Didn’t I just send one of these newsletters out? It sure feels like it! Although we only had two weeks between Halloween/ conferences and Thanksgiving break, we sure did do a lot! Making placemats, gathering the ingredients for Stone Soup, chopping vegetables, making soup, making muffins, learning a couple of songs about turkeys….it was a very busy time! Thanks for all your contributions to our special meal. The feast was fun and enjoyed by all!
We did manage to get some work done too. The thousand chain was counted several times, many puzzle maps were made, cinnamon was grated (if we can manage to save any rather than spill it all we will make cookies with it!), art projects were created, animals were matched to the continents on which they live and lots of moveable alphabet words were built!
Thanks to all who came out to our Fall Fandango! It was a fun time! The kids love seeing friends outside of school and that is a great place to make many memories.
I enjoyed meeting with each of you during your conference. What a great group of families I have this year. I really enjoyed our conversations and sharing with you a little glimpse of what your child is like in the classroom. Raising these wonderful children is a challenging and rewarding experience. Thank you for letting me be a small part of that.
10 little witches marching in a parade, they marched all night and they marched all day….anyone hear that song? Or maybe 5 little pumpkins sitting on a gate. The first one said…? Yes, it has been that time of year in the classroom. We try not to overdo it on Halloween, but the songs are so fun and the crafts are so cute. I’ve tried to mix the conversations with lots of talk of fall, leaves, and pumpkins as well. The kids are talking more about costumes, but they are busy working as well.
I know many of you have seen our scarecrow. We forgot to name him, but he is lounging on the bench on our front porch if you have not had a chance to see him. This was our first attempt at making one. He looks a little sleepy, but otherwise, he’s pretty cute. Just their size! If anyone has a pair of rain boots that have a loop at the top that you can no longer use, I will take them! Maybe we can tie those on better than regular shoes.
Our pumpkin carving was exciting! First, we voted on the face. A “scary face” won! Then the next day we(I) carved. The kids helped get the gooey, slimy seeds out. They were amazed at how thick the pumpkin was. Then I carved the face as the children watched. On Halloween, we lit the candle and let it burn all morning. The afternoon children bobbed for apples. This is always fun, but a little difficult for those missing teeth (of which we have two at the moment)! Just an added challenge! They all did great!
I look forward to meeting with you all in the next few days.
Fall Fandango is coming up next week! It’s NOT too late to get your tickets! The kids have a BLAST! Jester King is such a great location. The weather is looking to be clear and cool, perfect for a night of dancing, eating, and fun! I will be there with my daughter (although I’m sure I won’t see her the entire time) and I hope to see you all there! Each class will have a special art project they have created, so I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss seeing ours! We’ll be busy making it this week.
Here we are in our 6th week of school and the beginning of fall! We have had a wonderful start to the year. The classroom is a hive of activity every day. It makes the time pass so quickly. Sewing, table washing, window washing, art, pink tower building, color hunts, puzzle maps, parts of a plant or vertebrate, opposites, rhyming words, animal families, sound games are just a few of the activities keeping the children busy in the mornings.
You might have had more questions at home such as, “what kind of apple is this?” or “where is it from?” Last week we talked about apple season! I love going to Central Market and gathering the varieties you don’t always see year round. We had Kanzi, Rose, Diva and Jazz apples from New Zealand. Fuji, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious from Washington state. Honey Crisp and Sweet Tango from Minnesota. Lastly, Pinata from Chile! Of course, we got to find each place on the puzzle maps to see how far they had traveled, then we got to taste them all! The Rose and the Sweet Tango were the favorites! So the next time you buy apples, let your child know what kind they are eating and where they are from. They make a point of showing me every day if they have apples in their lunches!
In the afternoon class, we have more time to go into depth with our studies. We started with Oceans and sea creatures. The living things in the sea never cease to amaze! So many incredible creatures. This is always a popular study and the children who got to experience the beach in the summer love sharing their experiences!
We then explored our solar system and it’s 9 planets (yes, we are including our dwarf planet in the line up). There is a song that gives a rhyme for the solar system “My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” which you might have heard your afternoon child say. They had a wonderful time making their solar system poster one Friday afternoon. The morning children have also heard the rhyme a bit and explored the solar system puzzle as well.
From there we moved on to the Earth and how it is actually made. We have been reading about different landforms (volcanoes, caves, islands, valleys, mountains) and seeing what the Earth is like if we could cut it in half. The Earth models the afternoon class made last week were great! I could tell they had all worked with clay quite a bit. It is not always easy to make clay into spheres, but they had no problem. Made my job much easier! Hopefully, the models helped get the point across that we have the inner core, the outer core, the mantle and then the crust. (They all seem to remember the crust!) They loved making their landforms on the crust, whether it represented an actual continent or they created their own world.
