Tag Archives: three year old

Reflections at The Montessori Children’s Academy

As we enter this new year, we thought we’d take a look back at just some of the MCA special events and highlights from September through December. In just a few short months, the children have experienced so much both inside and outside of the classroom. Reflecting upon the fall 2017 semester, we are filled with gratitude for the opportunity to work with our MCA children and families, as well as with others in our local areas and the broader Montessori community. As we look forward to what 2018 holds, we are filled with hope and anticipation
for all that we are yet to discover and achieve together!

Commemorating the International Day of Peace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Harvest Family Fun Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit from Our Local Firefighters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Diwali

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Music

 

Picasso Studies

                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elementary Study of Atoms

 

 

 

 

 

MCA’s Disaster Relief Bake Sale to Support Montessori Communities in Puerto Rico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paws of War Assembly with Jason and Dixie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working Around the Classroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gingerbread Decorating

Looking ahead to 2018…

The Gifts of a Montessori Education

By Alex Chiu

During this busy holiday season, many people find themselves frantically searching for ‘that perfect gift’. They are looking for the right size, color, and fit. Or they are trying to find something unique and one-of-a-kind. Some parents have their children write out wish lists of items they are hoping to receive, in order to be sure to select just the right thing. However, if we look beyond the clothes, toys, games, and gadgets, there are some incredible gifts that our children receive every day in the form of their Montessori education. Let’s unwrap some of the ‘gifts of Montessori’.

Montessori students are given:

A Beautifully Prepared Environment
From the moment children enter the classroom, they are welcomed into a carefully prepared environment that has been created especially for them. Child-sized furniture allows them to sit comfortably and with correct, safe posture. The beautiful Montessori materials, designed in specific inviting colors and crafted with care, are organized sequentially so that children may work with them and build on their growing skills from one material to the next. Items are placed where children can easily access them, and artwork is hung at the child’s eye level for their enjoyment and appreciation. Everything in the classroom has a purpose in further developing the child while at the same time welcoming them into a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, home-like environment in which they can grow, learn, and thrive.

The Guidance of a Carefully Trained Teacher
Montessori teachers undergo many hours of training as they learn the purpose and practice of using the various Montessori materials in the areas of Language, Math, Sensorial, Practical Life, and Cultural Studies. In addition, they practice the art of observation, a key component of teaching in Montessori. Their keen observations of their students drive teachers to modify the environment make decisions about which lessons to present, and continuously work to maintain a productive, engaging, inspiring classroom environment for their students. Montessori teachers are passionate about their calling to be in the classroom.

A Global Perspective
Perhaps we could say that Montessori students are given the world. The Cultural Studies area introduces children to geography, cultures and traditions from around the world, and fundamental, basic human needs. Montessori students ‘travel’ the world as they learn about the continents, countries, states, and regions. They explore the unique differences between areas because of geographical features, as well as because of the people and animals that inhabit each place. They also come to learn what is fundamentally similar among all people, no matter where they come from or live. This global perspective allows students, even from the confines of their classrooms or communities, to move beyond what is familiar and to learn to respect, admire, and take interest in others.

Time to Develop Independence, Confidence, Responsibility, and Mastery
Within the Montessori work cycle, students have the opportunity to choose which types of work they would like to complete. They might spend a good part of their morning captivated by a Montessori Math material or engrossed in creating a map of Europe. Once an activity is completed, the child then moves on to his or her next choice, and is allowed time to work without interruption. Students learn to take ownership of their learning. They are responsible for using their time well. And by having time to engross themselves in their learning, they lead themselves to mastery in a variety of areas of learning. Having freedom to choose what work to do helps students develop independence, as do the self-correcting materials. As students work in the Language, Math, Cultural, Sensorial, or Practical Life area, they develop confidence in their abilities as they build on acquired skills with new knowledge. All of this naturally moves with them from their earliest Montessori classroom experiences on into adulthood where these skills will enable them to be productive, inquisitive, creative, and diligent workers in the world.

