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Greetings from Casa East,
It's a nice feeling! September is almost under our belt. We started the month with several children crying each morning at arrival and we had a few days where we took a deep breath around 8:25 and waited to hear the shrieks begin. How wonderful that those same children now cheerfully settle into the routines of the classroom.
We have a busy purposeful classroom filled with children performing many lovely jobs both spontaneously and independently. We should also mention that throughout parts of our day we are serenaded by Veronica with her operatic version of "The Phantom of the Opera".
Thank you for your commitment each day in helping your child with reading. For those children bringing home a folder or little booklet, we hope that the routine of reading each day will become an easy part of your daily schedule. Establishing a simple routine each day with your child will certainly help them on the path towards becoming Total Readers. Playing sound games and I Spy games is wonderful for language development with younger children. Our language curriculum Parent Education evening on Oct 9th would be really helpful to you in helping understand the path that we take in Montessori to becoming passionate readers. Books are such a small part of the language curriculum. We would love to show you more!
As the days get colder, it might be a good time to check the contents of your child's cubby. Shorts and t-shirts can be replaced with warmer clothing.
Respecting your commitment to placing your child in a Montessori School, we will close with a beautiful quote from the lady herself:
"The first duty of an education is to stir up life, but leave it free to develop" - Maria Montessori
Holly and Elizabeth
Well it's officially fall, the leaves on the trees are changing and in Casa North we have been having lengthy discussions about geography and time. Everyone is interested in what time snack is ready, when recess begins, and what time we tidy up for the end of the day. As our afternoon began a few days back, three girls were discussing when the third year sleepover was. I told them it was in June to which one replied, "My birthday is in June and both of you can come." The younger of the three replied excitedly, "Great, but where is your house?" She said, "Ancaster, that's in Dundas. Where do you live?"
The little girl replied, "In Canada." The response was, "Ya but where in Canada?" The younger girl looked confused. So I explained that we all live in Canada, but that we live in different spots in Canada. The girl's face lit up. She jumped up and down excitedly saying, "Oh my gosh, we live so close together!" There is never a dull moment in a classroom, that's for sure!
With fall also comes a change in weather, and that means it is usually cold in the mornings and warm by the afternoon, making it that much harder for us as parents to help prepare our children for the day. It means sweaters or coats in the mornings which usually get left behind in the rush to enjoy those fleeting warm afternoons. But not to worry, we will be there at the end of everyday to help remind everyone to take their belongings home. Please be sure to visit their cubbies once in a while and most definitely check out the lost and found every Friday at pick up. A friendly reminder to label everything. Even keep a sharpie by the door or in the car to label those sweaters and coats and ensure they find their rightful owners.
That's all from Casa North. Get out there and enjoy these nice fall days!
Dylan and Jodi
It's only the third week of school and our classroom is already forming into a caring community. New friendships are being made, children console each other if they are missing Mom or Dad, and all are concerned when someone is sad. Everyone is settling in beautifully, learning daily routines and enjoying lots of presentations.
We invite all our parents to join us for our parent education evening when we will explore our beautiful language area. We'll take you on a tour of the materials and discuss how vital this part of the curriculum is, and how you can support language development at home. See you there!
Pat and Serena
Echoing, I'm sure, other's comments -- what a great start to the schoolyear this year! The classroom is working with flow while, at the same time, the students are developing and reinforcing social relationships. There is always a hum in the room, but the conversations are work-based (for the most part) and some great collaboration is taking place.
Consistent routines are an important tool for developing minds, providing students a sense of security and confidence from which to explore their worlds and offering clear expectations. The classroom environment strives to be a place of consistency, and partnering with home routines helps to reinforce the benefits. All students are asked to get into the habit of reading for at least 5 - 10 minutes every evening and to remember to bring their red folders to and from school each day.
Parents of year 2 and 3 kids will also find some words in their children's agendas each week that they are learning to spell, and with which they challenge each other every Friday. Year one children are beginning to settle into their own routines and are adapting well to the challenges of elementary.
