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Welcome to Upper Elementary Cedar

“…the child’s intelligence (is) a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.” - Maria Montessori

This year we look forward to developing a curious, kind, and inspired community together. We hope to ignite imagination in each other and help discover new passions and curiosities.

Jamie Schaub



Room Parents
Renee Mittelstaedt
Casey Ressl


Back to School Parent Letter

Jamie Schaub, Upper Elementary Guide
Jamie Schaub, Upper Elementary Guide
Annie Gerstner, Upper Elementary Support
Annie Gerstner, Upper Elementary Support

Classroom Highlights


I loved meeting with all of you to talk about your children. It is a joy to watch their growth and excitement for learning. I hope you enjoyed seeing their work and their reflections.

This week we talked about Veterans Day and Diwali. Your children learned the history of Veterans Day and how we celebrate. I also shared that my sister is an Air Force Veteran. Your children learned about the big beautiful celebrations of Diwali for Hindu and Sikh people. 

We had a discussion about how we react, feel, and think about things differently. I gave them a few scenarios to reflect on how they would feel and what they would do to introduce the idea of empathy. We also had our first life skills lesson with Trisha (our school counselor), which will happen once monthly. She had the students think about similarities and differences, multiple intelligences, and our abilities. Your children realized that we are similar in many ways, and that it would be boring if we were all exactly the same. They also thought about differences in skills, preferences, and abilities. We can’t be good at everything after all, and it is helpful for the community to have many different skills and specialties.

Many of your children have been measuring area and learning why it is so important. They thought about builders, architects, designers, and realized that knowing how to find area is important for everyone when they are painting their homes or decorating their space with rugs and furniture. 

We look forward to our Harvest Feast meal on Tuesday. Your children are practicing a lot of songs including Harmonia Mundi, Holiday Lights, and Winter Lullaby. Maybe they can teach you too!

From Steve in PE:
I have been having a good time recently with the Cedar group, especially working on cardiovascular endurance. We have done an activity called the fitnessgram pacer test. I tried to be very clear that this was an individual activity and not a competition. Participants run 20 meters at a time in a progressively shorter amount of time until failure. Most learners really seem to enjoy this challenge. Passing the “test” equals participating your best on a given day. Separately we have been working on liking what you like and allowing others to do the same, this often comes up on music choices in the gym but I think everyone would do well to show some grace to others about their preferences. Hopefully some of the fun we have in the gym makes an impact on these people's days, thanks for sharing them with me. 


I have loved hearing your children share about their ancestors during Dia de los Muertos this week. We talked about how marigold flowers are important to this celebration because of their bright colors and strong scent. The belief is that they help lead their ancestors home for a visit during Dia de los Muertos. Your children strung up garlands that are decorating our classroom. To me, I love sharing stories about cultural beliefs around the world to help children think about the other ways that people believe, celebrate, and think about things. This helps them reflect on what they believe and what traditions they have. 

On our professional development day we spent time thinking about and discussing gender inclusivity. We were able to participate in a wonderful training ahead of time. Your children started the school year sharing their names and pronouns. I plan to continue to have discussions around gender and especially helping your children move away from stereotypes.

Tomorrow we will be discussing power from “Antiracist Kid.” We will reflect on who the people in power are and what their identities are in our country, state, city, and school. We will talk about institutional power and personal power.

I want you to know that we have discussed the history of conflict in the Holy Land starting with the Crusades and looked at maps to see how the land has changed over time. We left out news articles written for kids about the current situation in Israel and Palestine for your children to read if they wanted. You can find them attached to this email. This conflict has been a part of our learning for Montessori Model United Nations throughout the years. I thought you might find this helpful: talking to kids about Israel and Palestine

On a lighter note, your children had a visit from Rue (my dog) dressed as a bumble bee on Halloween.  A reminder that we have an outing tomorrow afternoon to the Maier Ceramics Studio and conferences next week.


Lately I have loved the exploration your children are experiencing with our microscope and the investigation of plants. Such wonder and excitement are shared in the moments they bring items into focus and get to see the insides of petals, leaves, stamens, and pistils. 

