Dear Fox Tail families,
Happy October! These past few weeks in Fox Tail Cottage, we have been continuing to practice and learn both familiar and new guidelines of the classroom. These include: keeping our work neat and tidy by bringing it to a table or a mat, pushing in chairs to help keep the classroom orderly, waiting for work to be back on the shelf before we begin to use it, and making work ready for the next person before returning it to the shelf. We've also been learning how to stand with composure on a line and to patiently follow the line leader in or out of the classroom. I hope you've been enjoying having a chance to see the photos of the children, and to get a glimpse of how these habits work to maintain the functionality of the classroom, and therefore support the children's concentration.
A few of our recent Grace & Courtesy lessons have included:
- how to express a need or desire in a friendly way
- how to listen and respond to others
- how to acknowledge or excuse oneself when we've accidentally bumped into someone or disturbed someone's work
We've implemented jobs in the classroom with our job chart! Some of the favorites are line leader, chime ringer, message reader and bird chooser. Asking your child which job he or she is doing could be a good way to begin a chat about the school day!
For the bird chooser job, we've been using the message birds from a box of ceramic birds that Emma and her mom, Jessica, gave as a gift to the class last year. The birds carry messages like, "patience," "gratitude'" and "gentleness." These messages remind us to be patient and gentle with ourselves, with others, and with our work. They also help us to remember to be grateful for all the wonderful things in our lives and to focus on the positive. Thank you, Emma and Jessica!
To acknowledge the change of seasons from summer to fall, we had a lesson at circle about the fall equinox. I used one of globes to demonstrate how Earth travels on its orbit around the sun, how it spins on its axis, and how its tilted axis causes the seasons due to how much sun any certain part of the earth is getting throughout the year. The candle that we light each morning at circle to sing our "Good Morning" song acted as the sun in this demonstration. We are so fortunate to have these concrete materials with which to learn such interesting science!
Outdoor work is open! Yay! The children have been having a blast on our big back porch engaging in fun work such as: cleaning and writing on our huge chalkboard, using the tool bench and safety goggles to connect pieces of wood with a hammer and nails, or a screwdriver and nuts and bolts, collecting acorns and sending them down the shoot, or using our lock board, all while honing fine motor skills and hand eye coordination! :D
- Observations will be opening very soon - sometime in the next couple of weeks, and I will send an email to announce the official opening date and schedule.
- The Fox Tail fall conference schedule is up! Here is the link to sign up: conferences. You can also find it under Fox Tail Cottage on the parent connection on the Cedars website. The new parent connection password is deeppeace.
- Silent Journey is next week! It's a beautiful and very informative event which I view as a must-do for any parents or adult family members of Montessori students. Please come! I so hope to see you all there. It's so worth attending!!
- Here's an article I'd like to share, with some ideas about supporting your child's independence.
Dear Fox Tail families,
I sent a few emails with a whole bunch of photos of the kids busy at work in our beautiful, bustling classroom!
I didn't include captions this time because there are so many. However, each week from here on out, I'll be sending 5 photos of 5 different children, with captions of the work they're doing.
This time, I ask you simply, while you're admiring these photos of your wonderful children at work, to be looking for these things:
-fine motor movement
-gross motor movement
-enthusiasm and a sense of joy in doing the work
-a look of accomplishment
-care of the work/environment
-delineation of personal workspace
-a sense of independence
If you don't see your children here this time, not to worry! They will be featured soon in upcoming photo emails and posts. And again, if your child isn't featured this time, I hope these photos will at least offer you a solid idea of the kinds of things she or he is doing throughout the day in Fox Tail Cottage.
Once all the photo release forms are completed and submitted, Jodie will be able to post our photos here on the parent connection as well.
Thank you for giving Helen and me the chance to spend our days with your bright, industrious, caring, lively and lovely children!!
Hi Fox Tail families!
-Please remember to have your child(ren) bring in a tote bag so they can pack and bring home their work each Friday. The children can bring their tote bags in on any day of the week, and keep them here on their hooks for Friday. Cleaning out cubbies and transporting their own belongings is a simple routine the children carry out to foster Care of the Self, Care of the Environment, and a great sense of autonomy.
-Alexia's mother, Aileen Passariello started a Facebook page for Fox Tail Cottage families, as a way to help in scheduling playdates, etc. The Facebook closed group is called: foxtail class cedars montessori, and parents can just request to join the group. Thanks, Aileen! Playdates are a fantastic way to build community and camaraderie among the children, and a great way for parents to get to know one another too.
