A Monthly E-newsletter Providing Useful Information to Caring Parents of Enrolled Students
© Copyright 2016 May 2016


May 2016

Welcome Spring!

You can tell by the “surprise” storms that spring has sprung! And with the buds and daffodils come multitudinous plans for the school year’s end. We will be asking for your help often in the last few weeks of school so be sure to look over the “Mark Your Calendar” section and add all events that apply to you to your own May calendars! And try to take some time from this busy schedule to smell the blossoms with your child.



The Outdoor Classroom

by Duna Strachan, MEd

Now that the weather is warming it’s time to start taking advantage of the outdoor classroom again. For toddlers this means stopping to look at the flowers pushing their way out of the ground, the first bugs waking up and the new buds. For early childhood students it means more walking, biking and hiking, exploring what’s new in the surrounding gardens and parks and helping to plan camping trips. For elementary students the outdoors is a great place to sketch, to write, to practice music, to climb trees and build hide-outs. At our school we make a point of getting outside whenever possible. It’s important to have real experiences in nature to confirm what we have studied, to notice something new and to make a connection with our planet.

When I speak to a group of people I often ask them for favorite childhood memories. At one conference of Montessorians I heard about a child dancing in the rain in Singapore, another playing in the wind on the beach in Pakistan, another eating fruit right off the vine in Michigan. No one ever says their favorite childhood memory was watching a movie or playing a video game or staying in a hotel. It’s always climbing trees and catching frogs and playing in the garden. When my son was in about 8th grade he told me that his favorite memory of going to Soaring Wings was the time he and his buddies dug a gigantic hole on the playground. I was disappointed that he hadn’t mentioned the bead chains or one of my stunning geography presentations. A few years ago when he was 23 years old, he sent me a text message that said, “My favorite thing at Soaring Wings was when we listened to the trees with a stethoscope.” Still nothing to do with the expensive materials or the fabulous curriculum, but a simple outdoor activity.

The April 2008 Scientific American reported;

“Americans are losing interest in going outdoors. Visits to parks and forests…peaked between 1981 and 1991 after 50 years of steady increase. Since then they have been declining…an overall drop of as much as 25%.”

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods says:
“A growing body of evidence indicates that direct exposure to nature is essential for physical and emotional health.”

He points out that the increasing occurence of learning disorders in young children is in inverse proportion to the amount of time children are spending outside in unstructured experimentation with nature. Digging, climbing, building forts…we considered this to be just messing around when we were kids, but it turns out we needed that time with the Earth.

Most of us live in Utah because we so value the natural beauty of the place. But Louv points out that our children may not grow up to value the wilderness we have carefully set aside for them if we don’t make sure they, too, have a connection with the Earth.

This month the toddler classes will be taking “toddler walks” – toddler-paced explorations of the surrounding environs, Early Childhood is going to the Tracy Aviary and Elementary is spending the better part of a week applying the year’s curriculum to practical experience in the desert, canyoneering and on the river in Moab. As you plan your summer remember to leave lots of unstructured time for your children to mess around outside. Consider keeping a box of camping equipment at the ready so you can just throw in some hot dogs and head into the Uintahs or out to the desert even just for the night. Summer in these mountains is a magnificent thing. Make sure you grab a few nights under the stars for those childhood memories to come.



El Nido News

News from the Parent/Infant Class

In May we bring our year’s discussions full circle with a description of the planes of development. Or, what to expect as your child grows up. There are still a couple more classes in May if you’ve not tried this class yet. They meet Fridays any time that’s convenient for you and your baby between 8:30 am and 11:30. Contact lina@soaringwings.org if you’d like to join.




Toddler Time

Tadpoles and Sunflowers Classes

Our toddlers have gained much over the past school year. Most have mastered simple sorting tasks, spooning, pouring and wiping up spills. They can dress themselves independently and are responsible for putting their materials back where they belong. They have dabbled in various forms of artistic expression and have been working diligently on colors, shapes, numbers, letters and recognizing their names. If you have taken some time to “Montessori-ize” your home, you have seen your child gain confidence and independence in being able to choose clothing, put toys where they belong and help with simple cleaning tasks. As you prepare for vacation this summer, plan to arrange for your child to continue practicing what she has learned this year.

