Welcome to Primary Southeast
Welcome! Children are often asked to adjust to our adult world. In the hope that every child has a place where they can "just be", our environment has been especially designed to include every aspect of life for your children. I invite you to read our classroom highlights to get a glimpse of your child’s world at school.
Please know I feel honored to observe and support your child’s development this year. Thank you for sharing them with me!
"If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man's future".
Megan Andrews, Primary Guide
B.S. Boston University, Early Childhood Education
M.A. Saint Catherine University, Education
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Montessori Center of Minnesota, St. Paul
The Children's House experience (2015- present):
Summer Primary Classroom Guide
May 24, 2018
Last Thursday afternoon we wondered down to the elementary Research Fair. We admired the students’ hard work and asked questions about their topics, including scuba diving, ice crystals and the Roman Empire. The projects inspired our children to begin research of their own! We had a research team studying galaxy collisions and a child learning about the parts of a pterodactyl. The moveable alphabet and mixed-age partnerships allow young children to delve into complex topics even if they haven’t mastered the art of handwriting. I can’t wait to see what the children choose to study next!
Our class also watched the end of the annual TCH Battle of the Books. Many children remembered details from My Father’s Dragon, Charlotte’s Web and James and The Giant Peach. We were pleasantly surprised by how many elementary level questions we could answer on our own! Right now, some of us are in the middle of reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Battle of the Books has made us even more excited to hear how it ends!
Grandparent’s Day is this Friday! We have been anxiously preparing to show our special friends some songs and materials on our shelves. Many children have thoughtfully started discussions about making sure our campus is safe for adults that might have trouble walking. They have also requested that I provide extra chairs and make my announcements a little bit louder for some of their grandparents. It is so sweet to see the children applying what they know about caring for others to a community event. We hope everyone enjoys this special day!
May 10, 2018
Last week we celebrated the first day of May with our annual Maypole Celebration. Children decorated hats, sang the Mayday Carol, and watched various ribbon dances. These school-wide celebrations give children an opportunity to look forward to the responsibilities and roles they will receive as they grow older. We are so excited to welcome spring!
With the arrival of spring, we have opened our outdoor environment. Children have the opportunity to bring a material to an outdoor workspace, care for our garden, or enjoy a book in the sun. The Della Terra team helped us grow radishes and children check on their growth each day! Dr. Montessori believed the outdoor environment to be just as important as the indoor environment, so we do our best to make the patio feel like an extension of the classroom.
We discuss different aspects of our solar system at birthday celebrations throughout the year. We celebrate our community's trip around the sun and the arrival of another spring season on May Day. At Dance of the Cosmos, we celebrate children’s transitions and their place in the larger school community. Extended Day children are beginning to research planets, comets, and asteroids to prepare for this culminating moment on the last day of school!
April 26, 2018
Last week we had a visit from the fire department (including two dogs)! Kasey and Cali reminded us what to do in a fire and how to treat dogs we don’t know. We also talked about smoke alarms, fire escape plans, and meeting points. Your children are eager to share what they learned!
On Friday, we attended the annual Poetry Jam organized by the Junior High students. Children spent time participating in six different poetry activities before gathering to share poems in a group. It was fun to hear original poems from children at each age level and it gave many of us an opportunity to practice public speaking.
Our class has been baking in small groups throughout the year, but we recently added an independent baking work to our shelves. After receiving a presentation, the child has the opportunity to independently bake his own loaf of banana bread. The child must read the recipe, gather the ingredients, and follow each step. We will add new recipes to the shelf as children master various skills.
Please note our class picture will be taken on Monday, April 30th!
April 12, 2018
I hope everyone had a great spring break. It feels good to be together again. Your adventures have inspired some wonderful storytelling!
As we approach spring, I am reminded of how hard your children have worked this year. Every presentation they received, practiced, and mastered has prepared them for the milestones they are achieveing now. Language development in particular is a result of experiences that build upon one another. Reading and writing cannot happen without enrichment of vocabulary, language appreciation, strengthening of the hand and so many more skills. Dr. Montessori called this indirect preparation. By placing equal importance on each step along the way, children build a solid foundation that allows them to spontaneously and joyfully acquire new skills.
