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Alison's Primary Class

Dear Families,
Welcome to another year of learning and discovery. I would like you to be a part of your child's experiences in the classroom. Your child's success here at The Children's House involves keeping the lines of communication open between us. I look forward to sharing with you all of the wonderful happenings throughout the school year. 

Thank you,
Alison Breithaupt  

"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
Monica Jarvis, classroom support
Monica Farr, classroom support

Room Parent
Emily Modrall

October 9, 2019

The children enjoyed their time last week making applesauce. Each child had the chance to peel, core and slice an apple. We placed them in the crockpot and were able to enjoy the wonderful scent of the apples cooking in our classroom. The next day the children were able to enjoy their homemade applesauce for snack. It was enjoyed by all. We will also be cooking some acorn squash this week. Occasionally, I will bring in different kinds of food for the children to try. It is important for children to be exposed to new tastes.

Bones! Bones! Bones! Last week we had a conversation about our skeletons. We learned about how many bones we have, what many of our bones are called, which one is our largest bone and where are the smallest bones. This is always the perfect time of the year to talk about skeletons and to reassure the children to not be scared of the Halloween decorations they may see. There is a work on the shelf for the children to make a skeleton of their own.

The Kindergartners went to an art class with Alison Hoffman, the elementary art teacher, last Friday. They were shown how to do leaf rubbings with watercolor. It will be set up on our art shelf and then the kindergarteners will be giving lessons to the younger children on this project. “In ‘teaching’ a younger child he is helped to understand what he knows even better than before; he must analyse and rearrange his knowledge before he can pass it on. Competence breeds confidence which in turn leads to a greater sense of responsibility.” -Maria Montessori

September 25, 2019

I love this time of year because it brings the bounty of so many different types of fruits and vegetables. Last week, I brought in several different types of apples. The children had the opportunity to try each kind. They were all excited to try a Red Delicious, a Granny Smith, a Mcintosh, a Golden Delicious and a Honeycrisp. When we were finished, I asked each of them which one was their favorite. Of course, many of the children decided that all of them were their favorite. As fall continues, we will be taking advantage of this season’s harvest by trying some squash and making applesauce.

With the changing of the season, we have been talking about fall. What happens to the trees and plants this time of year? Where do some of the animals go? What animals stay here during the colder seasons? What is hibernation? It has been especially significant these past couple of weeks because we have had the opportunity to watch three monarch butterflies emerge from their chrysalides. We let them go in a butterfly bush outside of our classroom where other monarch butterflies were busy drinking the nectar from the remaining flowers on the bush. The children were able to get a close up view of the butterfly using its proboscis to drink. We talked about where these butterflies would be going soon and their cycle of life.

Thank you to all of you for making our classroom picnic a success. We were very fortunate to have such lovely weather and the food and company made it a nice event for all. It is a great opportunity for our classroom community to come together and meet new families as well as share time with the ones we know well.

September 12, 2019

What a great start to our school year! It has been such a pleasure to see the kindergartners stepping up to their new role as leaders. The returning children have slid right back into doing their work, making great choices and ready for new challenges. The new children are getting accustomed to their new environment and adjusting well to their new routine. It is wonderful to see this new community working together in making a peaceful place to be.

The children have been getting lots of lessons on grace and courtesy lately. During group time, I have demonstrated lessons on how to observe another friend working, how we ask a friend before we give them a hug or touch them, how we wait for help without interrupting, how we walk carefully around other people's work and how we say excuse me when needing to get by someone. Each of the children get a chance to role play this during these lessons. Usually, most of them all want a chance to demonstrate the lesson to the other children. It is a great way to practice and for the children to learn from each other.

This week some of the children had the opportunity to shuck some corn and cut the corn kernels off the cob. We put our corn out for snack and the children seemed to gobble it up. The joy the children get from preparing their own food and eating it is so valuable. Feel free to cook with your children too!

June 6, 2019

It has been an amazing year spent with your children. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to watch each of them grow and form themselves. The three year cycle allows each child to gain a strong bond with each other, their classroom environment and to feel a sense of confidence and security with this place they spend so many of their days. Currently, when I look at the current kindergartners it is so special to see all of what they have accomplished in these three or more years they have been with me. They are now leaders, contributors to their community and students with goals and aspirations. Thank you for sharing your children with me everyday.

"The child has a different relation to his environment from ours...the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes and ears hear." Maria Montessori

I wish you all a wonderful summer!

