Whoa! What a strong start!
We are humming along in ways that I haven’t observed so early in the year before. I’ve never seen a group dive in so fast with such Big Works--it is very inspiring! In addition to snack teams’ Goings Out to HEB, students have already planned and executed Goings Out to public libraries and the Botanical Garden. Students also created a service project for Hurricane Harvey relief, and another service project is underway for our local animal shelter. In addition, a play is under production, students completed a baking project with its own Going Out, and two additional classroom events for October are being planned by different groups of students. And that’s not even mentioning some of the truly epic-scale academic works that are taking off in all directions in geometry, art, science experiments, and math. This group certainly has vision and momentum, and I’ve never seen those qualities with such force this early before!
I’m gonna buckle my seatbelt with this crew….!
Our class held a very successful bake sale and lemonade stand to raise money for Hurricane Harvey survivors. They raised over $210!! They are so excited to provide that money to the Austin Animal Shelter and to Austin Diaper Bank. Toys were donated, and the children will deliver them to the dropoff point for the Children’s Homeless Shelter. Thank you, Fig Tree community for making such a difference!!
Reminders and Sign-Ups
Fall portraits are coming up on October 4! It is still a standard school day, so if your child comes ‘dressed to the nines’ for his/her picture, consider bringing a change of clothes for them to romp around in later at recess.
Observations will open soon. The office or Fig Tree will update you as this becomes available. I strongly urge all of you to come see Fig Tree in action!
Remember to sign up for your Parent Conference in early November.
If the students’ planning is successful, Fig Tree might be having its first-ever Talent Show! Some students would like to host it as a fundraiser for a local animal shelter, so we’d love to have your support! Details, as they are finalized, will be sent to you in a flyer and/or email.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS for the DON’T-MISS EVENT: Silent Journey. This is such a special evening...Parents often share stories decades later about how moving and important this night was to them. Come to Silent Journey and experience for yourself what it’s like for your child to make discoveries and direct their own education. It’s the best opportunity to use and understand the materials that your child is always talking about. You get to feel the progression from Primary through Upper Elementary, and you get a much deeper sense of how it all fits together. Join us for a quiet, reflective, insightful, and powerful night together on October 12.
The next morning, on October 13, we’re going to get these kids out into Nature together! We’re going on a community hike at Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. It will be a relaxed exploration together of the beautiful (and hopefully cooler) surroundings.
One of my favorite topics is coming up for Parent Ed! Please join me and director Sarah Critchfield as we discuss Freedom & Responsibility: Parenting from Connection. We will briefly cover the science and psychology of child development, and then we'll dive deeper into the discipline models based on that science. We will explore boundaries and limits, authoritarian parenting vs collaborative parenting, and positive discipline, among others. Best part: you'll walk out with actual *tools* based on this research that you can start using immediately (and for years to come). I am so, so excited to spend some time discussing these topics with you, shared from Sarah's and my perspectives not only as Montessorians but also as fellow moms who use the teachings of Ross Greene, Jane Nelson, Faber & Mazlish, Rudolf Dreikurs, and more--in our classrooms and in our own homes. Join us in mid-October; official date and time to be announced.
October 26 brings a fun ritual: our autumn Full-Cycle Students’ Camping Night at the Clearing! Full Cycle students from Fig Tree and Mountain Laurel will spend one night in the Clearing after pitching our tents and cooking supper together. It’s such a fun way to practice our camping skills before our Spring trip, enjoying time outside on the familiar grounds of Cedars.
Your child can pack their own lunch--I promise! Provide time for training and skills, be on hand at first, and then over time watch the beauty unfold as your child packs healthy food they’ll actually eat and you are freed to tend to other things! Ask me for tips if you need support in making this shift for your family. You’ll be glad you did!
Thank you for all of your support. This community is such a gift!!
Goodness gracious, that was one full month!! The poet T.S. Eliot said that April mixes memory and stirs dull roots with rain…and we experienced precisely that after such a high volume of varied events this month--whew!
April started with our springtime Parent-Teacher Conferences, which were very successful. I enjoy the time we spend together; thank you for taking the time to be with me.
We headed right into Student Led Tours after that. They were so fun! I get so tickled watching your children shine, and watching your own interest and insights bloom. I’m glad so many of you could come for this very special time.
