Teachers and students from each class have provided the content below, please enjoy!
Classroom Matters – November/December 2022
Leah & Virginia
November and December are always such magical months of the year. This is especially true with young children who experience it all anew in each of their early years of life. From the slow and artistic transformation of the earth’s deciduous leaves to the falling of the first snowflakes, Autumn grants many opportunities to be awestruck by the world around us and, in that amazement, inspire lessons of gratitude in the hearts and minds of these little humans; sometimes great reminders for ourselves as well. We learned to watch the sky for signs of the season. The geese making their annual migration, the night coming to us earlier and earlier, each and every day, the need to bring ‘tons’ of options for outdoor clothing, as – you just never know what will happen from day to day; sometimes from one hour to the next.
As we prepare for a season of quietude and inner reflection, we work together with the children to bring their attention to the importance of self-care. We practice breathing to calm our troubled minds, our scattered thoughts, and our heavy hearts. We drink water to keep ourselves strong and able. And we move, dance, and run to keep fit and active, striving for healthy hearts. We aim to find balance in ourselves, even at the age of three, so that we can show up for others who need us, whenever that time may be. We are aware that when we keep ourselves strong, we can participate in mutual aid – showing up for others who might be lacking in one way or another.
The classroom has been a flutter with endless activities. We’ve baked apple pies and pumpkin bread. We’ve learned how primary colors mixed together in certain ways result in secondary colors with color mixing: super cool!!!! Our study of being mammals involved an exploration of the skeletal system and of the organs too. We spent ample time discussing how each organ has its individual job, which it must do, and also how each organ is intrinsically connected to the functioning of the entire body; each piece is a necessary part of the whole. We connect that to the magical truth about our place as an individual in the world. We are each a necessary part of the beauty and love that is our whole community. Concentric circles start with oneself and ripple out in all directions worldwide, endlessly connected.
Donyan & Linda
Snowflakes falling all the round,
Falling ‘til they touch the ground.
Build a little snowman round and fat,
Find a carrot nose and an old straw hat,
Now my little snowman won’t you stay?
Out comes the sun and you melt away.
November and December have been full of magical celebrations! Celebrations of learning and community!
Children have been busy in all areas of the classroom. They have been spooning, sorting, pouring, stamping, and drawing winter snowy scenes in Practical Life and Art. They are practicing rhyming words, counting syllables, and identifying initial sounds with the Mystery Object work in the Language area. Some children are even building words with the Movable Alphabet! Interesting structures are being built, colors sorted, and cubes and triangles are being explored in the Sensorial area. Some students are practicing the 45 layout and counting chains in the Math area! Maps are being push pinned. We continue to learn about migrators, hibernators, foragers, and tracking animal tracks. We continue to explore parts of the body and notice how we are different and the same.
As we approach the year’s final week, we feel grateful to have each other in the community. This year, we were inspired by the Lunar New Year celebration and Festival of Lights by joining other Primary and Extended Day classes. Children have been busy creating dragon puppets and lanterns for window decorations. The focus, joy, and creativity were amazing to watch. We learned about traditional food to eat during the Lunar New Year and what each dish symbolized. It’s a big celebration for families to come together, feast, exchange red envelopes, honor ancestors, watch dragon/lion dance parades, and wish for good fortune and happiness in the New Year. We enjoyed singing the “GongXi, GongXi” (Greetings for the New Year) song.
We appreciated the opportunity to connect with parents at our conferences in November. We hope you all have a restful and refreshing winter holiday!
Meridith & Becca
Late fall has been a time of change for us, both in the natural world and in the Extended Day children. In our Science studies, we’ve noticed the changes in the living things and the scenery as the plants and animals prepare for the colder, darker days of winter. The children enjoy exploring and talking about how the different strategies of migrating, hibernating, and foraging help animals face this challenging time. We’ve also learned about our bodies and how to care for them. The children are enthusiastically learning about our organs and what they do. They take great pride in learning the names of the bones in our skeletal system, like clavicle, patella, and phalanges.
