Hello Primary II Families!
The children returned from Spring Break excited to share what they did during their time off and eager to challenge themselves with new work. Our first week back kept us extremely busy preparing our classroom for the annual Multi-Cultural Festival, which turned out to be such a fun afternoon! Thank you to all of the parents who donated items for our Antarctica sensory experience, brought food, and came out to enjoy the day with us. We think the Multi-Cultural Festival (which had the children traveling the world!) was a direct catapult in sparking the children’s interests about the world we all live in. Since the festival, our floor has been covered in maps! It never gets tiresome watching as a child progresses in showing interest in continent work to being able to identify countries, states, and bodies of water.
Last month we attended the American Montessori Conference in Dallas, Texas and we would love to take this opportunity to share a few tidbits about our trip. The entire experience proved to be uniquely amazing and provided us with so many new ideas and connections. Our time together offered great bonding time for us teachers, and we left with a renewed enthusiasm and passion to further the Montessori Movement.
In addition to attending full days of workshops, we were very fortunate to hear the words of some incredible keynote speakers, such as Temple Grandin and Andrew Solomon. The latter, who recently wrote the book, Far From the Tree, was such an inspiration to listen to and became a personal highlight to us both. His book is all about children, parents, and the search for our own identity. We wholeheartedly believe it is a must read for all parents. It will impact you in a way that will encourage you to be not only a more thoughtful parent but also a more compassionate human being. We think this is something valued tremendously amongst our MSH family. Check it out. You won’t be able to put it down!
As always, thank you for all of your support.
Sarah and Monica
We hope that everyone had a great time at the Multicultural Festival! It is always wonderful to see how much the children enjoy preparing for this festival. We are working on real practical life lessons in April and May. The children have started preparing their own snack, and they will be washing their clothes the “old-fashioned way.” In science, we will learn about butterflies, and in math, we will learn about money. A special thank you to the parents, board, and administration for sending us to the AMS Montessori Conference last month. The workshops were very inspiring. It is always a wonderful experience spending time with fellow Montessori teachers. Thank you!
“I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused – a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love – then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.” – Rachel Carson, in Sense of Wonder (1965)
I absolutely love this quote, and I feel like it could have easily been written by Dr. Montessori. In Dr. Montessori’s book, To Educate the Human Potential, she mentions ‘seeds’ about five times on the very first page! The commonality of Maria Montessori and Rachel Carson is obvious. When speaking of ‘seeds’, the two women are speaking of the small bits of knowledge or interests that begin to take root in a child’s mind. They are speaking of connections being made, not only by what children learn from adults, but by all they see, hear, say, smell, taste, touch, and emotionally feel. As a teacher, I try my best to continue this idea by giving the children a safe and healthy way to learn on their own, and by providing them with a prepared classroom environment. I give a lot of lessons, but I also allow the children to discover different concepts on their own. The little “ah-ha” moments in the classroom are so very rewarding.
This week in our classroom, we are working on a short play to perform to both the Elementary II Classroom and the Kindergarten Classes. We continuously work on math and language. The children absolutely loved doing their own research on South American animals, so we are going to continue to plant that little ‘seed’ by researching plants we find around the school. We will display the plants and research in the foyer. So, stop and see all the seeds growing!
“Knowledge can be best given where there is eagerness to learn, so this is the period when the seed of everything can be sown, the child’s mind being like a fertile field, ready to receive what will germinate into culture.” Maria Montessori, in To Educate the Human Potential (1948).
Thank you to the parents in our classroom for making our Multicultural Festival successful. Thank you to our students, also, for working so hard on their artwork to decorate our classroom. Without their help, our room would not have looked near as festive. We learned so many things about North America over the last few weeks. We learned about different country’s national flowers, maps, and last but not the least, the food. My children really enjoyed smelling the fajitas cook and cutting the fajita vegetables for the festival.
On April 22, we are going to celebrate Earth Day. In preparation for this, we will study about the Earth’s natural beauty and how to conserve it by recycling. We are going to make some bird feeders out of recycled materials. We are already watching our seedlings grow. We are going to work on our vegetable garden, too. Along with that, we will start exploring with the geometric solids.We will match the geometric solids with common household items that the children are familiar with, such as a juice can representing a cylinder, a wooden ball representing a sphere, and an ice cream cone representing a cone.
Thanks for your continued support. Enjoy the nice weather and have a great month!
Almost daily on our family Facebook feed you see the wonder and joy of learning on the faces of our students. Our future is in such good hands with the young leaders developing here at the Montessori School of Huntsville. Last week I saw the same light shining out of some students who are a few years older, eight of our amazing teachers and staff who attended the American Montessori Society’s annual conference. Every day of the conference each of us would greet one another with a flurry of “I just attended the best workshop.” The theme of this year’s conference “Unity in Diversity” touched deeply on our mission here at MSH to “develop independent learners, critical thinkers and tomorrow’s leaders.” Just as our children immerse each day in a prepared environment in which they learn from both older and younger classmates, we were in a beautiful convention center surrounded by Montessori educators who were eager to share their experiences and their inquiries about teaching and learning.
With so much negative press about today’s schools and teaching, it is so refreshing to be in an environment where teachers are willing to give so freely of their time to hone their professional skills. Not only did these eight teachers give up four days of the their spring break, many of our other teachers have given weeks and weekends of time to further their Montessori training or have spent evenings at school participating in webinars and book studies to grow expertise in providing students with the best possible learning experience. I am so proud of their commitment and grateful to be part of this community. Our focus on perfecting our craft has been a hallmark of this year and fundamental to our continued advancement.
If you have time, engage with our teachers to discover what they have learned this year. Ms. Alicia will be happy to talk with you about the emerging concept of a natural playground. Ms. Harber would love to share the insights she’s gained from hundreds of hours of work she has dedicated to her work with the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in North Carolina. Ms. Brandy can share such interesting details of how the toddler brain develops. These are only three examples of the myriad of learning experiences our teachers participated in this school year. I hope that you see the benefits of their lifelong learning reflected in the eyes of your child. Thank you for your support of these opportunities. We do it all with love for your children.