Welcome to Primary Thistle - The Children's House

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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


Good Morning Thistle Community!

We are beyond thrilled to welcome special friends and grandparents for all children today! We have prepared our classroom; the Thistle community’s gardens are glowing, are singing voices are warmed up, and the children are eager to show off our communities newest swimming creatures in the fish tank! 

Last week we welcomed the North Sky Raptor Sanctuary in the afternoon. It was quite an experience as all of the children got to see a living Broad-Winged Hawk and Peregrine Falcon up close. The children were fascinated getting to hold and compare various feet, wings and feathers of many different kinds of raptors. Did you know the Peregrine Falcon is the fastest bird on Earth? They dive at almost 186 miles per hour. Children were astonished to hear that is over twice as fast as their parents might drive on the highway!

We have been reading another social story titled “Think It, Don’t Say It!” When we’re feeling hurt, worried or angry and want to respond to an interaction, - one of the easiest things humans do in response, is defend oneself. Sometimes the words we might use when we aren’t in a regulated state can be hurtful, offensive or unkind. Many times children recognize they’re upset and seek an adult to fight their battle. One of the kindest, and most supportive things we can do is offer guidance on how the child can facilitate a conversation with their peer. Giving children language to seek to understand better is beyond powerful. A child from our community shared during our group time this week that we could simply say, “Next time, that might be a thought to keep inside,” when someone lets out a thought that feels unkind or hurtful. 

I attached the social story if you would like to read through! I shared the social stories for Voice Volume and Personal Space earlier this year. They can always be great to re-visit and remind a child, in a kind way, how to successfully navigate the many facets of our everyday life.

Last Friday we had so much fun preparing our Spring Feast in honor of Nadine. A huge thank you to all who donated food items for our delicious lunch. I’d also like to thank Ashley and Hanna for stepping in to help get everything ready with the children on Friday! We had 6 stations set up throughout the classroom where children prepared pesto pasta, turkey wraps, blueberry muffins, fruit kebabs, sliced veggies with hummus and lemonade from scratch. It was quite the menu and a beautiful feast. Many of you might not know Nadine, but she has a special place in all of our hearts here at TCH after her incredible service to children and the Montessori community for 42 years. She is not only an incredible guide but a fabulous human. 

This last Wednesday we were treated to delicious cherry pie as Daniel’s mom, Emily, came in to bake with us! Thank you Emily for sharing your time, talent and joy with us all! We are eager to invite you back again soon. 

I hope each of your family’s enjoy a long and beautiful weekend together surrounded by those you love most. I cannot express enough how much our Thistle family means to me! As we head into these final 2 weeks of the schoolyear, celebrate your child’s triumphs and all the growth yet to come as they take on new challenges in the time to come. 

Happy Memorial Day weekend!


Good Morning Thistle Families!

So much gratitude and a very heartfelt thank you from our Thistle classroom staff. This past week we have felt beyond spoiled by the love, kindness, and generosity shared with us by all of your families. Our hearts are full, not only this past week but each day we get to spend at The Children’s House. THANK YOU from Junghwa, Dustin, Rachel, Michelle and myself. 

The Thistle community is saddened to have Michelle’s schoolyear with us come to a close as she has had to make the tough decision to put her health first and step away. We are all incredibly appreciative of Michelle’s dedication, commitment and love generated over the time we had throughout this schoolyear as we got to know her. Stepping into Michelle’s roll is Dustin Smith-Ter-Haar. The children have gotten to know Dustin as he subbed in our classroom throughout the year and he is well-loved by all!