I try not to inundate you with emails, but I hope you got the email about observations. I encourage you to come, sit and enjoy watching one morning or afternoon! Your children are truly amazing! I will also be sending out the sign up for conferences soon. Please be watching for that one as well.
April has flown by! The children have been working so hard. I feel like each day flies by in a buzz of activity. The children are eager for new lessons, repeating lessons given and enjoying working with friends. It’s just as it should be as we near the end of the year.
There has been lots of talk and observations of flowers, seeds, insects, birds and everything else related to spring. One afternoon I took the children to collect one of the numerous black swallowtail caterpillars that were enjoying our fennel plant. We brought it to the classroom, with an abundance of fennel, and marveled at how much it ate! After about a week, it anchored itself to the top of our bug box. We went outside at 2:15 and it still looked like a caterpillar. I came in at 2:45 and it was a chrysalis! Amazing how quickly it can change. You can see the black ball that was its skin hanging on the chrysalis. Now we are constantly checking for the green chrysalis to change color and darken, indicating the butterfly is ready to come out! Very exciting to see! It’s fun to hear the stories the children have of caterpillars they have at home and the excitement they show in telling their friends what they have seen. Riley even brought the empty chrysalises she had from home to share for show and tell.
The bulbs we planted in our garden are beginning to bloom. Our sweet peas the children planted with Ms. Guitana are growing nicely.The pots and plants the children painted and planted certainly brighten up our view from the classroom! I hope some of the bean plants the children took home are surviving! Those literally sprouted up overnight! It was great to see how a dried up looking bean could sprout and grow with a little soil, water and sun. We had three that did not sprout, for whatever reason. I will try to get those children to try again so they can bring their's home too.
We welcomed a new child at the beginning or April. Olmo Petrogalli and his family just moved from the UK. He has been a wonderful addition and has fit right in with the class. We all love his accent!
If you have not had time to sign up for an observation, we still have a couple of weeks to do that. I will probably close the class for observations the last week or two of May. The excitement seems to escalate as summer approaches. The younger ones still come in and just work, but the older ones know what’s coming and raise the level of energy in the classroom considerably.
Happy Spring! Before spring break, I took the afternoon children on a walk around campus to see what was sprouting, what was budding and what was flowering. The children loved seeing everything and collecting one “treasure” from our walk. We had already talked about how some flowers come from seeds and some come from bulbs, so when we came upon an iris I told them that was one that comes from a bulb. They all agreed that it was beautiful! As soon as we got back from spring break we took another walk along the same path. They were amazed at the changes! They noticed right away the trees with all the leaves where there had been mere buds before. They also were dismayed that the iris had “died”. I explained that the flower dies but if the leaves are green the plant is still healthy, a concept I have had to explain many times with their potted plants. They really think the flowers will last forever. If only! We are also seeing flowers bloom on the playground, so I enjoy pointing those out each day. We have our own iris now as well as some evening primrose and snapdragons. Taking the time to notice our surroundings and the beauty springing to life right now gives the kids so much joy and helps us slow down. There really is something to the old saying, “stop and smell the roses.”
We did finish our study on the vegetables we eat and what part of the plant each represents. For the flower we saw artichoke and broccoli, tasting the broccoli. Then we had eggplant, tomato, cucumber and red pepper for the fruit of the plant. I loved bringing in the eggplant because I often have a rubber one in our object box for the sound “e” and I wonder if the children know what it is. I was glad to see many could make the connection between the one in the object box and the real one. We cut it open and saw the tiny seeds inside and felt how squishy it is, but we did not taste. Then we cut open the tomato and saw all the seeds in it and the membranes dividing the sections. Then we cut and ate the cucumber. First I cut it like a dill pickle to see if they could tell me what it looked like and explained a little bit how pickles are made. We also talked about the seeds. Then we cut and ate the pepper, again, looking at how differently the seeds grow.
Now we are continuing the talk of seeds. Each child will be planting their own green bean plants this week. We will care for them and watch them grow (hopefully) and then they will bring them home when the spouts get their first leaves. I loved hearing the children talk about the gardens they have planted at home and what sort of plants they have growing. I suggested that if they harvest anything at home before school is out they could bring it for show and tell before they eat it!
March also brought a new friend to our classroom. Welcome, Scarlett Palmer. The children were very excited to have another Scarlett. She has been a wonderful addition to the class.
I big thank you to Madi and her mom for the beautiful pink tulips from their yard!! Madi knew those are one of my favorite flowers and I LOVED having those in the class last week. I was so happy to get to share them with so many during our conferences! That was a real treat. Now it’s time to dissect them and label the different parts of the flower. Tulips are perfect for that work!
Thank you for your continued support and letting me spend my days with your children!
