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Welcome to Upper Elementary Maple

“The child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings and for all living creatures, who has discovered joy and enthusiasm in work, gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction.”

-Dr. Maria Montessori, Education and Peace

Hope and excitement abound as we gather again this year to learn from, grow with and enjoy each other in a community we are creating, nurturing and strengthening on a daily basis.  By being aware of our purpose, embracing our goals, and supporting each other’s development, Maple Classroom will explore much of what the universe has to offer, such is the nature of Montessori’s cosmic education for the elementary child.  Thank you for sharing your learners with us and participating in this portion of their journey to reach their full potential.

Karin Church



Room Parents
Emily Riddle
Sarah Bancroft-Treadway


 Back to School Parent Letter

Karin Church, Upper Elementary Guide
Karin Church, Upper Elementary Guide
Virginie Kanner, Upper Elementary Support
Virginie Kanner, Upper Elementary Support

Classroom Highlights


If you have not yet made it to the Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville, please have your child take you there on one of these lovely fall days.  Our visit was not only filled with inspiring works of art and breathtaking views but thoughtful questions and powerful moments of contemplation about Michigan’s history and our responsibility to consider all perspectives.  When you visit, have your child show you the community artwork they may have participated in last year.  We’ll take part again this year, and the artwork’s theme is Raindrops, highlighting the important role water plays in our world.

Last week, a 5th year crew presented Ruby Bridges’s story to Thistle classroom in primary.  They invited these younger members of our community to join us for Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day, which took place November 14.  On this day, we reflected on Ruby Bridges’s bravery and made plans to improve our world in our own way.  We reviewed our fundamental needs lesson and tied our wonders to the 6th years’ MMUN work.  Ask your children what some of the proposals are for this year of service.  

Also, last week, we were able to meet and discuss your wonderful children.  We look forward to welcoming you back in again soon as many of your children complete their first studies.  Be on the lookout for invitations to their presentations.  You can also help them study for our first annual Learning Journal Spelling Bee as well as their individual math fact challenges.  

Bi-weekly grood: Gratitude for parent drivers, Sarah Bancroft-Treadway, Brad Kik and Brittany Luea, as well as immense grood for the Treadway Family, Santa’s holiday caregivers.

Coming Up: Please check these links for Santa’s Helpers and Community Connections.


“Narwhals, narwhals, swimming in the ocean,” was sung happily in the classroom and on the playground, after we finished our first read-aloud book, The Lifters by Dave Eggers.  This book not only provided hours of engaged listening by your learners while they drew, felted, or finger-knitted, but it offered opportunities for deeper discussions into what it means to be kind, whether we are obligated to help those in need, and if humans require purposeful work to feel fulfilled.  The premise of the book tied in beautifully with our discussion of the Fundamental Needs of humans, which linked directly to the 6th years’ MMUN topics.  

We have also had the pleasure of reading A Place Called America by Jennifer Thermes.  This book enriched our American history discussions, enhanced our identity map sharing and allowed your children to find similarities and differences among their families.  Using creative, colorful maps, this book helped us learn about all the many humans that have lived in North America over the years.  

Because books can amplify connections to the real world and build bridges between our imaginations, we are asking your young people to keep track of their quiet reading books and share what they enjoyed about them.  We hope this practice will help them expand their choices and encourage them to explore different genres.  Ask them about the books they're reading and those we’ve shared together in class.  See if they’ll help you choose books for our school on Horizon Book Day.

Bi-weekly grood: Thank you Luea Family for Santa’s crickets!  So grateful to see all of you working with your children.  

Coming up: Conferences on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 8, 9 and 10, respectively.


This year we were able to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the best way possible.  Eric Hemenway, an Anishinaabe/Odawa and Director of Repatriation, Archives, and Records for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians of Waganakising, visited our school and helped us learn important history by sharing about himself and his culture.  He told the story of the birch tree, shared memories of harvesting an ash tree to help his mother make a basket, and served as a humble role model for the importance of reciprocity by recounting his experience with birch bark boxes.  Ask your children what they remember from Eric’s visit.  Their thank you notes were touching and their engagement genuine.

Now six weeks into the school year, the daily flow has been established and the hum of work fills our environment.  Mixed-age groups learn about equivalent fractions, practice spelling words, and explore the differences and similarities of vertebrates and invertebrates.  In addition to these mixed-age lessons, each year has a special project.  The 4th years are creating a book for the inaugural year of Maple Classroom.  The 5th years will share with Thistle Classroom in primary about Ruby Bridges and our celebration of Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day. Our 6th years are deep in their Position Papers, learning about global topics, such as desertification, peaceful uses of outer space and sustainable food systems.

