We have begun archiving the monthly Classroom Notes newsletters. Enjoy this teacher contributions from last October!
This past month has flown by as the children orient to the classroom and learn to be part of a community. We sing and recite poetry daily, and it is amazing to see how the children’s interest is piqued by spoken language. You may be hearing recitations of “Bed in Summer” by Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Bird’s Nest” by John Drinkwater and “Who Has Seen the Wind?” by Christini Rossetti at home, as well as catch snippets of the songs “This is My School”, “Ten Horses”, “Blossom on the Plum”, “Sunflower”, “Mango Fandango”, and “East Side, West Side”.
In addition to forming a classroom community, the children have also been experiencing what is means to be part of the world community. We have studied our globes and world map, how to take care of the earth and all its creatures, and have had enthusiastic discussions about peace and what it means in our lives and in the world. Every week our classroom has a peace circle and children can offer each other peace, love and friendship. We have been singing our songs about the earth and peace, including “This Pretty Planet” (with sign language!), and “I Have Peace Like a River”. It is inspiring to see the children connect with each other and with the world around them through peaceful education.
Autumn has come to Fort Collins, and with it the curiosity of the children. We have been talking about how and why the seasons change, going on nature walks to collect fallen leaves around school, and learning the language of the parts of a leaf. The children are tracing leaf shapes from our botany cabinet, examining leaves from the outdoor environment and singing the songs “Come Little Leaves” and “Leaves are Falling”, and reciting “Autumn Leaves” by Aileen Fisher. It has been an exciting and busy start to the year, and we look forward to all that the fall semester brings!
Hello! What a busy month we have been having so far. The children are really settling into the routines of the day and diving deeper into the flow of the work cycles.
I am seeing the children really starting to open up and feel comfortable. They are developing relationships with new friends and connecting more with the teachers. This is such a fun time for me because I am able to start spending more one-on-one time with each child. I get to have those lovely conversations and discover their interests and as a result I can connect them to the materials through those interests. I have to say, that this has been such an enjoyable experience!
With each new month comes new discoveries. September was all about apples! We learned about all of the parts of an apple as well as the discovery of the hidden star inside each apple if you cut it right down the middle.
A poem we are learning!
BED IN SUMMER
by Robert Lewis Stevenson
In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree.
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
A few current lessons that we are exploring as a group and individually:
- Living and non-living (ex. Can a lobster can take in food? Live and grow? Have baby lobsters?) LIVING!
- Rough and smooth (we have been having lots of nature walks with two baskets for our different discoveries)
- Can an ax have baby ax’s? Take in food? Live and grow?) NON-LIVING! Such fun!
- Metal inset work (prepares the hand for writing and the children learn the names of objects as well. For example, quatrefoil, ellipse, rectangle, oval, pentagon, curved triangle
- Solar System
- Spanish lessons have been wonderful (colors and greetings)
- Decimal system
- Exchanging quantities
- Lot’s of control of movement games and as always caring for each other and our environment. A big thanks to all of you for helping with the classroom needs and sewing our wonderful cloths for lunch! The children love them!
We are so looking forward to sharing our lovely community with you during parent observations. Our classroom is buzzing with excitement! Together we are all settling in nicely. Each child is feeling empowered and learning how great it feels to do things on their own! This will be a wonderful year for everyone involved.
We can’t believe it’s almost October! We were so excited to begin the year with the addition of glass plates, water glasses, and linen tablecloths. These have added to the “homey” feeling of the children’s house and elicited care and mindfulness from the students.
We are so grateful to all of the families who helped in this endeavor by donating fabric and time by cutting and sewing napkins and tablecloths. It is lovely for the children to see the different fabrics and the stories and effort woven into them (we even have a fabric brought from Tanzania!)
At lunch, the children carry tables and chairs and set each table for two with a tablecloth, plates, napkins, and silverware. They choose a vase of flowers that one of their classmates has arranged and place it in the center of the table. Adults eat with the children to model table manners and conversation. We serve our food onto our plates, a child rings a bell to quiet the room, and we say a poem before we begin eating. There is a wonderful sense of community in gathering around a table created through all of this collaborative effort.
For more information, this article explains how beauty cultivates reverence and responsibility, and this gives more insight into mealtimes.
Thank you for all of your help in creating a beautiful environment in which to build community!
It has been a great start to the year!
The children have delved into their work. Many things are being explored such as: fractions, parts of speech (grammar), body functions of vertebrates, watercolor painting, the Earth and sun, all four operations of mathematics, angles, equivalence, fundamental human needs, decimals, animal research, factors, parts of a flower, cursive writing, story writing, spelling, word origins, tone bars, rhythm cards, and so much more.
A few children have researched our classroom bird feeders and have discovered the best way to attract birds during the fall and winter. They have begun planning a “going out”. They are organizing their own trip to a local shop to purchase birdseed and look at the birdbath options.
We have been learning and singing new songs. The songs we have added to our repertoire so far this year are: “Yellow Submarine” (The Beatles), “Community” (Kira Willey), “Glad to Have a Friend Like You” (Free to Be You and Me), and “Cows” (Philadelphia Chickens). The song “Cows” was brought in by a child who was enthusiastic for us to learn it. Some of the children are creating movements/choreography to go along with the songs we sing. Our time singing together is quite joyful. I have begun to play a little guitar and some of the children are playing the rhythm sticks.
We began our read aloud this year with “Stuart Little” by E.B. White, and are now reading “Ragweed” by Avi. We read aloud and sing each day.
We have planned our first trip to Red Fox Meadows and are looking forward to observing the changes to the landscape throughout the year.
The year started off with a big bang! The students are eager to learn new lessons and handle the materials. The environment is prepared. I am giving key lessons. The students are enjoying community.
During our work periods, we are writing stories using our spelling, reading books, practicing grammar, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. Fraction work is a favorite and finding equivalents or converting improper fractions has become quite popular.
The changing seasons allow us to explore the rotation and the revolution of the earth. Solids, liquids and gases are all around us and now we know why and how they work to make our lives interesting and better.
Reading is a treat when students get to choose their own books. The Scholastic flyers are filled with affordable, age-appropriate books. When children read books to explore interests or try new things, they practice comprehension skills. Likable characters make reading a pleasure and serve as role models.
Occasionally we walk over to Red Fox Meadows to lunch, hike, and observe the natural environment. It is a 10 minute walk from our classroom, and the children love going over there. Connecting with nature develops peaceful awareness, increases self-esteem and improves concentration.
Maria Montessori believed that children pass through phases in which at certain stages throughout their development they have a predisposition or sensitivity to learning a specific skill. These stages are called “sensitive periods.’’ Join us for the second parent education night. We will share experiences and useful information/recommendations.
Gratitude: Thank you to all of the adults who support us as we grow.
An Update from Owen
In our classroom, we do many things such as book study, sentence analysis, word problems, story writing, fractions, art, science, research, and math. As well as doing all that, we have pen pals who we write back and forth to.
Recently, we went to Red Fox Meadows with some nature guides who talked to us about birds and how they fly. We saw a kingfisher, 2 swallows, 5 ducks, a goldfinch, a flicker, 3 praying mantises, and a red fox.
Soon, on the 12th of October, we will be going to C.S.U. to see an entomologist named Boris Kondratieff who has over 3.5 million bugs in his laboratory.
Here in the classroom and out in the world we work hard as a team.