Opportunities to Contribute
In conjunction with Cultural Studies, students also engage in a Peace Curriculum, as Dr. Montessori strongly believed that “establishing lasting peace is the work of education”. Learning problem-solving strategies, becoming comfortable with silence, and developing strong communication skills all encompass this peaceful component of the school day. Students, through their cultural and peace studies, gain empathy and compassion. This is then translated into a variety of community outreach service projects. Montessori students understand that they are part of a greater whole, and that they have a responsibility for making positive contributions to their communities and the world at large. They learn that small actions can have big impacts, and they learn to facilitate ways for others to join in doing things for the greater good.

Sharing the Gifts of Montessori
For those of you who are current MCA parents, we believe that you will agree that the ‘gift of Montessori’ is one that will stay with your children long after they leave The Montessori Children’s Academy. And we hope you are considering extending the gift to your child(ren) for another year or beyond. As you know, MCA will soon hold its in-house registration for the 2018-2019 school year, which is then followed by open registration. Our program offerings include:

Montessori, My Child, and Me (for 18-30 months old with a parent or caregiver),
2 ½ – 3 ½ Year Old Program,
3 – 6 Year Old AM and PM Programs,
Full Day Kindergarten
Elementary for students in grades 1 through 8

We will be holding an MCA Kindergarten Open House at each of our three campuses during the month of December.

Chatham Campus Kindergarten Open House:      Tuesday, December 5th,         3:15 – 4:15PM
Short Hills Campus Kindergarten Open House:    Wednesday, December 6th,   3:15 – 4:15PM
Morristown Campus Kindergarten Open House: Thursday, December 7th,       3:15 – 4:15PM

Our MCA Elementary Open House will be held on Thursday, December 7th from 7:00 – 8:00PM at our Short Hills campus. We hope you will join us to learn how you can continue to enrich your child’s educational experience by extending this beautiful ‘Montessori gift’ through the Elementary and Middle School years.

We invite you to attend our Open Houses to learn more about the benefits of our Kindergarten and Elementary Programs, and we hope you will bring your family and friends so that they, too, can learn about the many gifts a Montessori education has to offer!

 

Photo Credit: http://www.discovertheregion.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/blog-giving.jpg

Promoting a Lifetime of Healthy Habits at MCA

 

By Polly Bliss with Alex Chiu

Teaching health class is my favorite time of the day at MCA. The hand washing and vegetable songs are music to my ears, and I enjoy the great questions and funny, honest comments your children make during class. If you have Diet Coke for breakfast, I may hear about it!” ~ Nurse Bliss

Health lessons at The Montessori Children’s Academy (MCA) are based on five simple principals that are the same whether your child is in our Preschool, Kindergarten, or Elementary Program.

They include:

1. Washing your hands, brushing your teeth, and taking care of your body.
2. Practicing safety.
3. Taking a deep breath.
4. Eating more fruits and vegetables.
5. Exercising.

Every day, we should all be doing these five simple things.

1. Wash Your Hands! Brush Your Teeth! Take Care of Your Body!

The simple act of washing hands prevents us from getting sick and stops the transmission of illnesses. We encourage the children to wash their hands after they go to the bathroom, before they eat or prepare food, and when they come in from playing outside. The first thing children should do when they get home from school is wash their hands.
A Practical Life lesson MCA preschool students learn in Health Class is how to use a tissue, and children are reminded to keep fingers out of their noses and mouths. A favorite lesson is titled “Germs are Not for Sharing.” Using a spray bottle, we dramatically demonstrate what happens when sneezes and coughs aren’t covered—the children do NOT like to get sprayed with the pretend germs, and they quickly learn to use an elbow to catch their coughs and sneezes to protect themselves and others. In the Elementary Program, we take the topic of hand washing further by discussing viruses and germs and the many ways our immune system protects us.
In the fall, our preschool lessons also focus on body parts and how each body part has a specific job to do. We discuss ways to keep all of our body parts healthy and working properly. At the Elementary level, we discuss each body system, how the body systems work together, and ways to keep each body system functioning for optimal health. Later in the year, during Dental Health Month, students learn all about teeth and how important it is to keep teeth clean by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. A local dentist and hygienist visit our classrooms for a fun, interactive dental health lesson, as well.