February usually marks the beginning of spring in Texas. This year seems a little cooler and wetter than usual, but the trees are starting to bud, so I know it’s coming!
Valentines’ Day plays a big part the first part of the month. I know it seems like a Hallmark holiday to us, but the kids really do love it. They love all the fun art and sewing projects. They love the fun heart things incorporated into the practical life shelves. They love making things for their families and friends. It is a very busy time. We try to keep the actual day relatively calm, but you can’t keep the excitement out of the classroom! We had most of our regular work period in the morning, then we had a group snack of chocolate covered strawberries (thank you Sarah, Iron’s mom!) and passed out valentines. You saw the success of the day in the joy and excitement in your child as you picked them up that day!
Last week we began our study on “vegetables” that we eat and what part of the plant they are. The idea came from some cards that we have had on the shelf all year. As I have mentioned before, I like being able to show them the “real” thing when we have the cards so they really know what they are looking at. Thank goodness for Google! I had a couple of surprises as I did my research. I put them into categories: root, stem, leaf, flower, and fruit. We started with the root and we are working our way up the plant. I brought in garlic, radishes, a carrot, and a turnip. We tasted the radishes and I was really surprised how many loved them! Those who wanted got extra at lunchtime. Next, we had some “stem” vegetables: celery, potato (one surprise for me...I always thought it was a root!) and asparagus. We tasted the celery and the raw potato. Then came the vegetables that are the leaves of the plant. Swiss chard, endive, spinach, and cabbage. We talked about how things taste different cooked than they do raw (using potatoes and spinach as an example) and how some things we don’t really eat raw (like turnip and garlic).We tasted swiss chard, spinach, and cabbage. Again, I was amazed at how many kids tasted and liked what they tried! More was handed out at lunch for those who wanted more.
We still have the flower and the “fruit” part of the plant to go, so stay tuned for next month’s update!
With all the rain and missed playground time, you might have heard about the games we played. Musical chairs, Duck, duck, goose, 7 up, Telephone. Then, of course, the “active songs” like The Hokey Pokey, Shake your Sillies Out, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, If all the Raindrops were…, etc. And I even threw in a little stretching exercise one day. I tell you, I was really drawing from memories loooonnnggg buried to come up with some of those! Thank goodness we don’t miss playtime often! The kids were all troopers with the extra work time and indoor time. Now, let’s keep our fingers crossed for sun!!
I wish you all a fun, safe spring break! I look forward to seeing everyone soon as conference time approaches.
I love January! The children come back from Winter Break raring to go. They are happy to see friends and ready to learn new things! It has been hard keeping up with their requests for new lessons!
Ms. Claire has kept the children busy with new art projects. So if you have seen snowflakes, snowmen, and penguins coming home, you can thank her!
We welcomed three new friends to our class, Philipp, Maxwell, and Van. The children always enjoy showing new children “the ropes,” and the new children respond so well to other children showing them how things work. Despite the surprises thrown into their first couple of weeks (ice day, delayed start and a long weekend), they are adjusting well and settling into Roadrunner Cottage.
Ms. Pat and three elementary children came in one day to show us the hive, comb, and honey made by our resident bees. They also explained the process of making honey. We all learned something new and got to have a small taste of the honey that was collected. They left a jar of honey for us to have for snack, which brought up the question, “what is the best way to sample our honey?” What tastes better than honey on homemade bread? My dilemma was how to make homemade bread with 29 children who can barely make it through a 10 minute group time. Well, I decided I could not do that. I am not much of a baker, I will confess. But the idea of watching the yeast proof and kneading bread seemed doable. So, with the afternoon class, we made bread! They were all very patient as they watched me make the 3 batches of dough, then they each got to knead their own individual loaves, see “it grow” and then take it home. My husband made the bread for the entire class (he does like to bake!) and we all enjoyed a delicious snack. Some liked the honey butter, some just liked honey, butter or plain bread, but it was a treat.
We have been lucky with having very few out sick. I’ve been really trying to emphasize handwashing and nose blowing! Keep your fingers crossed that Roadrunner stays healthy!! If your child isn’t feeling well, please err on the side of caution. The flu seems to start with a headache rather than with a fever….Thanks!!
There is no way another month has gone by since I wrote my last newsletter! The time sure does fly faster as a lead guide!
Leaves were the theme of the month. The afternoon class got to collect beautiful red and yellow Chinese pistache tree leaves. They were real fall leaves as we collected them….the children marvelled at their colors. We took them back and pressed them. We took them out and most had turned brown. :( But we were still able to use them in the lovely placemats your children each brought home. Note to all, if you ever go somewhere with real fall leaf colors, please collect some and bring them home to Cedars! I can press them and save them for the next year.