The very next day, we headed downtown to see Zach Scott’s production of “Elephant and Piggie’s We Are in a Play,” written by Mo Willems, the author of the same beloved books. It was a hilarious musical, with lots of laughter and participation from our students. Once again the children shined when it came to theater decorum, and we had a blast! Thank you for helping us make it possible for the children to experience the arts and to support live performances.
Some of our own performers hosted a Poet’s Springtime Tea. They created and served homemade snacks and tea, and we enjoyed poetry readings, both original and famous, from several students. It was a relaxed afternoon of words, cookies, and playtime. An ideal April afternoon!
We’re grateful that so many of you could join us for the Spring Festival! We had several auction winners in our class, including the raffle winner of the “tulip” full of gift cards! Our class art project was a hit, too; the highest bid went to Fig Tree again (woot! woot!). And some of our students made the Dunking Booth very, very popular when they climbed in--thanks for braving the water on a chilly day, Fig Tree! Congratulations to all who won, and a deep thanks to all who came, contributed, volunteered, and supported our school in this fun event.
We finished out this very full month with our Full-Cycle Camping Trip to Pedernales Falls State Park. It was absolutely lovely. The weather was perfect both during the day and overnight (how often does that happen??!), and the students loved hiking all over the falls, swimming in our private section of the river, and hiking in the woods before heading home. S’mores were devoured, epic games of tag were played, and lots of wildlife was sighted, like boar, lizards, fox, fireflies, deer...and we even heard baby goats!
Camping is such a fun way to conclude their Lower Elementary years; thank you so much to all volunteers for loaning us equipment and driving us there. You helped make some really sweet memories.
Reminders and Sign-Ups
All Sign-Ups are filled and complete for the remainder of the year! THANK YOU, Fig Tree community!!
The school is planning an End of the Year Swim Party on Wednesday, May 24th. Stay posted for details!
Last Day of School is May 26th!
Although the children will share a snack that day, we will not have lunch together as a class. It is an early dismissal.
“What do you recommend we do this summer??” is a common question from families this time of year. An email will be sent to your family at the end of the year with “summertime suggestions” catered either to your child returning to Fig Tree in the fall or to “movin’ on up”!
Here’s to the home stretch!
With deep gratitude,
Dear Fig Tree families,
Oh my goodness, where is the time going??! Spring is definitely here, which means a flourishing garden, lots of outdoor time, and many upcoming events!
March brought some new developments to Fig Tree and to Cedars. New, beautiful wooden swings were hung from tree boughs near the elementary playground, and the kids love them! Another new development was the popularity of Literature Circles (or Book Clubs) that Rockwood students initiated last month, which led to Lower Elementary students picking up the torch after Spring Break and starting some Book Clubs of their own!
Right before March, we enjoyed a presentation about Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras, complete with the history of the celebration, a King Cake baked at school, and of course, beads!
Parents also attended a very successful Coffee Talk in March on Cosmic Education (the curriculum in Montessori elementary), an annual favorite. The turnout was great for this rich and insightful talk!
This month students have enjoyed whipping up cooking projects just for fun, setting up a Going Out to a Presidential Library, learning about the work of water during a river lesson held in the woods, planting monocotyledon and dicotyledon seeds in the garden to make some discoveries about their characteristics, fractions aplenty, how orographic rain happens, explorations of ancient Sumerians, various shapes and lines used in art, the behavior of solutions, separations, and mixtures, and more…!
And of course Hazel continues to grow and grow and mystify us all. She has already started rolling over (!!), she loves to ‘chat’ and ‘sing’ a lot lately, and boy does she love being read to by the children! The students’ love and enthusiasm for her is so clear and so sweet.
Reminders and Sign-Ups
Right after school on April 5 or on April 6, your child will host your family at a Student Led Tour. During this time, your child will give you a tour of Fig Tree and then demonstrate a few lessons that s/he has enjoyed recently. It is a delightful time to share a “sneak peak” into your child’s day. We look forward to hosting you!
If you haven’t already, please contact Sarah or Pat if you are interested in volunteering for the annual Spring Festival, which will be held on Saturday, April 22. It is such a fun day in our community--we hope you and your friends, neighbors, and family can join us!
If your schedule permits, we also ask that you take a moment to sign up as a Volunteer Driver to assist our weekly snack teams. We have several slots available in late April and in May.
And of course, conferences! I look forward to this meaningful time together in the coming weeks! You will receive a copy of your child’s Progress Report ahead of our conference; please review it so that we can spend our time answering questions and looking at your child’s work.
Mark your calendars!
