October began with our field trip to Garden Sweet farm. This is such an exciting and special event! Not only did the children get to ride a school bus (many for the first time!), they also met up with younger siblings and parents to pick berries and pumpkins. Thank you to everyone that came to support our school and a wonderful local business.
The field trip launched us into autumn, and new activities inspired by the changing seasons appeared on the classroom shelves. Plucking sunflower seeds, scrubbing pumpkins and gourds and making leaf rubbings were popular works this month.
The prepared environment should reflect the child’s culture and what is happening around them, and the children had the opportunity to express these changes through new songs (“Autumn Time”, “Come Little Leaves”, “Full Moon Overhead”) and poems (“Autumn Leaves” by Aileen Fisher, “Snowball” by Shel Silverstein, “Five Little Pumpkins”). This poem was particularly opportune as the children witnessed the first snowfall of the season:
Snow by Alice Wilkins
The snow fell softly all the night
It made a blanket soft and white
It covered house, flower and ground
But did not make a single sound
Independence and self care continue to grow as the children practice combing their hair, washing their faces and hands, putting on all of their snowgear (this can take upwards of 20 minutes!), blowing their noses, and giving kind reminders or spontaneously helping those around them that are still learning. As the children perfect their movements and awareness of what needs to be done, our Grace and Courtesy lessons fine tune our classroom procedures and children learn how to walk without making a sound, to move a table without bumping, how to say ‘excuse me’ when someone is in your way, hang up their belongings in an organized way, and thanking someone that helps them.
Craving more order and independence at home? Here are some resources you might find helpful:
Thank you to all the caregivers that have come to observe our classroom! We hope that your visit casts some light on all that the children are capable of, and of the Montessori Method in action. It has been wonderful to read and respond to the thoughtful observer questions.
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me during Parent Teacher conferences. It is always refreshing to slow down and connect with you, and I am thankful to work in partnership with such a supportive and nurturing community committed to child development.
October brought wonderful things to explore and learn about. We dove head-first into Fall in Colorado, complete with some snow-filled days! We noticed the leaves changing color and falling from the trees. We experienced our days beginning to shorten. We felt the temperature of the air begin to shift; where we used to arrive to school in shorts and t-shirts, we now arrive in pants, boots, and jackets!
With the changing of the seasons, the children have had opportunities for further independence in their care of self with dressing and undressing from their warm clothing. Giving children opportunities to build functional independenceis paramount in a Montessori classroom, and dressing and undressing is one aspect of functional independence. It is remarkable to see a child successfully zip up their jacket independently for the first time and declare, “I did it!”
This month we also got firsthand experience with gourds and berries at our field trip to Garden Sweet farm, and we introduced pumpkin scrubbing as a seasonal Practical Life activity in the classroom.
It’s been wonderful to invite all of those from our community into our classroom to observe, and I’d like to say thank you for all of the support you provide to your children and to our classroom.
The Art of Conversation in the Children’s House
One common misperception of Montessori education is that because children in the 3-6 classroom work independently, they miss out on the “social interaction” that might be happening in a more traditional environment.
In a community of 18 children with only one of every material, social interaction is not only a part of our day, it is necessary to navigate smoothly through the environment.
We are constantly interacting to solve problems, ask for space, handle conflict, or meet our needs.
Conversation is a big part of this!
We modelconversation and allow opportunities for it during mealtimes or throughout the day.
Things I often hear when two children sit down together at the snack table:
“Let’s talk about what we did on our weekend!”
“What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
“Do you have any pets at home?”
“How many brothers and sisters do you have?”
Too often in our culture, young children just hear one side of a conversation (watching an adult on a cell phone), or they don’t hear it modeled at all!
This month, I have also observed a lot of social interaction in the form of “lessons” or support from a friend. As children develop true confidence in working through their struggles, they feel empowered to help another child do the same.
I so appreciate you all for taking time to observe and meet for conferences this October. Thank you for another lovely month!
October has been a wonderful month! The children have taken to the cozy feelings of fall and settled into the classroom. Now that children are oriented to our classroom and school environment they are starting toexplorefurther with the materials.
The children have been engaging in seasonal work that spikes their interest. Seasonal lessons may be presented on the shelves of the classroom; including pumpkin washing, leaf rubbing, and October themed language cards. Seasonal works are also created independently, stemming from the child’s own interest in nature and their culture. For example, children that build words have been building types of costumes or things they see in the fall. We also explore autumn through spoken language; presenting true stories, reciting poems, and singing songs. Here is a song that is frequently requested by children:
Full Moon Overhead
Full moon overhead
Pumpkins lying on the vine
Leaves turning crimson red
Grapes crushed into wine
Halloween time tonight!
Take a walk at midnight
Shadows give you a scare!