2. Practice Safety!

In winter, Health lessons focus on what to do in emergencies and calling 911. We talk about what an emergency is and what an emergency isn’t. Students are given different scenarios, and they must decide if it’s an emergency or not. They also learn to call 911. This is a tricky lesson because children cannot practice actually making the call to 911. However, as fewer of us have land lines in our homes, it’s important that children know how to use cellular telephones, so students should practice unlocking the phone, choosing a name to call from the contact list, or accessing the keypad–these are essential skills needed to call 911 in an emergency. Our Elementary lessons also focus on personal safety. After this lesson, you may find that your children remind you, their parents, not to text and drive or cross the street while looking down at your phone!
Poison Prevention Month in January provides us with the opportunity to teach the students about things that are good for our bodies and things that are bad for our bodies and that could hurt us. Students are introduced to a basket of poisons, such as cleaners, laundry detergent pods, dishwasher pods, and medicine, and in Health Class, they discuss the many things children should not touch or put in their mouths. At home, please remember to keep all poisons out of sight and out of reach. Elementary students also discuss medicine, both prescription and over the counter medicine, and they are taught how important it is to read directions and to take the proper prescribed dose. Students are reminded that a safe adult should always administer medicine to them rather than the children taking the medicine on their own.

Later in the year, during the month of May, our safety lessons focus on staying safe around water and the importance of wearing sunscreen. Students often end up reminding their parents to apply sunscreen, which is a wonderful way to see how they have internalized these important lessons!

3. Take a Deep Breath!

Throughout the year, and in every Health Class, students practice taking three deep breaths. The children learn to breathe in through their noses, the body part that warms and filters the air before it comes into our bodies. They learn to sit up, let their shoulders drop, and let their stomachs go out when they take a deep breath. We discuss how breathing is a great tool that can help us calm ourselves, and the children come to understand how breathing helps to flood our brains with oxygen so we can think better. In Elementary, students also use deep breathing as a strategy to calm their nervous systems, de-stress, and refocus their attention to the task at hand.

4. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables!

To introduce nutrition, preschoolers explore a basket of colorful fruits and vegetables and are invited to form a rainbow with the produce. They learn that each different colored fruit and vegetable has different health benefits. For example, blueberries are brain food, naturally red food is good for your stomach, naturally green food keeps your insides clean and builds strong muscles, naturally orange foods are good for your eyes, and naturally yellow foods are good for your lungs, while white vegetables are great for fighting germs. We also discuss the food plate and how important it is to eat a variety of foods.

It doesn’t matter what diet you follow at home, our health lessons at MCA focus on eating more fruits and vegetables and less junk food. Fruits and vegetables are nature’s multivitamins that come in a form our bodies can immediately recognize, absorb, and digest. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with healthy fiber. We encourage you to send fruits and vegetables for your child’s snack and lunch. If you have a picky eater, there are some strategies you could try to help your child incorporate a wider variety of healthy foods into his or her diet. If your child will only eat vegetables dipped in something or covered with cheese, that is a really great start in developing healthy eating habits. If your child is hungry after school, offer vegetables first. Have vegetables prepared when you are making dinner or setting the table so your children are free to munch on them. Choose different colors, shapes, and textures and let your child pick out new fruits and vegetables to try when you go food shopping.