Full-Cycle students from Fig Tree and Mountain Laurel will be camping together on Thursday, April 27th at Pedernales Falls. We have our own private access to the river, and it is glorious! It’s going to be a fun, joyful time together in nature. We can’t wait!
Some Fig Tree students are planning a Poet’s Tea for early April. Details to come as the event’s preparations get underway….
Thank you for this opportunity to enjoy and observe your children as they grow--even more magical than the spring that’s unfurling outside!
February sure felt warm...and fast!!
With this gloriously warm weather, we accomplished a lot in the garden this month, with a bushel of support from Cedar’s gardener, Gitana. Children weeded, turned soil, planted seeds, laid mulch, and harvested some winter carrots. The carrots went into a jar and were fermented...we’ll reap the benefits any day now with crunchy, pickled carrots!
Valentine’s Day was a lot of fun with our classroom valentine exchange and preparations for that afternoon’s Family Tea. It was a lovely, sunny day, and it felt wonderful to have our front porch filled with parents and siblings as we enjoyed sugar cookies and hot chocolate prepared that morning by the students. We look forward to the next one!
February also meant a lot of observers! If you haven’t had the chance, or if it’s been a while, please do come in for a visit. Arrange it with the office, and join us in the mornings to see all the activity that keeps our room humming along. You might see play rehearsals, party planning, flower arranging, perspective drawings, sewing, grammar boxes, sentence analysis, long multiplication, reading to Baby Hazel, how water moves up a stem, abstract long division, using formulas to find area, and convergent, divergent, and parallel lines---and that was just *this* morning’s work! Come have a cup of tea and watch these collaborations!!
And something totally new….! Some thoughtful and enterprising Upper Elementary students really enjoyed a literature circle conducted in their own class and thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat to bring this to Early Elementary??” So three Rockwood girls organized Literature Circles for Early Elementary, using two different Roald Dahl books. Interested Fig Tree students have been meeting with them every Friday to discuss what they read and to review analytical and vocabulary questions. The students have really enjoyed this new way of examining books. After this round, we hope to enjoy more literature circles hosted by Rockwood in the future!
Reminders and Sign-Ups
Just a reminder...there are still VOLUNTEER SPOTS AVAILABLE for the following Sign-Ups:
weekly drivers for snack teams
If you haven’t signed up for each one, or took one spot this year so far, we recommend adding your name one more time if you can help us out. Thank you so much, dear parents!!
Stay in touch--a lot is coming this March and April!!
In March, we hope to attend a play at Zach Scott Theater with Mountain Laurel. The play stars Piggie and Gerald of the famed--and adored--books by Mo Willems. It should be a fun morning watching a live performance about the beauty and importance of friendship.
Students are busy making plans for a Spring Party, as well as a “Poet’s Tea.” We’ll keep you posted as these intentions approach fruition!
We also intend to host two afternoons of Student-Led Tours, during which your child guides you on a tour of the room and even gives you a few lessons on some materials! It’s a special, enriching time for families and a unique window into your child’s typical day at school. I am confirming with Sarah the best dates for these, and I’ll keep you posted!
Also, be watching the calendar for a Coffee Talk on Cosmic Education, the Montessori term for our Elementary curriculum. This is a very informative topic, whether you are new to Montessori elementary or a veteran of several years. The talk is akin to a “Part 2” to our previous Coffee Talk, “The Transition to Elementary,” and it may be the single greatest source of insight into how and why we do certain things in elementary. I highly recommend your attendance. It is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, March 8; we hope to see you there!
Keep up that math-fact practice! Any amount helps--keep it fun, and keep it consistent. It is a great way to support your child, no matter what age, and it is a huge benefit to your child’s progress in math lessons and adventures.
Thank you for all of your support as we enter our time of blooming!
With a warm and grateful heart,
Goodness, a lot of fun has been packed into our winter so far!
In early December, we enjoyed a class trip to see Act II of the Nutcracker at the Long Center. It was a cold day, just right for setting the mood for the holiday performance.
We sat with Mountain Laurel, and together we occupied about two and a half rows of seats. The sight took my breath away: amidst a theater house filled with a thousand children--with all their movement, with the tremendous amounts of sound behind, near, and below us--right in the middle of this rowdy hubbub, our two rows made a v i s u a l r i v e r o f c a l m, and it was a stunning sight to me. They were happily sitting and waiting, chatting with friends with big smiles, full of decorum and delight. I sat, watching the beauty of your confident, happy, centered children, simply waiting with happiness….
