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Welcome to Primary Northwest

Alison Breithaupt
Dear Families,
Welcome to another year of learning and discovery. I would like you to be a part of your child's experiences in the classroom. Your child's success here at The Children's House involves keeping the lines of communication open between us. I look forward to sharing with you all of the wonderful happenings throughout the school year.

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

January 17, 2019

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day coming up this Monday we talked about him playing an important role in creating equality among the people during the civil rights movement. He wanted to resolve racism in a nonviolent and peaceful way. We had a conversation about how the African Americans were treated during this time. They were not allowed to use the same bathrooms, schools, restaurants and even drinking fountains as the white people. The children agreed this did not feel fair. We talked about how all people need to be treated equally no matter what color skin they have. Here is a song we have been practicing about Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King 

Was a mighty, mighty man

And a mighty, mighty man was he

He was a preacher and a teacher 

And a man of God

And he loved you and me

As a school we celebrate Chinese New Year as part of our cultural studies and the extended day children play an important role in this celebration. During Great Books, Rose Hollander, has been talking to the extended day students about China and the traditions of Chinese New Year. The extended day children will be performing the Dragon Dance. Currently, in the classroom we have been reading books about China, learning how to say "hello" in Chinese and some have been practicing writing Chinese characters.  

December 13, 2018

This week we have been talking about Kwanzaa. It is an African American celebration that lasts a week and starts on December 26th. The celebration honors the African heritage with feasting and gift giving. It is also centered around these seven principles which are Unity, Creativity, Faith, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics and Purpose. As a group, we talked about how most of these seven principles relate to our own classroom. With the respect for this culture and celebration, we did an African dance. The children always enjoy the opportunity to jump and sing.

In the past month, our classroom has grown a bit in size. We have welcomed four new students from the toddler classrooms. We are so happy to have Olle, Declan, Piper and Katie join our classroom community. It has put a new buzz in the classroom and has brought many opportunities for learning patience and lending a helping hand. As I am busy with these younger friends, the older children have to take it upon themselves to show leadership and exhibit more independence by solving many of their own conflicts. It is the beauty of the Montessori classroom.

With the holidays coming upon us, we are in the spirit of singing many festive songs. We have been busy working on Oh, Hanukkah and Jingle Bells. These are the two songs the primary classrooms will be singing for the holiday sing on December 21st. We have also been singing some of the other favorites as well. Our Spanish lesson this week included learning Feliz Navidad. Ask your child to sing it to you!

Next week, we will be focusing on Christmas and what it means to many of us. The season for giving and reaching out to others in need. Many of the children have already been busy working on gifts for their families. I wish all of you a joyful holiday season! May it be filled with love, laughter and peace!!

November 29, 2018

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families. We had a lovely Harvest Feast together last week. The children took so much pride in bringing in their food they provided. Before we took part in our feast, each child shared what they are thankful for in their lives. Our plates were full as well as our hearts. Here is the song we had been practicing in class in preparation for our Harvest Feast Day.

Now we are thankful for the night,
And for the early morning light.
For rest and food and loving care,
And all that makes the world so fair.

As part of the Montessori curriculum, it is important to expose the children to different cultures and celebrations from around the world. Being that Hanukkah begins December 2, our classroom will begin talking about this Jewish holiday or "festival of lights". Amanda Igra, our music teacher, brought in her menorah and spoke to the children about her family traditions. They were each given a dreidel and we will have a dreidel game set up as a work for the children to play in the classroom. We also hope to make some latkes for tasting.

On occasion, I like to bring in different types of foods for the children to try and to learn about. This week I brought in a pomegranate. Many of the children were amazed and interested in this unique fruit. As I opened up the fruit, I talked about the names of the different parts of the fruit, its origin and how one might use this fruit in cooking. There were rave reviews when all of the children tried the juicy gem-like seeds. Your children may be asking you to buy some pomegranate. The fun is taking it apart and finding all of the seeds.

November 8, 2018

It was a successful Pumpkin Fun Day on the 31st. The children enjoyed a morning with helping to carve our pumpkin and making some delicious pumpkin dip for snack. In the afternoon, we had a lot of fun with face painting, dancing, gourd racing, musical chairs and a spider craft. It was the perfect send off before the evening of festivities.

Spending time in the afternoon reading our chapter book is one of my favorites moments in my day with your children. I thoroughly enjoy watching their minds creating the pictures of the scenes and characters in the books. We recently finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I believe the children may have taken away some new thoughts on proper etiquette and why it is important to be a humble and grateful person. We have begun our new book on the biography of Helen Keller. The children have curiosity about how someone can communicate without being able to hear or see. We will be doing some different activities in class to experience what it may be like to be without one of our senses.

As we continue to talk about the different organs in our bodies, last week we talked about the heart. Why is our heart important? How can we keep our hearts healthy? We also took a moment in silence to listen to our own hearts. Why does the rhythm of our heart become faster when we are more active? The children have the opportunity to use a stethoscope and to learn more about our heart. Ask your child about some facts they may remember about the heart.

