McGuffey Spirit Wear!


McGuffey Spirit Wear is now available for purchase! Elizabeth and Matt have been working on setting up an online shop through Zazzle, which you can check out here, or by clicking “Shop” under the Fundraising menu above. We’re currently offering t-shirts, sweatshirts, water bottles, and much more for purchase. Five percent of purchases goes to McGuffey. Make sure to look for coupon codes and specials whenever you order. For example, right now Zazzle has a Black Friday discount code for 15% savings on shirts by entering “BLACKFRIWEEK” at checkout.

Big thanks to Elizabeth and Matt for setting this up!

Posted in fundraising, McGuffey

Drawing a Symphony

FullSizeRender IMG_3891 IMG_3892In preparation for the field trip to listen to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, students in grades 4 through 8 combined music and art one day this week. The theme of the concert is water in its various forms. Most people are not born with the ability to sit and listen to an entire symphony without losing interest. Learning to maintain focus while listening to long musical works can be a challenge but there are techniques that can help. Drawing while listening, watching images that float through one’s mind, listening for different instruments and instrument families, and listening for a story the music tells are some good ones to try.

This week, while listening to music that related to an approaching storm, the storm in its fury, and the subsiding of the storm, students were asked to draw representations of those three stages of a storm. The results were beautiful!

Posted in art, field trip, music, Upper Elementary

Puzzle Mania in Lower Elementary

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About a month ago, we established a jigsaw puzzle table in Lower Elementary. Up to three students at a time can work on the puzzle in progress, with a timer available to help them keep track of the amount of time they spend there.

As the jigsaw puzzles are not on their work plans, students are not obligated to work on them. However, these puzzles are a great representation of how students are in charge of budgeting their time and their work in the classroom. Students often agree on 15-minute intervals at the puzzle table, and if one of the three chairs at the table is open, any student may choose to sit down and chip away at the puzzle for a while before returning to his or her other works.

The students in Lower Elementary have already put together three different jigsaw puzzles in the past month (one 500-piece, one 300-piece, and one 100-piece that has been done several times). Jigsaw puzzles have a lot of great benefits for children, including the development and practice of problem-solving strategies, project management, collaboration, tactile skills, and visual recognition skills.

As we continue to add different kinds of puzzle activities to the classroom (including Language Arts and Mathematics-based puzzles), we’ve seen students excel in their other works, too. The enthusiasm that a challenging puzzle creates is truly contagious, and students who are thrilled about one work in the classroom often find their enthusiasm spreading into their work in other subjects, too!

Posted in Lower Elementary

Democratic Meetings in the Upper Unit

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In the Upper Unit, students get the opportunity to effect change in their classroom through the democratic process. At monthly Democratic Meetings, the students get together to form committees, craft proposals, and present them to the class. Proposals need to receive support of at least 90% of the class to pass and students will often need to rework their proposals in order to garner the support of their classmates.

This experience will serve the Upper Unit well in May when they travel to Fort Wayne, Indiana for the Montessori Model United Nations, where they will take part in committees to discuss pressing global issues and attempt to craft proposals to bring forward to the General Assembly.

This year we have had several successful proposals, including making a classroom quilt and bringing in a GoFish aquarium. We look forward to seeing what else the class comes up with this year.

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

Writing Thank-You Cards with Partners

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Last Thursday afternoon, Lower Elementary students met with their Middle School partners. Together, the Middle School students helped their younger partners write thank-you cards. Students could write their cards to anyone they wanted, and the older students helped the younger ones decide who to write to, what to say, and how to make it look neat.

Lower Elementary students wrote their thank-you cards to a wide variety of people in their lives, including parents, extended family, classmates, friends outside of the classroom, teachers, and pen pals. It was a great opportunity for students of all ages to practice expressing their gratitude, and to help others find things that they are grateful for in their own lives.

Posted in Lower Elementary, Middle School, partners, practical life

Click for McGuffey When You Shop Amazon


As you do your holiday shopping, please remember to use the McGuffey link. Simply start your session by clicking the Amazon logo in the upper right-hand corner of any page on the McGuffey website. This will take you straight to Amazon, but your transaction will be tagged with McGuffey’s ID. We typically receive 6% of your final purchase price, which can add up to quite a bit over time.

Please share this link with family and friends and encourage them to use it. It’s an easy way that friends, family, and alumni can help support McGuffey.

Please note, McGuffey will not receive a percentage of items saved in your cart during a previous session. If you can, take a moment to take the items out of your cart and replace them.

Using the Amazon link raised hundreds of dollars last year by simply taking the time to make one extra click. Please support us with this simple fundraising effort!

Posted in announcements, fundraising

Sewing in the Upper Unit

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Students in the Upper Unit spent the month of October working on their sewing skills.

First they learned a whipstitch, often used to sew patches onto clothes. The students worked with sheets of denim as well as denim patches to simulate mending a pair of jeans.

Next the class got dressed up when we practiced sewing buttons onto dress shirts. Using squares of Oxford cloth, the Upper Unit students were challenged to sew a button onto the fabric. Many students enjoyed this work and made some button art to share with the classroom.

Students really enjoyed learning how to take care of their own clothes and the increased sense of self-sufficiency it provided. So (sew?), if you need some mending done at home, perhaps you could ask your child for help!

Posted in Middle School, practical life, Upper Elementary, upper unit

Artist Noelle Dingeldein Visits McGuffey

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This week, McGuffey students spent an art class with Noelle Dingeldein, an artist from Richmond, Indiana. Noelle recently wrote and illustrated a board book called Walter’s Wheels. She creates her illustrations by making drawings and then replicating them with homemade art dough. Her panels of art dough are then photographed for the book. Students were able to see the project she is currently work on and learn some of her techniques.

Posted in art, guest speakers

A Listening Walk with Partners


As part of the Primary Peace curriculum, we read The Listening Walk, a book about a father and daughter who take a walk in silence, but mindfully listen to the world around them.

We thought this would a fun exercise to do with our Upper Elementary Partners. We took a silent walk in the natural areas behind the school, carefully listening to the world around us. After our walk, we convened to share what we heard. We were so quiet that we found a small toad! It was a great reminder of what we might encounter when we move more mindfully through our day.

Posted in McGuffey, outside, partners, peace, Primary, Upper Elementary

Deductive Reasoning and Puzzle Solving

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Middle School Math students in Marcia’s classes got a wonderful treat last week. Dr. Jeff Wanko visited the classroom and gave a presentation on deductive reasoning and puzzle solving. Dr. Wanko is the chair of the Department of Teacher Education at Miami University.

Students were given a puzzle and its solution and asked to determine the rules for solving the Shikaku puzzle. Shikaku (divide by box) are puzzles from Japan. While deducing the rules for the puzzle, students talked about number theory (odd and even numbers, primes), geometry (quadrilaterals, area), and general problem/puzzle solving techniques.  

After determining all the rules for solving the puzzle, students were given an opportunity to work individually and in small groups on new Shikaku puzzles.

Dr. Wanko shared with us one of his favorite puzzle magazines—Games World of Puzzles—and a great web site for more puzzles like the Shikaku (

Posted in guest speakers, math, Middle School, upper unit