It is National Poetry Month! We have been enjoying poems since the start of the school year, but children have recently developed an interest in writing their own poetry. We’ve discovered that there are very few rules in poetry - poems can rhyme or not rhyme, they can be short or long, they can be a story or a song…the possibilities are endless! Next week, we will gather in the gym for the school’s annual Poetry Jam. We are looking forward to hearing poems by some of our older friends!
March 22, 2018
We have introduced a tea serving work in our environment this month. An older child sets a beautiful table and a pot of tea for a younger friend. The two children engage in conversation while they enjoy a cup of tea. This not only fosters relationships between older and younger children, but also provides opportunities for the child to practice measuring, estimating, planning, and using table manners. Hosting a guest requires the child to think about another friend’s needs as he offers them sugar and cleans their dishes.
In the afternoon, we all take some time to rest. Some children choose to sleep, some find a relaxing independent work and others quietly listen to a chapter book. So far we have read The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Henry Huggins, Henry and The Paper Route, My Father’s Dragon, Because of Winn-Dixie and Stuart Little. Children are initially surprised and even disappointed by the lack of pictures in chapter books; however, they eventually discover the power of their own imagination. We have so much fun imagining what certain characters might look like and comparing our ideas. In this digital age, the overwhelming amount of sensory input leaves very little to the imagination. Chapter books allow children to relax, refine their auditory sense, follow a series of events, and develop creativity.
Whether you plan to stay in the area or travel next week, I hope you have a wonderful spring break. I look forward to hearing everyone’s stories when we return to school (and hopefully to spring) on April 2nd!
March 8, 2018
Thank you for making time to meet with me last week! I really appreciate our time together. Your insight and perspective is so important to the work we do at school.
We have started talking about Pablo Picasso in small groups this month. Children have admired his paintings, read about his life, and explored with cubism in their own artwork. Children enjoyed learning about Picasso’s “Blue Period” and how his paintings looked different during sad times in his life. Learning about artists helps the child develop consciousness of various art forms, periods and artists while also stimulating conversation.
These fluctuating temperatures have created a muddy playground, so we have added a boot scrubbing work to our environment. Many children have been carefully scrubbing, rinsing, and drying their snow boots after playing outside. They have also spent time cleaning their sunglasses! The two main tasks of the young child are to be become and to belong. They work to adapt to their environment and take pride in their personal belongings. The practical life work in our room satisfies these needs and supports children to take responsibility for their possessions. We will continue to add new practical life materials as we enter new seasons and discover new interests in our community.
February 15, 2018
Thank you for joining us on Parent’s Visiting Day! Your children love showing you a glimpse of our world at school. It is so special to watch how proud they are of their work. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions about anything you saw.
We welcomed a new child to our environment this week. Spencer is three years old and new to The Children’s House. To prepare for his arrival, we practiced introducing ourselves to someone we don’t know. This lesson is one example of a Grace and Courtesy Lesson, which gives children language and strategies to navigate social situations independently. Introducing a new child in February has been a wonderful opportunity for children to apply all of the grace and courtesy they have developed in the last few months. I observed children spontaneously offering to help Spencer with his snow pants, walk him to Friend’s Club and find a place to sit at a group gathering. Moments like these make me hopeful about the communities your children will build as adults.
Last week, I visited the Montessori Center of Minnesota and their partner Montessori school in St. Paul, Minnesota. I observed a primary environment and attended a workshop about refining the prepared environment. We call Montessori classrooms prepared environments because they are settings carefully arranged to provide the necessary conditions for the child’s development and the foundation for the building of his intellect. Every piece of the room has a developmental purpose. The workshop inspired me to evaluate our own prepared environment and work towards eliminating any obstacles to a child's natural development.
February 1, 2018
Last week, we had a special visit and performance from the TC Uke Guy. Bryan Boettcher played a combination of familiar and original songs on his ukulele. We got to sing along and hear how he does live recordings during some of his songs. It was especially exciting for the children leaning to play the ukulele themselves!
This week, we started talking about Chinese New Year. Thanks to Rose Hollander, the Extended Day children have learned about parts of Chinese culture and this special holiday. In the classroom, children will have opportunities to practice Chinese character writing on lucky papers and lai see packets. We will also enjoy traditional Chinese buns for snack. These discussions and activities are in preparation for the annual Dragon Dance on February 15th after Parent’s Visiting Day. We hope you can join us!
