during readings to think critically about the story, identify the different parts of the story, such as the characters and main ideas, make predictions about what might happen next, and learn new vocabulary words, using the context to understand the meaning. Each week I will email information about the current story and any assignment information for at home work.
Kindergarten Reading Group
In January, the kindergartners will be reading a Native American folktale called, Coyote Rides the Sun. After listening to the story, they will learn new vocabulary such as, deeds, falcon, haunches, and singed. They will complete two art activities in response to the folktale. The kindergartners will also write a question based off of the story to ask their fellow group members for a class discussion. There will also be a creative writing activity where the students work together to create a song about a time when they want to get up early in the morning to do something special. To end the activities, there will be a dramatization where the kindergartners will act like one of the animals from the story.
We will be ending the series at the end of the month, and will be reading a series of poems called Seasons. Each poem is about a different season. In response to the poems, the kindergartners will be drawing what they like about certain seasons. They will be lead in textual analysis with questions to make them think why the author wrote what he or she did, or what their favorite part is.
1/02: Introduction to 9 Tray/ 45 layout/composing numbers
Learning what is and says ( 1, 10, 100, 1000)
Reinforce by placement and identification of numbers within each decimal place
Reinforce number placement with creation of numbers
1/09: Introduction to addition
Working with 9 tray / 45 layout
Using single units, 10 bars, 100 square and 1000 cubes
1/16: Introduction to exchanging
Introduction of exchanging 1s, 10s, 100s and 1000s
Using single units, 10 bars, 100 squares and 1000 cubes
1/23: Introduction to multiplication
Working with 9 tray / 45 layout
Using single units, 10 bars, 100 square and 1000 cubes
1/30: Introduction to multiplicationcontinued
Working with 9 tray / 45 layout
Using single units, 10 bars, 100 square and 1000 cubes
Working with stamp game
Working with dot board
Sight Words of the Week: Try to find each word in books as you read to your child.
Synonym Words of the Week: Try to find each word in books as you read to your child.
During the first week of November we talked about food groups. The students learned about the five main food groups; fruits, vegetables, dairy, proteins, and grains. As a group the children created a food group pyramid and listed a variety of foods in each group. The students also enjoyed sampling a variety of foods.
The second week of November was all about Pilgrims and Indians. The class found out the Pilgrims came from England to our country for religious freedom. We read many books about what the Pilgrims experienced during their journey on the Mayflower and once they landed at Plymouth Rock. They even created their own Mayflower out of their hand prints.
The third week of November was a continuation of Thanksgiving and being thankful. The children shared what their families do for Thanksgiving to learn that we all have our own traditions. We focused more on why the Pilgrims and Indians ate a meal together. Each child shared what they were thankful for to create a classroom thankful turkey. We received responses from mom and dad, to pets, to sandwiches and chickens. The Harvest Party was a great experience for the students, teachers and families to help understand the true meaning of Thanksgiving and share a meal together. A big thank you goes out to all the parents who brought supplies in and came in to lend a helping hand!
The last week of November we turned our focus to practicing our songs for the Christmas program. The students have been working very hard to memorize the lyrics and motions down right! We are having an exciting time together preparing a wonderful Christmas Program for our families and we can’t wait to show you!
Academic Enrichment Group Time | Kindergarten The first week of November the kindergartners finished up learning how to tell time down to the minute. I would love it if they continued to wear their watches throughout the rest of the school year! We then learned all about coins and their amounts like pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and half dollars. We even learned a little song to help remember their names and values. The kindergartners also learned about dollar bills and their amounts. It was fun to watch them compare the dollar bills and coins and figure out different ways to make the same amount of money. The last week of November they learned how to label all the puzzles using the control charts in the classroom. The kids have been working so hard on their handwriting and journaling each day.
Reading Group | Kindergarten with Ms. Faith
During this last month, we read a Haitian folk tale called, Bouki Cuts Wood. In the story, the main character Bouki, meets a man who he believes is a diviner who can tell the future. Some of the activities the students worked on where drawing pictures based on the story, such as what they thought was the funniest part of the story, or what they would have done to Bouki to make him see that he was alive. The students came up with some great discussion questions for our group time, and we they discussed more in depth questions, like “What should have told Bouki that he was alive?”, and “How did the man know Bouki was going to fall out of the tree?” The kindergartners enjoyed this story, and really got a laugh out of how silly Bouki was. On our last reading of the story, I read the story aloud and the kindergartner would act out the events while I read. They got into character and had a blast bringing the story to life.
