Last week Lower Elementary gathered rakes and wheelbarrows so they could build leaf piles for jumping. Our big tree out front has finally dropped most of its leaves, so it’s the perfect place for raking.
Half the class worked to gather leaves for the Lower Elementary outdoor classroom, while the other half gathered leaves for the Primary outdoor classroom. While Primary has a spectacular old conifer, it doesn’t have many mature deciduous trees. By the end of the hour, they had built substantial leaf piles in both areas.
Lower Elementary students gathered at the fence line, and watched with delight as the Primary children discovered their new leaf pile. These moments where they discover the giving is just as wonderful as the getting are invaluable.
Primary continues to study the human body this week. This morning, Primary students were treated to a visit by McGuffey mom, Jaimie Ross. Jaimie is a hygienist and told us she cleans and takes x-rays of other people’s teeth. She talked to us about how important it is to take care of our teeth. We were reminded to brush our teeth twice a day for 2 minutes. She showed us how to brush in circles on both the outside and inside of our teeth and told us it is just as important to brush our tongue.
We learned that sugary foods can cause cavities and that lots of drinks contain a surprising amount of sugar. Using a model on our science shelf, we got to see the roots and nerves inside the tooth.
Jaimie modeled the gear that hygienists wear and then let us try on our own gloves and mask while checking the teeth of a dinosaur. Most students decided dinosaur needs to work on her brushing skills. Thank you for visiting, Jaimie!
Congratulations to our five most recent graduates who all made the Honor Roll for their first quarter of high school!
Many people ask how our students transition to high school. While we value the development of the whole child, this one piece of data shows they typically do quite well.
Research shows that children who stay with Montessori through at least age eleven do better academically, are more likely to see their peers as friends, and are more creative in their writing and problem solving when compared to their public school counterparts.
We think it only gets better when students stay through Grade 8 with the giant bonus of avoiding all the social drama that can accompany those years. Students who stay get three more years of individualized academic work that is both challenging and interesting!
On Wednesday the Upper Unit brought back a fun experience from last year: Breakfast Club! A group of students planned “breakfast for lunch”, went to the grocery store and did the shopping, and prepared and cooked a meal for their classmates.
We had pancakes with maple syrup, bacon (and veggie bacon), scrambled eggs, milk, and orange juice. It is a great Practical Life opportunity for the students as they learned about food costs and the time it takes to prepare a meal.
Everyone enjoyed this special lunch, and the Breakfast Club was able to experience the sense of satisfaction that comes from serving others and bringing them joy.
The purpose of Practical Life in a Montessori classroom is to help the child gain control of her movements and build independence. These works appeal to Primary-aged children who can often be heard saying, “I can do it!” Practical Life exercises can be categorized into four different groups: preliminary applications, applied applications, grace and courtesy, and control of movement.
Over the past several weeks, we have been introduced to several engaging and exciting works in applied applications which are activities that can be found in every day life. Painting the house in our outdoor classroom with water is a popular work. Bags of carrots have been peeled in front of one of our beautiful windows. Our students have loved practicing using a real hammer (after donning real safety goggles first!) to pound golf tees into an enormous pumpkin that they planted in our garden last Spring. Finger muscles are then strengthened by pulling tees back out. These pictures show concentration and pride as our students practice and master what they see adults doing every day.
We have been studying the human body in science, beginning with digestion and nutrition. We read the book What Happens to a Hamburger? and traced the journey of food through the body. Ms. Torso visited us to help explain digestion. The children had many questions about this process.
We also explored My Plate (the successor to the Food Pyramid and the Four Food Groups), and how to build a healthy meal. We were able to name many favorite foods in each group: fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins. We’ve been busy sorting foods into the five groups and thinking about what makes a healthy meal.
Our next Human Body topic was circulation and respiration. We learned about the three kinds of cells in our blood: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Each cell type has its own job. Red blood cells are like delivery trucks, taking oxygen through blood vessels to all the parts of our bodies. White blood cells fight germs, and platelets help us stop bleeding if we get a cut or scrape.
Next, we demonstrated what blood looks like under a microscope by filling a jar with Karo syrup “plasma” and candies representing the three kinds of blood cells – making sure to explain that we never eat food used for a science experiment, even if it looks yummy! We also watched a video of a white blood cell chasing a germ, which the children loved, and began our discussion of the heart and how it moves blood through our body.
This week the kindergarteners and Lower Elementary were the guests of Robin Spielberg and the Miami University Performing Arts Series. Robin talked to children about how a piano works and then discussed why and how she composes music.
We learned that pianos have over 12,000 moving parts, including 88 keys. This particular Steinway weighs about two tons! We experimented with the damper and discovered it could make a note last for 37 seconds.
When Robin asked why we compose and perform music, one of our students noted, “It’s like letting your feelings out through an instrument.”
Robin performed songs that she had written for her friends, cats, and even herself. She talked about why she writes music, explaining, “I compose music because I want to remember something, like a beautiful day or a wonderful memory.” Robin played gentle music, and we practiced quiet meditation, noting how calm the music made us. She read a book by her friend, Henry the Steinway and the Piano Recital, which explored the anxiety some children have about performing.
We ended the trip by helping Robin compose a song about a bear who ate a skunk and had eventful dream. Our students had so much fun and learned a great deal! When they returned to school, they reflected on their trip in their journals.