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 April 10, 2015


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Next Week at Hilltop
2015-16 Calendar
Notes from Tamara
Summer Fun
Tiny House
Board Parent Night
Toddler Room
Willow & Birch Rooms
Middle School
Community News
Next Week at Hilltop

Ultimate Frisbee 

Girls on the Run

Tennis 3:30-4:30

Ultimate Frisbee 

NO All School Gathering 

Girls on the Run 3-4:30

LAST Drum Circle 

UE Play 5-6


Tiny House Build 
Day #2!

Enjoy April Break!
See you on Tuesday the 28th! 

2015-16 School Calendar
For those of you who like to plan ahead, the 2015-16 calendar is ready. Click here for a pdf.

*Please note that fall Grandparents' and Special Friends' Day has moved from Thanksgiving week to the Friday before Fall Foliage Day. Save the date.

Notes from Head of School 
Montessori Beginning Reading Materials and Lessons
Many parents have asked about the information covered in the Curriculum Night we had on our Language Program. This video, titled "The Montessori Language Program", includes many of the topics we covered for the younger programs. While it won't include the connection to our teachers that many find so valuable in our parent education nights, it does give you the basics of what is covered in our classrooms as we prepare and launch students on the road to reading.

Montessori Tenet of "Do Not Disturb"
One of the most important components of an authentic Montessori program is a long uninterrupted work cycle. The reason for this is to embrace and increase a child's ability to concentrate. When a child is focused and developing the mind with their activity, we want to encourage that, not interrupt with a group activity or a request to do something else. In the Children's House this week, there were many new "works" fitting with the new Spring season. It was so affirming to see children pouring, scooping, and spooning with rapt attention. I also observed Cheryl giving a lesson on numbers with a couple of Middlers. This activity quickly caught fire and children continued with the activity on their own, with older children leading the activity for new younger ones. Seeing a Montessori classroom in action is a beautiful thing!

You can further increase your child's concentration at home by interrupting them as little as possible. If they are involved in something with their hands, observe and enjoy. Then afterwards, give them quiet freedom to sit with the work after completion, not rush them on. This is not always easy to do in our rushed lives, but I hope this reminder serves to help you value that time and freedom.

 Come join us for SummerFun!

We are excited for new offerings such as Fun with Fabric, Land Art, Java Programming and Backwoods Basics! Additionally, we are proud to offer a Montessori work cycle in the mornings for ages 3-6. This will include Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, Science and Geography. Find out more about SummerFun on our website
Thank you!

Tiny House 
$3700.00 raised so far!

Please share the link with friends and family:  
Want to help build the Tiny House? Email Amelia if you want to join the fun! 

Parent Confab Night



Wednesday, April 29th, 6-8 p.m. 
Please join us during an open Board Meeting and participate in planning for the future of our school!

Childcare will be available.

You're not going to want to miss this!
Tickets are on sale NOW for our "Vintage Swing Gala and Auction"!  You can purchase at the front desk or on line at

Please join Hilltop and the community at large Friday, May 22nd from 6-10 p.m. for a night of swing style dancing featuring local musicians, Jazzberry Jam, which includes our very own Jay Cook!

If you'd like us to send someone outside of the Hilltop community an invitation, let Amelia know.

Toddler Room

This week we (and our colleagues from Birch Room) had the opportunity to attend a workshop presented by Scott Noyes called Intentional Language: Understanding the Words We Use with Children.  

Essentially using intentional language is being mindful of the words we use when communicating.  During the workshop we discussed a list of common things people often say to young children and what phrases are better to say instead and why.  Here are a few examples.

1. "Good boy" - This sends the message to the child that being loved or "good" is tied to being loved.  It's also too vague and Noyes recommends avoiding needless comments on gender.  

So what do we say instead?  Be specific! "You offered to help Imogen open her containers at lunch; you are a thoughtful friend."

2. "You need to share" - When we force relinquishment, children learn to guard what's theirs and develop a negative attitude about sharing.  Sharing is also a pretty sophisticated concept - Noyes said most girls learn to share successfully around 6 years of age and boys sometime after that - demanding young children to share is beyond their capabilities.  Forcing a child to give up something in the name of sharing also robs him of the opportunity to practice focusing for long stretches of time and the opportunity for the other child to experience delayed gratification. 

So what's a better way?  Encourage the child to say something like, "I'll let you know when I am done" and don't require sharing.

3. "She's so cute!" - Our society supports this notion that people are important because of their appearance.  It's damaging and limiting: 1) the child learns her value is based on appearance which can also lead to a sense of entitlement and 2) those children who aren't complimented are excluded. 

So what do we say instead?  Make compliments in a personal way - do not announce a sentiment in front of a group (14 inches away, not 14 feet away). Let a child know why you care about and appreciate her outside her physical appearance.  "I noticed that you've been practicing your coat flip and now you can put it on all by yourself!  You're persistent!"

Have a good weekend!
Ellie & Hannah

Willow & Birch Rooms

Thanks so much to all of you who came to our recent curriculum night.  The Birch and Willow Room teams wanted to share some more information about our literacy work in Children's House with you.  For those of you who couldn't make the literacy night, this should give you a quick of overview of what we covered.

