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.
Your children are often working independently to meet individual interests and needs, but this page will give you updates on our work as a community. I will share group discussions, class trends, community goals, and relevant Montessori concepts.
Please know I feel honored to observe and support your child’s development this year. Thank you for sharing them with me!
March 21, 2019
Last week, we spent each day reading a Saint Patrick’s Day book. We read some nonfiction books with information about the origin of the holiday and some fictional stories based in Ireland. We ended the week with Fiona’s Lace by Michigan born author Patricia Polacco. The book is an authentic immigration story of an Irish family arriving in Chicago. Children made many wonderful connections to their own experiences in Chicago, family members from Ireland and memories of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations.
On Friday, Wings of Wonder visited TCH. The primary children met a great horned owl, a red tailed hawk and a turkey vulture. They felt and observed raptor talons, wings and pellets. We learned so many interesting facts, including the purpose of a turkey vulture’s extra large nostrils. The holes allow the vulture to continue breathing while inside a dead animal’s carcass! Ask your child what they remember from the exciting presentation.
We are practicing a new song to learn the days of the week in Spanish. The song is sung to the tune of Frere Jacques. Use these lyrics to sing a long with your child:
Jueves y Viernes
Jueves y Viernes
Whether you are enjoying the first warmer days in Traverse City or traveling over spring break, I hope you have a wonderful week! I look forward to hearing everyone’s stories when we return.
March 7, 2019
Thank you for meeting with me for conferences last week. 100% of our families made time for an individual meeting about their child. I am inspired by all the adults in our community thinking thoughtfully about how to raise a child for our unpredictable future.
In many of our meetings, I found myself talking about Dr. Montessori’s three stages of obedience. The young child begins by only following requests that align with his own desires. With time and experience, the child begins to follow requests because he sees they are good for the group. The last stage describes children finding joy in obeying others. In other words, once a child has internal discipline, he can begin to respond to the requests of a community. It is important to remember that our children are on a long continuum of development.
Children have Spanish on their minds this week! Their ability to pick up nuances of the Spanish accent and recall new vocabulary always surprises me. Many children are teaching the names of colors in Spanish to our new children and learning the names of family members. Mom is mama and dad is papa. Sister is hermana and brother is hermano. Ask your child what else he can share with you!
February 21, 2019
I spent the last weekend in New Orleans attending the American Montessori Internationale 2019 Refresher Course. It is amazing to see how many trained guides are working to bring quality Montessori to all children. The primary portion of the conference honed in on the sensorial area of the 3-6 environment. This area is so unique to the Montessori Method, but can also be the hardest to appreciate. The materials in the area were specifically designed to refine the child’s senses. But what does this mean?
Each sensorial material isolates a specific quality. For example, the Pink Tower requires the child to use his visual sense to discriminate dimension as he grades the cubes from smallest to largest. As a child works with these materials, he is developing the ability to discern between two qualities, which eventually can translate to the ability to discern between two world views. The child will acquire the capacity for clear judgment and the ability to see beauty in the nuances of the world. Going forward, I hope we can start a dialogue about the sensorial area and make it feel more accessible.
We have also welcomed Silvio to our environment this week. Silvio transitioned from Jeanette’s Young Children’s Community across the hall. After a few visits, the children are excited to have him with us full time! At this point in the year, it is wonderful to have more opportunities to practice helping a friend before you help yourself. This important grace and courtesy lesson supports the children to honor communal life and understand that each of us has strengths to offer the group.
I look forward to meeting with all of you at conferences next week! Please be sure to sign up for a 30 minute time slot by Friday.
February 7, 2019
Welcome back! I hope everyone stayed warm during our unexpected January break. Before the snow days, our class had some wonderful discussions about Martin Luther King. Children shared information with each other and reacted with disbelief when I explained segregation. They wanted to know why anyone would disagree with MLK’s dream and even reflected on parts of their own lives that were affected by his work. The children’s comments were proof that our community is educating for peace.
Rose Hollander has started talking about Chinese New Year with the Kindergartners at Great Books. They have learned about life in China and will help explain the special holiday to the rest of our class. With Rose’s help, we will have the opportunity to practice Chinese character writing, decorate the dragon, learn Chinese words and taste Chinese food. On Thursday, we gathered in the gym to watch Kindergarteners perform the annual Dragon Dance!
At the end of last week, we read a book about Groundhog Day. We learned about Punxsutawney Phil and how the holiday started. Although the famous groundhog has only accurately predicted spring 39% of the time, we were excited to see the result last Saturday. It is hard to believe but Phil thinks spring is on the way!
