Welcome back! The new school year has started out well and we are all becoming happily ensconced in the routine. Returning students have found their new roles, new students are settling in and teachers are sleeping well at night. You can expect that your child will also be more tired than usual for the next 6 weeks or so as we all “normalize” or settle into the routine. Enjoy these rainy dog days of summer but get plenty of sleep! Newsletters will be posted on the website around the first of each month. Make sure to look it over each month so you don’t miss a thing!
The Parent/Teacher Hotline is 435-200-8248. Please program this number into your phone so you can let us know whenever your child will not be in school or when you are running late. If you have a question about your account, you can reach Bruce King, our Administrator, any time at 435-649-3626 or at email@example.com. Duna Strachan, our Executive Director, can be reached at 435-200-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Lina Singleton, our School Director, can be reached at 435-200-8247 or at email@example.com.
We Montessori teachers have a knack for small details but we very seldom remember your vacation dates so please give us a written reminder of when you’ll be gone. Also, please give us updates on addresses, phone numbers and email addresses if they have changed.
Ahh, fall…the colors, the aromas, the germicide…? In the fall there is a heavy emphasis on the review of health and safety with all of our staff and students. Teachers update their First Aid, CPR and hygiene training. They review rules with classes. We will soon be practicing fire, earthquake and lockdown drills at school. We remind you to practice a fire drill at home, memorize names and addresses and go over “stranger danger” with your child. Our teachers give detailed hand washing lessons in class. Duna adds her rendition of “Typhoid Mary” to the story-telling events to emphasize the point to all students. You can help by making sure your child washes her hands thoroughly with soap every time she leaves the bathroom and before eating. Challenge her to make “white gloves” with the soap bubbles or to scrub while singing two rounds of Typhoid Mary’s theme, “I’m Gonna Wash Those Germs Right Off of My Hands” (to the tune of “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair”). All of this health and safety training along with our Food Rainbow and corresponding nutritional instruction combine into our school-wide whole child wellness curriculum. We are a sugar-free and nut-free school and although we don’t want to insulate ourselves from the world, we carefully consider the value of what comes into our school environment. Not only do we want to create a community of wellness in which to learn, but we want to set an example of the healthy lifestyle we wish for every child. It takes some extra work to avoid sugar in birthday snacks and to find a good lunch substitute for peanut butter, and we very much appreciate your support. Teachers have recipes available if you’d like suggestions. Here’s to your family’s continued good health!
Notes from the Parent/Infant Class
Our parent/infant class is set to begin offering an assortment of babies, moms, dads and grandparents the opportunity to discuss child development and the Montessori approach to supporting infant development. In the Montessori world infant class teachers are called “assistants to infancy” because the idea is to provide the furnishings, foods and learning materials that are appropriate for each stage of infant development rather than setting up an environment that makes it easier for the adult to care for him. Lina Singleton adds her experience as an AMS credentialed teacher, Holistic Health Coach and Montessori mom to bring something specific and unique to each class in consideration of the child and family’s needs. She is happy to present information on information specific to your situation as well. If you know any babies or are expecting one, please join us on Fridays.
News from the Tadpoles and Sunflowers Classes
The school year begins with simply following the routine of the school day at a pace that allows each student to take in the new experiences. There are classmates and teachers to get to know, routines to figure out (e.g., sitting on the circle rug, singing songs, waiting for a turn), coat hooks, lockers and cubbies to find, and new activities to discover. Much of the toddler curriculum revolves around learning self care – washing, dressing, toiletting and being responsible for one’s possessions as well as for one’s actions. Teachers are skilled at introducing each new concept in a concrete manner and encouraging the child to practice until the skill is mastered. The classroom is a safe and happy place and even the youngest student soon enjoys the routine. The simple consistency builds his confidence and independence. This is what Dr. Montessori referred to as “normalization” – the transition of the child into the responsibility, productivity and joy of the school day. We traditionally allow 6 weeks for the normalization process to occur. Children who attend shool 4 or 5 days each week will complete this process much sooner. Those who attend school 2 or 3 days each week may take longer. We are sensitive to the needs of each child and maintain the consisitency that makes them feel most comfortable.