Sensorial Preparation for Writing

Many of the sensorial exercises by their very nature are a remote preparation for academic learning.  For example, the child who has learned to match sounds in the sound cylinders will be able to perceive subtle differences in the sounds of the letters.  Of equal importance to language skills are the geometric solids which help the child to concentrate on different shapes, and shape is the defining characteristic of each letter of the alphabet.  Vocabulary building is also an important part of this activity.  Children love the challenge of words such as pyramid, cylinder, or ovoid, which they learn easily when they can hold a pyramid in their hands.  This is vocabulary based on concrete representations as opposed to learning it as an abstract word.  

Learning to Write

To be able to write is a threefold skill.  The child must commit to memory the shape of the letters, connect the shape to the corresponding sound ("s" looks a certain way and has a particular sound), and finally have the muscular skill necessary for holding the pencil and writing the letter.  For a child to develop all these skills simultaneously is often discouraging and frustrating.  Dr. Montessori developed materials which are designed to offer the child the opportunity to learn the shapes and sounds independently from the motor skill.  Children learn the shape of the letters first by tracing the sandpaper letters with their fingers and simultaneously voicing the sound the letter makes, thus learning kinesthetically and auditorally.  The Metal Insets provide an opportunity for the child to practice using a pencil by tracing geometric shapes, and the Movable Alphabet allows children to match objects to individual cardboard letters.  These are purposeful, structured activities that engage the child in discrete tasks with the ultimate outcome of writing letters and words.

From Writing to Reading

The child continues working with the Movable Alphabet, gradually building words instead of matching isolated sounds.  First the child selects an object, such as a miniature bed, says the name of it slowly to hear each sound and then selects the letters to represent the sounds - b...e...d.  This child stays in this word building process for a long period of time.  Gradually the difficulty of the words increase from three to four letter words.  The shift from encoding (building the word l...a...m...p) to decoding (reading the word "lamp") follows naturally, and soon the child is matching words to pictures rather than building the words.  Common irregular words (the, of) are presented in a variety of exercises (labeling the environment, nomenclature books) and games or when the child asks for them in a writing activity.

Reading Development

Some children begin the reading process at four, some at seven.  The actual age is not as important as the moment of readiness - what Maria  Montessori calls the "sensitive period."  In the freedom of a Montessori environment reading is a process that evolves when a child is developmentally ready using carefully designed materials that encourage success.

-From the Northeast Montessori Institute

Enjoy your weekend!

Cheryl, Serina, Jonathan, Rebecca, and Mariam

Addie practices her writing

Ayla and Sebastian work on vowel sounds

MJ works on a metal inset

Sophia uses the moveable alphabet

Jonathan demonstrates tracing letters with Claire 

Claire independently traces letters!


Lower El

This week in word study lessons, we focused on capital letters.  Older students reviewed the sometimes-confusing idea that names of structures and brands are capitalized.  "Fenway Park," "T. D. Garden," "Fast Eddie's," and "Ben and Jerry's" gives you some indication of where our interests lie!  

Younger students were introduced to the small bead frame, and were thrilled to be moving on to this more abstract material.  This week, they practiced making and writing numbers, but static and dynamic addition will come soon.  Middlers and Olders have been adding fractions, with the older students working on adding fractions with unlike denominators.  Younger students had the opportunity to play a fraction game with Becky on Thursday afternoon.  

Name-calling rears its head every now and then in Lower El, and this week, we addressed this in our community meeting.  When sitting in circle and participating in a respectful and peaceful meeting, everyone understands that name-calling is unkind and hurtful.  We all know how to act kindly, but practicing this every day is the difficult part.  To be more aware of our words and the effect they can have on people, we have drawn up a pledge against name-calling.  Those who believe they can commit to standing up against name-calling, both face-to-face and of the gossip variety, will sign this pledge.  Our emphasis is on the word "commit."  The effort and awareness is important, as we make more of a conscious effort to pay attention to the words that come out of our mouths.  

MISSING BOG BOOTS: Those black Bog boots are still missing.  They are a women's size 6, and our student would really like them back.  PLEASE check your mud rooms and closets for this essential mud season foot gear, and return it to Lower El if you should find it.  Thanks. 

WORK RUG WASHING:  Our work rugs have been through a lot, and are showing it.  If you are able to take some or all of them home and run them through your washing machine, we would be grateful.  We can deliver them right to your car door.  Picking them up on Fridays and returning them on Mondays would be ideal, but we would welcome any day.  

On Monday, Marcy Schepker, our visiting fiber artist, will begin her week-long workshop.  Our mornings will be given over to creating felt wall hangings that feature our subjects of study.  It should be an exciting time!  

Enjoy your weekend.
Kerstin and Patrick


Upper El

Upper El is working away on their play - the writing and casting is done and the set and costumes are in progress!

Come see the performance at on Thursday, April 16 at 5 p.m., with a potluck to follow!


Middle School 


The Middle School is in Alabama on Day Three of their Odyssey that is the culmination of their Civil Rights study. Follow their daily adventures on the Hilltop's School In Action page.


Community News

SummerFun Swim Instructor/Lifeguard Wanted 

We are currently searching for an energetic and experienced swim instructor/

lifeguard to join our team of camp counselors. The position will be part-time for 6 weeks, M-F, plus a possible extra few days for set-up before and clean-up after camp ends. The dates are:

June 22-26
June 29-July 3
July 6-8
July 13-17
July 20-24
July 27-31

Approximately 20 hours per week: 10 hours teaching daily swim lessons to 3-5 year olds at Hilltop; additional hours will be lifeguarding for the 6-12 year olds at Memorial Park. Candidates must have First Aid, CPR and lifeguarding certification. Please contact Becky Eisenhander if interested.



Hilltop Montessori School