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Alison's Primary Class

Dear Families,

I am excited for our school year together! I feel truly lucky to be a part of your child’s education.  It is important for the children to feel at home in the classroom and come together into a learning community. Our community is made up of unique individuals each with their own learning style, strengths, interests, history, hopes and dreams.  I look forward to being a partner with you in your child’s learning experience.


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

Alison Breithaupt, Primary Guide
Taylor Fielding, classroom support
Marisa Farr, classroom support

Room Parents
Emily Modrall
Amanda McMann

 Back to School Parent Letter

Classroom Highlights

5/13/22

Last week, the children and I were busy preparing for Cinco de Mayo. Many of them were comfortable with getting their hands messy to paper mache our pinata. When it was dry, some of the children helped to decorate it with colorful tissue paper. Unfortunately, the plan of hitting the pinata had to be delayed. However, we were able to sit together and enjoy a delicious celebratory snack. Some of the children made fresh salsa and Brooks made some yummy guacamole to share with everyone. We read a book about the history and traditions of this holiday. We also listened to some Spanish music as we concluded this part of our celebration. 

We have been talking about our digestive systems and the five food groups. We focused on the intestines and their function. As I demonstrated how long the small intestines are by using a thick string, we counted twenty-four feet together. The children were amazed how long this was and how this could fit inside of our bodies. They can take this twenty-four-foot string off the shelf and practice coiling it up like it would be in our bodies.  There is also a  work on the shelf where the children can organize pictures of different types of food and place them below the proper food groups.

The warm weather has arrived! Our classroom has extended outside. There is such a strong desire to breathe in the fresh air and feel this freedom of being outside.  The children have been enjoying bringing their research outside, sewing at the picnic table or reading a book in the sun. We have also been having our group time outside and singing with the birds. 

4/15/22

Spring is here! We talked about the spring equinox and how nature knows it is spring. What are the signs of spring we have noticed? Is there more daylight? Or have they noticed some birds migrating back? Are there buds on the trees or crocuses poking up from the ground? Being that April is poetry month, we have been reading many poems about spring, but we also wrote a poem about spring as a classroom activity. 

SPRING
Spring is…
Watching the bulbs bloom
Turning into tulips and daffodils
When the grass grows and the leaves show their buds.
Camping is a fun thing to do
While dreaming of going to the beach.
It may be time to paint the fort or ride my bike or scooter.
Is it time to go on vacation?
Maybe to a desert or a pool
May the horses ride in the wind
As we prepare for winter to end. 

Claude Monet was a topic of conversation at group time. As with most famous painters, they  lived interesting lives and Claude Monet was no exception. He started off as a caricature artist and later was introduced to painting with oils and painting outdoors even while floating on a boat. Claude Monet was the founder of the impressionist movement. It was all about capturing movement and changing light and color. He did this in his paintings, and was less concerned about the paintings actually looking real. He is probably most well-known for his series of paintings of the water lilies. The children are invited to create their own Claude Monet of the water lilies using watercolor paints and pastel pink and purple tissue paper for the lilies. 

With Easter approaching, we have been talking about the significance of the egg. The egg is a symbol of new life and unhatched potential. The egg brings hope and purity. It is a symbol of fertility and the circle of life. Many years ago, Tsar Alexander III of Russia hired Carl Faberge to create a jeweled egg as an Easter gift for his wife. It was meant to be a one time order, but the result was so pleasing that the Tsar immediately placed an order for the following year. These beautiful jeweled eggs have become famous and are now known as the art of Faberge. I demonstrated to the children how to blow out an egg and I showed them some examples of Faberge eggs. The children will get a chance to decorate a paper egg with colorful paper and “jewels.” 

3/17/22

Last week, we talked about National Women’s Day. First, I asked the children what amazing women they have in their own lives. We read a book about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Throughout the week, we read some other books about some other amazing women who set out to accomplish their goals in their lives and were successful. I hope all of the children can come away with the message that they can do anything they want to do in life no matter what obstacles may be before them.

