Sunday, November 3, 2013

Happy Fall!

We've had a really fun couple of weeks and everyone's been working hard on our studies of North America, the solar system, and fish. We also started our studies of plants, which we will be studying in more detail in November. We also wrapped up our study of October's peacemaker, Cesar Chavez, explored Mayan math and writing, and studied the origins of Halloween from the Celts and the Romans.

We also had our visit to the Lego Lab on library day:

Followed by a picnic on the capitol grounds.

That was a really beautiful day and we had such fun enjoying the pleasant weather and playing Kick the Can under the oaks.

Halloween week was a lot of fun as well. On the day of our celebration and science exploration, the children made their own snacks (thanks for sending in all the necessary ingredients - your contributions were all appreciated!). We made spiders, frankensteins, owls, and witches broom sticks, along with pumpkin juice.

The science experiments went on all day. Here, we are making pink slime.

And here, polymer worms.

Here's the gang at lunchtime, getting ready to enjoy our feast.

And last, but certainly not least, our jack-o-lanterns turned out great. After much discussion, we carved one happy and one scary face.

Also, thanks to all the families for coming out to our open house Friday night. It was such a delight to see families present in our classroom and get a chance to share your child's work with you.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

October Arrives

Greetings, All!

We're glad to see October arrived at last, and, with it, hopefully some cooler weather.

At the end of September, though, we started our rock climbing program. The students did a great job bouldering and being harnessed in to go higher. Our expert student got a chance to lead others and be on belay. We are lucky to have him with us.

 Here is J bouldering:

 E bouldering:

 And L bouldering:

Everyone was excited and spent after an afternoon in the gym. Before the next session this Friday, we'll review the safety words and watching out for others. Rock climbing is also going to be a great way for us to learn to encourage friends working at all different levels of comfort.

This week, we headed to the Wildflower Center (though we were sad A couldn't join us due to a stomach bug).

 Everyone worked on drawing plants in their nature journals (American beauty berries were the popular specimen) and before we left, we were lucky enough to catch sight of this guy (though we gave him a wide and quiet berth).

 In the classroom, we had a number of really productive days (as usual). Here's what a busy time can look like.

And here's A with noun work:

And J taking a yoga break.

 Friday was a dedicated research day, on which children concentrate on research projects for the morning work cycle. Beginning our family timelines was a popular activity, though many worked on making fish prints as well.

Last, as I'm sure you've heard from your child, we experienced a loss this week. Our mouse Ragweed passed away unexpectedly sometime Wednesday night. Here he is peeking out of E's shirt collar:

We processed Ragweed's death as a community. The children made mementoes (drawings and origami mice and more) and we placed these alongside Ragweed in a little box before burying him in the courtyard under a tree. The children painted rocks to decorate his grave and E read a poem by Lucretius titled "Departed Comrade." Here is the circle of stones marking his resting place.

I'm sure we'll continue to discuss the loss of Ragweed and I will keep reminding the children as I did this week, "It's okay to feel sad. Feeling sad means Ragweed was loved."

I hope you all have a had a lovely and restful weekend. See everyone soon.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mice, hiking, and more!

Month: September 2013
Peacemaker: Jane Goodall
Civilization: Early Humans (pre-history)
Art: Lessons on Color
Music: Steady Beat

Whew! The last two weeks have flown by!

There was the big trip to get our mice friends, Ragweed (named after the read-aloud book we're all enjoying):

And Cutie (the more skittish of the two):

The children are enjoying uncovering the different mice personalities and our animal caretaker (K) has been working daily to get them used to small, gentle hands in their environment. 

We also went hiking on the Greenbelt and christened our home-made Nature Journals with their first entries. The students found a very interesting tree here:

Everyone worked really hard this week and on many individual projects (timelines, research, books). We also welcomed a new student to our classroom and we're so glad he's joined us!

Some of our other activities included knitting with our friend Susan:

landform work:

chess club:

and a really fun experiment on gravity's effect on drinking water:

We also continued our study of Jane Goodall, early humans and the formation of stars. We will be gearing up for some new themes in October: Mesoamerica, Mexico, Day of the Dead, the planets, and early human civilizations (Phoenician, Egyptians, Mayans, and more) as well as beginning our animal and plant studies.

Hope you all have had a wonderful weekend!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Field Trip and more

Month: September 2013
Peacemaker: Jane Goodall
Civilization: Early Humans (pre-history)
Art: Lessons on Color
Music: Steady Beat

Thank you to everyone for coming out to orientation last week. There is so much to look forward to in the growth of this program! The children are all still hard at work in class, and out of class (as you'll see below).

Our Week

Art has been extremely compelling lately. There were serious sessions with Ed Emberley's drawing books:

Also, we started our study of peacemakers and art by creating peace paintings. We will continue working on concepts of color throughout the month (color wheel, mixing colors, shading, tinting) and our peacemaker studies with Jane Goodall.

This past Friday was our field trip to The Natural Gardener. 

Below, Ms. Rosina is showing the students beet cotyledons (seed leaves). This tied in beautifully with our large group lesson on living and non-living this week since there had been discussion about into which category to place a seed. 

We also got some great ideas on what to plant in our planters in front of the schoolhouse (rosemary, thyme, inland sea oats), picked up a fall planting guide for our raised bed, and had a great time using all of our senses in the gardens. Here, the children are in the lemon garden, smelling lemon thyme:

Since an expert gardener was leading our tour, we were allowed to partake in freshly shaken pears from the tree, still warm from the sun. After eating these, we were happy to share our cores with the excited chickens.

