Put on a happy ???

091114_01 091114_02 091114_03To celebrate the milestone of learning to read the absolute pitches in treble cleff, the 4th and 5th graders were given a small gift that could only be appreciated by someone who knows what the notes spell. Congratulations everyone!!!

Posted in music

Lower Elementary learning outdoors

091514 091514-1 091514-2 091514-3 091514-4One of the central tenants of Montessori is the connection with the natural world. In Lower Elementary, we strive to give the children daily opportunities to experience the outdoors with structure and purpose. These pictures share some of us reading in the shade, harvesting from our garden, measuring liquids, weighing objects and journaling!  We hope to continue using our outdoor classroom to extend classroom lessons and student interests to the outdoors.

Posted in Lower Elementary, outside

Primary talks about vertebrates and invertebrates


Last week the Primary unit talked about vertebrates and invertebrates.

Vertebrates have backbones that support their bodies. We took a look at our arms and legs and noticed how strong our bones and muscles made us. We then got a closer look at another vertebrate who lives in our classroom—our class gerbil, Anna! We each had a chance to touch her backbone and watch how it supports her as she digs and climbs.

Invertebrates support their bodies in a variety of other ways, including exoskeletons, endoskeletons, and shells. Later this week we hope to have an invertebrate in our classroom as our last monarch butterfly emerges from its chrysalis! (Special thanks to McGuffey parent, Judith, for finding so many caterpillars for us this year.)

We have works on the shelves that allow children to discover the differences. Children can examine x-rays, sort animals, and investigate the life cycle.

Posted in McGuffey, Primary, science

Mandalas, in many ways

mandaladrawing1mandaladrawingmandaladrawing2mandaladrawing3button mandalaslego mandalasmandalasetcoverheadmandalaoverhead1mandalaswirlmandalamirrorsoverhead4McGuffey students in grades 1 through 8 have been exploring mandalas and related designs. A mandala is a geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. Searching images for mandalas will produce beautiful and unique results, with as much variety as is found in our amazing school community.

Students began their study learning to draw mandalas from the center outwards, rotating their paper as they progressed. During the first few classes we watched a selected video. Some showed different techniques for drawing a mandala, others showed mandalas created with other media such as sand mandalas created by Tibetan monks. In following classes, new materials and tools were presented and students chose different methods for creating mandalas and concentric designs. Providing different materials to use with the same concept allows for a greater chance of success and enjoyment in art class. Each class is currently working on a larger group mandala before we wrap up our unit. Look for information on artwork coming home in the next few weeks.

Posted in art

Town Hall Meeting 2014

Town Hall 2Town Hall 3IMG_2049IMG_2051IMG_2046IMG_2041 IMG_2038Last week we held our second annual Town Hall Meeting. This year the entire school gathered to discuss the topic of kindness in our school community. Joke telling at the microphone grabbed everyone’s attention before our groups started their work. Each group explored one aspect of kindness at school:

  • Kindness to Ourselves
  • Kindness to Others
  • Kindness to Our Environment

As many of our whole school activities do, we ended the meeting by singing along to “The Circle Game.”

Posted in McGuffey

Lower Elementary and Primary Harvest

090414-02 090414-03 090414-04This week, the garden in the Lower Elementary outdoor classroom was ready for harvesting. Since students from the Primary unit had planted the seeds last spring, the kindergarteners were invited to come help pick cherry tomatoes and the first bright orange pumpkin. In the spirit of kindness, this first harvest was given to the primary unit for snacking and, in the case of the pumpkin, a first autumn decoration. Beyond seeing the literal fruits of their labor, the kindergartners and first graders, who had shared a classroom last year, were beyond excited to work together again.

Posted in Lower Elementary, McGuffey, outside, Primary


082814_01 082814_02What students love to do most of all in music class (besides the musical!), is to play our instruments. When using the Orff method, happily these instruments come out a lot. Carl Orff believed the best way to learn music is to play music.

Here are the 4th graders this week, playing and singing a folk song from Louisiana, Fais do do. This lullaby in creole french is in 3/4 time. It was their first time playing a piece in a ‘triple’ meter. First the students heard the song and determined the meter. Next they learned the rhythm, notes and lyrics in that order. Then, to the instruments!

Posted in music

Happy Birthday Maria Montessori!

Maria-Montessori-Google-DoodleToday is Maria Montessori’s 144th birthday. At McGuffey we always try to think and talk about Maria Montessori on her birthday each year, since she developed the teaching method we use in our classrooms. However, Montessori herself explains it this way:

“It is not true that I invented what is called the Montessori Method. I have studied the child, I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method.”

– Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method

If you’re curious about the Google Doodle above, here (http://www.google.com/doodles/maria-montessoris-142nd-birthday) is a little note about the Google Doodle from the doodler herself, who was a Montessori preschool, elementary, and middle school student.



Posted in McGuffey

Navigating Food Allergies and Birthdays

uublog082914-1 uublog082914-2 uublog082914-3On Wednesday we celebrated a classmate’s 12th birthday. To celebrate, she brought some wonderful gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free blueberry muffin tops to share with her classmates. The students were excited about having something different as part of their snack. While not everyone eats a snack each day, most of the students were happy to share a few moments around the kitchen table eating blueberry muffins. Students really liked the muffins and commented that they were really tasty.

It can be tricky accommodating allergies in our classroom if you aren’t used to it. If you would like to do something similar, the muffins were made using the recipe on the package of Pamela’s Artisan Flour (available at Kroger). They used coconut milk instead of regular milk and coconut oil instead of butter.

Posted in cooking, McGuffey, Middle School

Upper Unit settles into their new classroom

uublog082514_1 uublog082514_2 uublog082514_3 uublog082514_4 uublog082514_5 uublog082514_7 uublog082514_8 uublog082514_10 uublog082514_11 uublog082514_12 uublog082514_13 uublog082514_14 uublog082514_15The Upper Unit had a busy week exploring their new classroom. Older students welcomed the new ones, and everyone tried out a variety of activities. During the first week of school, we focus on Practical Life, so students worked in outdoor classroom, helped assemble new items, set their places, had snack together and washed their dishes, and did acts of kindness for one another. They also played games that train math and language arts skills while getting to know each other.

Algebra and Pre-Algebra students have been working hard for a week, and have already accomplished a great deal. All students are keeping a planner and learning to manage their assignments and their time. We have also started our weekly consensus meetings, where students work together on suggesting and implementing policies for the classroom. We’re also looking forward to more new challenges next week!

Posted in McGuffey, Middle School, Upper Elementary