Valentine’s Day is coming up. We use this holiday to talk about friendship and express gratitude for the people we love. Pease let me know if you did not receive a copy of the handout that outlines our guidelines for Valentine cards. Also, don't forget it's the last week to help put together our gala basket. Please drop donations at the front desk or contact Erin Gartland with questions.
January 17, 2019
After two weeks away from the children, I felt absolutely in awe of our community when we returned. With a fresh perspective, I observed the children take care of each other and our space. I observed incredible perseverance, compassion and humility. It made me think about the skills they will carry into the world as contributing members of society.
For example, one child practiced time management as he planned to do his handwriting work at the same time each afternoon so he would finish before gym. Another pair of children independently agreed they needed to clean the easel so it would be beautiful when we all arrived to school the next day. Another child reminded a friend to use less paper because our community is trying to be mindful of wasting resources. An older child told a young friend to practice patience and never interrupt another person’s concentration. The list goes on and on.
Our class has been thinking about Traverse City artist and TCH performer, Levi Britton. Levi has been very ill and recently underwent heart surgery. We have added him to our Kindness Tray and plan to send a package in the next couple of weeks. Your children have written the most thoughtful notes to Levi. In an egocentric stage of development, it is so important to give children opportunities to put themselves in other’s shoes. It can be difficult to understand that someone else’s needs are different than your own, but your children have done a beautiful job.
Also, please remember we have open spots for volunteers to listen to emerging readers. The children look forward to this every week! The sign up link is:http://signup.com/go/iyLaYjU
December 13, 2018
Last Friday, our kindergarteners had their first art class with Alison Hoffman. They learned about different types of lines and practiced mixing mediums. The materials are now on our art shelf so kindergarteners can share their knowledge by giving the presentation to a friend. Giving presentations to others promotes children to think about their own thought processes, otherwise known as metacognition.
Maria Montessori had a vision of world peace. In an effort to honor this important piece of the method, I will introduce a new material called The Kindness Tray. The tray will allow children to write notes or draw pictures for someone the class is thinking about. It will help children become conscious of other’s needs and challenges outside of our small community. The person featured on the tray will change throughout the year, so please let me know if you someone in your life could use an envelope of well wishes from our class!
The children are preparing for our Seasonal Sing-a-Long performance on Friday, December 21st at 2pm. The kindergarteners will perform songs on stage and the rest of the class will sing from an area in front of the stage. If your child does not usually attend school on Fridays, they are still welcome to participate! Please send me an email if you’re planning to send them in the morning or before the performance. I look forward to seeing everyone before we part for winter break!
November 29, 2018
Thank you for all your work to make our Harvest Feast a success! Your children shared sweet moments from their year and did a wonderful job serving our delicious meal. They were patient as they made sure every child had a full plate before taking a bite. Sharing a meal is a wonderful way to say goodbye before a break from school. I hope you all had a wonderful few days with family.
Last week, Allie returned from a trip to Hawaii and brought many souvenirs for the class. She gifted us a book called “Baby Honu’s Incredible Journey” by Tammy Yee. It is the story of a young turtle that travels from the beach to the sea. The book talked about the process of hatching and introduced us to some new Hawain words. Allie also brought pieces of sea coral and lava rock for us to feel and observe. We are thrilled to have her back and look forward to hearing more stories about her travels.
Our class also attended a performance by local artist Chris Smith. We sang along to a few familiar songs and practiced being audience members. We will have more performances by local artists throughout the year. These are wonderful opportunities to be a part of the greater community and be inspired by new instruments.
Ask your child about the new member of our community! We welcomed Lucy to our primary environment on Monday. She transitioned from Jenny’s YCC room and has already become an important member of the group. Your children look forward to introducing you soon!
November 8, 2018
Thank you for making time in your busy schedules to meet with me last week. I always appreciate your insight and feel grateful for our supportive partnerships.
Last week, we celebrated Pumpkin Fun Day. Children participated in a pumpkin hammering work, pumpkin crafts, face painting and a pumpkin cooking project. Our exciting morning ended with a Halloween performance by the West Senior High Drumline. Their showcase inspired children to try out their own beats the rest of the day! In the afternoon, we collaborated to draw a face on our pumpkin and carve a jack-o-lantern. We roasted pumpkin seeds and watched our jack-o-lantern glow in the dark.
A big part of the child's work in a primary environment is learning to regulate his or her emotions. We support children by labeling feelings (frustration, sadness, anger), practicing strategies in neutral moments, facilitating conversations and bringing awareness to others’ emotions. It is so important to honor these difficult and real feelings while supporting them to react in appropriate ways. If you’re interested, I am always happy to chat about this topic!
