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Like us on Facebook       Hilltop Montessori School                          November 9, 2012 

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Next week at Hilltop
Birch Room
Notes from the Head of School
Birch Room
Birch Room
Willow Room
Lower El
Upper El
Middle School
Community Events
Hilltop Classifieds
Next week at Hilltop


Monday, 11/12
Teacher in-service day
Tuesday, 11/13
LAST Spanish Lower El 
3 - 4:10
Wednesday, 11/14
Coffee with Don Grace, HOS Candidate 8:30am
Bagel Lunch 
LAST Spanish Upper El
3:00 - 4:10pm
Reception to meet Don Grace candidate for HOS 
5-6pm MS


Thursday, 11/15
All School Gathering
LAST Spanish MS
3 - 4:10
Reception for HOS candidate TBD 
Friday, 11/16
Coffee with HOS Candidate
8:30 - 9:30 am 
A Word from our Sponsors...


Sovernet has been a longtime supporter of Hilltop in many ways. A true local business partner, Hilltop has benefitted from Sovernet's deep discounts on high-speed Internet and our new phone systems. We are SO grateful to the Eshelmans, Sovernet's founders and Hilltop alumni parents, for all that they have done! They truly are remarkable friends of our school.


If you're a Sovernet customer, please consider letting them know how much you appreciate their support.


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Notes from the Head of School 


Below is an excerpt from an article (edited here for brevity) I read while sitting in the airport waiting to fly to England to visit my grandson. 


For the full article read:  

by Pilar Brewley


Who Taught Wyatt to Write?


"Peter and Margaret had heard that children in Montessori schools were precocious learners. Their neighbor's five-year old daughter, Jenny, began to read and write while she attended the local Montessori school. They didn't know much about the method, but when the time came to enroll their three-year-old son Wyatt in a pre-school, they decided to give Montessori a chance.


Wyatt didn't seem to do anything "academic" during his first year of Montessori, but he sure was active!  He washed tables, sewed on cardboard, traced and made drawings of geometric shapes, looked at picture cards, built a pink tower, stroked boards with sandpaper, and lifted little cylinders by their tiny knobs.


But, they thought, what does that have to do with writing? After all, not once during that first year had Wyatt's teacher directed him to a workbook, a #2 pencil, or lined paper!


The boy's parents were nervous; many of the non-Montessori parents spent several hours each week with their children engaged in workbook activities, showing them how to connect dots and color large letters. Peter and Margaret wondered if they should do the same.


Wyatt's teacher, however, asked them to refrain from offering academic work at home. She encouraged them to involve Wyatt in hands-on activities at home; share fun experiences in nature; and help him build his vocabulary through conversations, poems, and stories about the real world.


One day, when Wyatt was about four-and-a-half years old, the family was having dinner at a restaurant. With a pencil he was using for coloring, Wyatt carefully wrote his name in cursive on the paper placemat. Oblivious to his parents' surprised expressions, he went on to write in cursive the things he saw around him: fork, dish, napkin, and plant. From then on, he wanted to write words all day long!


His parents were thrilled, but full of questions for his teacher. How was it possible for Wyatt to develop this difficult skill if he never used workbooks or connected dots to learn the shapes of letters?  How was he able to hold the pencil so confidently and with so much control, when youngsters normally press the pencil so hard onto the paper that they tear it?  And above all, how could he enjoy the activity so much when most children have to be forced to practice their writing skills?


The answers to all their questions can be found in the seemingly unrelated work Wyatt did during his first year in the classroom. His arm and wrist gained strength as he scrubbed tables and squeezed sponges. By holding little knobs with three fingers he learned how to grip a pencil. He gained fluidity of wrist movement by tracing shapes. He expanded his vocabulary by learning the names associated with beautiful pictures of trees, birds, fruits, and insects.


When Wyatt understood the concept of writing - that letters representing sounds are put together to form words - his hand was ready and willing to help him express his thoughts on paper!


