The Primary classroom began a traditional Montessori study of the five classes of vertebrates (animals with backbones): fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. During these first two weeks, we studied fish. We read about the characteristics that define fish, such as living in water and breathing with gills. We conducted a science experiment with a coffee filter to see how gills work. The children explored many interesting fish activities and welcomed some fish visitors to the classroom.

Posted in Uncategorized

#Take3 for PE

The students of McGuffey Montessori found a way to combine being outdoors and active with doing something good for the community.

Taking our inspiration from the Facebook group #Take3 Oxford our students set out to pick up trash in our neighborhood. The Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Middle School students each set out to different areas around McGuffey and collected over four big trash bags full of garbage!

It’s always inspiring to see the enthusiasm that our students bring to cleaning up the environment!

Posted in community, Lower Elementary, Middle School, outside, physical education, Upper Elementary

Practical Life

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 course of this year, we have been introduced to several engaging and exciting works in applied applications which are activities that can be found in every day life. Sorting beads into colored bowls with a wooden spoon. Bags and bags of carrots have been peeled. The children have loved practicing with a real hammer (after donning real safety goggles first!) to pound golf tees into an enormous pumpkin. Finger muscles are then strengthened by pulling tees back out. The cubby area is mindfully cared for by cleaning off the boot shelves and another child is practicing using a screwdriver with different sized screws. These pictures show concentration and pride as our students practice and master what they see adults doing every day.

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Sand Mandalas

Lower Elementary students met with their Middle School partners today to create sand mandalas. The partners first spent time researching images, and then created a mandala of their own. Because the sand is not secured in any way, they are dismantled in just a fraction of the time they took to be assembled. This is often meant to be symbolic of the transitory nature of life. Everyone had a great time exploring this work!

Posted in art, Lower Elementary, McGuffey, Middle School, partners

School Closed, 2/1

McGuffey will be closed Friday, February 1.

If you have Trivia Night auction donations to drop off, please email the office.

Posted in Uncategorized


Primary students have spent the past week studying insects. We learned that all insects have six legs and three body parts, the thorax, body and head. There are many groups of insects including flies, bees, and butterflies, which we remember from our study of Monarchs last September. We discovered that there are between six to ten million different insect species!

Our science shelves are stocked with the life-cycle of lady bugs, insects in lucite blocks, rubbing tiles, and a large insect floor puzzle. The paper punch on our art shelf is a dragonfly and model bees are waiting to be discovered in the lock box on our practical life shelf. As ever, our students used their creativity to explore the subject, including a spectacular ant house in our outdoor classroom.

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Click for McGuffey When You Shop on


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 if they were placed more than 24 hours after you started at our website. To fix this, please take a moment to take the items out of your cart and replace them.

Orders made on the Amazon phone app contribute to this program but at a lower rate.

Using the Amazon link raises several thousand dollars each year by simply taking the time to make one extra click. Please support us with this simple fundraising effort!

Posted in announcements, fundraising, McGuffey

Miami Women’s Basketball Game

The Miami Women’s Basketball team invited local schools to join them for their home game this past Tuesday. The Lower Elementary and Upper Unit walked from school to Millet Hall where they were treated to an exciting game between the Miami Redhawks and the High Point Panthers.

The action was fast-paced, the seats were great, the Redhawks won (yay!), and the team came out after the game to talk to our students. A huge thank you to the Miami Women’s Basketball team and to the parents who joined us at the court.

Posted in Uncategorized

Vertebrates and Invertebrates

The Primary began a year of animal studies by talking about vertebrates and invertebrates. We began our discussion by reviewing the science topic from last week: Alive and Not Alive. We then learned that vertebrates have backbones that support their bodies. Invertebrates support their bodies in a variety of other ways, including exoskeletons, endoskeletons, and shells. By feeling our own backs, we discovered that humans are vertebrates as are all mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles. We were amazed to think of the biggest animals on our planet and find that they are almost all vertebrates but that by far, the most animals on our planet are invertebrates.

We have works on the shelves that allow children to discover the differences between vertebrates and invertebrates. Children can examine x-rays against a drawing on an animal. We have 3-part cards to match as well as a sorting work with animal figurines. As ever, our students took this science subject and made their own work, including art work and finding invertebrates in our outdoor classroom.

Posted in McGuffey, Primary, science

Science and Social Studies in a mixed grade classroom

Since McGuffey has mixed-age classes, we often get asked how we teach subjects to a wide range of ages and abilities. In subjects such as language and math, children have an individualized curriculum. However, in science and social studies, we are often learning together.

In Lower Elementary, science and social studies instruction often happens as a group, but associated projects are differentiated for each grade. These subjects are taught in a blended curriculum, explored through the lens of biomes. The six characteristics of a biome influence the ecosystem, and the ecosystem, in turn, influences the culture that develops.

First and second graders receive instruction together. As seen in the examples above, first graders are introduced to the elements of a biome, and begin to explore how animals and plants rely on one another in a food chain. During this time, second graders have a chance to review the concepts they were introduced to the previous year, and then build upon them. During this unit, first graders were asked to illustrate the elements of a biome and a food chain that exists within the temperate forest. Second graders were asked to plan, design, and build a three dimensional biome. After choosing the tropical forest, they sketched out their ideas and compiled a materials list. Together, they constructed their model.

Third graders have separate instructional time, which often takes the form of a workshop. As a group, they discuss a biome, research plants and animals, examine the weather and its impact, and investigate the cultures that have emerged. One day they might be researching a reptile of the temperate forest, and the next they may be graphing the impact of settlers on the acreage of forest over time.

Throughout the grades, students are given a variety of ways to communicate their knowledge about a topic. The first and second graders recently completed a play that describes the food chain in the temperate forest. We are impressed with all their hard work!

Posted in Lower Elementary, McGuffey, science, social studies