May 22, 2019

We have some Painted Lady caterpillars in our classroom. We have been talking about the big word "metamorphosis" and talking about each stage of their life cycle. As the caterpillars grow, we will hopefully have the chance to catch each stage of their development. When the butterflies have emerged from their cocoons, we will be releasing them into the garden at our school. As I think of the kindergartners, I reflect on their development through the years they have been in the primary classroom. It reminds me of the tiny caterpillars getting bigger each day and developing into a new form of themselves. This new form is ready to fly away and begin a new chapter in their lives. The kindergartners have changed so much physically, mentally and emotionally in the time they have been in my classroom. It has been beautiful to watch and now it is time for them to shine somewhere else.

With Grandparent's Day coming up this Friday, we have have been busy getting our classroom prepared. We want to make it beautiful for our special guests. Some of the children have been scrubbing the shelves, mopping the floors, arranging flowers in vases and polishing the wood and brass materials in the classroom. They are all very excited for this day and we have been practicing our songs we will be singing for our loved ones.

Sarah Mikulski, an alumna of our school, came to The Children's House to perform for us. She sang two songs in her beautiful opera voice. She wowed the audience with her strong voice and animated performance. It is so amazing to see past students visit our school in this capacity.

May 8, 2019

Last week we celebrated May Day. The children were looking festive with their May Day hats and smiles on their faces. They were all very excited and eager to play a part in this celebration. All of the primary children took part in singing the May Day Carol and the extended day children participated by dancing around the May Pole while holding colorful ribbons. Our May Day is usually an event we do outside in the courtyard, but the weather had a different idea this day.  We held it in the gym and it was just as merry. Hopefully, our celebration will bring some warmer weather our way.

This week we celebrated Cinco de Mayo. Before we were ready, we had to make our pinata and  salsa for our fiesta.  Last week, many of the children helped by getting a bit messy with applying the paper mache and newspaper onto a balloon. We applied three layers to assure a strong shell for our pinata. The children then decorated it with colorful tissue paper. Some of the other children helped by washing, cutting and chopping all of the fragrant ingredients for our salsa. After all of this, we were ready for our fiesta to be a success.  Each child received a chance to hit the pinata and take part in a delicious Mexican snack afterward.

Thank you to everyone who has donated pennies to our classroom. The children have been very busy polishing and counting. We currently have almost $20 collected. My hope is that we can get to $50 to donate to a local charity.  I will then go to the bank and get a cashier's check and bring it back to the school to show the children.  My hope is some representatives from the our charity will come to our school and talk to the children about their cause. We are still in need of more pennies to reach our goal. If you have any pennies laying around your house that you would like to get rid of, please feel free to donate them to our classroom. 😊Thank you so much!

April 25, 2019

Last week we talked about the significance of the egg. Why is the egg the symbol during the Easter holiday? The egg symbolizes rebirth and new beginnings. What about the tradition of dyeing eggs? A very long time ago they were dyed to be given to royalty. Today the most famous ultra-decorated Easter eggs are the Faberge eggs that were first presented to the Russian royal court. I showed the children some pictures of Faberge eggs. I also took an egg and blew the liquid out to show the children how the egg is hollowed out before the Faberge egg is decorated.

This week we celebrated Nowruz. It is a traditional Iranian festival of spring, which starts at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, commencing the start of the spring. It is considered as the start of the New Year among Iranians. The extended day children and Rose Hollander presented this celebration to us with some traditional food of this festival with eggs, olives, apples, sweet wheat pudding, sprouts, sumac and vinegar. The children also had the choice to jump over a pretend fire flame to leave the bad feelings behind them and look ahead to the new year, which is another practice of this celebration.

This week we talked about Earth Day. The children helped me to think about what things we could do to help our earth to stay beautiful and healthy. We read a book about some simple ideas at home to save energy and water, the importance of picking up our trash, recycling and reusing and how planting trees and keeping our water clean protects the animals. These are some important things we could practice everyday to help our earth. We concluded with singing some songs about recycling and sharing what we love about the earth.

April 11, 2019

April is poetry month. I am encouraging the older children to write their own poems and I have been reading some poetry to all of them as well.  We have been talking about different styles of poetry. As a class, we will be creating our own poem that we will share at the Poetry Jam at school on April 17th. On this day, the whole school will takes turns going down to the gym and participating in some creative poetry activities hosted by the junior high students.

As you know, we are collecting pennies for polishing, counting and eventually donating to a local charity.  As a group, we talked about some different places we could donate the pennies.  In a few weeks, we will take a vote to decide where the money will go. Some of the ideas we came up with are The Humane Society, a food bank, Habitat for Humanity and Disabled Veterans. Thank you to all who have donated your pennies!