Science For our first science experiment in the month of November we watched a zip-lock bag explode by putting vinegar and water in the bag, then throwing a tissue ball full of baking soda inside and sealing the bag shut. When the vinegar and baking soda mixed we created an ACID-BASE reaction and the two chemicals worked together to create carbon dioxide. The gas needed a lot of room so it started to fill the bag, and kept filling the bag until the bag could no longer hold it anymore and, POP!
We also defied the laws of gravity by turning a full glass of water upside down with a piece of cardboard covering the rim. The kids were excited to discover that there were more air molecules pushing up against the bottom of the cardboard, creating a higher pressure area compared to the lower pressure area inside the glass. They learned the force from the atmospheric pressure holds the cardboard up and the low pressure zone in the glass prevents the water’s weight from pushing the cardboard down.
The last week of November we made our very own lava lamp by combining oil, water and food coloring, then dropping Alka Seltzer in it. When I put the oil in the water the students noticed how the oil stayed above the water because the oil was lighter than the water or, more specifically, less dense than water. When we added the Alka Seltzer tablet pieces they sank to the bottom and started dissolving and creating a gas. The gas bubbles then rose and took some of the colored water with them. When the blob of water reached the top, the gas escaped and down went the water.
Art By: Faith Weihe
This month your young artists had the privilege of learning many art concepts. Ms. Michele taught the students an art concept called resist. She had the class use oil pastels to draw an under water scene. Then, the students used watercolors to paint over their drawings. Because of the oil in the pastels, the watercolor doesn’t stick so the drawings still show up. The second week the students learned about observational art, which is when you look at an object and draw it. The students all had hand held mirrors, and looked at themselves to draw a self-portrait. The budding artists used pencil to draw their faces and features, and then used crayons to color. Ms. Michele talked with them about looking at the shapes of their features and had them feel their noses to get a sense of how to draw their face. It’s always fun seeing how the self-portraits turn out. For the last project, students drew each other for figure drawing. Each student gets to stand and pose while the rest of the class draws them. They learn how to draw features and how the students are standing in their pose. This is one of my favorite art projects because the students get so creative with their poses, and love having others draws them. After the students drew their pictures, they got to color their drawings in with markers. We will be looking forward to what Ms. Michele brings for art in December!
Music By: Faith Weihe
In November, Ms. Lisa continued singing songs with the students about being kind and having a choice for behavior. She played games where students roll a ball to each other in a circle while singing a song about sharing. Ms. Lisa also taught the students a couple of partner dances! They were paired up with a friend and then skipped or galloped in a circle to the song. The students danced to Skip to My Lou, and an old frontier song called Ride Sally Ride. We also got to play a listening game that wen to the tune of London Bridge. The students skipped in a circle while playing bells. The song would tell them to do something like jump up and down, dance, or freeze. These types of games are great for listening skills and controlling body movements. Some of the instruments the young musicians practiced playing were tambourines, and bells. Ms. Lisa always brings a puppet friend along with her to sing hello to the students at the beginning of each music class. The students get to practice singing in high and low voices, or loud and soft voices. At then end of the class, the puppet comes out again to sing good-bye to the students. Using the puppets brings a fun, whimsical touch to the class, and makes the students feel comfortable to sing in front of their friends. The students always love their time with Ms. Lisa, and look forward to seeing her each week.
Wow! I can’t believe how fast time is flying by! The children have been working really hard this month learning about the different types of clouds, weather, order of the rainbow, five food groups, healthy habits, transportation, and all about the first Thanksgiving. The children also had a lot of fun creating and preparing for our annual Thanksgiving feast!