We are seeing a change in the children. They are maturing and gaining independence in many ways. They are learning about what peace is and how to make peace in themselves and their community. They are developing their group problem-solving skills by listening to others’ thoughts and feelings while expressing their own. They are thinking about not only how to keep themselves and others safe but also how to create a classroom environment where others feel safe and can therefore do their best work for themselves and our community. They are truly a caring and deep-thinking group!
There has been great joy in the air as we’ve been preparing for the Festival of Light. The Primary and Extended Day classes have worked together, learning about the Chinese New Year and creating window displays to celebrate. We have thought of good luck and prosperity for all as we created the art to hang in our classroom windows. It has been a complete delight to collaborate with the Primary classes! I hope families have heard children singing or humming the song Gong Xi, Gong Xi. It has definitely been in our hearts and on our tongues these last few weeks! Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Melani & Cindy
Wow, it is December! Fall went by so fast!
Our class is deep into the study of Asia. For our Festival of Light celebration, we learned about Yalda, a Persian festival of light celebrated at the winter solstice. We studied the geo/political maps of Asia with pin maps and Seterra. The first-year students colored the biomes of Asia, the second-year students made books of the animals and plants in Asian biomes, and the third-year students learned the physical geographical features of Asia. We talked about the great religions of the world and the BCE and CE timeline. The students made the items for the window display, and we were excited to share our knowledge of Asia, the Middle East, and Yalda with you. We hope that you enjoyed learning what we learned at the Festival of Light.
In Math, first-year students are learning fractions. The second-year students are beginning or practicing multiplication. The third-year students are doing test tubes to the millions. It is an exciting time with word problems being added to our daily and weekly practice and students being challenged to learn more and more.
The third-year students are finishing up their first big writing assignment of the year. They have been reading for information, taking notes, and honing their skills for writing a topic sentence and a paragraph. They are typing their essays and are very proud of their finished work. It has been really exciting for us to watch their progress as writers.
We recently finished reading aloud a wonderful book called Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldburg Sloan. This is a charming story about a small possum that falls into the chimney of a human’s home and how her family comes to save her. Both Cindy and Mel love to read aloud, and the children listen with rapture as we do different voices and entertain them and ourselves with the reading adventure. Our current read-aloud is in verse! It is Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff by Robert Paul Weston. We are really enjoying the rhyme and the plot as we discover all about these imaginary kingdoms where dressing up or dressing down is a thing of great importance.
It is a pleasure to be teaching with and learning from your children. Have a wonderful and safe winter break. See you in 2023!
Deb & Karlem
Winter is finally upon us. The children are enjoying cozy work time inside and fun snowy recess outside.
We continue to move deliberately through spelling lessons every morning to start our day. Bears are working on solidifying addition and subtraction, and some are even taking a stab at multiplication with materials! Many tigers and lions have shifted their focus from 2-digit multiplication and division to reviewing multiples and factors, which will come in especially handy as we approach our study of fractions.
Our older students helped us prepare for the Festival of Lights by studying Epiphany and presenting their research to the younger students. If you had the good fortune of coming by for our Festival of Lights Walkabout, you may have seen the display as well as the text they crafted together from their research. We hope you got to enjoy this fun event with your family!
Our lessons from these past couple of months:
After our trip around the Solar System, we landed firmly on Earth and started studying the relationship between our home planet and the Sun. Seasons, gravity, velocity, latitude, and longitude are among the things that we’re learning about in the classroom, aided by experiments that show us these physical laws in action.
Lions are deep into their “People of the Biomes” research, where they study a particular culture that has done an exceptional job of acclimating to their environment. After meticulously reading the source material, and condensing their research, they are drafting the first versions of the first longer essay on this subject.
The sudden snowstorm has unfortunately shifted the recording of our much anticipated “Planet Play” to the new year. The children have finalized their costumes and are working on their lines, excited to finally perform after all their hard work! We look forward to sending the play your way soon!