Last Friday, we had some great entertainment with the Talent Show put on by the lower and upper elementary students. There was quite a variety of talents including comedy, music, dancing and fancy tricks.  It is always so fun to watch and I give these students so much credit to get up on that stage.

March 21, 2019

We talked about St. Patrick's Day last week. We spoke about the history of this holiday and how people from around the world celebrate this holiday. From parades in New York City to dyeing the Chicago River green in Chicago there are many types of celebrations. We also sang an Irish song called Molly Malone. Some of you may have heard your child singing, "Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh." It is quite a catchy tune.

We talked about the water cycle this week. It seems very appropriate this week in particular with the snow slowly melting and evaporating. Oh, Happy Spring! We have our own water cycle happening in our classroom. We took a bowl of water, a desk lamp and some plastic wrap to show the process of evaporation, condensation and precipitation. We will also take a cup of water and place it near a window. We will be measuring the changing water level daily.

I introduced the children to the art of stained glass. We have an example in the classroom and we also talked about how glass is made. The children have the choice to make their own version of stained glass using some colorful tissue paper. As they place it against the window, the beautiful colors shine through.

March 7, 2019

It was so great to be able to speak with all of you last week at conferences. It is important for us to come together and talk individually about your child's progress and experiences in the classroom. I feel reconnected with all of you to better guide your child and to meet their needs as well as yours as parents.

One of our fellow classmates, Piper Campbell, will be leaving our classroom and moving to Wyoming with her family. We are sad to see her go, but are happy for her family and their new adventure. As a class, we made a special card for her and said our farewells during group time. The kind and thoughtful words voiced by many of the children tugged at our hearts. One of the best comments was "You will always have a place in my heart."

We made chicken noodle soup this week in our crock pot. This was a full sensory experience. Many hands helped with washing, chopping and slicing. The fresh rosemary and thyme filled our olfactory sense. As the soup cooked through our day, it too gave us the smell of comfort. We enjoyed our soup as our snack this week.

February 21, 2019

Last week we talked about the amazing natural phenomena called stalagmites and stalactites. We discussed how these are formed by mineral deposits and water. We made our own stalagmites and stalactites using baking soda, a string and some water. The children were very excited to watch our experiment as they grew daily.

The group of children in the afternoon and I finished reading The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. In the story, Louis the Trumpeter swan, doesn't have a voice. He uses a trumpet to communicate with the other swans and the people in his life. The children in the classroom had the chance to see and touch a trumpet. They were also given the opportunity to blow into the trumpet. Some of them were actually able to make quite a sound with the instrument.

We had a wonderful Valentine's Day last week. The children had a lot of fun handing out all of their special valentines for each of their friends. As our morning was filled with love and cheer, we made heart shaped pretzels to share at group. We read a book about always being kind to others and showing your appreciation for them everyday.

I am looking forward to speaking with all of you next week at conferences.

February 7, 2019

At group the other day we read the book A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. I remember my teacher reading this book to me as a little girl and being fascinated by the illustrations of this book. He used  different types of materials and techniques to create the pictures. Some of the pictures may have been painted, others were pieces of paper either construction paper or wallpaper. Other illustrations used string or cotton to create the look of snow. As a class, we talked about what the illustrator of a book is and how this particular book was unique. The children have the opportunity to create their own illustrations using some of these same materials. It has been so fun to see all of the creativity being inspired by this book.

This week our school celebrated Chinese New Year. The extended day students played a big part in acting out the dragon while the rest of the school participated by scaring the dragon away. Our celebration concluded with a delicious snack of Chinese buns (made by the extended day)  and clementines, which bring good luck for the new year.  Also, in light of our celebration of this holiday and culture, we made noodles and the children in our class had the chance to try out some chopsticks. 

In the last week, we have had the opportunity to enjoy the abundance of the snow in our area. I am sure your children have been enjoying sledding, making forts and/or playing in the snow. With this, may come the temptations of licking and tasting the snow. We did a little science experiment in the classroom with some snow. I collected snow in a bowl and the children watched as the snow melted into water. However, there wasn't just water that was left in the bowl. Ask your child what they saw.

January 17, 2019

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day coming up this Monday we talked about him playing an important role in creating equality among the people during the civil rights movement. He wanted to resolve racism in a nonviolent and peaceful way. We had a conversation about how the African Americans were treated during this time. They were not allowed to use the same bathrooms, schools, restaurants and even drinking fountains as the white people. The children agreed this did not feel fair. We talked about how all people need to be treated equally no matter what color skin they have. Here is a song we have been practicing about Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King 

Was a mighty, mighty man

And a mighty, mighty man was he

He was a preacher and a teacher 

And a man of God

And he loved you and me

As a school we celebrate Chinese New Year as part of our cultural studies and the extended day children play an important role in this celebration. During Great Books, Rose Hollander, has been talking to the extended day students about China and the traditions of Chinese New Year. The extended day children will be performing the Dragon Dance. Currently, in the classroom we have been reading books about China, learning how to say "hello" in Chinese and some have been practicing writing Chinese characters.  