During the performance, I overheard several students who had never experienced the ballet whisper, “This is so fun!!” When Mother Ginger emerged, one student’s whole face lit up, his eyes got huge, and his mouth was a little “o”! And it stayed that way for quite a while!
Before the Winter Break, two parents shared holidays that are celebrated throughout the world: Diwali and Hanukkah. Neha, Aaryan’s mom, came one morning and told the children about the Festival of Lights celebrated in Hinduism. She told us about the origins of the holiday, and she helped our children experience some of the traditions. Children dressed up in traditional clothing for boys and girls, including gold bangles; children learned about the diyas and their traditional designs; the students enjoyed one sweet and one savory treat from India to celebrate; and some students elected to have traditional henna designs drawn on their hand.
That afternoon, Nicole, Josie’s mom, joined us to share the meaning and rituals of Hanukkah. Nicole told the story of the miraculous oil, and she explained the ritual of lighting the menorah. Students then took turns lighting the candles one by one. Nicole also brought dreidels, and the children really loved learning how to play with them--they didn’t want to stop! We also shared (American!) doughnuts to represent the sufganiyot enjoyed this time of year.
We are so grateful to Neha and Nicole for sharing such beautiful, meaningful traditions that open the children’s eyes to a greater world.
We also enjoyed our annual winter party, which the kids this year dubbed “Board Game Bonanza!” We came in our PJs, played board games, and made crafts, which were really popular this year--some children made paper chains for hours with their friends! And of course we all stopped to enjoy some hot apple cider together before heading off into the holidays.
January brought a return to school and friends (and warm, sunny weather?!?!). During this time, we really enjoyed the guidance and care of Ms. Claire, who assisted while Ms. Lacey recovered at home with Baby Hazel. Claire really shined in her observations of the children, in the ways she spoke to them, and in her highly skilled handwork--skills which she generously shared with us. For example, she suggested knitting a blanket for Hazel, and the kids loved the idea. Claire led a “knitting workshop,” with several experienced students stationed around the rug to support others. Over the next few weeks, the students knit squares or crocheted borders and embellishments, which Ms. Claire knit together to complete the blanket. The community was humming for weeks with handwork and love. <3
January started strong, and after about a week’s adjustment we were back in full swing. Some students who had performed a play called “Little Late Riding Hood” for fellow classmates in the fall wanted to perform it again, this time for Primary students. They sewed costumes, made props, and then created flyers to invite the 3 younger classes to attend. It was a huge success! The students definitely ‘got bit by the acting bug,’ judging by their euphoria afterward backstage!
Recently we (FINALLY!) got to enjoy the annual Cedars Holiday Bonfire at the Clearing. It was another relaxing evening with families enjoying some starlight, a warm fire, and community. Thanks for being patient with the rescheduling and for coming out!
Lastly, we enjoyed welcoming back Ms. Lacey and sweet Hazel! We had so enjoyed having Ms. Claire, so it was also a tender day saying “thank you” to her.
We started that transition by having Hazel visit on a Friday afternoon to meet all 20 of her older brothers and sisters (!), and we learned a lot about her needs and how to support her (and her immune system!) as a member of our community. And she loves her blanket :)
The following Monday, we got to enjoy her company full-time. I was telling Lacey that she and Hazel are a marvel--they’re both such pros that I can’t believe they’re a “first” baby and a first-time mom! Their first day in Fig Tree went exceptionally well. Mom, baby, and all the students hummed right along as if we’d always been this way. It’s been deeply moving--and so fun!--to enjoy Hazel while seeing how self-regulated and loving the children are.
Reminders and Sign-Ups
Please send in a set of extra clothes for your child that are appropriate for winter weather, if you haven’t already done so. We will add them to your child’s current set. Also, please label every item with your child’s name. Thanks!
We are looking for a volunteer each Monday to drive 2 children to HEB for the week's snack. Ms. Lacey and Ms. Claire used to do this, but now there's no room for a baby carseat and our students' boosters! This SignUp Genius link has all the details. Click it to read more and to sign up if you're interested!
Last year for Valentine’s Day, we hosted a Family Tea, and it was such a hit that we’re going to do it again! Mark your calendars for Tuesday, February 14th shortly before afternoon pick-up to join us for tea, snacks, and community time.