As a way to engage in more fun STEM activities, the children have created paper roller coasters. They assembled many pieces together and tested them with marbles, experimenting with velocity and gravity.
In geometry, children have been learning about angles, triangles, and other geometric shapes. Montessori geometry lessons are very hands-on, which allows the children to get a real “feel” for what will later become a more abstract subject.
It was a pleasure to speak with you during our conferences, get to know you, and chat about your little ones. It continues to be a great delight to guide them every day as they take charge of their own learning in the classroom. We wish you a happy holiday season and winter break!
Becky & Sophia
We are happy to report that the children in our class are becoming full owners of their classroom and their environment. Each day we see happy, confident, busy children blooming before our eyes. Their independence is apparent during their long morning work cycles, as they help each other care for and straighten their coatroom or as they hold each other accountable during a peace treaty. The children’s respect for themselves, each other, and their community impresses us each day as we continue to reinforce habits of awareness and inclusivity.
In math, children at each level of the three-year curriculum continue to deepen their understanding of computation and the hierarchy of numbers. Lions are using their understanding of the relationship between division and multiplication to complete equations on the Test Tubes and then to check their own work. Tigers are gaining mastery of dynamic multiplication on the checkerboard, and Bears have begun to explore dynamic addition on the golden mat. Everyone is working on memorizing math facts!
In Biology, the children are finishing up their study of the 5 Kingdoms of Life. They have put tremendous effort into this project and will be excited to share their research with you. They will bring home a packet that includes an overview of each Kingdom, from Prokaryotes and Protocista, to Fungi, Plants, and Animals.
We have started making trips to the library, and our kids are overjoyed to have access to this special space for the first time in several years. As we support them in selecting “just right books” and in their daily reading practice, we see reading skills taking off before our eyes. Practicing at school with teachers, at home with parents, and on the computer with Lexia creates a strong, three-fold method of reinforcement for our readers, and it’s paying off! We end each day with silent reading time, which provides another peaceful moment of focused reading.
We have begun our study of physical and political geography by discussing the “imaginary lines” that humans have drawn across the globe to define different countries, continents, and oceans, as well as our Earth’s very real physical biomes. Puzzle maps of the continents, biomes, and countries of the world are being pulled out around the classroom. Children are memorizing the shapes, names, and placements of different geographical forms as they put puzzle maps back together and color and paint maps of their own. Children also strengthen their geography skills by engaging with the computer program Seterra Geography.
Our geography study ties directly into big conversations we have been having about human migration and colonization, which led up to our Harvest Gathering in November. We have had several lessons on the history of Indigenous people in the United States and the impact of European colonization on Indigenous peoples across North America. As always, I am grateful for the ability of our Junior Level students to grapple with complicated and conflicting themes, such as having gratitude and love for our families and our homes on this land, while holding the knowledge that the land was originally obtained by settlers through violent and dishonest means.
For our Festival of Lights Project, our class studied Advent to honor the German heritage of several members of our community. We were excited to learn about the meaning and history of different Advent traditions and to create a window display for all to enjoy!
Terry & Andrea
As this first semester quickly comes to a close and we reflect on these months together, our class can feel great pride in all that has been accomplished.
We have spent time developing our personal relationships and also solidifying ourselves as a community. The deep and meaningful conversations we have wrestled with demonstrate the trust that has grown. Many students have stepped up to lead as class officers and group project leaders, or have asked to give presentations about their passions. They are holding each other to high standards, learning to put themselves in each other’s shoes.
In Science, our study of cells is complete, and students experimented with various study skills to prepare for the unit test. Our goal has been to achieve a strong foundation in understanding the parts of a cell as well as how plant, animal and simple prokaryotic cells are similar and different. We explored the way the cell membrane works with our very curious egg experiment. After the break, we will move on to genetics and reproduction.