We begin our Cultural Curriculum starting with taking a closer look at rocks (geology), fruit (botany) and our community (cultural geography). During toddler walks adults move at the child’s pace, allowing her to inspect each leaf and bug and experience the textures of rocks, bark and grass.These sensorial explorations and new vocabulary introduce the toddler to scientific classification and enrich his school experience.
You can carry through at home by allowing time for your child to put on his own shoes or change wet pants, and by providing hooks at his level where he can hang his clothes and giving simple choices (e.g., “Would you like raisins or a banana?” “Do you want to wear the green shirt or the blue one?”) so your child can begin to take responsibility for himself. Provide a mirror, a box of tissues and/or baby wipes and a small waste basket at his height so he can take care of nose drips and messy face issues on his own. And take some time to watch the ants, study rocks and give the names of fruits and vegetables (e.g., Mcintosh, Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples). Enjoy the slow pace of toddlerhood – it’s over all too quickly!
News from the Turquoise, Rainbow and Cottonwoods Classes
We will be reviewing health and safety rules this month and taking a field trip to the Fire Station during class (we will need a few parent helpers). Please take time to practice full names, phone numbers, addresses and walk through a family fire drill. Each child should know two ways out of every room and an outside family meeting place. Other rules we reinforce include the following.
Every teacher has a slightly different approach but you’ll find the same activities going on in each EC class every day. During each work period the children are given lessons individually or in groups according to their own needs and level of ability. This is the time when the children are free to choose activities in Practical Life (exercises in care of self and environment), Sensorial (matching, grading, sorting and sensory exercises), Art, Penmanship, Math, Language, Science and Geography. A very young child may spend the entire work period watching others and absorbing what the older students are doing even though she may not yet be ready for the work herself. An older child may spend most of the class time working on making a book, writing a story or practicing a math layout. The 4-year-olds often practice many different concrete activities, working on the details of each to their own satisfaction and often simultaneously working on social skills with classmates. At circle time we introduce the cultural units as indicated below.
Monday – Art / MusicWe’ll start out with an introduction and the timeless question, “What is art?” followed by a simple Art History timeline. We will begin our study of artists in October and be into music and composers by February. We have some favorites we like to study but by all means give us suggestions, especially those in the community we might visit. The Montessori philosophy is that children learn best by absorbing the artwork they see around them and the music they hear playing during class. We keep an appropriate selection of visual art and music in each classroom as a backdrop to our daily activities.
Tuesday – Time / Seasons
Through September we’ll talk about fall and go on walks to find signs of the season. This is a good time to take your child on walks to look for signs of fall and bring back some leaves to share with the class. In October we’ll take our annual field trip to the farm. We’ll start on the Thanksgiving Timeline which culminates with the Thanksgiving Feast in November. We’ll study winter, then the clock, until April when we’ll be optimistic and look for signs of spring!
Wednesday – Geography
Our first group lesson is about the community – living things that help one another. We will talk about the community of our town, neighborhood, school and class. As the year progresses we will expand our concept of the community to include natural communities such as the mold community growing on a piece of bread, the rain forest community and the world community. Then we will begin our study of the Earth with land, air and water, progressing to the eight basic geographical land/water forms (island, lake, bay, cape, gulf, peninsula, strait and isthmus), then to the globe and map. We’ll be ready to begin the continents with North America in time to tie it in with the Thanksgiving Timeline. From there we’ll take each continent in turn. We can always use help finding people, food, plants, animals, music, stories, videos or anything from the various continents as we study them. Those of you who travel frequently may wish to contribute to our “Dolls of the World” collection.