The first week the children focused on nutrition. We read books about healthy habits. We discussed the different ways to keep our body healthy and we charted them too. I then posted a food pyramid on the wall and explained what each section was about. The children then were given different food pictures and were able to post the pictures in the right section of the food pyramid. When these children are participating in these activities they are truly understanding what it means to be healthy and what those types of food do for your body. We also learned the importance of vitamins and how they affect the different parts of our body. The next day we did a fun activity that taught them about how we spread germs and about hand washing. I started out by sneezing glitter into my hands and showing the children what your hand looks likes when you sneeze into it (this is a great visual lesson to teach this concept!). I then shook the child’s hand who was next to meand had them show the class what his hand looked like after he shook my hand (and I didn’t wash them). That child then shook their neighbors hands and this continued throughout the circle. The children couldn’t believe their eyes! Simply by me not washing my hands, I passed so many germs to so many people. It was such a great visualization for the children, helping them comprehend why hand washing is so important. We then practiced washing our hands by singing the alphabet song! The last day we talked about the importance of exercise and how much our body needs it everyday. I then showed them different pictures of people doing different exercises and the children had to act out the picture I showed them!
The second week we explored all about transportation. We first created a graph were they all brainstormed the different ways we can travel. Brainstorming ideas is so wonderful for children because it allows them to generate ideas within a group setting. We also had created another graph separated into three columns. The were labeled Land, Air , and Water. I then showed them pictures of different means of transportation and students had to place them in the right category. Sorting is extremely important because it is a beginning math skill. They also grasp the concept that actual things can belong and be organized into certain groups. We also made traffic lights by cutting, coloring, and gluing which promotes fine motor skills as well as identifying colors. We also discussed how maps are used and how people use symbols on a map. The children learned how a symbol is a picture on the map, representing something in the real world. They had so much fun that Ms. Ame and our class created a map of our classroom, how awesome is that?!
The third week I introduced The First Thanksgiving. I first explained to the children about what it means to be thankful for something or someone. We then went around the circle and shared what we were thankful for and then charted our answers. The next day we had a lesson on the Native Indian named Squanto. The children learned about his life before he met the pilgrims and then how he came to them and helped them. Students also received a lesson on the Mayflower. We read a few books on each subject , then lead a discussion about each of them. Lastly, our class was getting ready for our thanksgiving Harvest Party. During this time we made a wonderful and delicious soup together. We also prepared homemade applesauce and pumpkin muffins, and had fun with a few thanksgiving crafts. It was such a calm and wonderful day.
During our last week, the children learned about the different types of clouds we see such as cumulus, stratus, cirrus, and cumulonimbus. The children were able to look out the window everyday and talk about what clouds they saw that day. It was such a great lesson because the children really enjoyed learning about what they saw! Throughout that week we discussed the different types of weather we have here in Ohio and across our nation. During line time we learned about how a tornado is formed, what happens when other states have hurricanes, and how much snow you can get in a blizzard! The children also learned how rain and snow are formed inside the clouds, that strong winds are called gusts and that light winds are called breezes. The last day we read a great book about rainbows. The children learned how a rainbow is created and the color order, ROYGBIV! Wow, we had such a busy week!
Academic Enrichment Group Time | Kindergarten with Mr. John
We started out our month by introducing your children to high finance. We started out identifying coins (all different variations) of the penny, nickle, dime, and quarter. We looked at half dollars and dollar coins. We also went over the value of each coin. We then looked at the different “paper” bills.
We then changed our course to looking at what makes a living thing… a living thing. Living things reproduce, take in nourishment (eat), exchange gases (breath), grow, and move. We looked at different animals and the characteristics of animals. Mammals are vertebrates, warm blooded, have hair or fur, born alive, and drink mothers milk. Reptiles are vertebrates, cold blooded, dry scaly skin, born out of hard shell eggs. Amphibians are vertebrates, cold blooded, soft moist skin, born from jelly eggs. Birds are vertebrates, warm blooded, have feathers, born from hard shell eggs. Fish are vertebrates, cold blooded, have scales, born alive or from jelly eggs.
We can count to ten in 19 different languages. We can count in English, Latin, Spanish, Sign Language, German, French, Japanese, Greek, Arabic (with the Lebanese dialect), Italian, Russian, Romanian, Swedish, Tagolog, Hebrew, Korean, Hungarian, Irish, and Kiswahili.
