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Welcome to Primary Northwest

Alison Breithaupt
Hello Everyone,
Welcome to another great year of learning and exploration. I am really looking forward to sharing with all of you the wonderful happenings in our classroom. I hope this will inspire some great conversations with your children. 
Thank you, 

Alison Breithaupt  alison@traversechildrenshouse.org

 "Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment" -Dr. Maria Montessori

Alison Breithaupt, Primary Guide
B.S. Western Michigan University, Family Studies
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Montessori Training Center of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
The Children's House experience (1996- present):
Classroom Support
Primary Guide


May 24, 2018

We often talk about the cycle of life. The beautiful and the unique stages every living creature experiences through their life. We have recently acquired some painted lady caterpillars in our classroom. It has been wonderful to watch these tiny little caterpillars grow bigger and bigger everyday. Some of them have begun their chrysalis stage. When they emerge as butterflies, we will release them into our gardens. We have been taking about what this next stage in life will bring for our butterflies. As we observe the metamorphosis of the butterfly, it reminds me of the three year cycle of the children in the classroom. They enter the classroom small, unsure and hungry for knowledge. They gradually build themselves into independent individuals full of new knowledge about the world. They are ready to be released into a new environment that will captivate these new desires and needs.

Grandparent's Day is one of my favorite days of the school year. The children are so excited to share their classroom environment with some of their favorite people in their lives. The grandparents are so wonderful to watch and full of joy as they spend this precious time with their grandchildren. The children have been very busy getting the classroom ready for our special guests. Some of them have been making our classroom beautiful by arranging flowers, cleaning windows and scrubbing the shelves. We are looking forward to this wonderful day!

Because of the beautiful days, we have been able to spend some of our afternoons reading outside. The current book we are reading is called One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson. This book brings up great conversation about the important things in life that truly make you happy. It is not about the material things, but it is about the love you feel for those around you and appreciating the time you have with them.

May 10, 2018

Last week we prepared for Cinco De Mayo by making a piñata. Some of the children got their hands a bit messy by putting the paper mâché on our balloon. After it was dry, some of the children participated in decorating the piñata by gluing lots of colorful tissue paper. The children also helped by making salsa. We had a fun celebration taking turns hitting our piñata, collecting the prizes inside and ending with our delicious fresh salsa with chips. Ask your child who celebrates Cinco De Mayo and why?

It is always fun to introduce a new technique in art with the children. I have recently shown the children quilling. It is the process of rolling, shaping and gluing strips of paper and making them into a design. It takes some time, patience and eye hand coordination. Many of the children have created some beautiful designs with this technique. While some of the children find it a bit challenging, they still give it their best and feel proud of their accomplishments.

With this beautiful weather revealing itself, we have taken more opportunities to experience it during our day. Some of the children have been helping with harvesting our plants, discovering we grew some very tiny carrots. We also have been looking outside for signs of new growth and living things. A couple of the children braided some yarn and attached them together to make a jumping rope. They took a moment to test out their jumping skills and their homemade rope on our patio. Yay! Spring!

April 26, 2018

We are getting ready to make a worm factory. We have ordered the worms and they are on their way. Many of the children ask me everyday if the worms have arrived. Some of the children have also been busy preparing the newspaper which will be placed in the box. Having the worm box in our classroom will be a new set of responsibilities. The children will have the job of keeping it moist and making sure the worms are fed properly. The children are looking forward to this new endeavor. I know it will beneficial to the children and our plants.

We will celebrating May Day as a school on May 1st. The celebration of May Day has been a tradition at our school ever since our school started. There will be beautiful music and dancing to bring in this new season. The children have all made little crowns decorated with flowers and ribbon. The extended day children play a big role as they will be dancing around the May pole. The children have been practicing The May Day Carol which will be sung by all of the primary children. We hope this day will bring beautiful weather for our spring festival.

As our school year winds down, the classroom still buzzes with wonderful work and energy. However, as we all get used to practicing our tasks everyday we may forget about those small but important details. We have been having group lessons on how we walk carefully in the classroom making sure to walk around our classmates' work. When we put something away, we make sure it is properly cleaned up and put on the shelf exactly how we found it. Lastly, always remembering to use kind words when we are talking with each other. It is the beauty of the harmony of the classroom.

April 12, 2018

April is poetry month! I have been reading different types of poetry to the children. Together as a class, we wrote a poem about spring. You will find this poem below.

As a school, we will come together on April 20th and the students will have the opportunity to read a poem of their choice. The younger students will also participate in some learning activities related to poetry which will be led by the junior high students.