We are constantly adding new lessons for practice in our prepared environment. Report writing using a graphic organizer, reading extensively and writing what was learned is an important lesson for first year students and gradually gets more advanced with third year students. Note-taking, first draft using paragraphs, editing and final draft are expectations for proficient writers.
We are learning how to define grace and courtesy in our community. It is essential that we play, work, laugh and cry with the idea that we are “human beings to whom respect is due. – Maria Montessori
Our Earth is so important to our survival; therefore we are learning about it inside out. It is the only planet we know of that has just the right environment for plants and animals to live in.
Check out our HAPPY HALLOWEEN LESSONS:
The human skeleton consists of 206 bones. We are actually born with about 300 bones, but many fuse together as a child grows up. The longest bone is the femur and the smallest is the stirrup.
The pumpkin is a fruit that has yellow flowers each with five petals. The heart shaped leaves collect sunlight and photosynthesis helps to make food for the plant. The stem is thick for support and the tendrils help the vine climb and keep it secure.
Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is the Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and by people of Mexican ancestry living in other places, especially the United States. It is acknowledged internationally in many other cultures. The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members (including pets) who have died.
Shauna DeLuca, a parent of a student in our class, is the Assistant Director of International Programs at Colorado State University. She offered to volunteer a colleague from Mexico to come in for a Dia de Muertos presentation/interactive activity. Genesis Balam came about 9:15 on Friday! She painted her face. She gave a short presentation, helped prepare the altar, and then played a game with the students that is similar to Bingo. We even had a Spanish language lesson…vela is candle, sal is salt and flor is flower…
In October, the 5th years went to CSU’s Mountain Campus to experience EcoWeek. They were able to spend three days and two nights experiencing lessons in ecology, meteorology and biodiversity. They also had a wonderful time adventuring on hikes and on the ropes course. In three days we walked and hiked a total of 18 miles. Two of the 5th years wanted to share their experiences.
At EcoWeek, the second day was dedicated to a hike. It was five miles long and a round trip. The trail we went on was called Beaver Falls and it took 7 hours to finish. The guides accompanying us were Desert Dylan and Cricket Connor. We packed sack lunches for the hike and ate them at Beaver Falls. One other school came on the same hike but we did not go as a big group.
Beaver Falls was a beautiful waterfall about 10-12 feet across. It had little coves and outcroppings on the edge. The water was low but it was still flowing loudly. There were many steep drops. Right next to the waterfall was a field shaped like a horseshoe. There, the other school joined us for lunch and a game of camouflage.
On the way, we found coyote or dog tracks along the trail. We knew they were coyote or dog tracks because the claws were out all the way. After that, some bunny tracks popped up around logs. Later we found something pretty cool. We found mountain lion scat! It had sharp ends and fur in it. There were also moose tracks scattered everywhere on our way to Beaver Falls. About halfway there we found the first bear track of the season! The last animal evidence we saw on the hike were deer scat.
On the whole hike, we learned the seven Leave No Trace Principles. They are:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Walk and camp on durable surfaces
- Reduce campfire impacts
- Pack it in, pack it out
- Leave what you find
- Respect wildlife
- Respect others
One of my favorite things about EcoWeek was the campfire on the night of the second day. We had just finished the hike, B.O.B. (Body on Bunk) time and dinner. We were back in the dorm lounge preparing for the cold evening weather. We set off at 8:00pm, but we were a little early so we stargazed in the dark and spotted several constellations, satellites and the milky way until it was 8:30.
Then Dylan, our guide, came to take us to where we would be having the campfire. The first activity at the campfire was roasting marshmallows. We each got one marshmallow (mine was certainly delicious) and we could light our own marshmallow on the fire once.
The next part of the campfire was a repeat after me song, do as I do song and get up on your feet song: Boom Chicka Boom! This part was amazing and I love this song so much! It was so fun!
After that I knew every part of the campfire was going to be all fun and laughter. Once we finished the song, we watched Mama, Mama, a skit. Our three guides, Ladybug Lauren, Desert Dylan and Cricket Connor performed a skit and at the end we would get to make a change to the act and then they would performit the way we suggested. This part of the campfire was completely hilarious!
After that, we did a repeat after me song (60’s Party) and then Connor performed a song that he had written. Then we sang some songs for them.
After that our campfire experience was coming to an end. It was time for Dylan to talk about constellations and how if you’re quiet enough you might hear a baby moose calling to its mother. So she told us to be silent for a couple of minutes. Just when I thought it couldn’t get more hilarious, Ladybug Lauren had snuck off without anyone knowing and the second everyone was silent and listening for a baby moose, she yelled, “MOM!” and everyone started laughing.
Sadly, this was the last part of the campfire besides walking back to the dorms. I can definitely say that EcoWeek and the campfire were crazy awesome!