Keep reading to your kiddo at home! You can consult the Parents’ Handbook for a list of fresh ideas to read aloud to your child.
Thank you for being so supportive this winter. It’s led to some really rich experiences these past two months, and we are grateful.
Hello, dear families,
It’s with a grateful heart that we share all the events we enjoyed in Fig Tree this November, a joyful month!
We began by welcoming Ms. Claire, our new assistant, and getting to know her over a round of morning coffee and bagels. We enjoyed long conversations and connections while the children played outside, burning off Halloween’s bounty from the night before. It was a warm and easy way for all of you to get to know Ms. Claire, and she felt welcomed indeed; we appreciate all who came that morning.
While welcoming Ms. Claire, we also loved on Ms. Lacey! The community really stepped up and absolutely showered Lacey with affection, well wishes, and baby gear at Mandola’s on a sweet, rainy day. She was very touched by all who came out and by all the help she received. It’s such an honor to be a part of such a loving, thoughtful community. Thanks again to all who came, and a special thank you to the many families who worked on invitations, decorations, activities for the siblings, food, and the many, many layers of arrangements made for the afternoon. Your efforts made an impact, and your support for Lacey’s family shined.
The community stepped up once again to make Fall Fandango one of the more meaningful community events we’ve had. We laughed, we cried, we danced, we ate...all in good company. I saw so many families reaching out to each other, enjoying stories, or taking it easy by just being together. It had been a rocky week for the whole country (no matter how or whether one voted), but at Fall Fandango there was a tangible coming-together, the bonds of community keeping us steady, reassured, and hopeful.
Fall Fandango was also very successful as a fundraiser. Fig Tree broke our record set in previous auctions by selling our framed collection of monoprints for $1000!! Congratulations to the Jackson family; we are grateful for your generous bid, and we are so happy for you!!!
November progressed with students receiving the last of the Great Stories, the Story of Numbers. Students’ awareness and gratitude for our ancestors’ discoveries and contributions is deepened by this multilayered tale, stretching from unknown ancient peoples to Sumerians to a cave in India to China to the numbers we use today. This story prompted several explorations, including a group of students who learned about writing and reading Roman numerals.
We also had our fall parent conferences, which truly were delightful. I received lots of positive feedback about providing your child’s report beforehand; I will continue to do so in the spring. My memories of those two conference days are of having laughter and/or tears of gratitude as you and I sat by that big, open window talking about your child. Thank you for your partnership in serving your child in the best ways we know how; your support is meaningful, real, and deeply appreciated.
Soon after, we welcomed Ms. Claire full-time into our room and hearts, and the transition could not have been smoother! She works well with the children, observes a lot, speaks to children in beautiful words and tone, and has shared many of her talents and gifts with us. She, a skillful knitter, had the wonderful idea of teaching non-knitters how to help create a surprise gift for Ms. Lacey’s baby. And wow, was knitting a HIT! For part of the morning before Thanksgiving holiday, we had a “knitting workshop,” with every single student choosing to sit about the rug, some stationed as helpers for the novice knitters, all of us click-clicking away with support, concentration, and love. It was a large, beautiful, joyous sight.
That same morning, we also hosted a special guest….We had the honor of listening to a local author share her book with us for read aloud. Amy Jackson, a Cedars mom, is an astronomer who has recently published her first book, Cassandra and the Night Sky. Cultures all over the world have legends about how certain constellations came to be; Amy read her original story about a girl, a swan, a scorpion, and a mysterious teapot becoming constellations we see today. Amy then provided star maps, and some students were very excited to draw their own constellations and create original stories for them.
[If you would like to order a copy of the book, you may purchase it here. We also have printed order forms if you prefer; just let us know if you’d like one.]
And then...November ends as it began…
by welcoming someone VERY special into our community!
We are SO happy to announce the birth of Lacey’s baby girl, Hazel!! She was born on Friday, November 25, healthy and strong. Lacey said that all is well and good as they rest, bond, and bloom as a family. We look forward to meeting that sweet little one! Welcome to the world, Hazel!
December has several events--mark your calendars!!
On Wednesday, December 7th, join me for a Coffee Talk on “The Importance of the Third Year,” a helpful insight into the ‘magic’ that happens as your child completes his/her third year of a developmental cycle. Join us for coffee, community, and finding out the what, how, and why that third year is so very vital in a Montessori education.
