Snapshot Autobiographies

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This year in the Social Studies component of the Upper Unit’s Humanities program, we are learning about World History. History is the study of what happened in the past. To introduce our students to this concept, we began by looking at their own histories. Starting with the story of their births, each student was invited to write about four significant moments in their lives.

To gain another perspective and more evidence about their historical events, they were also asked to interview someone else who was present during one of these experiences. This was a fun way to introduce the concept of multiple sources of information and the corroboration of facts, which are so important to building an accurate picture of the past.

Posted in Middle School, social studies, Upper Elementary, upper unit

Cubbies in Lower Elementary


As you have likely noticed if you have been in our Lower Elementary classroom this year, students’ cubbies were relocated from the classroom to the sunroom over the summer. This helped open up a significant amount of space in our classroom, and students have been taking great advantage of the extra floorspace for doing large works and activities that require spreading out. With the cubbies now facing outward into the sunroom, we’ve been encouraging students to pay extra attention to how organized their belongings are.

Today, Kendall helped many of our students clean out all loose papers from their cubbies, asking them to place any unfinished work in its proper place in our classroom file cabinet, and any finished work or drawings into their bags to go home.

Please make sure that you and your child are making a habit of checking his or her bag at the end of the school day and emptying it of any work that has been brought home. Asking students to explain their work to you is a great way to check their understanding and help them reach mastery of the concept at hand!

Posted in Lower Elementary, practical life

Primary and Upper Elementary Partners


Last week Primary had their first meeting with their Upper Elementary Partners! These special days are a favorite of both these groups of children. The bigger kids get a chance to be the experts while the younger ones get some special, undivided attention.

We read a book called “What if Everyone Did That?” which explores what might happen if everyone left their coat on the ground or talked at the same time. The Partner groups brainstormed together about ideas with the same premise, coming up with some thought-provoking ideas! We can’t wait to meet with our Partners again.

Posted in McGuffey, partners, Primary, Upper Elementary

Imaginative Play in Lower Elementary


Earlier this year, we shared some photos of Lower Elementary students building various things in their outdoor classroom with our new Outlast blocks. Although the newness appeal of these blocks has begun to fade ever so slightly for some students, we have a small crew of Grade 2 and 3 students who continue to find new uses for them. The blocks are so basic and durable, and the configurations so limitless, that building with them has proven to be a great way to stretch our students’ imagination.

Lately, our students have been using these blocks to construct a variety of vehicles. We’ve had one-person cars, cars for a group, and even a spaceship, as you can see in the photos above! Students also built an obstacle course earlier this week, which included some hurdles, a limbo station, and a ramp station that required students to connect two of the wheel-shaped blocks and roll them intact down the incline blocks. We can’t wait to see what creations will come next!

Posted in Lower Elementary, outside

Work Periods in the Upper Unit

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The uninterrupted Work Period is a fundamental element of the Montessori philosophy. It allows for individual variations in the learning process through which students have time to work on various tasks and responsibilities at their own pace.

In the Upper Unit, students typically have a Work Period in the morning as well as in the afternoon, during which time they can work on assignments of their choice either alone or in small groups. The uninterrupted Work Period gives the students an opportunity to hone their organizational and time management skills.

Posted in Middle School, Montessori method, Upper Elementary, upper unit

A Glimpse into Lower Elementary’s Work Period

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Students in Lower Elementary have been delving deeper into the Albanesi Mathematics Curriculum over the past week, as well as continuing their work with Ingrid on growing their own succulent plants. We’ve also been working hard on time management skills, helping students strike a productive balance between items on their Work Plan (like the Albanesi Mathematics cards, as well as the Tree Puzzle that you can see above which involves matching a tree with its corresponding leaves and seeds) and other, optional activities in the classroom, such as drawing, reading, and completing word search puzzles.

This is just a small glimpse into the works that our students have been completing recently; you should be seeing some other work coming home in their bags!

Posted in Lower Elementary, math, outside, practical life

Chalk and Water


The Primary unit always has chalk in our outdoor classroom, but today we experimented with what happens when you add water. The children were so excited to see what happens when you throw a curve into a traditional medium.

Posted in art, McGuffey, Primary

Music from Beginning to End


From Grade 1 to Grade 8, Music class is off to a great start this school year. Grade 1 students are learning the vocabulary to describe music; for example “forte” means loud and “piano” means soft. One game these students played was to sort pictures into forte and piano, based on what they thought the item in the picture would sound like. For example, a butterfly would be put in the “piano” pile, and a gorilla in the “forte” pile. Of course, they needed to act out all of the pictures to see which category they would choose!

Meanwhile, students in Grade 8 are fully immersed into the Ukulele Tribe. Using the music theory they’ve learned in previous Music classes at McGuffey, this largely student-driven class is about applying that information. Small motor skills are enriched through ukulele play as well as intonation skills as they learn to tune their instruments. The Ukulele Tribe also derives great joy out of “birthday-bombing” staff members with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” using ukuleles and kazoos… ideally right in the middle of a class so the teacher is the most surprised. Today was our founder Janet’s turn to be birthday-bombed!

Posted in Lower Elementary, Middle School, music

Saturday Kindermusik with Elizabeth


Last weekend, McGuffey’s music teacher, Elizabeth, began Saturday Kindermusik classes. In collaboration with McGuffey, these classes are held at our school but open to the community, and they provide an opportunity to have Music class for 2-3 year olds and their parents. Kindermusik is an internationally recognized music program providing for the whole child, nurturing gross motor, fine motor, language, social, and literacy skills all wrapped up in the joy of music.

Elizabeth will offer classes for 8 weeks this fall. How nice to see happy faces and new friends here! For more information and to learn how to sign up, visit Kindermusik with Elizabeth Taylor on Facebook.

Posted in community, music, parents

Work Plans in the Upper Unit

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The individual Work Plan is an important element of our Montessori education. It helps our students become more independent and strengthens their internal motivation to complete difficult tasks.

The Upper Unit uses their Work Plans to set priorities, track assignment due dates, and monitor progress. This allows students to complete their assignments independently and at their own pace. Work Plans also allow teachers to easily check in with any student at any time and monitor how he or she is doing, and what he or she has been working on.

Posted in McGuffey, Middle School, Montessori method, Upper Elementary, upper unit