After a restful break, it was great to see everyone again. The children have jumped right back into their learning. Feeling refreshed and ready to for new beginnings, it is always wonderful to get our hands into some dirt and plant some seeds. The beauty of watching a seed grow into a seedling is exciting and full of hope. We planted some basil and thyme this week and we hope to use these herbs in some of our snacks.

December 13, 2018

This week we have been talking about Kwanzaa. It is an African American celebration that lasts a week and starts on December 26th. The celebration honors the African heritage with feasting and gift giving. It is also centered around these seven principles which are Unity, Creativity, Faith, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics and Purpose. As a group, we talked about how most of these seven principles relate to our own classroom. With the respect for this culture and celebration, we did an African dance. The children always enjoy the opportunity to jump and sing.

In the past month, our classroom has grown a bit in size. We have welcomed four new students from the toddler classrooms. We are so happy to have Olle, Declan, Piper and Katie join our classroom community. It has put a new buzz in the classroom and has brought many opportunities for learning patience and lending a helping hand. As I am busy with these younger friends, the older children have to take it upon themselves to show leadership and exhibit more independence by solving many of their own conflicts. It is the beauty of the Montessori classroom.

With the holidays coming upon us, we are in the spirit of singing many festive songs. We have been busy working on Oh, Hanukkah and Jingle Bells. These are the two songs the primary classrooms will be singing for the holiday sing on December 21st. We have also been singing some of the other favorites as well. Our Spanish lesson this week included learning Feliz Navidad. Ask your child to sing it to you!

Next week, we will be focusing on Christmas and what it means to many of us. The season for giving and reaching out to others in need. Many of the children have already been busy working on gifts for their families. I wish all of you a joyful holiday season! May it be filled with love, laughter and peace!!

November 29, 2018

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families. We had a lovely Harvest Feast together last week. The children took so much pride in bringing in their food they provided. Before we took part in our feast, each child shared what they are thankful for in their lives. Our plates were full as well as our hearts. Here is the song we had been practicing in class in preparation for our Harvest Feast Day.

Now we are thankful for the night,
And for the early morning light.
For rest and food and loving care,
And all that makes the world so fair.

As part of the Montessori curriculum, it is important to expose the children to different cultures and celebrations from around the world. Being that Hanukkah begins December 2, our classroom will begin talking about this Jewish holiday or "festival of lights". Amanda Igra, our music teacher, brought in her menorah and spoke to the children about her family traditions. They were each given a dreidel and we will have a dreidel game set up as a work for the children to play in the classroom. We also hope to make some latkes for tasting.

On occasion, I like to bring in different types of foods for the children to try and to learn about. This week I brought in a pomegranate. Many of the children were amazed and interested in this unique fruit. As I opened up the fruit, I talked about the names of the different parts of the fruit, its origin and how one might use this fruit in cooking. There were rave reviews when all of the children tried the juicy gem-like seeds. Your children may be asking you to buy some pomegranate. The fun is taking it apart and finding all of the seeds.

November 8, 2018

It was a successful Pumpkin Fun Day on the 31st. The children enjoyed a morning with helping to carve our pumpkin and making some delicious pumpkin dip for snack. In the afternoon, we had a lot of fun with face painting, dancing, gourd racing, musical chairs and a spider craft. It was the perfect send off before the evening of festivities.

Spending time in the afternoon reading our chapter book is one of my favorites moments in my day with your children. I thoroughly enjoy watching their minds creating the pictures of the scenes and characters in the books. We recently finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I believe the children may have taken away some new thoughts on proper etiquette and why it is important to be a humble and grateful person. We have begun our new book on the biography of Helen Keller. The children have curiosity about how someone can communicate without being able to hear or see. We will be doing some different activities in class to experience what it may be like to be without one of our senses.

As we continue to talk about the different organs in our bodies, last week we talked about the heart. Why is our heart important? How can we keep our hearts healthy? We also took a moment in silence to listen to our own hearts. Why does the rhythm of our heart become faster when we are more active? The children have the opportunity to use a stethoscope and to learn more about our heart. Ask your child about some facts they may remember about the heart.