In Health Class we refer to fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole foods as “go foods”, which are foods that our bodies need to stay healthy and foods that we should eat a lot of each day. “Go foods” also are foods that our bodies immediately recognize and can easily digest. Whole and natural foods have more nutrition in their natural, minimally processed state. At school, we call junk foods “whoa foods,” and these include foods that are loaded with chemicals, sugar, food coloring, preservatives, and anything hydrogenated. Our bodies aren’t designed to digest “whoa foods”. In fact, many foods we consume today wouldn’t have even been considered food 100 years ago. And sugar certainly wasn’t added to practically everything either. Our bodies don’t know how to digest highly processed foods and foods loaded with chemicals and preservatives. “Whoa foods” take much longer to move through our digestive system and since they stay in our bodies longer, it’s no wonder why obesity and chronic illnesses are on the rise.

Our MCA students learn that they should eat “go foods” most of the time and have “whoa foods” every once in a while. If you do choose processed food items, (which are usually the foods you find in the center aisles of the supermarkets), try to keep the number of ingredients listed on the packaging to under five. Another good rule of thumb as you shop is if you can’t pronounce an ingredient on the package, it’s probably not good for you. Also, if you lose count trying to count the number of ingredients, it’s not good for you, and if it will stay fresh for a year, it’s not good for you. You might also keep in mind that if your preschooler can reach a breakfast cereal, it probably isn’t good for them, and if your yogurt is loaded with sugar or has candy on top of it, it’s dessert.

During our Elementary nutrition lessons, we discuss the digestive system and how to read nutrition labels including portion sizes. We “re-think our drink” by using a sugar bowl to count out the number of teaspoons of sugar that are in our favorite junk beverages. This can be quite an eye-opening lesson for our students. Try it at home sometime and you, too, will be surprised! Take the number of grams of added sugar and divide by four. For example, if your 16 ounce bottle of soda has 44 grams of sugar, you are consuming 11 teaspoons of sugar. We hope this helps you all to ‘re-think your drink’!

As the seasons change and we get closer to summer, the children are encouraged to visit a local farmers market to see what fruits and vegetables are local and fresh. Not only is this a fun family outing, but a great way to take part in a community event and perhaps discover a new favorite healthy food!

5. Exercise!

MCA students are taught that exercise is also important for healthy bodies. Our bodies are made to move, not to sit in front of a computer or television all day. It’s no wonder so many of us have a stiff neck from looking down at our computers or phone screens constantly. Our MCA students learn that they should engage in at least one hour of physical activity a day. The best exercise for children is simply to go outside and play. Children build strong bodies by playing. Go to the park, go to the playground, go for a walk or a hike, ride bikes together, play a sport, learn to swim, and take the stairs. As parents, we model behavior for our children, so we encourage you to put the phone down, turn off the computer, turn off the TV, and go do something active together with your children. Encourage raking leaves, snow shoveling, vacuuming, cleaning, gardening, and car washing. They are all terrific physical, family activities that also count as exercise. Engaging in physical activity is a family affair that is good for everyone across the lifespan, and all of our MCA students from our youngest to our oldest, learn the value of movement and exercise. The older students extend their understanding of this by also learning about the cardiovascular, respiratory, and muscular systems. We are always emphasizing healthy behaviors that keep all of our body systems functioning properly.

Putting It All Together

In every lesson throughout the year, MCA students refer back to the 5 basic principles of taking care of their bodies, practicing safety, taking a deep breath, eating more fruits and vegetables, and exercising, and they learn to see the connection between these simple steps and staying healthy. It is our hope that our students are learning healthy habits that will last throughout their lifetimes!

Image credit: intranet.tdmu.edu.ua

Preparing for Parent/Teacher Conferences

By Alex Chiu

By the month of November, students are well into their school routines. They have learned the classroom rules and guidelines, refreshed their memories after a summer off from school, likely made some new friends, and are deep into their new learning. This is why November is often the time of year when schools will schedule their Parent/Teacher Conferences. It’s a perfect time for teachers to connect with parents to share their observations about their students, and it’s the opportune time for parents to glean some insights into how their children are performing in school both academically and socially.