The spring for children of the Thistle Primary Community has seen growth in a beautiful relationship with the Maple Community. In the fall we walked in honor of Ruby Bridges with the upper elementary children of Maple. As the spring began, some children from our community were invited to collaborate with Maple again on an Earth Day art project. Inspiring, is how I would describe watching the interactions between the upper elementary community and ours. The children have experienced so much joy! Twice a week, two children from our community and two children from Maple independently follow a recipe and bake banana applesauce muffins or granola by themselves. This process includes going down to the kitchen for any missing ingredients, pre-heating the oven, mixing the ingredients, putting the food into the oven, cleaning up the table, returning ingredients and being responsible for taking it out when the timer goes off. Our older visitors have found great joy in reading books to the children they’re baking with or being shown lessons while they wait for the timer to ring. 

In preparation for end of the year festivities, we are beginning to study our solar system! Kindergartners are very excited to have begun researching roles they might hold in the upcoming Dance of the Cosmos. We are listening to a little bit of a goofy song called “The Planet Song,” by Hopscotch Songs. The song tells the order of the planets and a few interesting facts about them all. The children really enjoy the change of music genre to represent each planet. Dancing to the tune about Jupiter has quickly become the all-time favorite.

You might notice more emotions coming out in your children this time of year. I want to prepare you ahead of time, this is normal and happens every year as the schoolyear comes to a close. We have many exciting happenings coming up and going on at school. On top of that - some children will experience transitions to a new school or grade level, some will be off on summer adventures, and some will return for summer at TCH! The children feed off the various energies of the excitement and uncertainty about the changes they soon face. As your child experiences worry or seems to be bouncing off the walls – remind yourself that it is normal for your child to feel this way and you both have got this! If your child is experiencing a big transition, talk to them about it, offer ears to listen and validate their emotions. You might even share times in your life you had a change come and how exciting, worrying, sad, happy that change might have been. Most importantly children want to know you see them and assurance that what comes next will be alright!

Thank you to the many of you who quickly filled up our wish list for ingredients to surprise the children with another Harvest Feast in honor of Nadine. At group a few weeks ago I asked what foods make them think of spring that they might like to enjoy at a picnic. Children are most excited about the idea of cherry pie! Nadine is a special human that has touched the lives of many children that have called TCH home over the past 30 years. I’m eager to share stories of Nadine with the children and share in their joy creating beautiful memories.

Lastly, Happy Mother’s Day! We worked with Maple and Alison our art teacher here at TCH, to make each of our mother’s a small gift! We ended up having our project be delayed a little and are currently waiting for them to be fired in the school’s pottery kiln. Allow us some patience as they will come home soon! 


We have had a lot of things happening in our community over the past few weeks! 

Given the beautiful sunshine as of late, we have prepared the outdoor environment garden beds! Leaves needed to be raked, garden beds scrubbed and leftover plants from the fall were pulled to make way for new things to grow this spring. Children waited patiently while watching our tabletop greenhouse grow. Lettuce has sprung up! We have many sprouts reaching toward the growing light. Soon we might need to thin some out! Conversations around human responsibility in protecting living things has taken place as we navigate the mystery of disappearing parsley sprouts. 

Earlier this week, Rachel’s family with their 6-month-old baby visited our community for a short while. Children were so eager to sit and watch baby Kennedy! Smiles were shared by all as the children sat so quietly watching her every move. Children were delighted again on Wednesday as Rachel entered the classroom with the news of our community receiving a packaged gift in our mailbox. Everyone had a chance to hold the wrapped package, many took a turn in peeling back a piece of paper and a child read the card out loud for us all. You might have heard your child share about the brand new shiny pink tower we found inside!

We are working hard with the idea of protecting materials from being chipped, broken or damaged. Before children may begin using the new pink tower, they know they need to show they can take care of it. Children set up a rug in the middle of our group and took turns bringing something they could find in the classroom they noticed was damaged. Some materials were missing chunks of wood, others missing paint, many scratched, and some had already been glued together several times. Our rug filled up rather quickly and a second rug was laid out. After collecting materials that had been well-used and worn over the course of the year, or past years - children expressed their sadness at how many things they loved being placed on that rug.  We looked at the current state of the pink tower on the stand in our room and the largest cube from the new pink tower. When asked what we could do to protect this new pink tower, children said:

“Walk slowly.”
“Don’t rush.”
“Take just one!”
“Make them quiet!”
“Keep them on our rug.”
“Wait our turn!”