Many of you may have heard about Ariel, our observer and trainee from Montessori Northwest training center in Portland, Oregon. Ariel is observing our environment for two full weeks. It has been a great opportunity to practice introducing ourselves, greeting an observer and working in front of others. The Montessori Method is an observational method, so Ariel is working to perfect her observational skills by using objectivity and evidence based analysis. Please let me know if you’e hoping to be an observer in our environment.
October 25, 2018
As many of you heard, we welcomed a new child to our community on Tuesday. Rilla transitioned from the YCC and is now in our room full time. Mid-year move ups provide new opportunities for mentorship and leadership. We are trying our best to be role models and help our new friend feel welcomed.
We are also beginning to prepare for Pumpkin Fun Day on Wednesday, October 31st! Children are taking turns washing our pumpkin so it is ready for carving. We will collaborate to decide on a jack-o-lantern face and prepare the seeds for roasting. Please save costumes and candy for your after school celebrations.
Every Thursday, Amanda joins our class to lead a group gathering. Amanda has introduced our class to many new songs, finger plays, and instruments. This week, we are learning to keep the beat of a song with castanets.
Fall conferences begin next week! Please make sure to sign up for a 30 minute meeting with me by clicking this link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0b48ada729a1f58-megan1 I look forward to meeting with all of you!
October 11, 2018
Many of the older children in our environment are reaching a new level of independence. They are beginning to use their knowledge of letter sounds and phonograms to read. To achieve fluent reading, children need repeated and frequent opportunities to practice decoding and deciphering text. If you would like to volunteer to listen to our emerging readers, please click the link to select a time slot: http://signup.com/go/iyLaYjU . The children will be excited to share what they’ve been learning!
Last week, we introduced an important activity to our new children called Walking on the Line. The Line is a material specifically designed by Dr. Montessori to build up a child’s control of movement. She called movement essential for cognitive development. Walking on the Line supports the child to develop balance and equilibrium while also supporting him to realize that he is in charge of his own actions. The ellipse on our floor acts as a guide for our feet. As we master balance and equilibrium, we will add more complexity to the activity by balancing a bean bag on our head or holding a bell without letting it make a sound.
Parent’s Visiting Day is on Wednesday, October 17th from 8:30 to 9:30. Please drop your child at morning carline and then park to come in the building. This is a wonderful opportunity to see what your child has been working on and engage with some of the materials. Your children have been working hard and can’t wait to share a piece of their life at school! Please let me know if you have any questions about this special day.
September 27, 2018
Last week we started a special collaboration with Junior High students. Two students are joining us on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons to support children's work, lead small groups and get a glimpse of our community. The children are excited to show them around and seem especially motivated to take care of our environment. The partnership is bridging the gap between the many age levels at our school and reminding us that mixed-age learning can happen outside of our room too! There is something so sweet about overhearing a three year old asking a thirteen year old to cross his legs at group time!
We also started talking about the many plans our school has to keep us safe. Children had discussions about the safest way to exit our building and supported the new children with these routines. We participated in two fire drills and will practice wind and lockdown drills next.
I have spent the last week thinking about self regulation and self directed learning. As all of you know, a Montessori environment looks different than a traditional classroom. These differences go far beyond the aesthetics of our space. Adults guide instead of instruct, support instead of correct and observe instead of test. All of these pieces work together to promote self regulated learning. I have attached an article by Laura Flores Shaw that does a wonderful job of explaining the importance of empowering children to be their own teachers. I hope you find it interesting and helpful!
September 13, 2018
Wow! It has only been two weeks and our community is functioning smoothly with love, kindness, and support. We have been giving many grace and courtesy lessons to help children navigate social interactions in a community of people. Grace and courtesy lessons allow children to practice responding to a variety of situations in neutral moments. For example, we have practiced observing another child's work, getting an adult's attention, walking carefully in our room and introducing yourself to a new friend. We will continue practicing grace and courtesy in small and large groups throughout the year.
A few children spent their recess time harvesting vegetables from our tower garden. After inspecting each vegetable, they decided the sugar snap peas and lettuce were ready to eat. The children asked if we could use the vegetables to prepare a salad for our afternoon snack, so the whole class had an opportunity to serve themselves a garden salad later that day. We are anxiously waiting to add our growing tomatoes to the next salad!
We also started making butter this week. We pass around and shake a special container of heavy whipping cream and sing a butter song. This will be the start of an effort to contribute to our community meals. Children will have opportunities to prepare new snacks for the group that reinforce chopping, peeling, measuring, and recipe reading skills. Cooking for a community also supports children to try new foods, think about the needs of others, collaborate with a partner and practice kitchen hygiene and safety procedures.
Your child’s unstructured time outside is so important to his or her success, so we will go outside in most weather! Please send your child with appropriate outside gear for rain, mud and colder temperatures. Thank you for your hep!