With a small cutting board and a butter knife your child can slice bananas for a fruit salad and spread cream cheese or peanutbutter for a snack. With a small broom, dust pan, a sponge cut in half and a wash cloth cut in quarters she can clean up spills on her own. With a small bucket and a nail brush she can keep her sand toys well scrubbed and help clean off the patio table.

Many of our students who are three and older are enjoying working on letters and numbers. Try writing lower case alphabet letters, one at a time in the sand, with chalk on the sidewalk or on paper and challenging your child to find something that starts with that sound – “b” for ball or bat or baby. You can play number games in the same way – ask your child to find 3 rocks, 3 leaves or 3 sea shells.

Summer is a great time to take “Toddler Walks” which means exploring the natural world at the toddler’s pace, taking time to notice the texture of stones, bark and leaves and to watch the ants at work. Time in the car is well spent singing favorite songs, playing “I Spy”, reading aloud and playing with a home-made “mystery bag.” This can be made from a sock or draw string bag with objects inside which the child tries to identify by touch only. Great mystery bag objects could include shells, stones, small toys, pom poms, clothespins, plastic eating utensils; anything that has a distinctive shape and texture. Most of all, give your toddler opportunities to make her own choices and allow time for her to complete her activities at her own pace. Have a wonderful, toddler-paced summer!



Early Childhood Calendar

News from the Cottonwoods, Rainbows, Turquoise and Peacocks Classes

We’re rapidly approaching the end of the year. Here’s what we will cover over the next few weeks:

Monday – Music
We’ve gone from working with rhythm to hearing the emotions of Mozart and the storytelling of Tchaikovsky. We covered “The Nutcracker”, “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty”, as well as Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”, listening to the music again and again in class. The children were impressed that a little Russian boy was able to envision such beautiful fairy tales and later tell them through music. If you enjoy the ballet be sure and catch one with your child the next time it is around.

In May we’ll study Grofe’s “Grand Canyon Suite” and finish up with some modern composers. Possibly John Lennon, Shakira, Taylor Swift…Prince? Who does your child like to listen to? Besides Disney?

Tuesday – Seasons
During May we’ll study the parts of flowers and work on our garden. If you have any fresh flowers to contribute, we’ll use them for dissecting, looking at under a microscope and flower arranging.

Wednesday – Geography
In May we’ll study Australia (including surrounding islands) and have a little time left over for Antarctica. As always, please share any artifacts or ideas for guest speakers from these continents.

Thursday – Poetry
Now that we know many of R.L. Stevenson’s and Shel Silverstein’s poems almost by heart, we’ll see what the children can make of Emily Dickinson. They are usually very adept at interpreting her “riddles” and are fascinated with her peculiarities.

Friday – Biology
Daily observations of our classroom birds and lessons on bird anatomy and specializations has prepared us for a trip to the Tracy Aviary at Liberty Park on May 12th (see below). We’ll be noticing how each bird has unique adaptations that enable it to eat, hide, mate and raise young in a particular environment. Through May we will be studying mammals, including  visits with Buddy the chinchilla and concluding with a short “Me” unit, and discussing our place as animals in the ecosystems of Earth.

Last Field Trip
On May 12th from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. we will make our annual trip to the Tracy Aviary followed by a picnic in Liberty Park. Remember school t-shirts, sack lunches (no backpacks or Tupperware, please) and remember to apply sun screen. Water shoes or sandals are great for wading in the pond. We’ll need drivers too. Drivers should bring a bag in which to carry lunches, a first aid kit, a water bottle, spare pants, a cell phone and $8 admission. See the sign-ups on the classroom doors if you can help. This is always a really fun field trip.



Lower Elementary Lowdown

News from the Moose Tracks Class

Monday – History
The Elementary Class is concluding their study of recorded history by writing their own autobiographies during the last few weeks of school.

Tuesday – Geography
We wrap up our geography unit with a study of Australia. We’ll have just enough time for a look at Antarctica before we adjourn for the summer.

Wednesday – Healthy Lifestyles
We plan to take advantage of the warmer weather to work on outdoor game skills between planning for the Moab River Trip, choreographing our Closing Ceremonies dance and concluding with our peaceful living activities.

Thursday – Biology
We will wrap up the Biology sequence with a look at mammals and our role in our ecosystem. In true Montessori tradition we will confirm our observations of how ecosystems work with our annual Moab River Trip.

Friday – Field Trips and Mother’s & Father’s Day Fun!
We have lots of fun Friday adventures planned for the remainder of the school year, including admiring our artwork at the Kimball Art Center, rafting down the Colorado River, communing with nature at Swaner Nature Preserve and our annual trip to El Restaurante where we will order and enjoy our almuerzo en Espanol!