Thursday – Biology
We will first define “living” and “non-living” and work toward the ability to classify things accordingly. Next we will take a look at protoctists, plants and invertebrates. We will grow mold, beans and create an invertebrate zoo. By January we will be ready to start on the vertebrates with fishes and work up to a study of mammals, finishing the year with a look at “Me” or the human animal. This unit will also entail nature walks and field trips whenever possible.
Friday – Literature
Beginning with lessons on how to care for a book and how they are made, we will study various authors and poets, becoming familiar with the work of each and trying a little of our own creative writing. The Bookmobile will visit the school every other week so children can check out new books from their ever-changing array and enjoy story time with our friend Mr. Lee.
Early Childhood Curriculum
Even though we repeat the same curriculum each year, the child is a little older and on a slightly different developmental perspective and will pick up concepts at a new level. Cultural curriculum lessons are given at circle time and are correlated with art projects, snacks, books, songs and games whenever possible. We present the material at a level aimed at the 3- to 4-year-old but vary the presentation depending on how the group as a whole is responding. The 3-year-old watches, listens and absorbs. The 4-year-old remembers some of this from the year before and starts to put it all together. The 5-year-old gains a command of the material and may join the 6-year-old in more advanced activities such as making books about an aspect of the subject, writing stories or even doing a research project on it. Virtually everything in the classroom from the pink cubes to the biology lessons include a broad spectrum of variations which take the child from initial exploration through elementary level work.
In teaching this curriculum certain themes weave in and out of our activities throughout the year. Concepts fit together and support each other. For instance, by the time of the Thanksgiving feast, Monday’s art lessons will have included Native American art and Rembrandt, who was a contemporary of the Pilgrims. Tuesday’s Thanksgiving Timeline will have taught the children the entire Thanksgiving story while giving them a concept of the passage of time. Wednesday’s Geography lessons will have included the characteristics of North America and its native people and animals. Thursday’s Biology lessons will have included Parts of Plants and which parts are edible which ties in with the Pilgrim’s first harvest and feast while Friday’s literature lessons will have included some wonderful Native American lore and Thanksgiving stories. You will notice, particularly in your child’s second year of this program, how certain themes repeat throughout the year and how the child develops a holistic grasp of the subjects while continuing to discover the tiniest details therein.
Afternoon Elementary Prep Classes
Elementary Prep students enjoy the full spectrum of the Early Childhood Class in the morning, the social aspects and practical life skills of the lunch period (aka “Lunch Bunch”) and finish their day with an additional work period aimed at refining sensorial, reading, writing and math skills. The lunch period begins with an emphasis on nutrition, the Practical Life exercises of setting places, washing lunch dishes, cleaning up, composting and recycling. Students will be bringing home copies of the Food Rainbow to post in the kitchen to help them remember which foods to choose for their lunches. If you stock a low cupboard with lunch items such as fruit and crackers, and stock a special shelf in the refrigerator with yogurt, applesauce, juice drinks and prepackaged leftovers such as pizza and spaghetti your child will be able to create a healthy lunch all by himself. Please avoid “Lunchables” and “GoGurts” both of which cause problems with their packaging, provide little nutritive value and usually end up in the trash. Most children at this age need only a half sandwich, a piece of fruit and a drink each day. We recommend the Japanese bento box approach to lunch preparation wherein the child arranges a selection of slices fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses in a “Gladware” type box. In Japan moms prepare bento boxes to depict cartoon characters. Your child could create a sunset, flower garden or an abstract design with simple, nutritious whole foods. Candy, gum, soda pop and snack bars that may contain nuts are not allowed. Read labels to ensure that prepared foods are not high in sugar or colorings. Or consider registering for school lunch provided by Savoury Kitchen. They bring in hot meals that are mostly organic, allergy-conscious and really good! Contact Savoury Kitchen at 435-608-1408 to register your child.