This entire process - what is called the indirect preparation for writing - was thoroughly enjoyable for Wyatt because all of the activities he was engaged in fed his psychological needs. In other words, the work he did in the Montessori classroom responded to the internal drives all young children have to learn through movement, to explore their language, and to experience the world through their senses. When a child's education is designed with these sensitivities in mind, learning is easy and pleasurable."


This indirect approach to education is a thread that is woven throughout the Montessori curriculum, from the early years of Children's House through the advanced work of Upper Elementary and beyond. The feeling of satisfaction and self-fulfillment it gives the children is priceless.


So, who taught Wyatt to write? The truth is he taught himself when he was ready.


Email Tonia


Mount Snow Benefit for Hurricane Sandy


Launch Pad at Mt. Snow is getting set for their annual early season rail garden set-up and fundraising event. To yourboarders out there, the Discovery Shuttle will run this Friday-Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm, with features set up (no competition). Lift tickets will be just $10 (or free with your season pass, but donations are welcome) with ALL proceeds going towards Sandy relief. Launch Pad is all about having some fun, keeping a great early season tradition alive and making money for Sandy Relief. The rest of Mt. Snow is waiting for sustained cold temperatures. Read more: http://mountsnow.com/wanted-sustained-cold-temps/.


While you're there, check out the Ski and Skate Sale this Saturday, November 6 @ 9 am - 3 pm, hosted by the Deerfield Valley Rotary Club. Read more.



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Birch Room

Classification Skills


Classification refers to the grouping and organizing of objects, pictures, words, or ideas on the basis of particular criteria. When a child sorts object that feel rough or smooth, places jars on one side and lids on the other side, and another child explains why they put the snake and lizard picture card in one pile and the birds in another, they are using classification skills.


Children initially identify broad categories, e.g. food. Next they develop subcategories, e.g. vegetables. Then they differentiate further and identify additional subcategories, e.g. carrots. Exploration of objects, expanding knowledge of the world, and increased language skills contribute to children's ability to classify. When children classify they organize their experiences and manage enormous amount of information that can be recalled later. The ability to classify is important for learning and remembering (Larkina, Guler, Kleinknect and Bauer, 2008). It supports the development of logical thinking.





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Willow Room


The Metal Insets


Dr. Montessori developed the Metal Insets for the direct preparation for writing. She studied the movements of handwriting and designed a material that would support the movements and skills required for writing. Dr. Montessori observed that children write before they read. Parents and teachers alike observe this everyday as they watch young children pick up writing tools and "write" on paper and a variety of surfaces.  


The 3 - 6 year old child has a strong desire to write, to communicate through written language. In the Children's House this desire is recognized, celebrated and supported. The beauty of the Metal Insets, a material consisting of 10 metal shapes with frames, calls out to the child. With this material, the child engages in activities that strengthen hand control, support the development of a tripod pencil grasp, provide practice of the component strokes of letters and develop hand eye coordination. The names of the shapes support vocabulary expansion and the child has endless opportunities for geometric designs.



Parker practices refining fine motor and visual motor skills 




Ava and Harper practice writing 


Willow Room has been buzzing with energy this week. The children are busy with new works in Practical Life and Cultural. Some children are busy with works in math, such as the Addition Strip Board, the Bead Stair and the Subtraction Snake Game while others are exploring place value with the Golden Bead Bank and number scrolls.


The excitement in our classroom for the first snowflakes was boundless. The children gazed through the windows with wonder as the snow softly drifted down. "It's snowing Melissa! It's snowing Ellie!" was heard over and over again. It's moments like this when it is so important to stop and take the time to recognize the beauty and wonder of our world with the children.


We hope you have a wonderful weekend with your family.


Melissa and Ellie



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Lower El


Poetry is on our minds this week in Lower El, as we work with artist Mollie Burke to interpret poems from Europe into movement, music and visual art (drawing, collage, and sculpture). When the students are not involved in any of these activities, they are writing their own poetry. Animals and seasons have been popular subjects of these original pieces! Our poetry performance will take place in the Lower El classroom at 12:00 on Thursday, November 15th. Parents are invited to stay for a brown bag lunch afterwards.








