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Welcome to Primary Thistle

We are looking forward to a wonder year together filled with excitement and adventure. We hope that the narrative below will help facilitate more conversations with you and your child and perhaps give you a better picture as to some of what we share during our time together.

"Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment."

Taylor Vancil



Room Parents
Jen Superson
Ashley Johnson


Back to School Parent Letter

Taylor Vancil, Primary Guide
Taylor Vancil, Primary Guide
Junghwa Mead, Primary Support
Junghwa MeadPrimary Support
Michelle Sands, Primary Support
Michelle Sands, Primary Support
Rachel King, Classroom Support
Rachel King, Primary Support

Classroom Highlights


First and foremost, I want to thank each of you for your time and thoughtfulness shared in support of your child at conferences last week. It was my pleasure getting to share some of the work your child takes joy in each day and what we are working toward as well. I encourage each of you to carve out a time where you might come and observe a moment of your child’s morning work cycle! Observing your child during this time gives the clearest impression of what your child is working on and how they're interacting with peers. We would love to host you outside our classroom’s observation window! If interested, please reach out to Renee to check our observation schedule and coordinate a time! 

As I shared with many of you at conferences, our classroom has been experiencing an ongoing conversation in being protectors of living things. We saw the return of many of the classroom’s plants at the beginning of the week. Previously, several plants had been mistreated with leaves cut off or soil being removed. We explored the following questions: what is a living thing? What do living things need? Do we, as humans, have a right to harm living things? What benefits do we get from having plants in our classroom and on Earth? What Earth without plants might look like? Children expressed joy at seeing the plants return. It was inspiring hearing the pride they had in being kind to the plants and how they wished to continue to provide care. In the beginning of our conversation about thankfulness this week, we decided we are thankful for our plants! 

The elementary communities have been undergoing a research study on the young life of Ruby Bridges. About a week ago, the Maple Upper Elementary community dropped by our classroom to share their work with us. Ruby was the first African American child to integrate into a southern elementary school in the year 1960. During that time, she faced a lot of hardship in the way people treated her, her family and the isolation she was met with at school. The children of the Maple community crafted a picture book of Ruby’s experience and came to read their work with the children of our classroom. In our community we frequently explore materials, photos of people around the world, and artwork that might be the same or different. We have conversations about living things and work every day to grow appreciation for the needs we all have in common, despite any differences of appearance. The children were very adamant all children in the world should have an opportunity to walk in the doors of our school and be welcomed regardless of any differences based upon appearance. We look forward to learning more from the Maple community and potentially taking part in their outreach initiative in recognition of Ruby Bridges.  

This week in preparation for our harvest feast next Tuesday, we began thinking about what we would like to create as a community to enjoy for lunch on November 21st. The harvest feast is one of my favorite days of the year! Each child from the community will have an opportunity to slice, chop, mix and bake a part of one or more dishes before the Kindergartners serve their peers. This day brings much joy and warmth to all. Attached you will find a copy of the Harvest Feast letter that came home Wednesday in your child’s backpack as well. 

We talked about the meaning of the word thankfulness, gratefulness, and appreciation. Children had an opportunity to share their understanding of the words before we read the definitions. Thankfulness to the children of our community meant being happy, being helpful, sharing, being kind and taking care of others. The true definition of thankfulness – the feeling of being happy or grateful because of something. We are taking time each day before sitting down at lunch to share moments from our morning we were thankful for. I am inspired daily by the assistance, kindness and joy children of the Thistle community offer each other!

Wishing you all a lovely break next week and hope you each are able to spend time surrounded by loved ones! Safe travels to any of our families going on a road trip or hopping on a flight. Best wishes to all! 


We are grateful to have had the opportunity to host a parent visitor from each of your families earlier this week into our Children’s House community! I know it is such a short time to catch a glimpse into the work your child finds joy taking part in each day. I look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks with each of you at the beginning of November for conferences! Click here for sign-up information. If your family has a busy schedule, please be on top of scheduling right away for a slot that TCH and I have set aside on November 8, 9 and 10th 

A very popular work in the classroom through the beginning of the school year has been creating sculptures with pipe cleaners! We have read a book called, Sandy’s Circus that was written by Tanya Lee Stone and Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. The book shares the story of a young boy named Alexander Calder who fiddled with pieces of wire. One day he made a lion and the next day he made a lion cage. Before he knew it, Sandy had an entire circus and was traveling the world sharing his circus of sculptures with people everywhere. Did you know Alexander Calder was the inventor of the mobile sculptures that often hang in children’s nurseries everywhere? 

As weather changes, please ensure your child comes to school each day with their wet bags and extra clothes labeled in their backpack. Children will get wet as they stomp around in puddles! A set of mittens and a winter hat are welcome to stay at school. All of your child’s outdoor gear resides in the top of their cubby. We will send all hats, mittens, and snow gear home on Friday’s to be washed and returned on Monday. We will also send snow gear home on days where it is soaked and unlikely to dry out overnight.  

Reminder to kindly help us in limiting your child experiencing big emotions throughout the day - by saving toys, jewelry, stuffed animals, or any extra items that are not on our community’s supply list for at home. Thank you! 

We have been practicing a song about Jack-o-lanterns. We have also been learning a welcoming dance song from Nigeria with our music teacher, Angela! Here are the lyrics to sing along to both songs with your child: 

Let’s make a jack, jack, jack-o-lantern 
I’ll show you how, how, how it’s done 
You simply scoop out a little yellow pumpkin 
And carve a pumpkin face for fun 
Inside well put, put, put a candle  
To make a shine, shine, shiny light 
You simply scoop out a little yellow pumpkin  
To grin at people in the night 

Fanga Alafia 
Fanga Alafia 
Ashe Ashe 
Fanga Alafia 
Ashe Ashe 


Next Monday, in recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, some of the children in our community will have an opportunity to attend a small presentation with Eric Hemenway. We will look forward to sharing back with our Thistle community what we learn. We are excited to welcome Eric into our community! 

Eric is of Anishinaabe/Odawa descent. He is the Director of Repatriation, Archives, and Records for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians of Waganakising—The Land of the Crooked Tree—located in the northwest portion of the lower peninsula of Michigan. He has a lifelong involvement in researching Odawa history. He has collaborated widely with museums, universities, the National Park Service, schools, and various governments in conducting and presenting research to a wide range of audiences. Eric has worked on numerous repatriations of native human remains under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). He is a former member of the NAGPRA Review Committee and currently sits on boards for the Michigan Historical Commission, Michigan Historical Society, Michigan Humanities Council, and Little Traverse Conservancy. We are excited to welcome Eric into our community!  

This week, we have been practicing reciting a poem about an Alligator. Many children really enjoy the hand motions that go along with it! Reciting poetry is great way to assist children in learning to express their ideas clearly in a logical sequence. Sharing poems with others is a great way to bolster self-confidence and great preparation toward writing creatively. Here is the poem we are practicing this week: 

The Alligator 

The alligator chased his tail. 
Which hit him on the snout.  
He nibbled it, gobbled it, swallowed it. 
It turned him right inside-out. 

Mary Macdonald 

I know many of you are eager about what your children do in school each and every day! As adults, we greet those we love and genuinely want to know how they’re doing or what they did today too. I found some great articles that take only a moment to read if you’re interested in discovering some ways to model having a conversation with your child that meets them developmentally. 

Article from Maria Montessori Blog (click here) 

Article from Alpha Montessori DFW Texas (click here)