There has been a definite shift in the way many children are choosing to take and carry materials in the classroom, and some are still practicing. We are all at different stages of practicing skills in our lives! Using the word, protection, has a significant meaning for children of a young age. This experience has given birth to a new idea in our classroom too! 

You might hear your child coming home with a curiosity in explorers. We talked about all the thing’s explorers do when they reach a new and interesting land. What happens when you run into a big river, and you want to know what is on the other side? You have to create! Children thought maybe they would cut down a tree and make a boat. I asked them what would happen if the boat had a hole that let in water the first time you made it? Hands went up in our group with ideas of how they would try again. Maybe it takes twelve attempts to build a boat to make it across the river. How cool there’s opportunity to practice a skill that many times. How big triumph feels as a challenging skill is mastered! How fun it can be to practice a skill you’ve mastered for the sake of experiencing the joy it brings back. How amazing it is we are all faced with opportunities to create each and every day. Children in general can struggle with making choices. Montessori’s Primary community of children are purposefully given opportunity to practice making choices and carry out responsibility of choice, each day, in ways that are appropriate for their skill level. Sometimes it might take the entire work cycle to let courage push a child independently toward a work choice. Maybe they’re afraid of the spill they know is going to happen and how long it might take to clean the spill up. Will they be able to do it? Will help come? To an adult, it can be frustrating how long it takes a child to make a choice but, in the classroom, we know it is okay! If we offer children time to make choices, in return, our communities are hopeful to later foster adults who can independently handle the freedom to make greater choices and accept the responsibility of their choice. 

Children of our community are practicing being explorers when they don’t have a work! Explorers choose to create, choose to practice a skill they’ve mastered already for the joy it brings, or choose to practice a skill that is challenging but one day they want to have mastered. When tasked with this idea of being an explorer in-between work choices, children glowed, and I was in awe of the way each child felt inspired to choose with a purpose.

I hope your family has a beautiful weekend ahead full of exploration and joy in each other’s company! I look forward to connecting with each of you next week at conferences next week. Feel free to share ahead with me, any questions, or curiosities you would like to discuss so I can best prioritize topics and manage our time together. These 30-minute meetings are essential to a strong partnership!


Good Morning Thistle Community!

I am thrilled many of you had an opportunity to visit our classroom to see what your child are up to in their daily lives here at The Children’s House! I am saddened to have missed sharing in that time with you all and so grateful for moments at home with Steven as he recovered from a stomach bug. I look forward to sitting down with all of you on March 14th/15th for conferences. Look for an email in the next week or so with signups!

Last week we enjoyed decorating our bags to collect all of the cards we got to put together with our families in recognition of Valentine’s Day! We are looking ahead to spring in the coming weeks on March 19th. There have been signs of life appearing from the soil all over campus. Preparation for our Thistle community garden beds will begin soon! 

We are starting to sing a favorite song for the children each year: Robin, Cricket and the Willow Tree!

Robin, Cricket and the Willow Tree Lyrics:
Well, the robin chirps in the warm spring weather.
And the cricket rubs his wings together.
When the wind blows free through the willow trees
Mother natures busy making melodies (children snapping fingers)
Oh, the robin, and the cricket, and willow trees.
No, you don’t need a ticket for a concert in the thicket.
With the robin, and the cricket and the willow trees.

Yesterday afternoon, we set up our tabletop greenhouse! Many children that are awake in the afternoon got to take part in preparing the soil, adding water to the trough, cleaning the dusty top, labeling the trays and replacing the light bulbs. Today, throughout the day, everyone will take part in planting basil, parsley and lettuce seeds. We look forward to making pesto sauce once our basil grows! We will be using the parsley and lettuce to offer food to the Iris and Primrose Community’s guinea pigs. As spring draws nearer, we will also get to start seedlings to transplant into our classroom garden beds in the outdoor environment. It is a joyful time listening to the excitement as children of our community express their hopes for kinds of food they want to see grow from our beds this spring and summer.

