Welcome to Upper Elementary
We look forward to a year of adaptability, growth, expansion, and construction of not only a new building but also our minds. We hope this year is filled with new wonders, questions, and discoveries as our students dive into new research and new concepts. The words “did you know” followed by a newly discovered fact are always our favorite, we hope your children share these facts with you at home as well. We are so grateful to spend our days with your inspiring children and look forward to celebrating their work with you.
“The child has real vision, a bright little flame of enlightenment that he (she) brings us as a gift.” Maria Montessori
Karin Church, Upper Elementary Guide
B.A. University of California, French, International Relations
J.D. Boston school of Law
AMI Montessori Elementary Certification, The Montessori Training Center of Minnesota
The Children's House experience (2007-present)
Toddler Classroom Support & Elementary Classroom Support
Jamie Schaub, Upper Elementary Guide
B.A. Kalamazoo College, psychology and art
Masters of Arts in Education, St. Catherine University
AMI Montessori Elementary Certification, The Montessori Training Center of Minnesota
The Children’s House experience (2012-present)
Upper Elementary Guide
Elementary Classroom Support
March 22, 2018
This week in Upper El we are finishing up our United States studies as all 50 of us (Karin and Jamie included) present what we have learned about our assigned state. We have learned something new, quirky, and interesting about all of the states!
Our sixth years have returned from their Montessori Model United Nations experience. We loved watching them grow throughout our time in NYC. They started out feeling nervous and became confident. They met new friends and they reflected about themselves and who they want to be. They truly inspired us with their ideas.
The message that was repeated throughout the conference was this:
“find something that breaks your heart and do something about it.”
We hope all of our students follow this message in order to help make this world a better place.
March 8, 2018
This past week, the classroom has been abuzz with the discovery of facts about the 50 states. Each child will learn about one of the states and then will write a letter to a Montessori school in that state, sharing facts about our school and where we live. State flowers and unique nicknames have caught our attention, and we’re all planning trips to newly discovered National Parks.
As for other activities, a group of children have taken it upon themselves to identify and propose solutions for issues at our school. After gathering data about food waste in our school, measuring and graphing the weight of the compost in our classroom, and reading about food waste in the United States of America, two children invited Taylor Moore from Goodwill’s Food Rescue program to visit our class and share about his work and food waste in general. His hands-on approach was a hit and the children were shocked to learn that 40% of America’s food is wasted.
Thank you, parents, for taking the time to join us last week to discuss your wonderful children. Conferences are such a valuable time for all of us to share our experiences at school and at home, all the while strengthening the bonds of this important partnership.
This week, please join us Thursday, March 8, from 6:00-7:00 for a follow up conversation on “How to Raise an Adult.” And, if you’re available, come on in to the classroom this Friday, March 9, from 8:20-9:20, for a belated Parents’ Visiting Day. Our door is always open.
February 15, 2018
Wow! We have been busy the past week with theater! It has been a joy to watch our students dive into theater lessons and rehearsals! They are showing us new sides of themselves which is exciting to see. They have learned about creating characters, projecting, enunciating, and staging. One of the most entertaining parts of this past week has been watching the students’ improvisations. They are clever!
Our sixth years practiced their United Nations work by giving their opening speeches for the directors, who gave them helpful feedback about slowing down, pausing, and enunciating.
Most importantly, our students have learned how to: give each other helpful feedback about their public speaking, go with the flow, and be supportive of each other. They are excited to share all of their hard work with you!
We also had a very caring and thoughtful Secret Valentine celebration, which was a highlight of this busy week. They made clues, codes, colorful cards, thoughtful compliments, and a few extravagant treats. It is beautiful to see this caring and kind community celebrate each other.
February 1, 2018
Snow days and a delay day aside, the children’s momentum has begun to pick up, as 6th years complete their UN Position Papers and Opening Speeches, children share their research about skateboarding, fashion, and macaws, and our community prepares for its next group endeavor: theatre!
From February 7 through 15, Reed Zitting and Amanda Igra will help guide the children through many aspects of working as an ensemble, from warm up and improv exercises, to skit writing, to the importance of projection and enunciation. We look forward to welcoming you to their performances, which are sure to entertain and almost always surprise.
