The Secret of Success
How do the children know what to do during open class time? One of the best ways is for them to see a wide variety of activities going on around them.
This week, one child had a lesson on the multiplication board for math facts, which caused another to rediscover it and a third to get a lesson from her.
One child’s lesson on types of triangles led to a lesson for another on types of angles.
We’ve been making a wall-size map of Asia and connecting pieces of yarn between photos and the country they depict. A group decided to do the same for Africa. Some children found they needed to consider again the differences between continents and countries.
A literature circle book led some to explore silk, which they could then explain to others who were attracted by the fabric. Mr. Ben gave lessons on homonyms. A group of children staged a scene from their literature circle book in which a homonym figured prominently. Some children found a tulip had been picked and, instead of letting it go to waste, they examined the parts with the help of a giant pile of books. Other children planted seeds. Many enjoyed using our new binoculars to find and identify birds.
These are just a few examples from our past week. In addition, we were playing theater games, auditioning for Midsummer Night’s Dream, and making Raku pottery, which we’ll describe in a later post.
We agree with what Montessori said about education, “The secret of success is found to lie in the right use of imagination in awakening interest, and in the stimulation of seeds of interest already sown.”
(To Educate the Human Potential)
Making the Connection
We asked the children to share things they wonder about in preparation for the Early Bird Science event. They generated a varied list: does the sun really “go down?” If you can’t make primary colors, then how do we get them? How do bears hibernate? Why is the sky blue? Can we make maple syrup here? What is the best construction for a model rocket powered by an air pump? How does gravity work? The class was abuzz all week with problem-solving and discussing each other’s projects. The other areas of work were also stimulated by the energy given to science projects.
The work we provide on the shelf, such as maps and timelines, gives the children a framework on which to place information as they get it. Lessons and shelf work help the children connect their learning so they don’t become like the accountant or geographer in The Little Prince, who focused solely on counting or sitting at their desk and couldn’t “see with the heart.”
The variety of work happening in the classroom all the time stimulates more connections, but the biggest work of all is communicating with each other. They sort out what to do after intercepting a look that clearly meant, “I’m smarter than you.” They learn that whispering, “Can I play?” from twenty feet away is ineffective. They are practicing being a community and gaining skills they will use all their lives.
A Caring, Curious Classroom
We had a variety of activities, lessons, and follow-ups happening in Morado this month.
Students enjoyed frosty mornings on the playground and clear days outside for playground time and specialists.
Through lessons and follow-ups, students continued to work on understanding and identifying structures in nonfiction and what they can do for the reader. Such practice generated self-chosen research projects on teepees, maple syrup-making, chameleons, Europe, World War I, and dogs/foxes/wolves.
Children learned what an antonym is and followed up with practice throughout the week from antonym drawers on the language shelf. Many students completed their winter math assessment (others will do it in the week ahead) using our Track My Progress math assessment tool. It's just one of many tools to give us a window into how students are progressing with their mathematical understanding.
We had a peace circle activity to appreciate individual differences and strengths in each other. Students started out by deciding which animal they wanted to be (from a choice of Lion, Eagle, Turtle, Chameleon), and then in small groups identified strengths in their chosen animal, as well as a list of reasons why they didn't want to be the other animals. Students shared what they came up with and we followed with a discussion about the individual strengths and differences in all of us. We were impressed with the level of engagement and discussion, and the activity provided a helpful platform to refer back to at various points later in the week.
A Morado parent shared his interest in chemistry by demonstrating how to separate the oxygen from hydrogen peroxide. Students heard terms such as catalyst and endothermic versus exothermic reaction, and were full of enthusiasm and curiosity throughout the entertaining demonstration. The demonstration is sometimes referred to as "Elephant's Toothpaste" because of the foam that comes out of the bottle during the reaction. We look forward to more chemistry demonstrations from him in in the months ahead.
As Hopelink donations came in this week, small groups of Morado and Turquesa students helped sort and count donations each day.
The Importance of Problem Solving
Children in Morado make decisions and solve problems all day long.
Some children this week were trying to show how rivers start in the mountains and flow into the ocean. They had to decide what material to use for the mountains, how to attach it to their board, and how to make foothills.