-For show & tell this fall: we're having it just in the afternoons for now. It happens on Friday and it's good if it is completely child-driven; there is no need to send something in with your child. If your full-day child makes something, finds something in nature, or receives some cool cultural or scientific gift from a family member's travels, those things are perfect to show. They enjoy showing the work they've done in class too, which is also perfect. Later in the year, we will probably open show & tell up for the mornings, and I'll keep you posted about that. We're still giving all our newest little friends a chance to acclimate to all their new experiences here. :)
Thanks! Hope you've all enjoyed the lovely weather today!
Dear Fox Tail families,
We in Fox Tail Cottage are settling in quite naturally, as we move into the second part of our second week of school! The children are really enjoying working and playing together, as well as making some new friends! :D
I wanted to let you all know that I made an addition to the explanation on our snack sign-up. We are now humbly requesting that a bouquet of the least expensive mixed flowers be sent in with snack delivery. That way, the children can enjoy beautifying their classroom with flower arranging as a regular work. We appreciate all of your help and donations SO much! Thank you!!!
Last year, we kept rain gear for the children in the classroom, but since our play time is first thing in the morning now, I realized that having your child come dressed for rain on rainy days, or sending it in as needed makes more sense. So, no need to send in rain gear to keep here at school anymore. :) Thanks.
ALSO, our first full-Primary parent night of the year is coming up next Wednesday, September 6. The topic is Montessori in the Home/Montessori Philosophy. Please come join us! It's a great time to get information and insight shared by all 3 Cedars Primary guides!
Thanks to all for a smooth start to our new school year. Looking forward to seeing you all at next week's parent night.
Greetings Fox Tail families,
My goodness, have we been busy in Fox Tail Cottage this spring!
We said good-bye to Toni and wish her all the best. The children had a chance to personally wish her well and let her know how much they appreciate her, as they presented her with a care package to utilize while she’s busy finishing school and adjusting to her new career as a veterinary technician. Gitana also brought all of the 3rd-years out to collect flowers from our gardens to make a gorgeous bouquet for her! Toni was very touched and let the children know how much she loves them and will miss them.
We are so excited to have Helen here with us! She adores children and nature, so it has been an immediate and natural fit for her in Fox Tail Cottage! Helen begins her Montessori training this summer, and we’ll be here to support her along the way, as well as benefit from the fresh and lively Montessori enthusiasm she’ll bring as she learns the magic of this wonderful method and philosophy.
In observance of Earth Day this year, as a class we’ve been reading books about the sun, the moon, and the planets, with a focus on Earth. Several children have been learning about our solar system, spreading out a matching work in order from the sun to pluto, then ‘pasting’ images of the sun and the planets in order up on our giant chalkboard outside. We had a conversation about Pluto and how it was once considered a planet, then lost that designation. We’ve settled on the information that Pluto is a dwarf planet, and agreed it should continue to be included in our solar system, along with the planets and the asteroid belt! We’ve also been discussing the importance of decomposers and pollinators, and how they are vital to the earth and to our survival. Decomposers create rich soil for plants to grow and thrive, and pollinators make it possible for plants to procreate. We need these cherished creatures to make it possible for humans and all other animals to have food!
In honor of decomposers, we read the book Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin. Now everyone wants to be careful of worms when we see them in puddles after a good rain. :) To celebrate pollinators, we received some painted lady butterfly caterpillars which have now entered their pupa stage. We’re observing them daily to watch their changes. One thing we observed is that the caterpillars would be bigger at the end of each school day than they were when we’d arrive in the morning! Can you imagine what it would feel like to go through such rapid physical and developmental changes or to grow that much in one day?!
Congratulations to the Yioutis family for winning our art auction item at the spring festival! The children just love making those gorgeous art projects, especially for a good cause to support their school. :) Congrats also to Emma and Lillian, whose families won the teacher time auction item; I’m looking forward to our splash pad playdate in June! Yay! Thank you to all who bid and to all who donated, in any facet, in support of Cedars and Fox Tail Cottage!
Some Grace & Courtesy concepts we’ve been focusing on and practicing are:
- Having dignity and determination, which involves feeling good about the choices we make and following through with them.
- Being thoughtful in our actions, as opposed to careless, then knowing how and when to make amends if necessary.