Prior to conference season, teachers take a great deal of time to prepare for their upcoming meetings with parents. They may work with the students individually for the most up-to-date assessments of certain skills, they will take more time observing the children as they interact with peers in the classroom and on the playground, and they will collect any important and pertinent information for students, which depending on the child and the school, may include support services reports, samples of student work, or additional notes.

Montessori teachers have an edge in preparing for Parent/Teacher Conferences because a large part of their training specifically focuses on observation in the classroom. Montessori teachers learn and practice the art of observing how their students work and interact, using their observations to drive which lessons to present to which children, which materials to rotate, and which parts of the environment to adjust to meet the children’s needs. Therefore, parents of Montessori students can be assured that at their conferences, they will learn quite a bit about how their children function at school and what they might be able to do at home to bridge the school to home learning.

For parents with children in school for the first time, we’ve gathered some information to help you prepare for your first Parent/Teacher Conference. For ‘veteran’ parents, these reminders may help you get the most out of your conferences this year.

At your conference, you can expect to learn about your child’s:

1. Recent academic progress.
2. Behavioral development as observed by the teacher since September.
3. Social interactions and development in the classroom.
4. Strengths and challenges within the classroom.

During the conference, you can help your child’s teacher learn more about your child by:

1. Describing your child’s attitude towards school.
2. Sharing anything that currently may be impacting your child’s academic or social progress (e.g., family illness, move to a new home, other family changes or potential stressors).
3. Discussing what you see as your child’s strengths and challenges.
4. Providing information about any special interests/activities your child has outside of school, so as to help your child’s teacher get to know a little more about your child.

What parents can do to prepare for and help facilitate a smooth conference:

1. Bring a list of questions you may have or topics you would like to discuss, keeping in mind the time allotted for your conference. Prioritize your list.
2. Ask your child if there is anything he or she would like to discuss with the teacher and share his or her comments with the teacher.
3. Come prepared to listen and take notes.
4. Ask to see samples of your child’s work or which Montessori materials he or she has been using.
5. Ask what you can do at home to help your child with academic, social, and emotional development. Inquire if the teacher has any community references that may be helpful to your family.
6. Be respectful of the time. If you have more questions than time allows for, do ask for a follow-up meeting at a later date. Communication with your child’s teacher can and should continue beyond the conference as needed.

Parent/Teacher Conferences are a wonderful opportunity to learn about what a typical day at school is like for your child, develop stronger connections with your child’s teacher, and gain insights into your child’s development. By participating in these conferences, you are showing your child that you are interested in what happens at school. You also are modeling the importance of open communication, and you are building the bridge between home and school to promote your child’s success as a student.

Happy conferencing!

 

graphic credit: http://rlv.zcache.com/parent_teacher_conference_stickers_bright_leaves-rccdfe977e8404e3db9c5b4a5b6353c81_v9wxo_8byvr_324.jpg

An Abundance of Autumn Activities for Fall Family Fun

By Alex Chiu and Alisa Jones

Autumn is in the air! Crisp, cooler temperatures make us grab a sweater in the mornings. Vibrant colors of the changing leaves cause us stop to take in their beauty. Smells of cinnamon, apples, and pumpkins spike cravings of pie and cider. Our senses are beckoned at every turn.

Similarly, the senses of children in Montessori classrooms are heightened as we invite them to tune into all that is around them, not only in autumn, but all year long. While the Sensorial area of the classroom is specifically dedicated to stimulating and enhancing children’s senses, Montessori classrooms enrich students’ sensorial experiences across curriculum areas. This happens in every season through a variety of enriching activities that bring in what is unique to each different time of year.

Fall provides us with an abundance of activities we can do that help to build skills across curriculum areas using easy to find apples, acorns, pumpkins, and leaves. There are so many things we do in our classrooms with an autumn theme, and there are even more that you might enjoy trying at home as well. What follows is just a sampling of some fun fall activities that are easy to do with your family and friends this autumn season.

