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!
Welcome back and Happy New Year!