On Thursday the 8th, Fig Tree and Mountain Laurel will attend Act II of the Nutcracker ballet, performed at the Long Center by Ballet Austin. It is a rich cultural and musical experience that the children enjoy, whether it is a familiar favorite or a dramatically new experience. We prepare students by telling them about the history, plot, and characters of the story, as well as etiquette as an audience member so that they realize the theater is a shared experience between the performer and the viewer. Attending the Nutcracker is a personal highlight of each year, observing Fig Tree’s children as they experience the wonder.
Join us December 15th for our Winter Bonfire. It’s a community potluck with holiday lights, good food, lots of friends, and warm hearts. Remember your flashlights and glow sticks! See you there!
Thank you for all you have done to make this November so meaningful. This is a rich, active community, and all the ways that you show up, help out, and shine make a huge difference for everyone involved.
Click on a photo for slide show...
October?? But it’s still 86 degrees!
Even so, fall has rolled in...we even got to open the windows on a few days, and Fig Tree is in full swing.
The Full-Cycle campout in the Clearing was a success! Over half the campers were camping for the first time, and they had a blast. Camping on familiar land proved to be very helpful, fun, and an easy way to prepare for our spring outing. They agreed that cooking by campfire made everything taste better! Many outdoor skills were acquired during our evening under the stars.
Students have enjoyed a great variety of lessons, including more Great Stories about the special gifts of human beings and the story of our alphabet. Our room exploded with explorations and follow ups, with students examining picture messages’ evolution into the letters we use today, the history of their favorite letters, and the location of ancient Phoenicia. Other students were very eager to get to the library to find out about Tyrian purple.
Other popular lessons include classification of leaves, the origins of land and sea breezes, exploring density, using fractions, introductions to decimals, positive and negative integers, and creating simple line drawings from observation.
Those lessons in line drawings will assist students in making a collaborative artwork using a brand new art medium--printmaking! You will see the results if you join us at the Fall Fandango...read more below!
We loved seeing so many of you at Silent Journey, one of my favorite nights of the year. I was so happy to share some of my favorite lessons with you. The discussion was rich, and there were so many good questions!! Thank you for attending; you made the evening special.
Reminders and Sign-Ups
We have a SignUp ready for Parent Conferences on November 4th and 7th. As stated in the Parent Handbook, we ask that you make arrangements for vacations, etc. outside of conference days. If your family is unable to attend within the conference timeframe, conference notes or examples of your child’s work can be given to you.
Please arrive as close to 8:10 as possible; some children are missing lessons due to late arrivals, and sometimes it’s weeks before those lessons come around again with another group. Also, please have your children wait in the car until Lacey greets them. This ensures everyone’s safety. We appreciate your help.
FALL FANDANGO!! DON’T MISS IT!
Our Fall Fandango is our fall fundraiser--it’s a toe-tappin' good time with the legendary band Two Hoots and a Holler in the beautiful barn that houses Stanley's Farmhouse Pizza.
We will be enjoying wood-fired pizzas, green salad, garlic knots, and lemonade. Our gluten free choice is a fresh caprese salad entrée. Each adult purchase includes two drink tickets (craft beer and wine).
There will also be a silent auction featuring collaborative art made by the students….don’t miss it!
We’ll be seeing Act II of Austin Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” Each year the kids have returned to Cedars full of stories about the costumes, the music, the dance, and the scenery. In addition to the cultural and musical benefits of experiencing a ballet, students also learn the story of the Nutcracker and receive grace and courtesy lessons about attending a live performance.
Thank you for sending in the money for your child’s ticket. Look for the permission form and request for drivers in the coming weeks.
Please check the snack-team schedule, listed online. It has been modified a bit, so please confirm your child’s week if s/he needs to bring a booster seat on shopping day.
We’d like to introduce our latest addition to the Fig Tree community, Ms. Claire Frank!
Ms. Claire is a Cedars parent who has also been a staff member at Cedars for two years, providing Primary Aftercare as well as substituting in many of our classrooms, including Fig Tree. After Thanksgiving, Ms. Claire will assist in Fig Tree while Ms. Lacey is on maternity leave. Claire has already visited our class, is familiar to the children, and will continue to observe and train with Lacey in the coming weeks. When you see her, be sure to extend a warm hello and introduce yourself!
We can hardly wait to introduce our youngest-ever member of the Fig Tree community, Baby Collins, when s/he arrives in November! We’ll keep everyone posted about the arrival of Lacey’s Little One….!
Thank you for all your love and support!!