It was hot, but Good Pop popsicles cooled everyone off!

E and L above are in the Tropical House, a place we visited 3 times, and the place where everyone chose a plant to take home. Succulents definitely had the day on Friday.

The children were asked to measure their plants at home so that we can track their growth over time. Some of them may wish to focus on diameter instead of, or in addition to, height since not all are tall-growth plants.

The Natural Gardener is one of my favorite places in Austin and I was thrilled to be able to share it as a class.

Update on Rockclimbing!
We are gearing up to begin this activity as part of our P.E. program. I have been in conversation with Austin Rock Gym about the structure and cost and will update you and send home forms as soon as we are ready to roll. The idea is to spend two Friday afternoons a month in the rock gym working on skills, culminating in a half-day or day-long trip to an outdoor climbing location at the end of the program.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

First Week of School

We had a truly lovely first week in our new space. A few highlights are below.

This is our new betta fish, thanks to K:

After discussion and voting, he was named "Cabellin."

He also now has a lovely rock bed in his tank and K, our animal caretaker, has created a chart for his feeding and tank cleaning. I purchased a betta fish plant that should grow in the water to add to his tank this week.

Here is E, so proud of her phonogram work this week:

And L with her word building as well:

One of my favorite pieces of work in our classroom is linear and skip counting with the bead chains. K remembered his lovely spiral for his 6s on Thursday:

We also created our classroom guidelines (these are in your child's communication folder - please sign to let us know that you've reviewed them). We will continue our discussion all year long about our last guideline ("willing good") - how do we put good into our community and into our world? How do we gracefully receive it as well?

Thanks to all parents for returning field trip permission forms in such a timely fashion! We have a few field trips coming up this week to the library and to the Natural Gardener. Watch for an email for the specifics.

Last, we ended our Friday with homemade all-fruit sno-cones (we'll spend some time charting the results of our taste test on Monday of this coming week) and with our first ever pizza Friday (at the children's request). In addition, we had a special visitor who we are considering appointing as our new chess coach if he'll agree to join us at least one Friday a month. I believe this match ended in a draw.

Thank you to all of our elementary families for being so accommodating as we begin our program; I know we have many adventures to come this school year!


Monday, July 22, 2013

It's coming together!

This was taken well over a week ago:

We now have newly painted walls (inside and out), new lights and a newly painted ceiling. I hope to begin setting up shelves and materials in a few days.

Speaking of materials, here is a small glimpse of what I'm working with. The pile has gotten larger since this was taken and more boxes opened!

It's very exciting to look through all of the material piece by piece. Montessori elementary curriculum is so comprehensive and individualized. I have to confess, I'm taking some time to get down on the floor and do some of the work as I cut and laminate. Much of it takes my thinking cap as well; this material is wonderfully integrative and fires up the critical thinking skills.

I can't wait for our year to begin!

Note: we will have the classroom open for viewing as soon as we can. Email me or call the school (512-428-4280) to set up a tour.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

This is wonderful! And reminiscent of the elementary Clock of Eras lesson.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I'm so glad that June is here!

I was delighted to hit Half Price Book's Memorial Day sale - 20% off everything. I picked up some readers, some reference books, and some read-alouds for our classroom. 

June also means returning to school for me. I'll be undertaking two weeks of further training in Houston this month with a focus on fine arts and the Montessori classroom.

We'll spend the rest of the month packing for the move back to Austin, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, and trying to spend as much time at the beach as time allows.

And remodeling work began yesterday on the classroom so I'm thrilled to know that's happening in preparation for my return. So excited to get into the room and start setting up the space.

Cheers to all!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Feed Your Brain!

Half Price Books is hosting a summer reading program: Feed Your Brain.

And here is their list of 40 Books Every Child Should Read.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What are the benefits of a Montessori education?

Many parents have this question, especially when available Montessori options are tuition-based. The American Montessori Society (AMS) has put together a nice answer on their blog here:

The attributes listed above are going to be of primary importance to a credentialed Montessori program. They are at the heart of the program we're developing here at Mariposa. Most importantly, they are at the heart of a love of learning. Students who are recognized as individuals, allowed to proceed at their own pace and warmly welcomed into a diverse community of learners will thrive.

Sir Ken Robinson, one of my inspirations, put it this way: Education needs to be personalized rather than standardized and we should be nurturing the spirit as well as the mind.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

For the Classroom!

Alongside all of the Montessori materials, one of the things I love in an elementary classroom is simply all the fun stuff that kids love to explore and work on. Today, I purchased a few examples:

When it's raining outside, or when the kids need a little break in their day, puzzles, zentangles, building sets, games, and more keep them engaged but are also just downright fun.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Great Perspective

This blog post captures a very special perspective on Montessori elementary and the role of the teacher.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Info Session

Come hear about our new program at the Mariposa Montessori Elementary Information Session.

When:    10 AM, Saturday, May 4, 2013
Where:   Mariposa Montessori, 7809 Brodie Lane, Austin, TX 78745

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Monday, April 8, 2013

New Beginnings

Home with a sore throat today, I spent some time working on this fall's curriculum. It's so exciting to see it laid out in calendar format. What a blessed, sweet little classroom this is going to be and what fun we're going to have exploring the Montessori lower el curriculum AND our lovely home town of Austin, TX.  Music, cooking, nature hikes, gardening, dinosaurs, fractions, nouns, articles, adjectives - oh my!

Stay tuned here for more info as the classroom comes together.

Montessori Small Bead Frame, used for Addition, Subtraction and Multiplication