The children helped to plant and grow some microgreens in a small greenhouse in our classroom. They are ready to be harvested! This week some of the children took pleasure in baking some bread and created a delicious cream cheese spread to go with the microgreens. The children have an appreciation in planting and growing their own food. Children are more likely to eat food they have grown and made themselves. “The hands help the development of the intellect. When a child is capable of using his hands, he can have a number of experiences in the environment through using them. In order to develop his consciousness, then his intellect, and then his will, he must have exercises and experiences. “ Maria Montessori

The Kindergarteners had an in-house field trip this week. They learned about where food comes from, why food gets wasted, and learned about different types of food, and how someone can volunteer at Food Rescue. They also had a taste test with some rainbow carrots and some carrots with extra limbs putting a sticker on which one they thought they had. The kindergartners also participated in a math lesson weighing carrots to see how many of them it takes to weigh the same as the 800lb bins. They also helped to repack the carrots and drew some unique pictures of carrots. Thank you to Taylor at Food Rescue for this great experience!

Thank you for meeting with me last week for conferences. It was so valuable to have this time with each of you.

2/23/22

Last week, we read a book about President’s Day. It is a day to honor everyone who has served in the office of the president. Some still name it after George Washington, while others do so after Abraham Lincoln. Our book spoke about the work each of these presidents did for our country. George Washington chose to fight in many of the battles for our country and Abraham Lincoln fought for civil rights to end slavery. The children had some great questions about how long ago this was and if they were still alive. Who is our president now and does our current president fight in wars? 

The children and I in the afternoon are currently reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The children are really enjoying the book and the memories of her childhood in Pepin, Wisconsin. The children are learning what it’s like to survive in the early 1870’s. Everyday there is housework and hunting and gathering which was an important part of providing for their family. They make their own toys and take simple pleasure from their dad playing the fiddle and telling stories. The children learned how the Ingalls family made butter by using a butter churn. As a class, we will be making butter from cream with a handheld butter churn. We hope to make some bread to go with our butter. 

This week we talked about the biggest organ of our body. Our Skin! I asked the children why our skin is so important. Where can you find the thickest or thinnest skin on our body? Our skin has two layers: the epidermis and the dermis.The epidermis is the surface layer of our skin. The dermis is packed with millions of nerve endings which help us to feel different kinds of sensations. There are up to 5 million hairs growing on our body, but only 100,000 of these are on our head. Ask your child what they learned about our skin.

It was so nice to have all of you visit our classroom for Parent Visiting Day. I know the children take great pride in their work and look forward to sharing with you what they are accomplishing. I hope you all had a chance to see their work in action and get a better idea about what your child is learning everyday. 

2/10/22

Last week, we talked about a famous Russian artist named Kazimir Malevich. He created his own style of art, which is called suprematism. It is based on geometric shapes, such as squares and circles, painted in very different colors. There are some examples of his work on the shelf for the children to explore. The children in the classroom are using different colorful geometric shapes cut out from construction paper and gluing them on paper to create their own style of suprematism. Each design has been so unique and wonderful.

The children and I just finished reading Who Was Helen Keller? It was an interesting read about the story of her life and what amazing things she accomplished. The children immersed themselves in a world of what it would be like to not have the ability to hear or see. Her struggles started as a young child trying to figure out how to communicate with her family to graduating from college, writing books, becoming a public speaker and even acting on a stage on Broadway. As the children learned about braille, I was able to show them an example of this on our restroom sign in our classroom. As a whole class, we learned some sign language during group time. There is also a manual alphabet for the children to practice their name or letters.

The children have been enjoying the Lunar New Year in our classroom. Last week, we all enjoyed some Chinese noodles and their lunch using chopsticks. Many of the children have been practicing writing Chinese characters using a Buddha Board. The kindergartners have also been writing characters, by making ink using charcoal and water (Sumi Ink) and creating lucky papers to hang outside of our classroom. The children and I talked about the many traditions of this holiday, including wearing red for luck, cleaning their houses, wearing new clothes, parades with people dressed up as dragons or lions and giving the children lai see packets. In East and Southeast Asian cultures, a red envelope or red packet is a monetary gift given to the children during these holidays. Maybe your child has designed a packet and is coming home with this traditional gift.  



1/27/22

Last week during group time we read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. This is one of my favorite books from my childhood. I especially appreciate the illustrations in this book. He uses many different types of elements to create the pictures. I pointed out to the children how he used pieces of cotton to demonstrate the snow, different prints and types of paper to show the outline of the people and objects in the illustrations. We noticed the paper was not cut in a straight line. It was torn to create the shape of the snow hill or the clouds in the sky. The children are given the chance to create their own snowy day by using cotton balls and different types of paper. 