Jumping on the trampoline
I can play baseball
Running in the field with your dog
Driving my grandpa's tractor
Playing outside with my brother
We can camp and roast marshmallows
Planting with my grandma
The flowers come out on the trees
It's Spring!

We celebrated No Ruz this week. It is a traditional Iranian festival of spring, which starts at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, commencing the start of Spring. It is considered as the New Year among Iranians along with some of the other ethno-linguistic groups. It has a lot to do with fresh, green foods just beginning to poke out of the ground. The extended day and Rose Hollander presented and served some traditional foods like olives, sprouts, boiled eggs and wheat pudding.

As you all know, one of my favorite parts of the day is reading to your children. We just finished The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. It is a book about survival, bravery, and coping with hard times. Nature played a big part in the book being that this young girl had to hunt for her food to survive, live in harmony with the animals and endure the harsh weather that sometimes enveloped the island. This book inspired great conversation and gave the children knowledge about our natural world.

March 22, 2018

Spring is here!! We are beginning to plant some carrots, cilantro, lemon balm and lettuce in our classroom greenhouse. As I brought out our classroom greenhouse from my closet, many of the children were filled with curiosity and wonder. Excited to see what will be planted and if they can be a part of it. Getting their hands into the soil, helping me collect the seeds, planting them with a delicate hand and filling our greenhouse container with lots of water made for a wonderful start to our new season of beginnings.

We talked about the significance of the egg with the upcoming holiday of Easter. In many cultures around the world, the egg is a symbol of new life and rebirth. For thousands of years, Iranians and others have decorated eggs. Some of these eggs are decorated using the art of Faberge. I showed the children some examples of this. I also blew out an egg using a Russian tool specifically for this process.

I hope you all have a wonderful Spring Break!! Let this be a time of relaxation and spending some time in nature with your loved ones.

"There is no description, no image in any book capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them in the forest."  Maria Montessori

March 8, 2018

Let's talk about evaporation, condensation and precipitation. The water cycle! The children learned about the process of the water cycle. We have an experiment in our classroom with a bowl of water, plastic wrap and a lamp. Hopefully, we will get the opportunity to see this natural occurrence. Ask your child about it.

We celebrated President's Day this week. Some of the lower and upper elementary students performed a song with all 44 presidents. Everyone had some fun learning about some interesting facts about each president. Many of the participants dressed up as their president and had a great song to share. This has become a tradition at The Children's House to take a look at our political history and have some fun while learning a little bit too.

I attended a Montessori Refresher Course in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago. Going to these refresher courses always fills me up with great reminders and new ideas. The main focus of this course was how food plays a big part in our whole world, but also in our little classroom community. Food brings people together. It can give the children the necessary skills needed for building concentration, strengthening their hands and the skills of working together. As the children measure and divide the ingredients they are using their math skills. When the children read the recipe and learn about the where this food came from they are taking in language and information about the world. Their senses are full of wonderful smells, different tastes and beauty. I hope to bring these ideas to our classroom community. Let's get cooking!

February 15, 2018

Last week, our classroom felt comforting as the scent of baking bread filled our classroom. The children also worked together to make butter with our butter churner. Some of them participated in making the herbed bread, kneading it and watching the bread as it rose. The next day the children were so excited to try their bread and the butter they helped to prepare.

We celebrated Chinese New Year this week. It was an eventful day with Parent's Visiting Day in the morning and the Chinese New Year following. The extended day children created an atmosphere of excitement and suspense as the dragon danced its way down the middle of the gym floor. The rest of the school made lots of noise with their hands on the floor to scare the dragon away. When we came back to our classroom we enjoyed oranges, which are a symbol of luck for the new year, Chinese buns and some noodles. We all ate our noodles with chopsticks. It was fun to watch the children and they had a great time attempting this new challenge.

As we sat at group getting ready to pass out our secret Valentine's, we took a moment to talk about what Valentine's Day means to the children. What beautiful responses! "It is a time to do nice things for the ones you love." "Spend time with your family." "Show others you love them by saying nice things to them." "Appreciating the love around you, the nature, the people and the beautiful things." The children enjoyed handing their Valentine they made to their friend. It made the other person feel very special. I hope all of your children enjoyed opening all of their Valentines they received from all of their friends.

February 1, 2018

What is the largest external organ of our body? Yes, it is the skin!! We talked about some amazing facts about our skin. The outer layer of the skin is called the epidermis and the thickest part is on the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands. It protects your bones, muscles and internal organs. It also protects you from outside diseases. Lastly, the skin allows you to feel and react to heat and cold. We took the time to feel different textures and temperatures.

