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Like us on Facebook  Hilltop Montessori School                           December 7, 2012 

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Next week at Hilltop
Notes from the Head of School
Winter Auction
Winter Gear Needed
Birch Room
Willow Room
Lower El
Upper El
Middle School
Community Goings On
Coming up...

Snowflake Boutique Auction and Raffle Kicks off, Monday, Dec. 10 in the lobby



Monday, 12/17
Lower El Gift Making 
12:30 - 2:30
Tuesday, 12/18
Lower El Poetry Tea
Upper El Museum
2 until pick-up
Middle School Poetry Cafe
Snowflake Boutique Items Raffled off 
Wednesday, 12/19
Upper El Museum
8:30 -9am
See you on Thursday, January 3, 2013!


Hilltop Hoodies!


Looking for the perfect gift for that last person on your holiday list? 

Look no further! A Hilltop Hoodie is just the answer. 

Orders received by Monday, Dec. 10th will be here in time for holiday break. Sample sizes of sweatshirts are on display in the Elementary Lobby. 


Click here for an order form. 



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In art class The Upper El experimented with sequencing, a technique developed by Ric Campman at The River Gallery School. Students created a sequence of three seascapes as a means of exploring the possibilities of paint, color and working in the moment.


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Notes from the Head of School 


It's hard to believe that we are already thinking of next year...and that means that it's time to start the financial aid process. Please read the overview of the process and then go to the website for more details.


In its commitment to create a balanced and diverse community, Hilltop Montessori School has always made every effort to offer tuition assistance to families who otherwise could not attend the school.


Ensuring a diverse environment comes at a price for both families who do and who don't receive financial aid. Everyone contributes to the success of the school through their tuition; however, financial aid is not just funded by tuition dollars. Annual giving, the endowment, and state funding partnerships contribute to the financial aid totals.


To determine the most equitable estimate of family contribution, Hilltop Montessori uses the services of the School and Student Service (SSS).


SSS computes an estimated family contribution using data drawn from the completed Parents' Financial Statement (PFS).


The process reviews:

ˇ      the family's gross income

ˇ      assets and liabilities

ˇ      taxes

ˇ      educational expenses of other children

ˇ      unusual debts

ˇ      medical and dental expenses

ˇ      and other family expenses such as cost of          camps, lessons/tutors and vacations


The results of this computation, the estimated total family contribution, are forwarded to Hilltop Montessori School. This report is then used by the school's Financial Aid Committee as a guide for determining the amount of the award.

It is important to note that in most cases the school can only give a percentage of what SSS recommends. The more accurate and thorough one is in completing the PFS form, the more likely the Financial Aid committee can be in meeting a family's need.


If you're thinking about applying for Financial Aid for next year, please start the process as soon as you can. The deadline for submitting the Parent Financial Statement is January 15, 2013.


You can apply now: Go to http://sss.nais.org/parents/Pages/default.aspx 

Each parent(s) or guardian(s) must file a "Parents' Financial Statement" (PFS) with the School and Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS). To be considered for financial aid all forms must be submitted by January 15.   

Hilltop's school code that must go on the forms is: 1435.


For more details and instructions please see the


Email Tonia


Hilltop Winter Auction


Next week when you come into the Wheeler House (Children's House and Elementary Building) you'll see a beautiful lobby space transformed for the holidays. Our Winter Auction and Raffle runs December 10 -18 and supports both Hilltop and Morningside Shelter


There are gifts and treats for everyone - from an iPod Shuffle to spa gift certificates, toys (lots of them!), jewelry, and edible goodies.


Raffle tickets are just $1 a ticket. This Monday, December 10 we'll offer 25 tickets for $20 (that's five free tickets).


Huge thanks to Lynn Stewart for making this event happen!



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 Morningside Shelter - Winter Gear Needed


Along with supporting Morningside Shelter through our Winter Auction, we know that they could really use winter clothes and outdoor gear, especially in bigger sizes. If you have good quality winter clothes you're no longer using please bring them in. A collection box is by the front desk. 


Thank you!


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Birch Room

The Kindness Wreath


In an effort to put our attention toward all the good that is happening in our classroom, we started a kindness wreath. The wreath hangs on our bulletin board near our circle area.


In the beginning, it was an empty wire wreath form. Nearby is a jar of cut cloth ribbons, a container for notes, and blank paper for writing the notes.


We discussed what acts of kindness are and talked about noticing them and writing them down. We decided that the children would write a note for something they observed or something someone did for them, or note something kind that they did themselves.


At the end of the day, we take the wreath down and bring the written notes and the cut cloth ribbons to our circle. We choose a note and read it aloud. Often the person who wrote it recognizes the paper and just radiates with excitement as we open the note and read it; sometimes, they will add details after we have read the note. The person who is being recognized comes to the wreath and chooses a cloth ribbon that we then tie on the wreath.


Watching a child's face light up when a note that recognizes him or her is read is amazing; the child is always so happy to be noticed for their act of kindness. We have all heard about (and tried to catch) a child 'being good,' but there is exponential power in that catch when another child does it. Even more than that, I love to hear how the children comment, "I saw that too," or "You always help with that."




Sharing kindnesses that we see has become a special part of the day for all of us.


"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." - Aesop  


This idea has also been modified into a "home" version for the Snowflake Auction!


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Willow Room


The holiday spirit is alive and well in our classroom and the children are busy sharing stories of their holiday celebrations and traditions. Eyes sparkle and shine as they talk about Christmas trees, stockings and decorations. The Youngers jump up and down in delight and anticipation while the Olders discuss and debate the "magic" of the season.