Dear Fig Tree families,
What a smooth start! Everyone has settled in, gotten comfortable with life in elementary and/or the new classroom, and begun interesting and meaningful work. It is so beautiful to watch the power of Montessori unfold as returning students lead and guide others, while the newest students step right into the flow of this new way of seeing and doing things.
September started by stirring up wonder! New students heard a tale that continues their journey into the Montessori elementary curriculum, which is referred to as Cosmic Education. This special story describes the coming of Life after eons of the earth’s preparation, and the students were full of excitement, even gasps! Their enthusiasm translated into jostling about in order to see the Timeline of Life, with many Mid- and Full-Cycle students joining in to see this special material again. Students asked questions about the various life forms, and several students immediately began work that extended this lesson.
A couple of weeks later, I shared another very special lesson with new students: the Black Strip. It is a powerful, impressionistic material through which students can *see* the amount of time that had passed before human beings were on earth, and they compare that to the amount of time that all humans have existed. It’s a favorite teaching moment, seeing how big their eyes get. During the last week of September students will hear the Third Great Story, in which we recognize the three special gifts given to all human beings.
Speaking of special gifts, your kiddos have been busy! In September we already saw our first round of students Going Out into the world to get what they need for their explorations or their community.
Our first snack team went to HEB after creating the menu and shopping list for that week’s snacks. At the store they estimated and rounded prices in order to stay within the weekly budget, worked with fractions and ratios, and had real-life practice with money transactions. All week they prepared and served the daily snack to the community, including our first baking adventure of the year--gluten-free banana muffins (they smelled soooo good baking!).
Another group of students went on a Going Out with Mountain Laurel to the Natural Gardener to purchase soil and plants for our Community Garden, which is a new addition at Cedars. This year, each elementary classroom will still have and maintain their own garden, but all elementary students will also work together in a single Community Garden located just outside the Rockwood classroom. We will all contribute to the work and benefit from its harvest in a true, community-based gardening endeavor.
And the Community Garden is already up and running! Every week in September teams of Fig Tree students worked together in the garden, and they accomplished quite a lot! They weeded, removed old nails from raised beds, hauled mulch to create pathways in the garden, purchased soil and plants on a Going Out to the Natural Gardener, moved soil to supplement the new soil, and planted beets, carrots, chard, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and herbs.
Not bad for a single month--many hands really do make light work!
We’d like to recognize and thank Lacey Collins and Gitana Sweethardt for their extensive knowledge, help, and guidance that they have shared with all the elementary students who have their hands in the earth.
Reminders and Sign-Ups
Starting in October our classroom will be open for observations. Coming to observe is a very valuable and unique way to peek inside the humming beehive of a Montessori classroom. I highly recommend spending some time with us. Some parents have gained profound insights while in the classroom, some have enjoyed the pleasure of simply sitting with hot tea while watching how a Montessori class hums along, and others have shared with me a new perspective they have after seeing their child at work. We’d love to have you with us.
We also have a SignUp ready for Parent Conferences on November 4th and 7th. As stated in the Parent Handbook, we ask that you make arrangements for vacations, etc. outside of conference days. If your family is unable to attend within the conference timeframe, conference notes or examples of your child’s work can be given to you.
You are in for a truly memorable evening.....Silent Journey!!
Silent Journey is a powerful event for many parents. Since many parents did not attend a Montessori school as a child, they seek to understand it by reading about Montessori philosophy, attending Parent Nights, and observing the classroom. Even with these investments, it can be difficult at times to deeply understand the experience that their child has every day at school. Silent Journey provides an opportunity for parents to explore the entire continuum of the school and to experience firsthand, just like their children, the amazing things that an authentic Montessori program has to offer.
Cedars will host a Silent Journey on October 13th. You will want to experience this.... Even if you have attended one before, there are always new insights--with more materials to explore, new discussions with fellow parents, and a truly special night to deepen your understanding of Montessori by *experiencing* it as your child does...there is nothing else quite like it.
We hope that you can attend. You won’t regret it.
Another big event coming in October--our Full-Cylces’ first Camping trip!
This year we are having two single-night camping trips for the elementary Full-Cycle students. The first is on Thursday, October 20th! If your child is in their third year of elementary, you will receive more details soon. Mark your calendars in the meantime (or line up that babysitter for your date night!).
I’m so grateful for the start to our year together. I marvel at the gift that is this community.