We have begun reading two social stories in our classroom. These stories describe social situations in a concrete way from reading body language, offering language, explaining what to do and how others will feel when we do things. Social stories read in neutral moments offer guidance on a situation that might arise later and what a child might do when it does. We will be reading them several times daily to allow children opportunity to truly process the ideas. Social stories benefit all children as they promote self-awareness, self-calming tools, and self-management.  The first social story we are reading in small groups is called “Volume Control,” and the second is “Personal Space.” I’ve listied some of the key takeaways below. You might find them helpful as your child might try out some of the language with you at home. Many social stories are very similar to the grace and courtesy work we already do in our Primary Montessori communities.

Volume Control 

  • volume of voice refers to how loud or quiet we talk
  • how close or far away from someone I am can help me know how loud or quiet my voice should be when talking
  • Medium Voice - when close to a person so they can hear me clearly
  • Quiet Voice - when close to a person’s ear or want to share a secret
  • Loud Voice - when a person is across the street or on the other side of a room, I could also walk closer to them, so I don’t have to shout
  • If I’m too quiet, someone might tell me “Speak up please. I can’t hear you.”
  • If I’m too loud, someone might tell me “You’re being too loud right now, use a medium voice.” They might pull away from me or cover their ears. 

Personal Space

  • personal space is the space around you, in which you feel comfortable and safe
  • personal space is invisible and everyone’s personal space bubble is different
  • when people stand too close, I feel uncomfortable/crowded/squished. I need to remember others feel the same way.
  • When someone’s standing too close to me, I can step back, hold up my hand with my palm facing out or I can tell them “I need more space please.” (we talked about delivering this message in a medium voice)
  • If a person looks mad or annoyed, backs away from me or puts their hand up, then I am standing too close and should take a step back to give them more room.
  • It’s best to keep myself at least one arm length away from others when talking to them, usually a person’s personal body space is about the same distance of an arm length away from their body
  • When I don’t know how big or small a person’s personal space bubble is, I can ask, “Am I too close? How much space do you need?”

Wishing you all a great weekend! 


In the classroom we have been excited about looking at lighthouses! We have a new sorting work out on the shelf that shows various lighthouses found on the coast of Lake Michigan. In this sorting work, children get to experience what each lighthouse looks like during the daytime, at night and during the winter season. We have started talking about what lighthouses do, the lightkeepers that look after them, and the story of a family that once lived and operated Old Michigan Island Lighthouse on Lake Superior. We look forward to further sorting the lighthouses based on their kind of tower construction! As we talked about the lighthouses, children have also taken a curiosity in the Great Lakes. Children were amazed if all of the water in Lake Superior was put on North America, and South America - we would stand in one foot of water!


Preparing for Lunar New Year, some children got to take part in creating lanterns that hung in our windows. We have been reading stories of how Lunar New Year is celebrated in Korea, China, and Vietnam. Junghwa introduced us all to a Korean game known as Ddakji. This game is played using origami squares! Children take turns throwing/dropping their square and trying to get it to land on their opponent's square. Junghwa adapted the game for the children, as traditionally when the square is thrown, the goal is to get your opponent’s square to turn over. We look forward to enjoying this game together through the upcoming week as well. 