Our wonderful assistant, Allie Bukowski, is pregnant! Allie is leading gatherings with the group to share ultrasound photos and discuss different milestones. The children have had wonderful questions about the baby’s growth and are anxiously waiting to find out the sex of the baby! We are so grateful to be included in this exciting journey.
Valentine’s Day is approaching! Please let me know if you did not receive the handout with details about what to bring on February 14th.
January 18, 2017
I hope everyone had a wonderful break with family and friends. After a gradual start and a few snow days, we are finally settling in! Upon our return to school, the class welcomed two new children to our community. Charlotte and James moved up from YCC and have provided natural opportunities for your children to be mentors and leaders. Once again, I am reminded of the beauty of mixed-age environments.
We started our week by talking about Martin Luther King Jr. We read a biography about his life and talked about King’s important work. Many children were struck with feelings of injustice and shared beautiful thoughts about equality. I feel grateful to have found a philosophy of education that promotes peace, community building, compassion, and love.
The children are beginning to show signs of self or inner discipline. Discipline in the traditional sense is usually implemented by restricting the child’s freedom in order to control him; however, Dr. Montessori approached discipline very differently. In the Montessori environment, the guide works to support the child’s spirit rather than break it. Discipline is developed by the child as he freely and actively perfects himself. When the child achieves personal discipline and becomes the master of himself, habits will form that last the rest of his life. I observed this in our classroom last week when a child noticed our laundry had not been done. He gathered the dirty laundry and carried the heavy basket to the laundry room without an adult saying a single word. It is so exciting to watch this phenomenon reveal itself in our classroom.
December 19, 2017
I can’t believe 2017 is coming to an end. Your children have showed me how to learn from mistakes, persevere through challenges, forgive, and live in the moment. I am so grateful to spend each day with people that are so genuinely themselves.
Over break, I’ll be finishing “How to Raise an Adult” by Julie Lythcott-Haimes. TCH faculty and staff have joined together to read this important book about the results of over parenting. Please join us to discuss the book and related topics on January 11th at 6pm.
Have a wonderful winter break. I look forward to starting 2018 together!
December 7, 2017
Last Friday, the Interlochen Theatre Department performed scenes from Tuck Everlasting for TCH students. Children were mesmerized by their impressive singing and dancing. These performances are wonderful opportunities to practice being a member of an audience. Ask your child to tell you about his or her favorite part!
As we enter a snowy forecast, we are talking about the formation of snowflakes and the different ice crystal shapes. Snowflakes begin when water droplets freeze onto a spec of dirt or debris. Children have had the opportunity to create their own unique designs by cutting paper snowflakes.
We are also preparing for the Seasonal Sing-a-long on December 19th. Primary children are practicing two songs to share with you. The program begins at 2 and campus will close immediately after. We hope you can join us!
November 16, 2017
As the weather gets chillier, children have been talking about what it might be like to go to recess without all of their warm outside gear. We are so fortunate to have hats, boots, and mittens each day. TCH is partnering with Boots for Kids to help provide winter gear for area children. Your children have been thinking about clothes they might be able to donate and have shared stories about times they have helped someone in need. This year, Boots for Kids is requesting new (packaged) socks. If you would like to donate, please bring items to the basket in the lobby.
Our discussions about helping others in need have reminded me that philanthropy, empathy, and compassion are ingrained in Montessori classroom culture. Children independently and happily offer to help others in our community every day. When a child was struggling to remove a sheet from her nap cot, a friend immediately left his work to lend a hand. When Ruby joined our classroom last week, children jumped at the opportunity to explain a part of our daily routine. When a child felt sad at a group gathering, a friend moved next to him to rub his back. These moments showcase the important life skills children acquire when living in a community.
The class has also been planning for our Harvest Feast on Tuesday, November 21st. Your children carefully chose each item on our menu (please let me know if you don’t know what to bring). We also had discussions about how we should set up our tables for the feast. Children agreed it would be best to create one long table so we can enjoy everyone’s company. We will spend the morning of the harvest feast making a fruit salad, rolling turkey, creating small pizzas, preparing the tables, and plating the food for extended days to serve. Preparing and sharing a meal with others is a wonderful way to make connections. I always enjoy our conversations while cooking and tasting our homemade dishes. Thank you for contributing!