We have also initiated our Science of Kindness experiments, discussing how scientists have been researching the impact kindness can have on our emotional and physical health and wellbeing.  Your young learners are gathering data from their first experiment and recording observations of how they feel after completing an act of kindness.  If you do not happen to be the recipient of their kindness, ask them what they chose to do.

Bi-weekly grood: Big thanks to Adam Ziter for sharing his experience as a firefighter and EMS provider and to the Danbrook and Ziter families for Santa’s crickets!

Coming up:  November conference sign-ups are available.  Due to my son’s Senior Soccer Banquet on Thursday, November 9, I am offering afternoon conferences on Wednesday and Thursday, in addition to all day Friday.  I hope you are reading Waypoints each week and have synced our Family Calendar with your personal calendar so that you stay up to date on everything happening here at school, especially our learning opportunities that are designed for you. 


I sincerely hope none of you were awakened at 2:50 am on September 23, the time of the Fall Equinox.  The children excitedly discussed the change of seasons and how the tilt of the Earth and our revolution around the sun create the shorter days as we head towards winter.  We also discussed light pollution in preparation for our Friday trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes and marveled at the blinding brightness and stark darkness in different parts of our world.  They enjoyed traveling virtually using the The World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness.

We’re also traveling together every Tuesday with a game two of our learners created.  Pairs of children will take turns rolling dice, one with cardinal directions and the other to determine distance.  We started in Traverse City, traveled southwest to learn about the Pacific Ocean, and are now in Cherskiy, Russia.  Our Tuesday morning work cycle is longer than the others, so we’ll also travel into our imaginations as the children present their studies throughout the year.  Next up, the 6th years take us to the Republic of Chad.

Finally, our gorgeous weather has provided many opportunities for our learners to venture outside and observe their immediate surroundings.  They each have a “sit spot” they will visit regularly to observe and record the changing seasons.  They started making field journals in which to record data, sketch observations and gather specimens.  So many of them are truly connected to these “sit spots” and have kept the same ones since lower elementary.  Many of their observations are quite poetic, and their trips outside seem to center them, allowing for greater focus upon their return.  Perhaps they’ll choose a sit spot somewhere outside at home?

Bi-weekly grood: Thank you Schultz and Danbrook families for bringing crickets to Santa.  Thank you, Katelin, for teaching us about Yooperlites!

Coming up: Sign up here for Parent Visiting Days, Thurs. and Fri., 10/26 and 10/27


Many would be surprised that these learners have only been together for about three weeks.  Their kind, welcoming, playful approach to each day made the task of drafting our classroom agreement, our Declaration, seamless.  In honor of our classroom’s new moniker, we each signed and decorated maple leaves to adorn the tree.  The words of our agreement are written on the grass.  (See below!)

Because knowing what is important to each other will better help us follow our agreement to respect each other, we have created Identity Maps.  Each learner has written a short paragraph and drawn pictures of those things that make them who they are.  Skis, dance shoes, family members, pets, flags to represent a family’s ethnicity appear on the different maps.  It’s such a pleasure to see the variety of qualities and interests that each child cherishes.  When we can get to know each other in this way, we can embrace our similarities and respect our differences.

Also, in keeping with our Declaration, the children have been pursuing work in a variety of areas.  All are reacquainting themselves with their factors and multiples and have received their first spelling words.  Most have started gathering information for their first studies.  After they complete the writing process, we look forward to learning about bearded dragons, pugs, wolves, China, weather and some of the elements, to name a few.  The 6th years have also shared their learning about the United Nations and have begun researching the Republic of Chad, the country they will represent for this year’s Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN). 

If you’re not hearing many details from your children, ask them how they start and end their days.  I’d like to end this by sharing a grood:  I am grateful for Brittany Luea for accompanying the 5th years on their ROV outing and sharing pictures, for Sarah Bancroft-Treadway and Emily Riddle for organizing a lovely class picnic and sharing pictures and for the Sandler family for providing Santa with crickets this week!


Hi, I'm happy to have the members of the Maple classroom in the gym each day just prior to lunchtime. So far, we have enjoyed playing some tagging games and practiced badminton and some toss and catch. The learners in this class seem to get along well and show up each day excited to play. I hope to provide them all with a chance to develop physically, emotionally and socially. If you ever have questions or would like to know more about our time together, please let me know. 

Thank you, Steve Maas