Over the past week, faculty at TCH had an opportunity to watch a webinar curtesy of ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States). Dr. Jonathon Dalton shares evidence-based approaches to helping anxious students. One of the hardest tasks in the classroom is what we call “sitting on our hands,” especially when a child appears to be in distress. Sometimes a child just needs a moment longer to figure out the words they want to share with a peer they’re upset with, or three more tries before they finally tie their first bow. Stepping in too early could rob children of an opportunity to learn or grow. It is a constant dance for all adults whether children are at school or their home. Sometimes we get it right, some moments we wish we might have approached differently. Language I really appreciated from Dr. Dalton was letting children know “you can be worried and brave at the same time.” Being willing to listen, validate children’s feelings and that they also have power. Sometimes the most caring gift we can give, is letting a child experience their emotions.

I strongly recommend giving this webinar a listen. I am sharing the link below and details of how to access the recording. You will not regret the decision!


Visit: Recorded Webinars (click here)

  1. Scroll to the “Password Protected Webinars" section.
  2. Select “Evidence-Based Approaches to Helping Anxious Students: Extending the Conversation"
  3. This recording is available via Zoom and requires password: anxietypart2$2023 (all lowercase).
  4. Feel free to watch multiple times and/or share with your school community.
  5. Please adhere to the ISACS’ Policies & Disclaimers for Professional Learning Event.
  6. The recording will be available until midnight on February 29, 2024.


Here at The Children’s House, we are all beyond passionate about the work we take part in with your children each day. I enjoyed getting to share last evening with a few parents of our Thistle Community, and the many exciting discoveries children make in their capstone year as a kindergartner at our school. One of the things I love most about Montessori and the Primary environment Dr. Montessori created, is this sacred space where children are free within limits, to create and shape the person they want to become. Children do not have to live up to adult expectations or take on the adult’s stress and time constraints. The children of our communities are blessed with three years of exploring, experimenting, and becoming an expert on many facets of their own world - at their own pace. Yesterday, as I observed our community working, I was pondering about how cool this space is where twenty-four children can be so lost in their work that there can be minutes that pass by without a sound heard. I do not know how many places on Earth could produce a similar experience without someone being responsible for creating entertainment for the children.  

A beautiful observation of our community the other day took place when a younger child noticed an older child across the room had tears rolling down their cheek. The younger child shared with me that someone was sad, and would it be okay if they left our lunch table to check on them. The younger child walked over and asked what the older child needed and offered a hug. The compassion shared was a product of this younger child watching the older peers in our classroom model just what to do when someone is feeling down. Genuine moments like this without the third-year children in our classroom would not be possible. What hopeful seeds of compassion these children will plant and sow in the years to come.  

Since the start of the new year, we spend many of our mornings listening to classical music playing in the background as we work. It has been interesting observing the various ways children find joy in the music. We look forward to studying stories of composers in the weeks to come. This week children could be heard humming the beginning of Beethoven’s Symphony #5 in C Minor, Op. 67 across the room. The bells are a material that took a brief hibernation in our classroom and reappeared following the winter break. Many children can be seen delicately carrying a bell to a table. Children take great care in carefully striking the bell and waiting patiently for the sound to stop ringing before playing the bell again. Did you know children with an interest in music in our classroom can pursue pairing, naming notes, playing melodies, and writing melodies with pitches of the C Major scale? 

We are very excited to sing with each of the Primary classrooms tomorrow morning! The children have decided to share The Frisky Squirrel song with our TCH Primary community and created an addition of movements to the song. These past few days practicing has been delightful watching joy echo around our group as they climb up and down the tree! You can ask your child to sing with you. We sang this song quite a bit throughout the fall! The tune is the same as the Grand Ol’ Duke of York.  

The Frisky Squirrel - Lyrics 

Oh the frisky squirrel, 
He gathers nuts and seeds. 
To save them for a winter day, 
so he’ll have all he needs. 

Oh up, up, up he goes, (children jump) 
and down, down, down he comes. (children crouch and stay low) 
He goes right up, (children jump) 
then comes back down. (children crouch and stay low)
His work is never done. 

Oh up, up, up he goes, (children jump) 
and down, down, down he comes. (children crouch and stay low) 
He goes right up, (children jump) 
then comes back down. (children crouch and stay low) 
His work is never done. 