Our work in the history of Ancient West Africa has led us to understand the use of oral traditions such as myths and proverbs as well as the role of the griot in passing down the history, traditions, and cultures. In January, we will be researching many of the great kingdoms of West Africa. Our latest topic in our study of New York State has been the Erie Canal, how it was built, and its impact on the development of New York and the United States. Students read primary and secondary sources to glean information that they could weave into their “diary entries” as a character who experienced life on the Canal.
Geometry work for our first and second-year students has involved the use of the protractor to measure and create angles. Our third-years have used materials to derive the area formulas for rectangles, parallelograms, and triangles. In Math Strat, we are reviewing and practicing the strategies introduced this year.
Our big excitement as we headed into vacation was the introduction of the big research project. Students brainstormed three possible choices, and from these, one was selected to move forward with when we return in January. As always, the topics are exciting and varied, from foods such as potatoes and chocolate to animals both present and extinct to historical events and figures such as the Suffragette Movement and Louis IVX.
In Language Arts, the first-years have completed their raptor research and are creating posters to share their knowledge. Second-years are completing their unit on World War II, having read both Number the Stars and Sadako and the Thousand Cranes. This gave us the opportunity to look at the War both in Europe and Japan. We had a debate on the use of the atomic bomb, which brought an understanding of the complexities of the decisions and their impacts on our world, both then and today.
In Wellness, we have been practicing active listening as a way to better our communication with each other. Our third-years have been taking field trips to distribute our community donations to the Mutual Aid blue cabinets around town. A true highlight of this past week was the return of the Holiday Bazaar. Though students appreciate the “shopping time,” as adults, we love to overhear the conversations as students try to find the perfect gift for family members. Often this involves advice from Middle School helpers, teachers, and friends. The earnestness that goes into gift selection is pretty amazing.
Maybe one of the most significant accomplishments of this first half of the year is just being able to be at school with each other every day. We all realize how truly lucky we are to have a consistent routine, to learn, and to work together.
Wishing everyone the most wonderful break and a healthy and safe return in January!
Ms. Badsha & Ms. Cassy
Dear Seneca Class Families,
We are rounding out 2022 with a flurry of activity and a hefty dose of goodwill! Over the past four months students have been engaging in thoughtful discussions about compassion and kindness in their class communities. We have been meditating on the notion that the qualities we want in the world must radiate outwards from ourselves first, so that we may experience lasting change in our environment. Likewise, we discussed the importance of finding intrinsic motivation in our daily learning, with the intention of becoming self-directed as students.
In Science we continued our examination of the relationship between the human being and the cosmos through our studies of cells. Students studied the structure of plant and animal cells. They also learned about the functions of each part of the cell and how they benefit the host organism. When students return in January they will continue learning about cell transport and will delve into the fascinating world of cell division. The Trout in the Classroom Program has been affording students the wonderful opportunity of observing and documenting the evolution of Brook Trout. Through their interaction with the alevins (baby trout), students are having the chance to reflect on the concepts of interdependence, co-existence and self-reliance in their natural environment.
In Language Arts, students completed reading Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes which looked at the impact of World War II on Japan. Students also engaged in thoughtful conversations related to the use of the atomic bomb and the its lasting effects both emotional and environmental. As December drew to a close, students selected independent reading books that have themes related to World War II. They will be completing projects creating memory boxes to demonstrate their understanding of the characters and events in the book.
Our Research Paper process has begun! Please speak with your student to find out more about their choices and the final subject area they will be focusing on for the next few months.
We look forward with great excitement to the second half of the school year and all the adventures that continue to help us nurture our best selves.
Badsha and Cassy
Marianne & Elizabeth
In the month of December, as the days shorten and we look forward to the New Year, students continue to find joy in learning and connecting with each other. Students in all three levels wrapped up novel study in Language Arts with research, reflection, and projects. Many are already eagerly enjoying a new independent reading novel! Working with their level groups, students learned about the Haudenosaunee Midwinter Ceremony (Ones), Hanukkah (Twos), and Kwanzaa (Threes) for the Festival of Light. After researching and discussing these events and traditions, the students worked together to design and create beautiful window displays. Their work was stunning and informative and a wonderful way to share information with the school community.