November 2, 2017
Thank you for joining me at conferences this week. I always enjoy exchanging stories about your wonderful children. While I met with some of you on Wednesday, the children enjoyed Pumpkin Fun Day. They had opportunities to do pumpkin hammering, pumpkin painting, facepainting, fall crafts, and pumpkin carving. I hope you all had a fun and safe Halloween!
We have started to talk about Spanish artist Salvador Dali in small groups. Dali started painting when he was eight years old and became one of the most prominent surrealist painters. The children enjoyed hearing that Dali often painted his dreams and made common objects look unusual. They had opportunities to discuss what they liked and didn’t like about his work. Discussions about art help children develop consciousness of various art forms, periods, and artists. They also stimulate conversation and generate ideas that inspire children in their own work.
The children have also been listening and reciting poems over the last few weeks. Allie shared one of her favorite poems, “Come Little Leaves” by George Cooper. We decided to recite one verse at our Primary Sing Along and will practice the other verses in the coming weeks. The poem is included below:
“Come, little leaves,”
Said the wind one day,
“Come over the meadows
With me, and play;
Put on your dresses
Of red and gold;
Summer is gone,
And the days grow cold.”
Thank you for joining us on Parent Visiting Day! The children thought carefully about what they wanted to show you. I hope this day provided a glimpse of your child’s life at school and the community we have created.
After Parent Visiting Day, the fire department visited to give a presentation about fire safety. The firemen reminded us what to do during a fire and how to prepare for emergencies at home. We even got to feel parts of their uniform. Ask your child to tell you about it!
Last week, our friend Hank brought in Gala, McIntosh and Honeycrisp apples he picked over the weekend. We discussed the differences in appearance and taste. The children unanimously preferred the taste of Honeycrisp apples. Your children are welcome to bring in items to share with our class, but please limit them to these categories: something from nature, photographs, something they have made or something from a different culture. Thank you for your help with this.
Don’t forget to sign up for fall conferences! Click here to sign up for a meeting time. I look forward to our conversations!
October 5, 2017
We ended last week with a great concert by local singer songwriter, Miriam Pico. Children were able to sing along to some songs and enjoy some of her original pieces. Musical performances give children an opportunity to practice being part of an audience, participate in a Q & A session, and engage with members of the community. We will enjoy another performance by Levi Britton at the end of this week!
At the end of each day, we gather to care for our environment. This time supports children to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility for our shared space. Although children independently care for our environment all day long, we use this time to make the room look beautiful for the following day. Children choose to help straighten shelves, dust, put chairs on tables, sharpen pencils, or unload the dishwasher. As the year goes on, we will introduce new roles like tidying the coatroom and refilling paper. At first, the young child doing these jobs is satisfying an internal need. As the child develops, he becomes more interested in the purpose of the work and its impact on the community. Eventually, the children see care of environment as a collective task that requires collaboration.
Join me and Julie Shearer at the Community Education event on October 11th at 4 pm to discuss your wonderful three and four year olds! We will use a book club format to discuss the books Your Three Year Old and Your Four Year Old by Louise Bates Ames. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and questions!
As I reflect on the week with your children and my conversations with all of you, I am reminded of this comforting call to action from Dr. Montessori, “It is too easy to judge every puzzling reaction, every difficult phase as a whim. Such whims should assume the importance of a problem that must be solved, an enigma that must be deciphered”. Children often tell us what they need, we just have to listen.
September 21, 2017
I can’t believe we are already moving into our fourth week of school! Allie, Norie, and I enjoyed spending time with all of you at our class picnic last week. It’s wonderful to reconnect with familiar faces and welcome new ones to our community. We have a special group of families and I look forward to supporting each other in the coming months.
We have spent the last few weeks focusing on Grace and Courtesy Lessons. Children between the ages of three and six have a natural urge to behave, belong and be loved. These lessons give children concrete language or skills in neutral moments to navigate social situations independently. Dr. Montessori referred to Grace and Courtesy lessons as the “social lubricant” in a community of children. We have practiced how to get an adult’s attention, blow your nose, observe someone who is working and many others.
Our first fire drill of the year is this Friday. We have discussed the school’s plan to keep everyone safe and have practiced walking quietly to the soccer field. We’ll continue to have different types of drills throughout the year so your children feel comfortable and safe.
I can’t help but smile each morning as the children trickle into our room. They have no idea how much they will grow in the next year or how essential their personalities are to our classroom environment. Still, each child enters the room eager to take on new challenges and start a new day.