A great book we read about this very topic is The Busy Beaver by Nicholas Oldland. This story of a careless beaver who learns how to be thoughtful really got us thinking! The children noticed that being careless can be considered akin to being “not very nice” and can cause us to find ourselves hurting friends or their work. Everyone agreed that we want to be nice, and that in Fox Tail we take care of each other! We always have a chance to make amends, so we’ve been practicing doing so by using thoughtful language, voicing our needs respectfully, and listening to others when they speak to us. Our Peace Area is a perfect place to have these important conversations. We practice being thoughtful by using slow and careful bodies in the classroom, paying attention to our work, and making sure things are neat and tidy, ready for the next person. Fox Tail friends are all so wonderful to each other when it comes to helping a friend who needs it. We share multiple hugs throughout our week, as well as lots of helpful information and helping hands, and the occasional ice pack! ;)
Thank you for reading…
Hi Fox Tail families!
So much to tell! I hope all of you have been managing to stay well with all the temperature fluctuations we've been having. The children all finally seem in mostly good, healthy form after our rounds of late winter illnesses, and everyone is happy to be working outside again since allergy season is subsiding. We have a new work bench on the back porch that the children have taken to without skipping a beat. We are very grateful to Bill, Alex and Kurt for making it for us. It includes a hammer, a drill, a screwdriver, and of course some safety googles, with several pieces of wood that the children can construct as they practice and hone their handy skills. Needles to say, they LOVE it!!
We're happy to have Miss Toni back in class! The children all missed her! They drew her pictures and wrote her notes to wish her well as she recovered from knee surgery. Monica, Izzy's mom, was our main substitute, and we are very thankful to her for being there with us, to fill in and help us with our work! Thanks also to Kayla, Gitana and Jean for being there for us!
We had a great time during our Chinese Lunar New Year celebration! We made lanterns and carried them in a parade while we made lots of noise and shouted out, "Kung hei fat choi!" to wish everyone luck and prosperity in the new year. As part of the celebration, we read a couple of books, one beautiful book about Chinese New Year which Hayden brought in to share, and another called, Crouching Tiger, by author Yin Chang Compestine and illustrator Yan Nascimbene. It's about a boy who learns tai chi from his grandfather in preparation for the New Year festivities. Our Fox Tail friend, Matthew, had visited Russia with his family over winter break and brought back some chocolates in beautiful wrappers. We were saving them for just the right special occasion and this was it! Everyone had a piece while I showed the children with our geography materials how Russia and China share a border, and that they are both located on the continent of Asia. We are so fortunate to have a multicultural group in Fox Tail Cottage, who enrich our experience by sharing bits of their heritage with us all!
Our friendship celebration was as sweet and charming as you can imagine! The children did a candle walk in which they shared a friendship bracelet and a hug with a friend. Thank you so very much for helping them to create their beautiful valentines at home! They thoroughly enjoyed giving and receiving them with their classmates. It's such a precious time of appreciation for the children, and a beautiful event for Toni and me to get to be a part of with them. <3
We've had a couple of really nice nature walks lately, where the children focus their powers of observation to take in the sensory experiences that our beautiful, natural Cedars environment offers, then have some free time to explore and play in the woods. I'm attaching an article here, which Sarah shared with us, that highlights how crucial it is for children in early childhood to get outdoors, play freely and interact with the natural world. Please read, enjoy, and be moved to get your kids outside as much as possible!
We plan to have a class performance the last week of March! I haven't pinned down the exact date and time just yet, but will do so very soon. It will definitely take place in the morning. I'll send out an official announcement via email with the details, and just wanted to give you all a heads up with the general date/time for now. We're already working on our songs and poems, and we're excited to put on a great show for you!
Dear Fox Tail families,
The children of Fox Tail Cottage have been enjoying getting outside to work a bit more now that the weather is becoming more temperate! Some of the Practical Life activities they’ve been doing include sweeping the porches, chair scrubbing, beating rugs, and gardening with Gitana. A few friends cut some of the lovely flowers from the Cedars gardens with her, to bring into the classroom. They made gorgeous arrangements full of varying colors and textures! All of these activities beatify our surroundings and offer the children the satisfaction of caring for their environment and taking ownership of keeping their home-away-from-home beautiful!
Toni has begun working with the children to create our art project which will be up for auction at the Fall Fandango! I’ll keep the details a surprise, but I will reveal that it’s already coming together fabulously! It’s a multi-step, collaborative project which involves observation, conversation, fine motor work with cutting, arranging and pasting, as well as organization for sorting out all the tiny, delicate pieces. It's looking so good! It’s also been fun for Toni and me to hear the inspired conversations the children have as three of them they sit together at a time to work on it… We’re excited to present it at the Fandango on November 10!