October 25, 2018

This week we had a group lesson on Pablo Picasso. We talked about his work and how the different experiences in his life affected his artwork style. Ask your child about the blue period and the rose period. The children have the opportunity to make their own Pablo Picasso in the art area.

The extended day children made some honey granola this week. It is a great lesson on reading, following a recipe, eye hand coordination and taking turns. The extended day children take great pride in making something for their community in this way. We enjoyed the granola for snack. It was a hit.

Some of you may have heard about Mr. Woody. I found a walking stick at my house last weekend. I decided to bring it inside and place it in a glass case. I researched on how to care for a walking stick and I discovered our walking stick was a male because it was thin and had a bump on his tail. I also learned he needed oak leaves to eat and to spray water in his environment. The children enjoyed learning and observing our new animal in our classroom. Unfortunately, Mr. Woody was only was with us for a week. He died this week. However, some of the children wanted to see where I put him outside and when we looked in the spot, he was gone! There was great conversation about this. Could he have walked away? Maybe he wasn't dead after all? Regardless, it set us up for another great discussion about the life cycle.

October 11, 2018

As Halloween is creeping up on us so are the decorations your children may see around the neighborhoods. With this, what a perfect time to talk about bones and our own skeleton. Where can you find the largest bone in our bodies? Or how about the smallest? What can we do to keep our bones healthy and strong? All of the children have the opportunity to make their own skeleton in the art area of the classroom. The children who are reading are able to label a skeleton with the names of the bones.

Each child plays a part in our classroom community. Whether they are a younger child developing relationships with others and knowing they can lean on those friends for help when needed. Maybe it is a four year old who is helping an older friend with a job and is taking notes for when they will have these responsibilities. This week the older children have been contribuiting to the classroom community by making biscuits for our classroom snack. They are taking turns being fully in charge of following a recipe. This means measuring the ingredients, pouring, stirring and cleaning up. They are so proud as they sit at snack and share the details with a younger friend. This younger friend knows someday they will get a chance to play this role as a contributer to his/her classroom community.

It is also the time of year for lots and lots of germs which may cause us to get sick. We all sat down and had a grace and courtesy lesson on how we can wipe and blow our nose. We also taked about how it is important to cover our sneezes and coughs in the bend of our arm. Washing our hands regularly and making sure we keep our fingers out of our noses, mouths and our eyes can help us to stay healthy. Together, we can hopefully prevent our friends and ourselves from getting sick.

September 27, 2018

It's fall! We have been talking about the new season and what it entails. How some of the animals hibernate while others migrate. There is the joy of harvesting all of the vegetables, herbs and fruits. Last week, each child took a turn peeling, coring and cutting an apple for the applesauce we made. The smell of the apples cooking filled the air as we worked during our morning. The joy of eating it the next day was just as exciting and delicious. This week we took some time at group and taste tested some different types of apples. We also plan on cutting our lemon balm and drying it for tea. Our hope is to use it for our tea work and be able to serve it to our guests. This preparation made by the children speaks to them and fills their curiosity.

As Maria Montessori said, children love to hear true stories. Some of you may have heard I had some paper wasp nests in my house. This is true! My husband was replacing the ceiling fan in our bathroom and he found two nests inside the ceiling. I brought them to school to share with the children. This story brought on many questions and encouraged some of the children to do some research on wasps. I also heard little conversations imitating my story with added information or it was "their dad" who found the wasp nests. So fun to see their excitement for learning and this development for expressive language and creativity.

It is hard to believe the first month of the school year is almost behind us. The children are feeling more comfortable with their classroom and with the routine of our day. As the new children become more at ease, their personalities begin to blossom and they find themselves ready to take on new things. The older children begin to get into the groove of choosing work to further their understanding of all the areas of the classroom. The extended day children take their role as the leaders very seriously. It is great to watch them always ready to assist their younger friend or take on those big jobs.

September 13, 2018

What a great start to the school year! It has been so wonderful to see the extended day children step into their new roles as leaders of the classroom and helpers to those new younger friends. It is amazing too see the growth and independence come alive with the other returning children. The new friends in our classroom are already adjusting to their new environment and feeling excited with all of the new work and responsibilities. I am eager to see how this new school year will unfold.

There is an important part of the Montessori curriculum called grace and courtesy. There are many lessons which make up these skills. We are currently working on how to watch someone work without disturbing them, how to wait for an adult's help or attention without interrupting and how we move in the classroom in a graceful and careful way. All of these skills are important to allow our community to work in harmony.

We planted some potatoes last spring and they are ready. Some of the children helped clean and peel the potatoes. We mixed them with some olive oil, spices and roasted them. What a delicious snack and an opportunity for some new tastes for the children to explore.

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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