We are off to a great start! Students are already busy collaborating, doing Big Work, receiving lessons, and learning and laughing and singing each day.
[By the way, if you haven’t heard some musical phrases drifting from the backseat yet, be sure to ask your child about singing in Yoruba language, one of Africa’s oldest!]
The First Great Story was told last week to all students who are new to Fig Tree, but of course several returning students attended (“I love that lesson!!”). The tale is the first stone laid on the path of Cosmic Education, which we’ll explore more in an upcoming Parent Night. As students heard about the formation of the Universe and of Earth, they were excited by comprehending the vastness of space and the speed of light, hearing about the properties and behavior of different states of matter, and seeing how the earth’s layers settled according to weight. It is one of my favorite moments in teaching, seeing their big eyes and upturned faces during the Great Stories.
Snack teams have been established, so next week’s team will kick off the year by planning the week’s menu, making the shopping list, Going Out to HEB, harvesting ingredients from the garden if possible, preparing food, and serving it to their community. During the Going Out, social courtesy and a variety of math skills are practiced in “real-time” as students navigate the entire process with a partner.
If your child needs a booster seat to go to HEB, check the Fig Tree parents’ webpage to know when your child will help with snack. S/he will go to HEB that Monday, so have your child bring his/her booster to the class entrance that day.
The Parent Connection page for Fig Tree on the Cedars Montessori website is a great resource--bookmark it and check it often. You can find answers to common questions, read the latest newsletter, check the class or school calendar for events, sign up or volunteer, view our class wishlist, and find resources and articles about child development, education, parenting, and of course, Montessori. The password to access Parent Connection pages has changed; this year it is ‘otis’.
Also check the Fig Tree calendar for the date of your child’s birthday celebration. Many students this year have birthdays that fall on a weekend, during the summer, or on a school holiday, so check the date to make sure your child’s ‘Birthday Circle’ fits your family’s schedule (if it doesn’t, let us know--dates are flexible). For what to do and what to bring that day, please refer to the Parent Handbook, which you can find on the website.
I want to thank all of you who made it out to Parent Night. We had a great turnout, and I hope the evening was helpful to all of you. Next time we’ll start mingling at 6:15 and I’ll begin promptly at 6:30; that will help me make a nice, tidy finish by 8:00. :)
Reminders and Sign-Ups
Please inform your child of the daily weather forecast to support her/him in remembering boots and a rain jacket (or umbrella). We do go out on rainy days.
You are also free to leave these items at school, or they can travel home daily or every weekend--as long as they come back to school!
Fig Tree cranks out the laundry...and a golden Practical Life opportunity! Please remember to sign up for 1-2 timeslots--we have many dates still open in the spring semester. Thank you so much for helping us in such a real and needed way.
Wilderness Adventure Class with Mr. Braden is every Tuesday, so the children need to wear sturdy closed-toe shoes.
Fig Tree will host a Family Tea on Friday, September 9th at 3:00. Yay!!
Family Tea is an enjoyable, relaxed time through which Fig Tree families can come together and connect. Children will prepare snacks or treats (they looove making scones), and we will serve an herbal tea (whether hot or iced depends on the weather). It is a unique way to come together as a community--we hope you can join us!
Also, starting around October, Fig Tree will be open for observations, which I strongly recommend. We look forward to welcoming you to our buzzing hive of activity, work, and collaboration!
Interested in taking something off your “to do” list? Permanently?? By early elementary, students are able to pack their own lunch. I promise!! If you haven’t enjoyed this liberation yet because you feel your child will take too long to pack it, consider it an investment--for you and your child. Once the process is established, you enjoy one less responsibility, while your child benefits from a significant boost in self-esteem, not to mention a lunch s/he is more likely to eat. All that from one task!
To accomplish this, Dr. Montessori emphasized “taking the time to train,” so don’t choose a harried moment. You can begin by teaching your child about the four basic food groups and that a lunch should have at least one healthy item from each. Another method is to slowly remove yourself from the process: first, your child watches as you model each step clearly; second, YOU watch as your CHILD packs; third, you are in the room as the child packs; last, the arrival point--a packed lunch while you are tending to something else!
To support your child in this task, have children’s lunch containers within reach, as well as lunch foods and snacks handy and visible in the pantry and fridge. Each day after school s/he can load their dirty containers into the dishwasher, and at night pack lunch for the next day. Getting there is a process, but it is SO worth it.
Thanks again for a lovely, supportive start to a great year together.