In our Cosmic Curriculum work, students have pushed themselves to demonstrate their knowledge from Cell Theory to processes of cell transport across the membrane, and all the organelles in between! Students practiced with a variety of study methods, such as flashcards, concept maps, hands-on materials, and study buddies. We began our study of ancient west African kingdoms and will continue this work when we return after our break.
In math, geometry, and STEAM, it has been fun to watch students make connections, such as between squaring and area, circles and percents, and lines and coordinates. Students have continued working in groups, and many have delighted in teaching each other or creating challenge problems for their peers to solve. String art projects which use straight lines to create curves were thoroughly enjoyed and resulted in some beautiful displays.
Students were thrilled to choose their topics for the Research Term Paper Project, which will begin in earnest when we return to school in January. Our second- and third-year students were eager to share their experiences with our first-year students. The older students described that the project can be difficult but that it is worth it! “It is a lot at first, but then it is really fun,” explained one student. “It is something you won’t forget,” chimed in another. Offering advice, they told the first-years to “choose something you are really interested in,” “make sure you can find lots of resources on your topic,” and, importantly, “don’t procrastinate!” We encourage you to talk with your student about their ideas for this project. We are looking forward to supporting them through this experience!
In addition to a busy academic schedule in late November and December, the Middle School engaged in a variety of big, complex community service activities as well. We prepared and served two Community Lunches during this time, serving 25 staff members, in addition to ourselves, totaling over 55 hot meals delivered in a timely manner, made from delicious local ingredients, including some from our garden and greenhouse. For our Harvest assembly just before Thanksgiving, second-year students read the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving address to the entire school community. Their readings were delivered skillfully, with sincerity and meaning, and they played out their roles as “elder” students with grace and maturity. Their younger buddies stood at their sides, in many cases gazing up at them admiringly. Afterward, the entire Middle School worked together to break down and put away the sound system and other infrastructure for the event. More recently, students engaged in the gargantuan project of setting up, hosting, and breaking down the Holiday Bazaar on December 14th. Middle School students also played essential roles in setting up for the Festival of Lights and the evening family walk around. Each of these opportunities allowed students to develop and hone skills, apply their learning, collaborate, problem-solve and serve their school and the wider community. This service is a source of pride and satisfaction for Middle School students whose hard work, care, and efficiency are acknowledged and appreciated by administration, faculty, and staff.
A special aspect of our work in December was the role that the Middle School played in serving people outside our school community. For many years, we have supported families served by The Advocacy Center. The Holiday Bazaar was dedicated to raising funds to support ten families this holiday season. This venture held important meaning for our Middle School students. Knowing that they were raising money to provide gifts and holiday cheer for folks experiencing hardship at this time, students approached the focused, persistent work it takes to plan and implement such a multifaceted event with a deep sense of purpose. During the Holiday Bazaar, they did a beautiful job supporting younger students as they made their selections, acting as clerks and baggers/wrappers, each step of the way honoring their younger schoolmates’ earnest efforts to find useful items for family members.
We’re grateful to the school community for supporting the Holiday Bazaar so enthusiastically. Through students’ and parents’ active participation, we raised over $1700! With these proceeds, the entire Middle School shopped at Target on December 15th. Working from lists provided by The Advocacy Center caseworkers/advocates, students were offered a budget to work within and endeavored to stretch every dollar to best satisfy the needs and wishes of each family. Prior to this outing, Patrice provided a lesson on shopping at a big box store, background that was put to good use by students as they consciously navigated the commercial landscape expertly set up to lure customers into unnecessary impulse purchases.
These were rich opportunities for our middle schoolers to step outside their own lives, consider the needs of others and be of service. Service is one of the tenets of our Montessori Middle School program. Prepared well by the broad, deep curriculum in the younger classrooms here at EAC, our middle schoolers are poised to act with usefulness and agency in the world.