Lower El Hikes Black Mountain!

October 23, 2015


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Next Week at Hilltop
Notes from the Head of School
Toddler Program (TP)
Willow Room
Birch Room
Lower Elementary (LE)
Upper Elementary (UE)
Middle School (MS)
Elementary Art
Music Class
Physical Education
Middle School Soup
Hilltop Helpers
Community News
Next Week at Hilltop
Monday 10/26
Annual Fund Week!
School Picture Retakes
MS Home Soccer Game vs Grammar School

Tuesday 10/27
UE Home Soccer Game vs St Michaels
Cultural Cooking

Wednesday 10/28
Historical Fencing
Middle School Home Soccer Game vs St Michaels

Thursday 10/29
Video Club
LE Home Soccer Game vs St Michaels @ 3:45

Friday 10/30
Circus Arts
Spooky Costume Bowling Night

Check out the 2015-16 School Calendar 

Coming Up...

Monday 11/2
No School
Teacher In-Service Day

Friday 11/6
LE Field Trip to BEEC

Friday 11/13
Kids Night Out

Check out the Monday and Wednesday Middle School soccer game schedule here.

Notes from the Head of School

Amelia knows how to put the "FUN" in annual fund. On Thursday, we had a "Dog Day Afternoon!" - hot dogs for all. Things will officially start on Saturday with an email followed up by a week of fun encouragement and challenges.

Annual Fund is a critical component of our income! The additional revenue from Annual Fund allows us to provide the programs, staff, and facilities that we all value at Hilltop. Not everyone can afford the same size gift, so annual fund is a chance to participate to the extent you are able. 

One out of every two families receives financial aid allowing for the economic diversity that we value at Hilltop and want to increase. In order to continue and grow this funding we need to have a robust Annual Fund. Showing charitable foundations and other donors that our community supports the efforts with 100% participation is an important goal! Please participate at a level that is meaningful to you!

Dog Day Afternoon Photos
Toddler Program

Practical life in the Toddler Room...

Watering a plant
Cleaning a cloth

Scrubbing a chair

Willow Room

Have a great weekend!

Opal at the Orchard
Leo using the movable alphabet

Graham makes a Fall tree
Exploring a pumpkin

Rebecca makes popcorn to share for her birthday

Birch Room

One of the ways in which we care for ourselves, each other, and for our classroom is by preparing food.  Recently, the children in the Birch Room have begun making snack for one another.  Projects have ranged from simple apple cutting to larger baking projects in the kitchen. Thanks so much to Rosie (Caroline's mom) for making apple sauce and apple crumb with the children.  If you like cooking, and would like to make something with the children, let one of us know!

Have a great weekend!

Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam

Lower El

On Tuesday, Lower El hiked up Black Mountain in Dummerston. This hike was both a community building event and an opportunity to do some geology! During the next few weeks, as part of our Composition of the Earth study, we will be exploring the formation of mountains and other land features. Our hike helped us kick off this upcoming sequence of lessons. As we sat on the hard granite that is Black Mountain, we learned the story of the mountain. We imagined sitting at the bottom of an ancient sea 500 million years ago, the bottom of ten miles of rock 350 million years ago, and the bottom of two miles of ice 100,000 years ago. We examined the marks left by the glacier and observed the unique types of vegetation that now live in the dry, acidic soils of Black Mountain's summit. In the upcoming weeks, we will explore some of the concepts introduced in the story of Black Mountain more closely in the classroom.

Here are some photos from the hike, enjoy!

Upper El

It has been a busy couple of weeks for the Upper El. Last week students shared their early human presentations, hosted our first Authors' Tea of the year, and traveled down to New Haven, CT to the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale. Whew! At the museum, students participated in a guided tour of the human evolution exhibit. Students had many questions for our guide. After lunch students toured other parts of the museum. A special highlight was seeing James Audubon's folio, Birds of America, which figures prominently in the sixths' current seminar book. Thank you to all of the parents who were able to join us for our Authors' Tea. Thank you also to those parents who joined us on our field trip.

Author's Tea photos:

Middle School

We are in the thick of conferences, which have been full of carefully prepared, organized, and honest reflections of every individual student's growth.  It is always inspiring to witness the growing independence, responsibility, and critical thinking that each middle school student so clearly demonstrates in their conference.

We are turning a corner on Monday, leaving Upland behind (we'll be back in June) and moving into an intensive study of community.  But before we go, we are leaving you with a photo of our farewell day in Upland last Tuesday and an exciting soccer game from last week. Enjoy.

Elementary Art

This year the Elementary art curriculum has shifted to the Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) model. The TAB model of art instruction provides for greater student choice and independence while still providing a structured curriculum for children. Each class begins with a short mini-lesson introducing a new material, skill, or concept. At the end of the lesson, the teacher presents a couple of possible projects related to the lesson. Students may choose to engage in one of these projects or they may choose to work on a project of their own design in one of the many 'centers' in the studio. The art studio is divided into a number of different centers - drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking and book arts, textile arts, and collage. These centers are gradually 'opened' to students throughout the year. When a center is opened, students are introduced to the materials in that center and are given mini-lessons related to that field of art.

Throughout the year, some students may work in a variety of centers, while others may choose to focus their efforts in only a couple of centers. In addition to mini-lessons at the beginning of class, the teacher also provides lessons on a particular skill or medium when he observes a child's or group of children's need for that lesson. The TAB model of instruction allows for students to better explore their own artistic interests and voice. It also allows the teacher to better support each child's individual artistic growth.