The children and I in the afternoon recently finished the book The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B White. The story depicts a cygnet who was born without the ability to make the signature trumpet sound. His father stole a trumpet from a music store to give him the means to make the trumpet sound. Louis, the cygnet, had a mission to learn how to play the trumpet and pay back the music store where his father stole the trumpet. I was able to show the children a trumpet.  We talked about the different parts of the trumpet and they were able to handle it and hear me play a few notes. I also talked to them about a famous trumpet player named Louis Armstrong. I played an old video of Louis Armstrong playing Hello Dolly. 

We went on a pretend hike through a dark, wet cave. When we clicked on our flashlight we saw these strange formations growing from the ceiling and the ground. They were stalagmites and stalactites. We talked about how these interesting formations are created from the water slowly dripping over time from the cracks in the ceiling. The minerals build up over time creating the stalactites. The stalagmites form and grow from the cave floor when water drips from the stalactites right above them. We did an experiment in the classroom to create our own stalagmites and stalactites using water, a string, baking soda and two glasses. Ask your child if we are creating our own stalagmites and stalactites. 

Many of you know that The Children’s House has celebrated Lunar New Year for many years by inviting Kindergarteners to perform The Dragon Dance. A former teacher lived in China and shared her experiences with the children in preparation for the event. Over the past year, our faculty has met to evaluate the way our community celebrates and honors holidays from around the world. While we know it is important to open windows into cultures that are unfamiliar to children in our community, we also believe acting out sacred traditions that are not our own is cultural appropriation. Going forward, we will not be performing The Dragon Dance. It is difficult to part with long standing traditions that children look forward to each year, but this decision reflects the critical thinking and thoughtfulness we hope to instill in the children. We will be having conversations and reading books about this holiday. The older children will also take part in writing Chinese characters and having the choice to do research on this holiday. As a class, we will practice using chopsticks with Chinese noodles for snack.

1/13/22

We had a conversation about different types of electricity, focusing on the phenomenon of static electricity. How it involves charged particles transferred from one object to another. The electrical charge remains on an object until it either flows into the ground, or loses its charge quickly by a discharge. We have a work on the shelf where the children can try to make a static electrical charge. The child can rub a comb on the floor and hold it up to different types of strings and watch how the string will move toward the comb all by itself. 

We have also been talking a lot about the snow and water. I brought in a bowl of snow from outside and we observed the snow melt through the day and took the time to see what was in the water after it melted. We saw fuzz, oil, dirt and grass. Yuck! Maybe this will deter some of the children from putting that snow into their mouths next time as appetizing as it may look. Our melted water turned into a conversation about the water cycle. We learned about the cycle of water using those big words like evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. We have a mini water cycle in our classroom. Using a bowl of water covered with plastic wrap and a desk lamp warming the bowl, we are able to observe the condensation and the precipitation of the water. 

We read a book about Snowflake Bentley. He was a man who loved to study snowflakes throughout his whole life. He became famous for his beautiful photos of the uniqueness of every snowflake. The children can go outside and collect snowflakes on a black sheet of laminated paper and study the snowflakes as they fall. This is reflective of how Snowflake Bentley studied his snowflakes. 

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day being celebrated on January 17th, we read a book about his life and the leadership role he played in the modern American Civil Rights Movement. He was  widely known for his non-violent resistance to overcome injustice and continued to work to end segregation laws. He believed love would save our world and our civilization. We took a moment and reflected on all of the different colored skin the people of our world have and how everyone is unique and beautiful. There is a work on the shelf where the children can look at some pictures of children from many different cultures with all different colored skin. The children have the opportunity to use the Crayola skin tone crayons, finding the crayon that matches their skin and drawing themselves or some of the other children they may see in the pictures. Taking note what color and texture their hair is, the color of their eyes and their lips. Our world is made up of a rainbow of beautiful people.

12/16/21

It is part of the Montessori philosophy to expose the children to some different cultures and how they might be celebrated this time of year. Last week, we read a book about Hannakah. We talked about its history, the meaning of the menorah and I introduced the game of dreidel to the children. There is a game of dreidel on the shelf where they can play with another friend.

This week we talked about Kwanzaa. We learned about the seven principles of this holiday and how many of them relate to our own classroom community;unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose,creativity and faith. The kinara or seven candles are lit each day of the celebration. There is a paper kinara we are “lighting” each day and the children are coloring their own kinara. 

We also had a conversation about St. Lucia Day. It is a Scandinavian holiday celebrating light during the long, dark winter. Saint Lucia, a Christian saint, took food to other Christians who were in hiding wearing candles on her head to light her way. As class, we made a traditional Scandinavian bread using cardamom.