Stone soup and pumpkin pie was the other BIG topic of the month, as I KNOW you all heard about! It was a huge success. Now, that does not mean they all loved it and you need to run out and make veggie soup for your child. However, everyone got to bring an ingredient, chop ingredients and help put it all together. I found a way for them all to taste the pie pumpkin that we had sitting on the shelf! They watched as I cut the pumpkin into small pieces and I rinsed and gave each child two pumpkin seeds to either eat (raw) or take home to try to plant. Not sure how many actually made it home, but they were very excited about the prospect. I took the pumpkin home, cooked it and pureed it, then brought it back so they could see what it looked like. I also let them smell the spices that go into a typical pumpkin pie (ginger, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg) as I added them to our cooked and pureed pumpkin.
I took everything home, cooked (and pureed) the soup and pie, then brought it all back for our feast. The oldest kids helped Ms. Claire arrange and set the tables while the rest of us sang and watched. It was truly an exciting morning. We had our food, with only two cups of apple cider spilled, then the 4 ½ year old's helped Ms. Clair clean up. It was truly a community celebration! Thank you all for your contributions!
We welcomed David Thompson into our class. As a new three year old, he was very excited to bring his lunch to school and has proceeded to carry it around with him every day. The other children asked the first day why he had his lunch, but have just taken it in stride, even taking the lunchbox back to David if he leaves it somewhere.
I have opened the morning class for observations. Call me crazy to do it as we gear up for the holidays, but I decided we are all parents. If it is a little nutty one morning or if a child crawls up into your lap as you observe, you will understand. I thank you in advance for your understanding.
Your children continue to amaze me daily. Their desire to learn new things, explore new areas and work through their relationships with each other are incredible to witness. It is my privileged to help them in their journey.
Did anyone hear about apples this month? One of my favorite fall activities is to go to Central Market and sample some of their apple varieties. Cortland, Queenie, Jerseymac, MacIntosh, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith were just some of the varieties of apples we sampled the first week of October. Cutting the apples to see the star, seeing the difference in color on the inside as well as the out (Cortland’s are so white!) and then of course tasting each created great anticipation for circle time each day! I loved it when I was doing the puzzle map of the United States with two children that week and came across New Jersey. One of the children said, “like the apple!” (Jerseymac). Loved how they made that connection!
Pumpkins and squash also made their way into the class. The kids got to feel and see different varieties. We all learned that excess water (according to Google) is what causes the bumps on the outside. While I couldn’t figure out a way to sample the squash without an oven, we did have a great time voting on the eyes, nose and mouth of our jack-o-lantern then carving it!
Halloween has been greatly anticipated ALL month! Creative sewing projects and art projects (brought to the children by Ms. Claire), books and songs have helped feed the anticipation. It also led to a burst of “story” writing for the older children. They love using the Halloween story paper to create a “spooky” story.
We welcomed Ram Thata to our class. Ram has been a wonderful addition and is settling in nicely. The children have been so helpful in showing him how to have snack, wash hands for lunch and helping him in general when it is needed.
The children also enjoyed fresh goat cheese and sweet potato crackers for snack, brought to us by Lela and her mom. That was a special treat. Many tried the cheese and several went back for seconds. Thanks Hearn family!
I’m looking forward to meeting with you all for conferences soon. Claire and I love working with your children everyday and I look forward to sharing with you some of what they do each day!
What a busy first six weeks we have had! Reconnecting with friends. Welcoming new friends into our classroom. Adjusting to changes the new year has brought. It has been a wonderful start.
Maria Montessori gave us the task of giving children “the keys to the environment.” By showing the children real things, not just pictures on cards, we give them personal experiences of the world around them. As they further explore those things in the class, they will know what they are seeing.
Peaches, pears, pomegranates, plums, pineapples, mango, oranges and coconut. How do you cut them? Do you eat the skin? What do they taste like? What do their seeds look like? How do you grow new ones? These questions began our first explorations. I had cards on the shelf with pictures of these fruits used for vocabulary building. To make sure they knew what the fruit was, I brought in samples of the real thing, then at circle time each day we learned the answer to those questions. Can you guess which caused the most excitement? (coconut) Can you guess which was the favorite? (peach) Can you guess the hardest seed to get to? (peach and plum) Have you ever actually seen the seed to a mango? It is hidden inside a protective endocarp, which I did not realize. Now we have pineapple, mango, pomegranate and peach trying to root in our classroom. I learned right along with the children as I had not actually explored the seed parts of the fruits before.
It is so much fun thinking of ways to use Dr. Montessori’s materials to entice the children to explore and learn. Seeing the new children working their way through the morning. Seeing the returning children ask for new lessons and practicing old favorites. I am loving the one on one work with the children as I give new lessons. The joy they show when they learn something new or do something for themselves the first time is incredible.
I look forward to new experiences and exploration as we head into fall.