Afternoon Elementary Prep classes are aimed at preparing the child for our Elementary Class and include group lessons in Sensorial, Math and Language and time to practice individual reading, writing and math skills. Elementary Prep will also join the Elementary Class for some of their field trips and cultural lessons including Healthy Lifestyles, Social Studies, Botany and Zoology. On special days, such as Party Days on Halloween, Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, there will be an optional noon pick up for Prep students.
News from the Moose Tracks Class
Welcome back, Moose Tracks parents! We are excited to begin a great year starting with reestablishing our connections and ensuring a smooth year with team building during the first week of school. Unless your child is enjoying the school lunch program, please remind your child to pack a sack lunch each day since we will be dining al fresco.
Our Fall Family Campout is scheduled for September 11th at Rockport State Park. Information packets will come home soon. Parents are welcome to join us for the entire campout or just drop in at your convenience. Our outdoor curriculum provides an important set of skills for Elementary students. We spend the days prior to the Fall Campout and the Spring River Trip preparing for the activities we have planned months in advance. These experiences are complemented by our Friday field trips. Students learn communication, problem-solving and teamwork skills that promote their confidence and independence. In addition the students work on real world tasks utilizing their academic skills. If your student cannot participate in our outdoor curriculum for any reason please talk to Michelle, Leti or Lori about getting a homework packet to compensate for the absence. Otherwise, bring your best campfire stories and be ready for a great time!
The Moose Tracks class works harder and plays harder, too. We encourage all students to be responsible and independent enough to remember their school t-shirts for field trips, their lunches and to come to school with homework completed each day. We appreciate your help with these responsibilities. The trick is to help just enough and to let them know we are confident they can do it themselves! We want you to be aware of what is expected of your student so you can carry through with the expectations at home. Michelle, Leti and Lori are available every day after class to discuss ideas and answer questions. We are looking forward to a great year together!
Monday – History
Introduction to History with the Great Lesson of the Big Bang. The Great Lessons are jumping off points for elementary level cultural studies that typically include much drama and significance. The Big Bang involves costumes, complete darkness, flashlights and glitter!
Tuesday – Geography
We begin with the Solar System, stars and planets before we come in for a tighter focus on our own special planet and it’s features.
Wednesday – Healthy Lifestyles
From a review of Health and Safety skills, human physisology and nutritional awareness we add our Team Building lessons then continue, while the weather is warm, with outside game skills. Please reinforce our focus on nutrition by posting your copy of the Food Rainbow in the kitchen where your child can refer to it when packing her lunch, choosing snacks or helping prepare dinner. Students will plan a meal for the Fall Family Campout and go to the Farmer’s Market to purchase ingredients in preparation.
Thursday – Biology
To begin a study of Biology we start with the characteristics of Living and Non-living things. From there we will cover a survey of Botany, Invertebrate and Vertebrate Biology over the coming school year. If you have any interesting specimens to share with our young biologists please send them in!
Friday – Field Trips
Our Outdoor Expeditionary Learning curriculum begins with Team Building and the Fall Family Campout. On Fridays we will take some hikes and bike trips into the surrounding hills to experience fall as it approaches. We also plan to visit Recycle Utah this month. Over the winter we will be visting museums, businesses, historical sites, and natural spaces as well as spending plenty of time sledding, skiing and perhaps snowshoeing and ice skating. An important component of the Montessori elementary currciulum involves “going out” into the real world to confirm what the children are learning in class. Talk to Michelle, Leti or Lori if you’d like to help with any of our field trips.
We begin Spanish reading and writing lessons in the afternoons to follow up practice during class. We are reviewing vocabulary, greetings and simple phrases commonly used during class, lunch and transitions as well as following up curriculum lessons with the same information in Spanish. Ask your student about la luna and el sol.
“When the child goes out, it is the world itself that offers itself to him. Let us take the child out to show him real things instead of making objects which represent ideas and closing them up in cupboards.”
-Dr. Maria Montessori