October 25, 2018

This week we had a group lesson on Pablo Picasso. We talked about his work and how the different experiences in his life affected his artwork style. Ask your child about the blue period and the rose period. The children have the opportunity to make their own Pablo Picasso in the art area.

The extended day children made some honey granola this week. It is a great lesson on reading, following a recipe, eye hand coordination and taking turns. The extended day children take great pride in making something for their community in this way. We enjoyed the granola for snack. It was a hit.

Some of you may have heard about Mr. Woody. I found a walking stick at my house last weekend. I decided to bring it inside and place it in a glass case. I researched on how to care for a walking stick and I discovered our walking stick was a male because it was thin and had a bump on his tail. I also learned he needed oak leaves to eat and to spray water in his environment. The children enjoyed learning and observing our new animal in our classroom. Unfortunately, Mr. Woody was only was with us for a week. He died this week. However, some of the children wanted to see where I put him outside and when we looked in the spot, he was gone! There was great conversation about this. Could he have walked away? Maybe he wasn't dead after all? Regardless, it set us up for another great discussion about the life cycle.

October 11, 2018

As Halloween is creeping up on us so are the decorations your children may see around the neighborhoods. With this, what a perfect time to talk about bones and our own skeleton. Where can you find the largest bone in our bodies? Or how about the smallest? What can we do to keep our bones healthy and strong? All of the children have the opportunity to make their own skeleton in the art area of the classroom. The children who are reading are able to label a skeleton with the names of the bones.

Each child plays a part in our classroom community. Whether they are a younger child developing relationships with others and knowing they can lean on those friends for help when needed. Maybe it is a four year old who is helping an older friend with a job and is taking notes for when they will have these responsibilities. This week the older children have been contribuiting to the classroom community by making biscuits for our classroom snack. They are taking turns being fully in charge of following a recipe. This means measuring the ingredients, pouring, stirring and cleaning up. They are so proud as they sit at snack and share the details with a younger friend. This younger friend knows someday they will get a chance to play this role as a contributer to his/her classroom community.

It is also the time of year for lots and lots of germs which may cause us to get sick. We all sat down and had a grace and courtesy lesson on how we can wipe and blow our nose. We also taked about how it is important to cover our sneezes and coughs in the bend of our arm. Washing our hands regularly and making sure we keep our fingers out of our noses, mouths and our eyes can help us to stay healthy. Together, we can hopefully prevent our friends and ourselves from getting sick.

September 27, 2018

It's fall! We have been talking about the new season and what it entails. How some of the animals hibernate while others migrate. There is the joy of harvesting all of the vegetables, herbs and fruits. Last week, each child took a turn peeling, coring and cutting an apple for the applesauce we made. The smell of the apples cooking filled the air as we worked during our morning. The joy of eating it the next day was just as exciting and delicious. This week we took some time at group and taste tested some different types of apples. We also plan on cutting our lemon balm and drying it for tea. Our hope is to use it for our tea work and be able to serve it to our guests. This preparation made by the children speaks to them and fills their curiosity.

As Maria Montessori said, children love to hear true stories. Some of you may have heard I had some paper wasp nests in my house. This is true! My husband was replacing the ceiling fan in our bathroom and he found two nests inside the ceiling. I brought them to school to share with the children. This story brought on many questions and encouraged some of the children to do some research on wasps. I also heard little conversations imitating my story with added information or it was "their dad" who found the wasp nests. So fun to see their excitement for learning and this development for expressive language and creativity.

It is hard to believe the first month of the school year is almost behind us. The children are feeling more comfortable with their classroom and with the routine of our day. As the new children become more at ease, their personalities begin to blossom and they find themselves ready to take on new things. The older children begin to get into the groove of choosing work to further their understanding of all the areas of the classroom. The extended day children take their role as the leaders very seriously. It is great to watch them always ready to assist their younger friend or take on those big jobs.

September 13, 2018

What a great start to the school year! It has been so wonderful to see the extended day children step into their new roles as leaders of the classroom and helpers to those new younger friends. It is amazing too see the growth and independence come alive with the other returning children. The new friends in our classroom are already adjusting to their new environment and feeling excited with all of the new work and responsibilities. I am eager to see how this new school year will unfold.

There is an important part of the Montessori curriculum called grace and courtesy. There are many lessons which make up these skills. We are currently working on how to watch someone work without disturbing them, how to wait for an adult's help or attention without interrupting and how we move in the classroom in a graceful and careful way. All of these skills are important to allow our community to work in harmony.

We planted some potatoes last spring and they are ready. Some of the children helped clean and peel the potatoes. We mixed them with some olive oil, spices and roasted them. What a delicious snack and an opportunity for some new tastes for the children to explore.