Reading Group | Kindergarten with Ms. Kate
What I truly love about our reading club program is that with this particular curriculum it really helps the children get a better understanding of asking questions and sharing answers about the meaning of a story or poem. Throughout these past few weeks the children enjoyed reading The Tale Of Two Bad Mice, Bouki Cuts Wood, Night Into Dawn, and Fantasy. With each of these readings the children will read the selection several times and will work with it through a variety of drawing, writing, and oral activities. The children absolutely love to act out certain scenes in each of the selections. Dramatizations can make it easier for students to take in details and get plots straight. But they also help students interpret a story, as they think about what a character is thinking feeling. So the next time your child brings home their Junior Book Club reading book, pick a story out and act it out together!!
Science Enrichment by Ms. Kathleen
This month students learned about cylinder Strength. For example, what happens when we try to balance books on paper wrapped into a cylinder? The children all placed a book on top a papers rolled up length wise to form a cylinder. They all watched as the paper cylinder supported all the books! The strength of the geometrical shape known as the cylinder is one of the most structurally sound and strongest shapes. Once the paper was made into a cylinder with the help of rubber bands the tube now supported the weight of each book the children placed on top.
Students also loved the “Frightened Pepper” experiment. When Mr. John places pepper in a bowl for each child. He asked our scientists, what will happen when the children place a Q-tip with dish soap on it then placed a drop of soap on top of the water. The children all watched their own bowls as the pepper moved to the sides of the bowl. Why is this? It is because the dish soap lowers the surface tension. The water surface is strong enough to hold up light-weight objects such as pepper. Dish soap mixes with the water molecules and lowers the surface tension, when dish soap is placed near the pepper, the surrounding water has a high surface tension and exerts a force that pulls the pepper away from the dish soap. Music Enrichment by Ms. Sabrina
The children learned so much in Music class this month. As a bonus they also had an awesome time (and the teachers do too)! The children used their high voices and their low voices. Ms. Lisa’s songs teach us lessons. For example, they learned about having choices and whether to have a bad attitude or a good attitude.
Students also worked with the bells and tambourines, switching back and forth. They love using instruments in Music class. The children learned about sharing from one of Ms. Lisa’s songs and by passing and rolling a ball back and forth. A listening game was also played, using egg shakers. They listened for directions to stop, go, jump, spin, tip toe etc. Dancing included! A song about emotions was also learned. Emotions are just feelings, neither good nor bad. Tambourines were used, and our emotions were talked about. An echo game was also played, where voices bounced back and forth and we also had fun with our egg shakers again. Ms. Lisa also planned a dance where cooperation was required was executed well by the children. What another great lesson taught through music! They rocked it! The children also began to practice their Christmas songs this month, in preparation for the Christmas Show. Our students learn so much through music and movement and Ms. Lisa’s lessons! Art Enrichment By Ms. Ame
The first week of our November Art class, Miss Michele brought the playground inside the classroom. The students used different shapes of paper to create their own three-dimensional art. The students created slides, swings, tunnels and other imaginative playground creations. These creations were very impressive!
Next, Ms. Michele had students use both oil pastels and watercolors to create an underwater scene. The students first created their scene by drawing underwater plants and different sea creatures using the oil pastels. After they had completed their creatures, they used blue tinted watercolors to create the underwater effect. The oil pastels “resist” against the watercolors so that they keep their original colors and only the white part of the paper turned blue. It was a surprise for some students and a great lesson to teach the art of resist!
Students also created self-portraits in Art this month. This can be very tricky, but Ms. Michele guided the students in drawing the shape of their face. She provided each child with a mirror so they were able to look directly at their own face to draw the shape and colors of their faces, encouraging them to notice every detail! Ms. Michele also talked about the proportions of their faces, such as how the distance from the top of their head to their eyes is equal to the distance from their eyes to their chin. This made it easier for the children to place their eyes, nose and lips in the correct place in their portrait.
The students enjoyed these art projects this month. Ms. Michele’s art projects are one of a kind. Keep an eye on your student’s folder for these special creations as they are sent home!