In “Antiracist Kid” we talked about fairness recently. At first your children discussed fair as everything being the same or equal. Once we read the example, they started to wonder about their idea of fair in a new way. Jewell proposed that there are 15 cookies and 5 children and wondered how many cookies each should receive. All of the students replied 3, having practiced sharing and also word problems. Then she gave more information, one child didn’t have breakfast or lunch, another had a box of cookies at home. After this she described fair as everyone having what they need. I really enjoyed this conversation with your children and this way of talking about fairness. 

We also discussed the words bias and prejudice as feelings and beliefs compared to discrimination as negative hurtful actions. We talked about how discrimination is the way you act on your negative biases and prejudices.

We’ve been singing a sweet short tune that really helps relax the body, maybe you can ask about it. It’s called “Loosen.” We also have been singing a song about the moon phases and another called “Great Waters.”

Conferences, please sign up for one slot: Conference Sign Up
Family visiting is next week, please make sure that you have selected a time: Family Visiting Sign Up 
Dia de Los Muertos story sharing 10/30-11/2 (more details to follow in another email)
Halloween costumes allowed on 10/31, please nothing over the face and only in the classroom so as to not frighten the younger children in the school.
Outing: 11/3 to Maier Ceramics Studio 1pm-3pm 


Hello Cedar Room Families!

Well it has certainly been exciting around here with the raising of a monarch caterpillar. On Friday of last week our butterfly emerged from his chrysalis and we were able to release him at the end of the day. The learners wished him luck on his flight south toward Mexico and chose to give him a name in Spanish, Pez (for fish, ironically I suppose). 

Your children are deep into their studies and some are reaching a point where they will write an outline to organize their notes and begin writing a rough draft! How exciting. 

I shared the Story of Humans with your children last week where we talked about how we have the ability to love and care for people, plants, and animals we have never met, the ability to use our hands to create and invent, and the choice to do good in the world. 

We are also discussing the Anishinaabe people of our region and Indigenous Peoples’ Day coming up on October 9th. 

I thought I might give you a few questions that can serve as conversation starters:

  1. What facts did you learn about for your study today/this week?
  2. How did the class name the butterfly?
  3. Who did you sit with today?
  4. What was your writing sample story about?
  5. What is happening in the read aloud story?
  6. What did you play on recess? In gym? 
  7. What did your group read about on Wednesday?
  8. What words are you learning in Spanish?
  9. How is the math booklet feeling? (we do this on Tuesday’s)
  10. What song are you learning on the recorder in music?

In “Antiracist Kid” we talked about what to do when we make a mistake this week. We discussed the steps: 1. Admit that you made a mistake, 2. Apologize, and mean it with the intention of changing your future behavior, 3. Listen to the person you harmed. Your children wrote examples of things they can say like “What I said was not okay.” “I’m really sorry and I won’t do that again. I know it upset you.” They also wrote reminders for themselves: “you will not always get it right,” “you can work on making sure you do not say the wrong thing again,” “you will grow from your mistakes,” “you are always learning and growing.” 

Please sign up for a time to visit with your child and see their work in a few weeks:

Visiting in Cedar Room (Jamie Schaub) 23/24


Hello families! It has been such a pleasure to be in the company of your children. Over the past three weeks we have created an agreement together about how we would like to feel and how we agree to be in the classroom. We have started spelling lessons, and reviewed concepts in math. Your children have heard the Montessori Great Stories of the Creation of the Universe, the Timeline of Life, and the Long Black Strip. 

These stories work together to build an understanding of just how long it took for the earth to form, all of the creatures to exist, and the comparison of how little time humans have lived on the earth. The Timeline of Life is full of illustrations in contrast to the Long Black Strip which is a black piece of fabric 30 meters long void of anything (representing all of the time from the beginning of the earth) until the very end where the children see a red strip of ribbon just 1cm wide that represents the length of time that humans have existed. I love sharing these stories because it creates such a sense of wonder and discovery, even if the children have heard them before. They often enjoy reading the Long Black Strip story and unrolling the fabric with their friends. We are also talking about the Autumnal Equinox and will engage in learning about the night sky on our field trip to The Sleeping Bear Dunes tomorrow. 

In “The Antiracist Kid” we discussed our personal and social identities. Some children were not sure about their racial identities (skin color, categories in the US: Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Latinx, Hispanic, white) and ethnic identities (the cultures of our ancestors which could include countries we come from) so I encouraged them to talk to you at home. Your children are creating artistic identity maps to show who they are and what they love. We hope to display the final versions to celebrate our similarities and differences.