Fall into Science

• Sort types of apples or leaves by size, color, or variety.
• Grade apples or pumpkins from largest to smallest.
• Examine the parts of an apple or pumpkin from stem to skin to core to seeds.
• Experiment to see if apples (or pumpkins) sink or float (and if you find that apples float, why not create an apple boat by slicing an apple in half, adding a toothpick and paper flag, and letting it set sail in a bowl of water!).
• Do an experiment to find out why apples turn brown. Slice an apple, leave one piece as a control, soak one in lemon juice, one in vinegar, one in water (label them). Set them out on plates, and then observe and log what happens to the different samples of apple slices as they sit out over time.
• Explore gravity! Don’t want to drop the apples or pumpkins from the top of the swing set and clean up the mess? Try rolling two down the slide or a ramp made of cereal boxes. Guess which will roll to the bottom first. Were you right? Why or why not?
• Measure the circumference of your pumpkin and compare it to the measurement for your head.

Practical Life Autumn Activities

• Slice and serve apples. Check out the website www.forsmallhands.com for child-safe kitchen utensils.
• Wash a pumpkin. Have a parent carve open the top, and scoop out the seeds. Design your jack o’ lantern.
• Make applesauce or apple or pumpkin pie or muffins, or any other wonderful recipe you have.
• Conduct a blind taste test of different types of apples and vote to see which is your family’s favorite variety.
• Toast pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle with salt, cinnamon sugar, or a favorite spice to try a new twist on an old favorite.
• Transfer acorns from one dish to another using a spoon, tongs, or, if you’re really up for a challenge, chopsticks.

Seasonal Reading Connections

• Read the Dr. Seuss classic Ten Apples Up On Top and then do some follow-up activities.
After reading, see how many apples you can stack. Discuss with your child what makes it easy or hard to stack them? What could you do to make it more stable? (Pyramid? Skewers?)
• Cozy up with some of our favorite pumpkin-themed books, such as Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington, The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons, Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper, Pumpkin Town or Nothing is Better than Pumpkins by Katie McKy.
• Go on a nature scavenger hunt after reading We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger. Invite your children to search for seeds, different types or colors of leaves, a stick that looks like a letter, something fuzzy, etc.
• Count acorns or leaves by ones, twos, fives, and tens after reading Nuts to You or Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert.

Autumn Art Projects

• Chop up an apple, add toothpicks, and build creative 3D structures.
• Slice an apple in half, paint the flat half, and make apple prints. Try slicing one apple through the center and another from core to base to see how the prints differ. This makes pretty fall stationery.
• Make leaf rubbings. Peel off the paper around your crayons to allow for a smoother crayon rubbing.
• Create an apple or pumpkin inspired drawing using crayons, colored pencils, or oil pastels. Look closely at your apple, what different colors do you see? Blend them together and cut out in an apple shape.
• Decorate a pumpkin using paint, pipe cleaners, glitter, buttons, or unusual items you may find around the house.

Math Fun in the Fall

• Count the number of trees that have lost all of their leaves in your front yard or on your street.
• Estimate how many seeds are in your pumpkin as you carve it. Then count them before roasting!
• Collect acorns or leaves when out for a walk (you will need a lot!). At home, have your child set out the leaves by quantity from 1-10 (or as high as you can go!).

As you can see, it’s easy to incorporate fun learning activities into family time this fall season. We look forward to your children sharing all of their family autumn adventures with us when they come to school. And as fall turns to winter, and then spring, and then summer, challenge your family to apply some of these ideas to what is unique to each of the seasons for family fun all year long!

 

Clip art credit to:  https://gallery.yopriceville.com/var/resizes/Free-Clipart-Pictures/Fall-PNG/Autumn_Pumpkin_and_Fruits_PNG_Clipart_Image.png?m=1443543781