During this busy time, the children will also continue to practice core concepts, participate in the 100th Day of School, create clue cards for their Secret Valentines, and Jump Rope for Heart. There is also a Newbery Reveal Party to celebrate! Whew! Keep an eye on The Compass and please send any questions you may have our way.
January 18, 2018
We may not have had a regular week of school quite yet, but we have enjoyed many thoughtful and inspiring conversations with our students thus far in 2018.
Upon return to school in 2018 our students reflected on the past year, and thought about the year ahead. They wrote about their favorite parts about 2017, their strengths, something they are working on, and what they would like to learn in 2018.
Responses about 2017 included: making new friends, scoring his first goal, teaching the dog how to shake, making people smile, playing football in the snow with dad, enjoying the natural environment, and being a mentor.
Strengths included: being loving, playing music, drawing, and math.
They are working on: always being kind, writing a 100 page story, photography, jumping higher, not making a big deal out of things that aren’t a big deal, sewing in a straight line, spelling, and ice skating.
Things they would like to learn in 2018 include: the feelings of people, how to type fast, how to dissect, how to knit, how to help the earth, and more spelling lessons.
It was interesting to hear about our students reflections and wishes. They were a mix of academic, social, and community minded thoughts. Perhaps you can ask about their reflections at home, and share your wishes for the year ahead.
We have also told stories and shared conversations about the Civil Rights Movement, including many of the people who helped during this movement. We encourage you continue these conversations at home with your children.
Announcement: Our students have voted and decided to participate in a School Spelling Bee that is not registered through the Scripps Spelling Bee Organization. This means that they will not be able to move on to the County Bee. They will participate at The Children’s House on February 23rd. We will be sending spelling lists home so that they can practice.
December 19, 2017
Throughout the month of December, the faculty and staff of TCH have been sharing messages of gratitude with each other. These daily reminders of myriad wonders, both tangible and intangible, provided a way to ground oneself to what matters most during this busy time of year. As we send your children home for the holidays, we send them with warm wishes to you and all of your family members that these next two weeks and the coming year, for that matter, bring continued joy, happiness, and laughter. We are so very grateful to have you and your children in our lives. Thank you!
December 7, 2017
In our room we often discuss the word balance.
What is special about the balance of a Montessori classroom is that children learn that all things are interconnected. They connect their love of jumping to measurement and calculating average jumping distances. They connect our history lessons about colonialism to their Model United Nations study on the treatment of Indigenous Peoples. They also connect their studies in botany to our read aloud book (Wishtree by, Katherine Applegate) which describes many types of trees (and animals too).
This balance has lead to a room filled with discoveries lately, many of which are related to science experiments. They are testing their taste buds, reactions, force, and extracting the DNA of a strawberry. All the while they learn how to create a hypothesis, and write a conclusion about their experiment.
We encourage you to foster a variety of pursuits for your children. Going outside, reading, an art project, a sport, and sharing the things you love to do with your children. This balance is healthy inside and outside the classroom.
November 16, 2017
As we enter the holiday season, the classroom is abuzz with excitement about all that these colder months bring. The children know how they can contribute to the Stone Soup for the Harvest Feast, they are practicing singing “Harmonia Mundi”, and they are contemplating the meaning of this season.
Recently some of the children were asked to consider what the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday might mean from a different perspective. If they were Native Americans, how might they view these annual festivities? A reflection was read to the children to help them gain an understanding of why this holiday may evoke different emotions depending upon your culture and history. Looking at practices from a different point of view, trying to step into someone else’s shoes, builds one’s capacity for empathy and broadens one’s understanding of why people hold different beliefs and express those beliefs in different ways.
The math fact practice and spelling tests are moving along smoothly, but there is so much more that happens in this amazing community of young people. We are fortunate that we can learn with your children on a daily basis how to be our best and to fix mistakes when we can. A wonderful, concise article on the importance of developing these character traits and life skills can be found by clicking here.
November 2, 2017
The past couple of weeks have been filled with gracious hearts. From a couple of students deciding to collect Halloween costumes for children who cannot afford them to daily editing in the classroom, our students are supporting our community. They are realizing their strengths and sharing them with other by stepping in when they notice an opportunity to help.