Good Morning Thistle Families,

Happy Seasonal Sing Day! 

I believe I can speak for all members of our classroom, when I say that we are beyond excited to welcome you down to the barn later this morning and join us in singing at 11:30! Following the Seasonal Sing, your children will stay seated with our class. Please send one parent or caregiver up to collect your child and let an adult from our community know you are leaving. Make your way down to our community's coatroom to collect all of your child's belongings. They will be all packed up and there will be a gift for your family on top of their cubby. 

When we share about the Holidays in our community, we think about how families might celebrate this special time of year in ways that are similar but also ways that are different. It's important for children to gain exposure to the ways in which humans all over the world and even here in Northern Michigan might celebrate in ways that don't match the ways in which our family celebrates. Even though people celebrate different Holidays all over the world, there is so much we share in common with joining of our extended families, special foods prepared and traditions. 

Thank you for an incredible school year together so far in the Thistle Community. 2023 has seen much growth, laughter, and new discoveries for us all. My most favorite part of the day is greeting each of your children as they walk through the door to our classroom in the morning. The smiles that greet me are warming and energizing.

In the words of a young member from our community this past week "Wow! What a great house! It is so warm." Of course, this child meant it in a different way when they returned inside from the playground... but I also couldn't have said it any better about what The Children's House community means to me and the role each of your families plays in making our school a wonderful place to be.

Wishing you and your family a beautiful Holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Best Wishes,



Last week’s Harvest Feast brought so much joy into our Thistle community! Thank you all for the ingredient you donated to our classroom. I sincerely hope you all enjoyed a few wonderful days surrounded by loved ones and friends! Several children exclaimed last Tuesday was "the best day ever.” There was also a request that we hold a feast in our classroom in celebration of each change in season. We might have to brainstorm some ideas as spring draws nearer!  

The strawberry no-bake pie and eggless banana bread were the clear favorites on the day. Here are the recipes should you have interest in baking at home with your child; just click on the name for a link. 

Strawberry No-Bake Pie         Eggless Banana Bread 

We have been talking about the classifications of trees this week and why some of the trees we might see at our house, at school or on our daily travels - still have green needles. I invited the children to bring in a picture of any trees they see outside or inside their house that has needles. We would be looking for a close-up picture of the needles and a picture of the tree as a whole to use in identification of the kind of tree. We are curious how many kinds of evergreen/conifer trees we will discover. The children found it interesting that for a plant to be considered a tree -  it is at least fifteen feet in height with lateral branches, and a singular stalk or trunk.  

In preparation for the Seasonal Sing coming up on December 14th, we are practicing singing all three verses of Jingle Bells. Find the lyrics below! It is a favorite each year in the classroom.  

Jingle Bells 

Dashing through the snow 
In a one-horse open sleigh 
O’er the fields we go 
Laughing all the way 
Bells on bobtails ring 
Making spirits bright 
What fun it is to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight  

Jingle bells, jingle bells 
Jingle all the way 
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh, hey 
Jingle bells, jingle bells 
Jingle all the way 
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh 

A day or two ago 
I thought I’d take a ride 
And soon Miss Fannie Bright 
Was seated by my side 
The horse was lean and lank 
Misfortune seemed his lot 
He got into a drifted bank 
And then we got upsot  

Jingle bells, jingle bells 
Jingle all the way 
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh, hey 
Jingle bells, jingle bells 
Jingle all the way 
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh 

 Now the ground is white 
Go it while you’re young 
Take the girls tonight 
And sing this sleighing song 
Just get a bobtailed nag 
Two forty for his speed 
Then hitch him to an open sleigh  
And crack, you’ll take the lead 

Jingle bells, jingle bells 
Jingle all the way 
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh, hey 
Jingle bells, jingle bells 
Jingle all the way 
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh 


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)