Our beautiful "Timeline of Life" mural is now in the courtyard, on the wall facing the Children's House playground. Please come by and take a look when you have a chance!


Have a great weekend! - Jessica, Kerstin, and Connie




Upper El

Eating lunch on science hill during our field trip


The Upper El journeyed down to New Haven, CT on Tuesday to visit the Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Yale University Art Gallery. The fourths and fifths participated in a guided tour of the Peabody's human evolution exhibit, deepening and expanding their ongoing study of early humans. After lunch, the fourths and fifths had time to explore the rest of the museum, which includes an extensive mineral collection, a Hall of Dinosaurs, and even a mummy. The sixth graders traipsed across campus after lunch to visit the Art Gallery. Students roamed through the contemporary art galleries independently before coming back together to closely observe and discuss two very different paintings, one by Pierre Bonnard and the other by Ellsworth Kelly. Madeline Fan helped illuminate for the students the meaning and history of a fourteenth-century Chinese wall painting in the Asian art gallery.



Observing some of the living specimens at the Peabody Museum  


Students are exploring color in art class


Thank you so much to Jen Sutton, Dave Snyder, Amanda Rupard, Amanda Ellis-Thurber, Kim Lier, and Madeline Fan for driving and spending the day with us.


The election definitely brought some excitement to the room this week (although perhaps not quite as much as the snow flurries on Thursday - I actually caught a student singing a snow song to himself while he walked down the hall!). A few students chose to organize mock presidential and gubernatorial elections at Hilltop. They proudly announced the results at All School Gathering.



Lower El students casting their ballots


A couple of quick housekeeping items: When the cold weather arrived this week, many students felt rather cold at recess and pick-up because they were not dressed appropriately. Please remind your child to be aware of the weather when getting ready to leave the house in the morning. Also, please ask your child if he or she has a pair of indoor shoes at school. Indoor shoes help keep our floors, where students work and gather for lessons, a bit cleaner. 




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Middle School

We began the week, as did most of the nation, engaged in political thought.  


We held our final series of political platform debates with riveting dialogue surrounding gay marriage, tax reform, abortion, and healthcare. As before, Spencer moderated the debates with skill. He took it upon himself to research all the issues and formulate relevant questions that kept the debaters on their toes. Debating requires a number of skills beyond being familiar with your subject. It requires excellent organization, the making of various connections, and formulating an argument. All the students rose to the occasion and hopefully came away with a deeper understanding of the issues that speak to our hopes, values, and welfare.







This week also brought the beginning of our extensive study and practice of poetry. Poetry will permeate every day as students recite in morning circle, read from their guardian poets, and begin learning the skills and vocabulary of writing their own work. A milestone in the study is the Poetry Café where students recite their memorized poetry to their families and friends in a festive and formal setting. This important date to mark on your calendars is Thursday, December 13 at 7:00 pm.


As many of you know, students have begun their first major research project as part of their "Evolution of the American Identity" curriculum. This project is focused on an individual who has -- through their work, writing, or activism -- made an indelible mark on our national consciousness. The subjects were primarily involved with slavery, abolition, women's rights/suffrage, labor rights, and reform. The project results in a specific outline for all the students and for the eighth graders, a formal thesis driven research paper. To be successful, students must engage in regular (as in daily) and multi-sourced research. If your student has not insisted on a visit to the library (books are a requirement) then please facilitate a visit. Every student has a project description complete with important calendar dates. The building of a thesis centered outline and paper requires building organizational and discernment skills that students will employ as they progress in their formal education and beyond.






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Community Events


Hilltop Classifieds and Wish List



We're looking for cutlery for our kitchen. If you hear of a good deal on soup spoons, forks, or teaspoons, let Amelia know.


In the same vein, we wouldn't turn down a good deal on plates and bowls (lots, like 145). We could use them for events like Stone Soup and Graduation. I know there are bargain hunters out there!


Computer for Development Office Assistant, pc or mac. If you have a lead on a good quality used machine email Lynn.


See this week's Hilltop Classifieds! Submissions to Amelia by noon on Thursday.    

Hilltop Montessori School