Lastly, we will be talking about Christmas and the religious meaning of the holiday. The children and I also had a conversation about the purpose of giving during this time of year. Giving a gift to someone we care about allows us to communicate our feelings and appreciation for them. It doesn’t always have to be a purchased gift. It can be something you have created or doing a nice deed for them. The children have all made some lovely gifts for all of their loved ones. 

For the past couple of weeks, we have been enjoying singing many of the holiday songs. We have been preparing for the Seasonal Sing coming up this Friday. We look forward to sharing this time with you and I wish you all a very joyful and cherished time with your family this holiday season. 

12/02/21

The children had a lesson on an art technique called pointillism. It is a form of painting which uses small, distinct dots of color that are applied in patterns to form an image. We read a book about Georges Seurat, who was well known for his work with pointillism. There are some examples of his work on the shelf for the children to explore. The children also get an opportunity to try pointillism by filling in a picture of a leaf using paint and some cotton swabs.

We read a book called Let’s Pop, Pop, Popcorn! written by Cynthia Schumerth. The book demonstrates the step-by-step process of how this favorite snack begins with planting the seeds, moving through the caretaking of the plant and then all the way to its harvest. Lastly, the book described how to shuck, pop the kernels and enjoy the finished product. We were able to pop some kernels using an air popper and enjoy some popcorn as a class. The children really enjoyed the excitement of watching the kernels pop into the bowl. It is important for our children to see where our food comes from and how it begins.

We had a lovely Harvest Feast last week. The children were all so proud of the food they brought to share with their community. Before our meal, we sat together and listened to a book on Audible called Giving Thanks. It was read by a chief from a Mohawk tribe. It is known as the Thanksgiving Address which Mohawk parents have taught their children to start each day by giving thanks to Mother Earth. This good morning message is based on the belief that the natural world is a precious and rare gift. The children then took turns sharing what they are thankful for in their lives. I hope you all had a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude and joy.

PE: This fall I have had a nice time with the kindergarten group practicing many skills. Toss and catch and skipping have been especially fun to watch and help with. I have also used a bit of our time to explore food groups. Several times we have played a running/sorting game with food picture cards, I hope they are able to identify food groups a bit more now.  On monday we spend our time outdoors often taking a walk to the elementary playground. I hope to say hi many of you in a few weeks at the outdoor sing along. 

11/11/21

November 13th is World Kindness Day. It is an international holiday that was formed in 1988, to promote kindness throughout the world.  We had a conversation about what this means. Should we try to be kind everyday? What kind of actions can we do to show kindness? As a class, we are showing kindness to others in the community by painting kindness rocks to be put out on nature trails or in our neighborhoods. We also thought of some other ways we could show kindness to our families, friends and neighbors. 

This week we have been talking about our Harvest Feast which will be coming up on November 23rd. As a class, we will be celebrating this time of gratitude by sharing a wonderful meal together. Each child will be picking a food to share with their classmates. It will be brought to school on the morning of the 23rd. More details will be coming home about our Harvest Feast soon. We have also been thinking about what we are thankful for in our lives. Before we take part in our meal, each child will have the opportunity to share what they are thankful for. Decorating our tables with colorful placemats and flowers will also be a part of our day of thankfulness. 

It was so wonderful to talk with each of you for conferences last week. It was a great opportunity to share with you your child’s progress thus far. I hope you all felt like your questions were answered and you walked away feeling informed about your child’s life at school. I enjoyed getting to know you all a little better and developing a relationship that will allow us to better serve your child’s education. Thank you for your time. 

10/27/21

The human body, its organs and the muscles have been the subject of conversation in our classroom lately. What is their function? How can we keep them healthy? Why are they important? Last week, we talked about the heart. We put one hand on our heart and sat very still and quiet to feel our heartbeat. I asked the children if their heart was beating quickly or slowly? We talked about how the heart is muscle that pumps blood around the body, bringing it food and oxygen. When we run outside, our heart is working harder to pump blood and oxygen. Our heart beats 100,000 times a day. It never stops beating even when we are sleeping at night. There are ways to keep our heart healthy by eating healthy foods and being active. There is a stethoscope on the shelf for the children to try listening to their own heart. 