Students' response to this shift in the art curriculum has been very positive. Some students have worked on a new piece of art every week while others have worked on the same project for several weeks. Some students have been working with a different medium or technique, but exploring the same theme week after week. An unexpected result of this curricular shift has been a dramatic increase in students' interest in each other's work. More than ever before, students want to see what other students have been working on during class. This engagement in each other's work has created more enthusiasm for the work of making art.

-Dan Filler


This past summer I participated in a week´┐Ż-long workshop entitled "Song Circles", led by Bobby McFerrin and members of his acapella group "Voicestra." It was an amazing experience made possible by a school grant from the Wheeler Fund. This workshop explored the different ways to use our bodies as expressive instruments through voice, body percussion, and movement.

Although the focus of the workshop was on vocal performance for adults, I 
came away with many creative ideas on teaching music at Hilltop, both vocally and
instrumentally. One example of this was a music elective class offered to Upper El students that just wrapped up. This six-week elective focused on vocal improvisation. One of the activities we participated in were improvised "Circle Songs." Developed by Bobby McFerrin, these are improvised, spontaneous, multi-part songs. The different layers of vocal lines create a musical piece that is fun, inspirational, and rhythmic. Each week the students gained more and more confidence with both their ostinatos (a repeating vocal phrase) and leading skills from week to week. The students  supported each other in their respective journeys with much care.

A favorite exercise during the elective was the "create a song to a word" exercise. During this activity, each student wrote a word on a piece of paper, folded it up, and put in a hat. Then, each child took turns choosing a piece of paper from the hat, and individually created a spontaneous song with that word in mind. The rest of the class then tried to guess what the word was. As you might imagine, this process involved a bit of risk-taking! The solo improvisations that students created were thoughtful, poetic and musical. There were times when the beauty of their art brought me chills. I have been inspired, both by their courage as well as their innate musicianship. I am looking forward to bringing more of my summer experiences to our next elective - creating music with iPads.

-Jay Cook

Physical Education

The Physical Education program at Hilltop develops students physical fitness in a variety of ways. This fall we mixed it up using games that build team-respect (games with ropes, logs, and group trust games), and hand, feet, and eye coordination (this fall we played soccer, hand-ball, and rugby), along with activities that challenge the mind (clapping circles and beanbag games), develop physical awareness (meditation) and develop a long-lasting love of the outdoors (hikes and trail runs). 

-Ben James

Soccer ball fishy, fishy, cross my ocean
Special guest, Ben Williams, teaches touch rugby.

Log moving, it takes a team to get the job done!
Closing circle, 5 senses meditation

A dedicated early morning soccer player
Flash flood! Everyone off the ground in 5 seconds!

The Upper El 
Soccer Team Celebrates an AWESOME Third Place Finish at the Putney Soccer Tournament Last Weekend! Way to go!

Middle School Soup

Starting October 30th the middle school will be selling soup every Friday! After school we will be selling delicious homemade soup at the pick up circle. The soups will include: Potato Leek, Butternut Squash, West African Peanut, Tomato Lentil, Black Bean and Corn Chowder.
All the soups are vegan and gluten-free! The money made will go toward our Boston odyssey. So when you buy family dinner, you will be helping us have life changing connections. The soups cost is $8 a jar.

You can sign up for a subscription at the front desk. With a subscription you will have a soup ready for you every Friday for seven weeks. The cost is $56 for one jar a week and $102 for two jars. 

Forms are due October 28th. If you want hot soup every week guaranteed to be there, just fill out the form at the front desk! You'll be glad you did! We are excited and we hope you are as well!

Hilltop Helpers

Hilltop Montessori School has a wonderful group of helpful families supporting each other in many ways: carpools, meals in time of need, hand-me-down snow pants, etc. We would like to provide this space in the newsletter as a place that people can share needs and "gifts" with the rest of the Hilltop community. 

If you have a need, or a service or item to offer, let the FRONT DESK know and we'll get it in the newsletter!

Stackable Washer/Dryer
One of our LE teachers, Kerstin Kjellberg, is looking for a stackable Washer and Dryer set. If you have one, and are willing and ready to part with it, or know of someone who is, please contact Kerstin.

Community News

Youth Battle of the Bands 
Area youth bands can launch their musical careers by competing at Youth Services' Battle of the Bands at the River Garden on Friday, November 6, during Gallery Walk night, from 7 to 10 p.m.  For more information, contact Nanci Leitch.

Free 5-Week Parenting Education Series
A six session Parenting Class sponsored by Building Bright Futures, The Winston Prouty Center, and Wyndham Southeast Supervisory Union called Positive Parenting Solutions is beginning on October 27th. This is for parents of children ages 3-6 years old. Dinner and child care will be provided. Everything is free! Flyers at the front desk.

Express Fluency is now offering French classes!
Did you "take" French in school but struggle to speak it? Do you travel to Quebec or France and want to be more comfortable speaking? We are offering an Intermediate French weekend intensive in Brattleboro. Come to a FREE class to get a better sense of this different way to learn a language.  Monday from 7-8pm, Main Street in Brattleboro. For more information at www.expressfluency.com or call 

Hilltop Montessori School