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
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!!!