Moms, plan to join us for our Muffins with Mom on Friday May 6th, 2:30 – 3:00pm.

Dads,  please come to our Father’s Field Day Friday May 27th, 11:15 – 12:00.


Spring River Trip
May 12th – 14th we’ll be applying our outdoor curriculum during our annual Spring Moab River Trip. This trip solidifies and polishes the year’s social and academic work. Air out your camping gear and bring your favorite campfire stories!

SW Children’s Fair
The Fair is coming up June 5th, so plan to stick around after Closing Ceremonies! Elementary students will be helping with games and performing at the bandstand. Plan to be at school 10:30 am – 3:00 pm on the 5th to support your little fund-raiser, rain or shine!

Thanks to our dedicated parents who all give something of themselves to make our classes an exceptional place for learning and establishing friendships for life.



Upper Elementary Update

News from the Owl’s Nest Class

Monday – History
The Upper Elementary Class is working on a culminating project including what they have learned in all areas over the school year.  This will be the last chapter in their school year’s recorded history and each edition will be unique.
Tuesday – Geography
We wrap up our geography unit with a closer look at the species and cultures of Australia. We’ll have just enough time for a look at Antarctica before we adjourn for the summer.

Wednesday – Healthy Lifestyles
We learned so much about ourselves, each other and our environment from our trip to the Teton School of Science.  We will take this into our Closing Ceremonies performance, concluding with our peaceful living activities.

Thursday – Biology
We will wrap up the Biology sequence with a look at mammals and our role in our ecosystem, and our place in the universe.

Friday – Field Trips and Mother’s & Father’s Day Fun!
We have lots of fun Friday adventures planned for the remainder of the school year, including admiring our artwork at the Kimball Art Center and our annual trip to El Restaurante where we will order and enjoy our almuerzo en Espanol!

Moms, plan to join us for our Muffins with Mom on Friday May 6th, 2:30 – 3:00pm.

Dads, please come to our Father’s Field Day Friday May 27th, 11:15 – 12:00.


Toilets for Africa – Our latest fund-raising enterprise is doing well. We hope to not only support the school in Kenya by funding additional toilets, but eventually visit and lend a hand in person.

Thank you, Jenny, Lisa and Michelle for your unflagging support! We couldn’t do this without you and we love having you with us!



wb00727_Out of the Mouths…


“What do you love about spring?”

asked in the Moose Tracks Class (6 to 9 years old)

Peyton – Easter.
Ryder – The flowers and the trees.
Oliver – Animals.
Tarver – New shoes.
Victoria – All the flowers growing.
Jimmy – All the leaves coming out.
Christopher – I can start wearing shorts again.
Jack – The flowers.
Rhys – Biking, soccer, baseball and ping pong.
Maya – I like the leaves.
Zoey – We can play outside.
Madi – Biking.
Gavin – We get to play in the mud.
Blake – I like all the blossoming flowers.
Clyde – I like that I get to play soccer and football.
Elle – I get to play with my mom, dad and puppies outside.

And those over 9 years old say…
Lori – I love the sun.
Ari – Spring powder days.
Natalija – The blossoms.
Nichol – Running in the sunshine.
Tama – Seeing wildlife.
Michelle – Rushing rivers.
Shannon – New plants and flowers!
Molly – Birds chirping.
Cassie – The promise of sunshine.
Duna – The cranes and raptors and muskrats and ducks and woodpeckers and goldfinches and frogs and deer and raccoons all making a ruckus in my backyard.
Lina – My lilacs. And getting out of town with my handsome hubby.
Amy – Summer is coming.


wb00727_Mark Your Calendar

May 2nd – 6th…
Wellness Week! Make a wish for wellness by encouraging your children to scrounge the sofa cushions, junk drawers and floor of the car for change to toss into our Wishing Well in the lobby. There are also wishing stones available for larger pledges. Friday will feature a Jump-a-thon by elementary students. Proceeds will be counted by the elementary students led by our own warrior for wellness, Rhys Schillinger, and donated to Make-a-Wish in honor of his own wish experience and triumph over cancer. Teachers will focus on wellness practices at school. We invite you to hold a family dinner table review of your own healthy practices this week, too!