Last week we read a biography about the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. We listened to a sample of Eine Klein Natchtmusik by Mozart. In the next few weeks, the children will get the opportunity to hear different samples of classical music from Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Handel.

The extended day children are busy preparing for Chinese New Year coming up on February 15th. They have been practicing writing Chinese characters and placing lucky papers outside our classroom doorway to bring good luck for the new year. This Thursday they will be making Chinese buns with Rose for the celebration. They will also be sewing sequins and buttons onto patches which will be added to the dragons' tails. The extended day play a big part in the celebration. They will be the dragons as they do a special dance in the gym with all of the children of the school watching and partaking in the celebration. Please, join us after Parent Visiting Day to watch the festivities.

Do you want to raise an independent and confident adult? We all do!! Come join in some conversation about this topic. There will be an opportunity for this on February 6th at 8:30am and 3:30pm.

January 18, 2018

How is a snowflake formed? What is in the snow? These are a few of the conversations we have been having at group. Every school year, I bring in a bowl of snow and the children watch as the snow slowly turns to water. Once this happens, they are always amazed how much dirt is in the water. Yuck! Maybe this will deter them from putting it in their mouths. :) We also tried to make some crystals using baking soda and water. Next, we will try water and Epsom salts.

Your children are amazing little people! We had four new children join our classroom recently. There names are Joy, Jeremiah, Roan and Soren. It has been so nice getting to know them and they are a great addition to our classroom community. Your children have been so helpful to them and understanding as my attention is sometimes directed toward these new friends. Their independence really shows through. Your children's ability to make work choices, concentrate and to work together as a community is so great to witness.

Last week, I asked the children at group if it would feel fair if all of the people with blonde hair couldn't have lunch and everybody else could. Of course, many of them did not think this sounded fair. This lead me to talk about Martin Luther King Jr. and all of his great work. We read a book about his life and finished with a song.

December 19, 2017

I am grateful for the time I get to spend with your children everyday and I appreciate the support I receive from all of you on a daily basis. It means so much. I wish you all a peaceful and joyous holiday! See you in 2018!!

"We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole community." - Maria Montessori

December 7, 2017

With the holidays upon us, we have been talking about the season of giving. It may be volunteering your time to help someone else or making a gift for someone special in your life. All of these small acts of kindness can mean so much. The children came up with some great ideas. Some of them thought baking some cookies, shoveling snow or making a card for someone would be a kind gesture. In our classroom, the children are often showing these kind actions by helping a friend or even making art for each other. In the next couple of weeks, the children will be creating a gift for someone they care about. They are excited to take part in this tradition and share in this wonderful feeling of making someone else feel joy.

We will be talking about Hanukkah which starts December 12th. Currently, in our classroom we have a dreidel game the children are welcome to play with another friend. The history of this Jewish holiday will touched on as well as some songs. Amanda will be bringing in her menorah for the children to see and the kitchen will be offering latkes for lunch.

In the afternoon, we are reading The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. The main character is a trumpeter swan, Louis, who is unable to make a sound. He is given a trumpet and learns how to play it beautifully. I wanted the children to see and hear another amazing trumpet player from our music history named Louis Armstrong. I showed them some pictures and we watched a short video of Louis Armstrong singing and playing his trumpet. Afterward, the children were all trying to blow up their cheeks as he was so famous for and pretending to play the trumpet. I will be bringing in a trumpet for the children to examine and play if they would like to.

November 16, 2017

Our handwriting time in the classroom this week was delightfully interrupted by a show in nature. One of the children in a state of concern came to get me to show me a small spider with a large stink big trapped in its web. "How exciting!" I said. "Our own nature show!" We all proceeded to be an audience to this amazing battle. Who would win this fight? We all sat, observed and asked questions. In the end, the spider conquered this large specimen of a meal. The children had a chance to stop, slow down and take some time to experience the small miracles of our world. I discovered we may need to be more diligent about dusting our classroom. :)

As fall seems to be quickly turning to winter, the cold tells the animals to take cover and prepare by storing food for the approaching season. The children are helping the birds who stay around our area find some food during these chilly months. They are preparing pine cone feeders with sun butter and birdseed. As the children are bringing home these feeders, I hope you can find a special place to watch the birds and know your child played a part in helping our feathered friends outside.