Another reminder: with the weather changing to fall conditions, many kids are coming to school with coats, sweaters, boots and shoes, and hats and gloves will start to show up soon; please remember to label everything. If kids leave items on the playground or in the halls, we will bring it to the lost and found (even labeled items) to instill a sense of responsibility for personal belongings; if items are labeled, they will eventually make their way back to their owners (we donate unlabeled items at the end of each term).
The new space is fabulous. The first years have transitioned better than I've ever seen before. It's been a great start to the new school year in Lower Elementary South.
The new space gives us the ability to spread out more with the materials, and the students can collaborate on projects without disturbing other students (maybe some of you parents have noticed that volume can occasionally be an issue at this age).
And speaking of spreading out the materials, the year 2 and 3 kids are working hard with the timelines right now. The year 2s are engrossed in the Paleozoic era and the 3s in the Mezozoic. Both groups are busy creating their own timelines and recreating images of long lost creatures. The year 1 kids are exploring the fundamental needs of humans using large charts and card sets to learn about food, defense, shelter, clothing, and other needs. Work in all three of these areas involves research that the children are bringing to their work constructing paragraphs.
Activity-wise, adventure running with Janice has been a big hit (if your child(ren) would like to continue adventure running, Janice is a running coach with Adventure Running Kids), and it is great training for the cross country event coming up at LaSalle Park with students from Fairview Glen, Waterdown, and Dearcroft Montessori schools on Oct 2.
I'll end with a reminder: please help your child be responsible for their red folders, which need to come to school with them each day. Having them pack their own bag the night before, or asking "Do you have everything you need for school?" in the morning are some ways to encourage independent responsibility. See you at the Parent Dinner!
Wow, there's a lot going on in Upper West already:
We have delved into the creation of the universe, the coming of humanity, and the origins of math and language. The year sixes are working on assembling paragraphs into essays, ensuring there is consistent flow, topic sentences, and a sound conclusion, as well as learning how to divide with decimals. The fours and fives are working on expanded, standard, and written notation of numbers, and as always there are about 1,624,912 projects underway.
Science experiments are a huge interest right now, with many being wriiten up and executed as we learn to work with the scientific method.
Novel studies also begin this week, so look for books coming home. Children will be undertaking a number activities related to the novel they will read over the next little while, so some craft supplies shopping may be in your future.
Speaking of supplies, we will also need about 125, 2-litre pop bottles for a self-sustaining eco-system each child will be building (if only wine came in plastic bottles...). This was supposed to be an activity for year 5 kids, but great interest and demand means everyone will be building one. Clear plastic is preferred. Thank you.
A quick reminder: please check the weekly schedule you all received at the orientation to make sure things like gym clothes are coming on gym day.
Upper Elementary East has had a fantastic start to the school year. We have had lots of opportunity to settle in, get to work, and really get to know each other. Luna has been a highlight for everyone with some favorite activities such as yoga in the barn, walking & working the organic garden with Sean, and, of course, making the most of free time in the woods.
Some in-class excitement has included the pyrotechnic volcano, the fish dissection (although a few students did choose to abstain), writing and performing "The Tortoise and the Hare" and "Country Mouse & City Mouse," and the Ice Balloon Inquiry project. With lessons, projects, specialists, and photos there has really been a lot going on.
October is shaping up to be an equally busy month. We'll look at the atmosphere and its role in the rains, paragraph writing, the publishing process, and undertake an introduction to solid (Euclidean) Geometry. The lesson plans include math work such as signed numbers, squares of numbers, and the multiplication of polynomials. What are the practical uses of signed numbers anyway? We'll see what the students come up with...
October 11 is a half day for all students school wide. That morning we will have a field trip to Crawford Lake longhouses. Please be sure to dress for the weather. That afternoon, we hope everyone enjoys a slightly extended Thanksgiving Weekend.
Also starting in October, Upper Elementary East's physical activity specialization will be karate, at DVMS, on Thursday afternoons. Please ensure your kids are wearing or bringing appropriate (loose/comfortable) clothing on Thursdays starting October 3.
Enjoy the Autumn weather and I look forward to seeing you at the parent dinner (October 4) and the Elementary Parent Education Evening (October 16).