May 5th…
Toddler and EC Mothers’ Tea Parties (look for invitations to come home soon)   

*Sunflowers & Tadpoles Toddler Classes 11:00am

*EC classes: Peacocks 9:30, Turquoise 10:00, Rainbow 10:30 and Cottonwoods 11:00am. 

*Moose Tracks Elementary Class 2:45 – 3:15pm 

May 6th…
Moose Tracks and Owl’s Nest Elementary Class Muffins with Mom 2:30 – 3:00pm (look for invitations to come home soon)  

May 7th…
Happy Birthday, Bruce!

May 12th – 14th 
Moose Tracks Lower Elementary Class Family River Trip! The class, teachers and parents will be incommunicado in Moab exploring the outdoor classroom portion of the curriculum. They’ll return tanned, dirty and happy on the 14th.

May 12th…
Early Childhood Field Trip to Tracy Aviary, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 pm, rain or shine! Children need SWIMS t-shirts, disposable lunches and a coat of sun screen. Water shoes are great for wading in the fountain. Drivers need a bag in which to carry lunches, water bottle, spare pants, first aid kit, a cell phone and $8 admission.  Please pick up all students at school by 2:00 pm.

May 18th...
Yearbook orders due!

May 27th…
Moose Tracks and Owl’s Nest Elementary Classes Fathers’ Field Day 11:15 – 12:00. 

May 30th…
Memorial Day, No School

May 29th – June 4th…
Soaring Wings TV Turnoff Week. Go outside and play!

June 3rd…
Closing Ceremonies

8:30 – 9:00 am – Sunflowers and Tadpole Toddler Classes students and families
9:00 – 9:30 am – Peacock EC Class students and families
9:30 – 10:00 am – Turquoise EC Class students and families
10:00 – 10:30 am – Rainbow EC Class students and families
10:30 – 11:00 am – Cottonwood EC Class students and families
11:00 – 11:30 am – Moose Tracks and Owl’s Nest Elementary Class students and families

Closing Ceremonies and Graduation for those who have completed their current program of study (Graduates are those students who are 3 years old/ready for Early Childhood Class, 6 years old/ready for Lower Elementary Class, 9 years old/ready for Upper Elementary Class or 12 years old/ready for 7th grade). Everyone is welcome and graduates have an important role to play. Ceremonies are staggered to allow for parking. There is overflow parking to the south at Knoop Park.

June 5th…
23rd Annual Soaring Wings Children’s Fair, 10:30 am- 3:00 pm, at SWIMS, rain or shine! Set-up is 8:30 am, clean-up is 3:00 pm. Come support your school and your planet! 

July 5th – 29th…Summer Camp

August 28th…Open House!

August 29th…School begins again – Have a terrific summer!

wb00727_School Bulletin Board

Closing Ceremonies 
Closing Ceremonies will be simple. Each class will host their own brief ceremony on Friday June 3rd. You and your family are welcome to join us. Please let us know right away if you don’t plan to attend. 

8:30 – 9:00 am – Sunflowers and Tadpole Toddler Classes students and families
9:00 – 9:30 am – Peacock EC Class students and families
9:30 – 10:00 am – Turquoise EC Class students and families
10:00 – 10:30 am – Rainbow EC Class students and families
10:30 – 11:00 am – Cottonwood EC Class students and families
11:00 – 11:30 am – Moose Tracks and Owl’s Nest Elementary Class students and families. Please drop off elementary students by 8:45 in costume!

Graduates (those children who have completed their current program of study: 3 years old/ready for Early Childhood, 6 years old/ready for Lower Elementary, 9 years old/ready for Upper Elementary or 12 years old and ready for 7th grade) will take part in a simple ceremony honoring their achievement followed by dismissal…until the Fair on Sunday!

Park City Children’s Fair
The 23rd Annual Park City Children’s Fair will be held Sunday, June 5th, 10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at SWIMS. Since this is the Sunday after school is out, go ahead and pack up the family wagon, but don’t hit the dusty trail until afterward! We are downsizing our Fair this year and making it more of a SWIMS party. We will have all the favorites – pony rides, inflatables, petting zoo and games but there will be no tickets. Come and play all day!

The Fair Committee headed by Lina Singleton has a fantastic line up this year. Jill Warburton, Christine Eschenfelder, Phil Kaplan, Courtney Williams, Christina Boyle, Lee Singleton, Leah Linebarger, Ari Alba and Michelle Aldrich are working to line up fun, games and pony rides. We’ll soon be asking virtually every student, teacher and parent to help as well.