In a Montessori environment we hope to see students supporting other students; it is the beauty of a mixed-age classroom. Adults will support and guide when we need to, but we hope to see our students sharing their skills and solidifying their knowledge by helping others around them.
This skill of helping in a kind way can extend to the home, to the community, the state, the country, and eventually to the world. This is something our students have a taste of when they participate in Model United Nations.
Our Costumes for Kids leaders proposed an idea, saw it through to completion, and realized the impact they can have by sharing their kindness. One act of kindness can inspire another, and another, until it becomes the culture and the expectation. We hear there is already an idea about collecting Christmas presents for children.
October 19, 2017
“What are some of the challenges of working with a group of people?” was one of the questions asked this week. “Choosing times to meet that worked for everyone” and “Clearing up miscommunications once they occurred” were two common sentiments that were shared in response. Not only did the children work together to create an end product, they reflected on the process and were able to articulate what went well and what could have gone better.
Group work in the Montessori classroom happens spontaneously on a daily basis and is also sometimes orchestrated to prepare the 6th year students for the big work of participating in Montessori Model United Nations and running a 6th year business. Working with other people, managing one’s time, thinking through all the necessary components, and following each task through to completion take practice . . . a lot of practice. Will items fall through the cracks? Will misunderstandings occur? Will Plans B, C and D need to be brainstormed and perhaps ultimately replaced? Perhaps. It’s most likely. These experiences, however, although frustrating at times, foster the development of skills that will enable these children to venture out into the world, ready to collaborate in effective, meaningful ways.
Practice in graceful collaboration happened this week in many ways: one group explored the art and science of making dye from plants, several others researched and presented options for raising fish in the classroom (sturgeon won!), two created an experiment and patiently recorded their observations as they altered the variables and changed their results, and fifteen 6th years continued to hone their business and group research skills, as they approach their first big deadline, October 24 – United Nations Day.
Thank you for allowing your children to practice these life skills at home, too. The more they participate in the daily activities that need to take place for your family to function smoothly, the more they’ll understand all that needs to happen and receive the necessary practice that will allow them to become active, contributing members of your family.
October 5, 2017
Many of our students had the pleasure of venturing out of the classroom this week. Our fourth years sailed on The Inland Seas and learned about plankton, benthos, fish, water quality, and navigation. They learned to raise the sails as a team and to identify microscopic creatures. They discovered many invasive species in our Great Lakes and brainstormed how we could protect and care for them as stewards of the lakes.
Our fifth years experienced the world of Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) through The Inland Seas program. The students worked in teams to design and build their own ROVs and then tested and adjusted them until they were satisfied. It was definitely an exercise in teamwork and they also had a lot of fun viewing fish through the underwater camera.
Our sixth years are finishing up their writing on the history of The United Nations and beginning to dive into researching The Russian Federation (this year’s delegation). They have been emailing students in a Russian Montessori school to learn more about their culture. We have also been trying to learn some useful phrases in Russian.
All of the instructors with The Inland Seas commented repeatedly how happy they were to have engaged, excited, and respectful students. Our students were present and curious, which made for an enjoyable fall day on the water.
September 21, 2017
Asked to share a personal fact, the children wrote down characteristics, talents, interests, and experiences that ranged from a passion for steak to the ability to read in Korean. Based on the clues, new classmates guessed who wrote the fact. As you can imagine, a lot of laughter ensued. What a thrill it was to join together to celebrate the uniqueness of each child and the joy of being part of a new community.
Our fifth and sixth years returned from summer vacation a little taller and much more confident in their ability to mentor their new fourth year friends. Over the years, the children have created traditions and customs in our community for which they feel pride and ownership. It is inspiring to see these elder students guide their new peers with kindness and patience and heartwarming how the new members welcome this support.
Although it’s early in the year, we have already imagined the creation of the universe, the coming of life and humans, and the arrival of language. Studies of hurricanes, bulldogs, pangolins and the United Nations fill our conversations, as well as the dissection of flowers and the 24/7 observation and care of a monarch butterfly’s transformation from larva to pupa. The wonder of it all fills our days.
We look forward to seeing all of you at this Sunday’s class picnic from 4:30-6:30 at Silver Lake Park. Thank you Allison Cavanaugh and Nicole Klau for planning what is sure to be a spectacular gathering! Bring your kickball game!!!