One person decided to use the test tubes for long division, only to find someone else was already using them. He had to decide whether to ask if he could join the first person or to wait until the material was available.
Several people arrived after everyone else had planned and started work, so they had to figure out how to plan and join in.
Often, two children want to work together, but they are at different skill levels. If the levels are close enough, the one with greater skill can pull the other to a greater understanding. Sometimes a child who is more advanced will do the golden beads or other early work with someone who is working on that, and it will serve as a good review in addition to being a service to the community.
One child was heard to say, “I’m going to read my literature circle book. But first I need to gather my people, then we’ll find someone to read to us.” What a wonderful skill for a six-year-old to have!
In Living Color
As October is wrapping up we've been feeling grateful for the lovely weather and beautiful fall colors around our campus, and what a perfect day for Harvest Fest on Saturday. It was good seeing so many of you there and all the happy children and creative costumes.
Throughout last week students were engaged in focused work continuing with language and math lessons and materials from the previous week, as well as research projects, Spanish, and finishing up this round of Literature Circles. Students worked with materials focused on grammar and parts of speech (nouns, suffixes) and another round of letters to kindergarten buddies went out. A number of students opted to make dioramas for their literature circle projects and will present them to their classmates in the upcoming week, while other groups have performed or will be performing skits.
This was the second week in which some Morado students signed up to visit Early Childhood classrooms to read to them in small groups. The feedback from students and EC teachers has all been positive, and it is a valuable opportunity for Morado students to practice reading aloud and bond with younger members of our community. During the afternoons last week students also had the opportunity to spend time outside with Turquesa students and kindergarten buddies making the many scarecrows that were on display at Harvest Fest. We were grateful for all there help preparing for the event.
Looking to the week and month ahead, we'd like to highlight a few upcoming dates to remember. Please remember picture day is this Monday 10/30.
Monday, 10/30 - Picture Day for Morado and Turquesa students
Wednesday 11/1 - Elementary Coffee Talk with Ms. Nicole 9:30-10:30am at La Casa
Friday, 11/3 - Aegis visit
Monday, 11/6 - visit from author and storyteller Margaret Mead MacDonald
Wednesday 11/15 and Thursday 11/16 - Speech and Language Screening (please send in your authorization form and check if this something you'd like your child to participate in)
Friday, 11/17 - K/El Family Night at the Happy Valley Grange
Weds, 11/22-11/24 - Thanksgiving Break
Reading, Writing, Research
Mary did the Fifth and final Great Lesson, which focuses on the creation and history of numbers, counting, and mathematics. Other highlights were a suffix lesson with Mr. Ben and students learning about expected and unexpected behavior and how it makes others feel in the classroom.
Students also got some math lessons with new materials and operations. Some even did some fun story problems and got to try reading and writing with Roman Numerals. They are also doing their finishing touches on their research projects and some even got the chance to read books to the students in the Early Childhood classrooms.
We also had our first earthquake drill and the students learned what to do during an earthquake. Some students also learned to make sure they have their indoor shoes, not only at school, but also on their feet or they get wet socks when we need to evacuate.
Students made scarecrows with some of the upper elementary students and their kindergarten buddies.
Your child should have brought home a speech and hearing testing consent form. Please fill it out and return to the office only if you are interested in your child to get tested.
Welcome to Morado
We enjoyed seeing so many of you at the Back to School Barbecue. This week in Morado, we introduced literature circles. Each child picked a book to read or be read to. Their groups met to discuss what they knew about the book just from the title, cover, and flipping through. We talked about all stories having a beginning, middle, and end.
We told the story called The Coming of Life, which is the second Montessori Great Lesson. Children asked what made the earth just right for life when no other planets in the solar system support it. Others noticed that eggs, giants, and lots of dirt and death form a large part of many creation stories. The Big Bang creation story shares some characteristics with cultural creation stories. Some children wove a Big Bang weaving, which we planned to share at the BBQ. Some explored the Timeline of Life. Some children discussed the 3 main characteristics of life: it grows from eating, it reproduces, and it adapts. Others discussed the differences between atoms, molecules, and cells. These children researched an element and shared what they learned with the class.
blog post for October 14: This week, we talked about the big changes to the region that occurred when the Ballard Locks (the busiest locks in the world) were built. We visited the locks and heard about the salmon that already went up the fish ladder. We spotted several seals and a sea lion hoping to catch any late-comers. Mr. Ben introduced ‘parts of the fish’ as a follow-up to our field trip.