In honor of the season, we’ve introduced a few new works into the classroom, including leaf rubbing, pumpkin washing, and the parts of the skeleton. It’s such joy to witness the children’s Sense of Wonder as they reveal the form of a leaf while rubbing the crayon across the paper. This is a fantastic way for them to learn about the veins and stem of the leaf, as well as feeling for the “bumpy side” to learn that this is the “underside” of the leaf. They’re also amazed at how a dirty, grimy pumpkin can become so sparkling clean and shiny with their care. It evokes questions like “Why does it have dirt on it?” and “Why is one side flat?” These questions spark conversation about where the pumpkin comes from, how it grows and how it got to our classroom - a wonderful chance to begin to instill the concept that all things have an origin and there’s a process to everything! Ah, the Sense of Wonder and how it inspires joy in learning!!
We’ve begun our study of foods native to the Americas in conjunction with planning the menu for our harvest celebration, which the children will put on for each other here in the classroom in November. I’ll fill you in on more details about that next month, and promise to send lots of photos so you can see all the work they do to prepare and set up, then how much fun they have together during the celebration!
One more thing! We’re also beginning our letter sound of the week. Each week we’ll send a Sandpaper Letter home in the “mystery bag” with a different child. The idea is for whoever has the mystery bag to find two objects which begin with that letter sound and bring them back to school in the bag on Monday. She or he will get to reveal their items at circle to the rest of the class. It’s super fun and a great way for the children to become familiarized with the letter sounds! If it comes home with your child, we’ll either tell you at the drive or send you an email to let you know…
Thanks for reading. We can’t wait to celebrate fall and being a part of the Cedars community with you at the Fandango!
In these photos, look for the movement the child is using. There's a pincer grip theme here. Also, notice the eyes carefully watching the hand at work; the brain and the hand are working in harmony. The children enter into a flow when they're concentrating this way. It's a meditative state when the brain relaxes and synapses fire, sparking increases in brain development, understanding, and intelligence! Mouse over the photos for captions.
Dear Fox Tail families,
It's fall! In Fox Tail Cottage, we are acknowledging the change of seasons by introducing the calendar to our daily circle, and beginning talks and lessons about the lifecycle of plants, trees, and butterflies. Several children noticed that our fig tree has lost most of its leaves. Some were concerned that it might be dying, but Hayden reassured us all, "That's its lifecycle." We talked about how trees and plants have a dormant time to restore their energy for beginning to produce leaves, flowers, fruit and seeds in another season. Gianna told us that's spring!We thought of ourselves in this same way, and observed that we sleep at night so we can be "productive" during the day. We've been observing all the beautiful butterflies about campus, and discussing their migration. We're doing an art project which lets the children see, hands on, how they actually have 2 sets of 2 wings! How many wings do butterflies have? 2 + 2 = 4 wings!
We also explored the concept of an equinox through a demonstration with the scale. We used yellow beads to represent day and black beads to represent night. In the summer, there are more yellow beads (day time) so the scale would be heavier on the 'day side' of the scale. As we added more black beads (more night time) and took out some yellow beads, day and night became closer and closer to equal until they were perfectly balanced. That's when the equinox occurs and summer shifts to fall! Wow!! We'll do this experiment again to see what happens at the winter solstice...
“These words reveal the child’s inner needs; ‘Help me to do it alone’.” -Maria Montessori
As the days creep toward cooler months, and with jacket weather on its way, a new opportunity for independence presents itself! Here's a link to a video that demonstrates the "coat flip." With some help in learning how to be sure sleeves are out-side-out, and using this method, the children can effectively get themselves ready to leave the house or classroom in chilly weather. Excellent!
Here, too, is a link to an informative article which discusses the progression of independence as children grow and develop. It highlights some of the factors present in the Montessori classroom, which are vital in guiding children to become genuinely independent. These include order, the structured environment, language, and the importance of restraint and observation on the part of adults. Fostering autonomy is one of the most fundamental goals of Montessori education. This article does a good job of describing how the foundation for it is laid during the child's earliest years in Montessori.
Silent Journey is coming up next week. Silent Journey is a beautiful evening which gives parents, and even grandparents, a great opportunity to get inside the child's day, and experience what they experience in their Montessori environment. You'll also be able to visit elementary classrooms and spend time interacting with work across the levels. It's a lovely time - a truly informative, inspiring experience - and I highly recommend that you come!
The children so enjoyed playing in the rain! Thank you for sending in rain jackets and boots. Keeping them at school ensures that everyone is prepared, even if the weather shifts unexpectedly on days when those articles weren't worn to school in the morning. Totally worth it!!
Thank you so much, also, for all the snacks you've provided and the laundry you've done. The children love to share and contribute. Having the opportunity to bring in some snacks they've helped to choose, and being in charge of the laundry for the whole class, makes them feel important and valued. Thank you, too, because it helps us all out so much!