The Fair is an event for which the students take ownership. Every student can distribute fliers and help with class art projects for the auction. Elementary students have leant their designs to the fliers, and will help run game booths. All ec classes and elementary will soon begin rehearsing for performances scheduled throughout the day at the bandstand. The elementary classes will make up a budget of proceeds and decide how to appropriate them to the organizations of the Children’s Planet Fund (including Recycle Utah, Summit County Library, Adopt-a-Native Elder,  Soaring Wings Teacher/Student Enrichment and Plan International). These are all child- and environment-oriented groups that students have chosen to support and with whom they interact throughout the school year.

Of course there is a lot of adult preparation that goes into the Fair but the children play a significant role in raising the money that they then personally donate to organizations that make their world a better place. Our graduates often go on to roles of leadership in their community and the Children’s Fair is a great first experience in how they can make a difference in their world. So plan to round up some auction items, invite your family and friends and come to the Fair on June 5th. Thanks in advance for your valuable support!!

Thank You, Fair Sponsors!
Thank you to the following families for getting our sponsorship drive off to a great start. Your generosity means much in putting on this event. Just drop your donation in any amount (checks payable to SWPTSO) in the envelope on the poster in the lobby or give to any teacher if you would like to contribute.

Babalis/Stoner   Backman/Darby    Barber    Cashiola     Christopulos    Harbour     Johnson/Schneider     Kaplan    Kohler    Miller/Gitlin    Mullins    Nichols    Portnoy    Ritchie     Samuelson   Shewell      Singleton     Warburton     Windemuth

SAT Testing
SAT testing is complete for another year and once again we are amazed at what these children can do. Our group of kindergarten year students tested at 2nd grade level on the battery of reading, math, science and listening skills. These results help us evaluate and adjust our curriculum content and delivery. Check out the cumulative results on our website, www.soaringwings.org. Thank you for your support with this process.

Teacher Appreciators Appreciated
Special thanks to parent volunteers Kelsi Mellor, Nancy Nichols, Meaghan Miller, Molly White, Maren Mullin, Jessica Darby, Kelly Davis, Maressa Hernandez, Carolyn Nir, Jill Warburton, Kirsty Rosevear, Tamar Economides, Laurie Podmilsak, Bree Martin, Courtney Williams, Annie Cashiola, Heidi St Rodgers, Kristin Hale, Tyrene Christopulos and Jenny Samuelson for organizing the week of surprises for teachers and staff.

TV Turn-off
We’ll have our own Soaring Wings TV Turnoff Week the week of May29th – June 4th. That will enable you to spend the week drawing, reading, playing, hiking and biking with your family instead of watching TV. It will also be a good time to pass out some flyers for the Children’s Fair!

Lunch Time
Now that it is spring we will be having lunch outside most days. Please make sure your child packs a lunch that includes a spoon or fork, if necessary, and does not need heating. It is so disappointing to get all the way outside and sit down to find that you have cold soup for lunch and no spoon!

Special thanks to editors Leah Morisi, Tama D’Angelo, Amy Warren, the Moose Tracks Elementary Class and their team of volunteers for putting together this year’s yearbook. It’s a huge project that Leah, Tama and Amy have organized into a streamlined process. The books will be beautiful hand crafted souveniers of our school year. Be sure to turn in your order for books and ads by May 18th! Children will sign each other’s books in class during the last week of school. Teachers do their best to keep the few who don’t have yearbooks from feeling left out, but it’s a tough task. Remember to get your orders in on time!

Natalija Djunic is just days away from completing her masters in education at Westminster College. Her thesis is on reading in early childhood and she has been a huge support in strengthening our program this year.  Well done, Natalija!

Cassie Vultaggio and Molly McDowell are also just days away from completing their American Montessori Society early childhood teaching credentials through Westminster College. We are fortunate to have these beautiful talented ladies with us. Congratulations, Molly and Cassie!

Smarter Than the Average School Year
Our motto has long been “we work harder and we play harder, too!” Did you know that SWIMS Elementary students are in class approximately 107 hours more than elementary students in the Park City School District? Our Elementary Prep students attend school almost 50 hours more than PCSD elementary students. Although we use the PCSD schedule as a guideline we do not observe the teacher work days and half days that they do, leaving us with more time in the classroom.




     Happy Mother’s Day!