The children have been busy preparing for our Harvest Feast next Tuesday the 21st. Thank you for supporting your child's choice of food to bring in for our feast. The list has a variety of delicious choices and I realize some a little challenging. We look forward to sharing the meal together the children have created. I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

November 2, 2017

We had some great Halloween fun! During our morning work time, we carved a jack o lantern where many of the children participated in scooping out the pulp. The children also enjoyed coloring some pumpkins and eating pumpkin seeds for snack. In the afternoon, the children enjoyed some dancing, spider racing, a craft, face painting and gourd racing with brooms. I hope you all had an enjoyable Halloween.

This week we talked about a very important organ in our bodies, the heart. The children and I talked about how the heart beats about 115,000 times a day. We all sat quietly, put our hands on our hearts and listened. I asked them if their heart was beating fast or slow. What happens to our heartbeat when we go outside and run? Does it beat faster? Why does this happen?

I thought I would add this quote from Maria Montessori. Great words of wisdom to think about your child becoming an independent person.  "The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one's self. Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be. Such experience is not just play...it is work she must do to grow up."

October 19, 2017

Bones! Bones! Bones! We have been talking about many of the names of our bones, how many we have, what bones are made of and what makes them strong and healthy. Some of you may have noticed the skeleton gluing work coming home. Some of the readers in our classroom have been labeling a skeleton with many of the names of the bones. Ask your child which bone is the biggest and where you can find the smallest bones in the body.

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives there are few moments of silence. We may be lucky to have small windows of mindfulness. All of us need these moments of peace and clarity. It is important for our brains to recharge and be able to focus. We have been practicing the silence game, which is an opportunity to experience mindfulness. We all sit together in a circle and be silent, keeping our bodies still for a small moment of time. This week we started with one minute. My hope is that we can increase this to three or maybe even five minutes.

Thank you for attending Parent's Visiting Day. It was so great for your children to have the opportunity to show you what they have been busy working on and accomplishing in the classroom. They were so excited for you to come to their classroom environment. Many of them helped to prepare for your visit by cleaning the shelves, washing the walls and cleaning our easel. It was great to have you.

October 5, 2017

Last week we had a discussion on Pablo Picasso. We read a short bibliography about his life as an artist and I showed the children some of his art pieces through his career. He was the pioneer of cubism, inventor of collage and a contributor to surrealism. The children were particularly entertained by his unusual paintings of people. We have an art choice on the shelf which allows the children to create their own Picasso using wooden pieces, fabric, googly eyes and paper.

Last Friday, Miriam Pico came to our school and performed in the gym for all of the students in our school. She was full of positive energy and the children really enjoyed her songs, especially when they could join in and sing along. She is originally from Puerto Rico and shared some songs in Spanish too. She has family still living in Puerto Rico and our thoughts and prayers go out to her and her family.

It is such a wonderful time of year to enjoy the harvest of fall, taste the wonderful foods, and take in the comforting smells. I look forward to making some applesauce and pumpkin pancakes in our classroom. Even though this dawning of our new season prevents us from growing new things, we have been enjoying watching our bib and medley lettuces grow in our classroom, along with some kale and cilantro. Some children and I planted these things a few weeks ago in our small lighted greenhouse. We look forward to making some salsa and collecting the greens to make a delightful salad.

How many of you have questions about your three or four year old? Why is he having a hard time with change? Or why is she not listening as well as she used to? Hopefully, these questions and many more can be answered on October 11th at 4:00. Julie and Megan will be leading this discussion and look forward to sharing this information with you. More details about this presentation can be found in the Compass.

September 21, 2019

As we enter into our second full week of school, many of the returning children have jumped right back into the routine of our school days and many of the new children are finding their groove into their new space. It is so amazing to watch the older children be mentors to the younger children. They have looked forward to being an extended day student and now they have bigger responsibilities and privileges they are taking on with pride. The younger children observe and learn from these older friends because some day it will be them. It is the beauty of the multi-aged classroom in Montessori.

A big part of the Montessori curriculum are the grace and courtesy lessons. We have been having quite a few lessons lately on how we wait patiently for an adult's attention without interrupting, how we observe a friend working without interrupting their focus and how we move carefully through the classroom by saying, "excuse me, please" when a friend might be in your way. These are just a few of the many grace and courtesy lessons the children will be practicing here at school. I encourage you all to continue these lessons with your children at home as well.

It is harvest time! Some of the children who have been eating school lunch have had some opportunities to try some vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes. We will be cooking a spaghetti squash in the classroom this week and giving it a taste test. We will also be trying some different kinds of apples and finding out which one is a favorite.

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5363 N Long Lake Rd. | Traverse City, MI | 49685 (p) 231.929.9325 | (f) 231.929.9384 | email: learn@traversechildrenshouse.org