The children embarked upon research about space, earth, early writing, prehistoric people, or life before humans. Children who don’t read yet are working with a combination of other children and teachers.
A group of children had a lesson on inference and observation. Some harvested the green tomatoes, pulled up the plants, and discussed parts of the plant. Others cut up and fried the green tomatoes. A group went to visit elderly friends living at Aegis in Kirkland. Everyone continued practicing math, from counting and concrete addition of large numbers, to long multiplication, division, and fractions.
June 10, 2017
This time of year is full of satisfaction tinged with regret for us teachers. The third-years are pulling away from us, but the younger children are stepping up into greater responsibility with pride. For example, when the thirds left to help the Upper Elementary class with the Greco-Roman feast, the remaining children cheerfully did their jobs in addition to their own.
All year on Wednesdays, we have had class meetings. This is both a community-building and problem-solving event. First, we spend some time appreciating each other. This takes several forms, but one is where the leader will ask a question such as, “Who noticed someone being kind to a person who was sad?” or “Who noticed a person who kept going when their work got very hard?” Several people will show particular appreciation to individuals for each example. Next, we discuss any problems that children or adults have recorded in our log. We finish with “the pulse”—where we send a hand-squeeze around the circle as a gesture of unity. While the meeting is run by teachers at the beginning, facilitation is gradually taken over by the children. It is a joy to see them taking ownership of this meeting which helps shape our community.
This week featured a wide variety of individual work in math, language, and other areas. Several children practiced cursive handwriting, others wrote stories. One of the literature circle groups prepared a puppet show for the class after a spirited discussion about heavy-handed methods of encouraging empathy (The Magic Finger) and another discussed the main character in depth, finding evidence in the story for their claims (Pippi Longstocking). Children also got a much-coveted opportunity to try out Lego robotics.
June 5, 2017
We had a very eventful week of school. Students had lessons on pronouns and have been practicing solving math equations with fractions and story problems. Many students have been interested in creating geometric shapes out of different materials and learning about asymmetry, radial, and bilateral symmetry. This week also had all the students help making food for Mary's Place and even a small group of them helped served them on Wednesday night. We also had a social lesson about the troubles that occur when we make assumptions and how we can help each other stop before it can get out of control. On Friday, students even got a chance to preview the 6th graders' Island Projects.
Lastly, we would like to invite everyone to our annual 6th Grade Graduation on June 22. It will be at La Casa at 1:30 PM. Not only will the 6 graders be graduating, but we will also have a short concert with the all of the elementary students singing and there will be a small ceremony for the 3rd graders that are moving classrooms next year. So, join us for a celebration of the past school year!
Have a good day,
Ben, Mary, & Ali
May 27, 2017
What a great trip to Golden Gardens we had this week! Thanks to all the parents who joined us to transport and keep kids safe. We saw living examples of many sea creatures we studied earlier in the week. It gave us a taste of the amazing diversity in the ocean. We strengthened our community, with lower elementary, upper elementary, and kindergartners mingling in a relaxed atmosphere.
In other areas, children had lessons on adverbs, prepositions, fractions, and measuring perimeter. They discussed literature circle books and chose new ones. Some discussed theme while others debated the morality of the characters (is it ever okay to steal? How about if you're a fox? How about if your family will starve if you don't?) and others discussed figurative language.
Next week, the children will prepare food for a dinner at Mary’s Place and sixth graders present their Island Projects Friday, June 2 at 6:00. We recommend bringing your children to experience this upper elementary final project in which they create an entire civilization.
Ben, Mary, and Ali
Mr. Ben, Ms. Mary and Mr. Robin
El Salon Morado Lead Teachers
Montessori Children's House
5003 218th Ave. NE
Redmond, WA 98053
Founded in 1987