Last week, I read some poetry to the children. We talked about what a poem is and how there are different types of poetry. I read some fun and silly poems that included some rhyming words from Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein. We also talked about how some poetry can be serious, sad or even show anger.  Poetry can also tell a story or sound like a song or have some sort of rhythm. Some of the older children have the choice to create their own poem using the moveable alphabet.  

This week we will be celebrating Pumpkin Fun Day on Friday. In the morning we will be carving our pumpkin and making some pumpkin seeds. The children are welcome to help by scooping out the pulp from the pumpkin and wash and season the seeds.  In the afternoon, the children will have the opportunity to make a craft, dance, play some games, have their face painted, and enjoy a frozen “boo”-nana pop. I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween this weekend. 

10/14/21

With Halloween approaching, we have been enjoying singing songs about pumpkins, bats and other Halloween cheer. As the children see the decorations and the costumes during this time of year, sometimes they can seem a little scary. We talked about how the decorations are for fun  and how there are real people under those costumes.  This is also a good time to speak to the children about one’s own skeleton. The children have been learning about our largest and strongest bone, where the smallest bones are located, the names of some of the other bones and how we can keep our bones healthy. There is an art choice on the shelf for the children to create their own skeleton. 

Last week, each of the children had the opportunity to peel, slice and core an apple for applesauce. We cooked the applesauce in our crockpot and enjoyed the wonderful smell of the cinnamon and apples cooking through our day. We enjoyed the applesauce for a snack the next day.  We have also been talking about the life of an apple from the seed to the fruit. I showed the children some different types of apples and they each were able to try a sample from each kind. Ask your child what their favorite type of apple is. 

Here is a sample of some of the songs we have been singing lately.

Tune: Frere Jacques
Bats are sleeping
Bats are sleeping
Upside down
Upside down
Waiting for the night to come
Waiting for the night to come
To fly around
To fly around

Pumpkin, pumpkin
On the ground
How’d you get so big and round
Planted as a seed so small
Now you are a great big ball
Pumpkin, pumpkin
On the ground
How’d you get so big and round

9/30/21

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21st. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire. In 2021, as we heal from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are inspired to think creatively and collectively about how to help everyone recover better, how to build resilience, and how to transform our world into one that is more equal, more just, equitable, inclusive, sustainable and healthier. As a school, we all came to the soccer field and sang together about peace and felt hope for a more peaceful world.

In the last couple of weeks, we have been talking about the season of fall and the fall equinox. I demonstrated the fall equinox by placing a yellow ball in the center of our circle as the sun and using our globe I showed the children how our earth is separated into two hemispheres by the equator. As the earth rotates around the sun it is in a position on September 22nd where there is an equal amount of light and dark all over the world. 

Fall is also a time for harvesting. We have some language cards on the shelf showing the many different types of pumpkins and squash. Some of the children prepared and cooked some acorn squash for everyone to try. As a class, we have been reading several books about what animals will hibernate and which ones will migrate. Ask your child about some of the animals in our area. Which ones will migrate or hibernate?

I just wanted to mention how nice it was to see all of you at the picnic on Sunday. It was a great opportunity for all of us to join as a community and to get to know each other a little better.  Thank you for coming.

9/15/21

It is so great to be all together again! It is as though we have not been apart. The children slid right into our routine and their work. Our classroom community welcomed three new children this fall and they are also diving right in and catching onto the schedule of our day. They are all beginning to understand the freedoms and boundaries that the primary classroom encompasses. 

With any new school year, we always review the grace and courtesy lessons which are a big part of our community’s ability to work together. The kindergartners play a big part in being the role models for these lessons. At group time this week and last week, we have been practicing some grace and courtesy. For example, how do we walk around other children’s work on the floor, how do we observe someone working, how do we wait for help from an adult without interrupting and if we need to get by someone we would say, “Excuse me.” These lessons will continue through the school year as the children build respect for each other and the classroom and its materials.

As you know, our weather can be unpredictable during this time of year. We are trying to take advantage of the nice weather we are experiencing these days. The children have the opportunity to use our outside classroom environment. Some of them may be choosing to hammer nails or sand wood while others observe nature by using the binoculars. Nature can also be a great palette for creativity. The children like to take their art projects outside and let nature guide their vision. 

With change there can be resistance or uncertainty. Your child may be exhibiting some of these behaviors these days since school has started. It is common for children to test their ability to control certain situations. It is our job as adults, to reassure them and let them know you have their best interest at heart. Be strong for your child and give them positive words of encouragement.