As we enter this winter season the activities in the Cultural area reflect a wide variety of holidays and traditions celebrated around the world. Nurturing peace and an understanding of different people and cultures are important principles within our Montessori philosophy. When we study the festivals and celebrations of others we provide the children with opportunities to discover the similarities and differences of all people. We plant the seed of understanding, the understanding that we are all on this journey of being human. Through our studies the children gain a better understanding of those around them.



Making gingerbread


We will be learning about many different holiday traditions and celebrations over the next two weeks including St. Nicholas Day, Hanukkah, St. Lucia Day, Winter Solstice, Ramadan, and Kwanza. If your family has any special holiday traditions you would like to share with our class please talk with us so we can work to include them in our studies.


We hope you have a wonderful weekend together!

Melissa & Ellie



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Lower El


Despite our unexpected day off on Tuesday, Lower El students have been keeping themselves busy with numerous works. Fundamental Needs work is in full swing: Youngers are constructing their chosen Need with various materials in the Art room, the Middlers are writing on a specific need in a specific Biome (what is used for transportation in the mountains of Europe, for example), and the Olders are researching the various fundamental needs that are found in one specific biome of Europe - an approach that is called a "vertical study" in Montessori terminology.


Math, and specifically math facts continue to be an important part of our mornings. Through their work with the chains, Lower El students are exposed to the number patterns found in the multiplication tables. This week's challenge was for the students to lay out the chain of their choice, and then turn over the labels and challenge themselves to see how high they could skip-count without looking. Even the Youngers have gotten busy with this, using the short chains to begin their memorization work. Parents of Olders, have you checked in with your child lately to see how they're faring with their multiplication tables?



Tess counts by 6s with the short chain 



Susannah uses the dot paper to help with subtraction 



Julia and Talia use the checkerboard to do double digit multiplication 



Elliot skips counts by 9s with the long chain 



Conrad ponders his next move with the addition stamp game  


Reminders: Our Poetry Café is approaching! Tuesday, December 18th shortly after drop-off time (at approximately 8:30, 8:40), Lower El students will delight you with recitations of their original poetry. As they will be baking breakfast goodies for you, we'd like to know who to expect. Please RSVP to the Lower El teachers as soon as you possibly can.


*** grocery bags and twist ties needed*** We can always use these items. Thank you!


Bundle up and have a good weekend!

-Jessica, Kerstin, and Connie



Upper El



This week the sixth graders presented skits about the three branches of government. When this work was presented a couple of weeks back, one student remarked, "We finally get to do this!" Within the curriculum certain works, such as the poetry performance or ISPs, are designed to be big, capstone type works, but some lessons and works have grown into classroom traditions and rites of passage over time. Many of these works are part of the sixth grade curriculum. After spending two years watching the sixths do these works, students are excited to have the opportunity themselves. The skits are one example and the cell 'dissection' is another. Other lessons and works have become traditions, in part, because when they are presented to younger students, the sixths show great interest and express their fondness. This increases the fourths' and fifths' engagement. The creation of a river lesson and the digestion in animals lesson are two lessons that the sixth grades usually turn around in their seats to listen in on. There is more than just the social context that makes certain lessons and works special. Some generate a buzz in the room each time they are presented just because there is a little something extra that captures the children's imagination and intrigues their minds. Every lesson and work is designed to do this, but through some alchemy of concept, visual representation, and humor some lesson gains extra sticking power. The same is true of certain materials, which through some combination of beauty and concept become more meaningful to a child. These traditions and rituals, planned and unplanned, strengthen community and deepen learning in a Montessori classroom.




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Middle School


The Middle School is fundamentally a skill-based program. Ultimately we desire for our students to leave Hilltop with highly honed skills of communication.  To that end our students practice writing in many different formats, they develop their voice in the realms of recitation, presentation, and outreach to the greater community, they are immersed in math and investigate its concepts, and explore identity, the connection to oneself, to ones community and place in the cosmos through many levels of self-expression.  We often call this myriad of skills the skills of the hand, heart and head. 


Although we consider all these skills practicable, there are several skills that we consistently labor upon that students constantly draw upon as they enter high school.  These are the skills of organization and time management.  As the semester comes to a close the necessity of building and practicing these skills becomes evident and obvious.  Students are engaged in many levels of ongoing projects and curricular strands.  They are in the final stages of their humanities research project, preparing their guardian poet presentations (which includes memorizing two of their poet's poems), working on spontaneous projects of every possible description, exploring their ancestry in the "Where Do I Come From" personal immigration project, writing poetry for the upcoming Poetry Café (December 18 at 7 pm, more memorization), along with the daily math, primary source readings, and literature that are a consistent part of our lives.


This is just to say that there is plenty going on and everyone is practicing or in some cases just learning that time management and organization are truly important skills to focus on and that the Middle School gives every student plenty of opportunity to develop these invaluable skills.












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Other of interest...

Hilltop Parent, Kurt Terrell, has dropped off some brochures for "Farm and Wilderness Camp". Kurt is the Development Director there. He wanted Hilltop families to know that Farm and Wilderness has an early bird deal for camp. If you sign up this winter for next summer, you pay last summer's rates. The brochures are in the rack by the front desk.


Also, Kid's Playce is offering 15% discount on membership for the month of December.  Regular yearly membership is $95, which includes all day passes, and discounts on some events.  So, now is a good time to join!  http://www.kidsplayce.org/



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Hilltop Montessori School