It has been a busy two months at school! Our days have been peppered both with learning and celebration — we left off at Fall Fest, which led us into Diwali, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and now Christmas! For a quick glance back at the days when leaves were still on the trees and your children came to school in their adorable Halloween costumes, please enjoy the following photos:
When early November arrived, we began talking about the Indian festival of Diwali. We read stories about how people decorate their homes with lights and colorful rangoli designs on floor tiles. Our wonderful parent volunteers organized an amazing Diwali party for the children complete with diya lights, rangoli, dancing, traditional festival costumes, firecrackers, and sweets! Many thanks, your hard work was appreciated by all. What a fun event.
Just a couple weeks after Diwali, the children got to celebrate with their families at our annual Thanksgiving potluck luncheon. They bravely stood in front of the crowd, donning pilgrim hats, headdresses or bonnets, and told everyone what they were thankful for. Throughout November, we enjoyed singing “Over the River and Through the Wood” and “Little Pilgrim.” We talked a lot about Pilgrims and Native Americans, and why establishing friendships was important for both groups, even though they didn’t always get along. They could relate!
Not long after Thanksgiving, the children learned about the story of Hanukkah and how it was a miracle that the oil burned bright for eight nights! They loved singing the traditional “Dreidl” song and learned what each Hebrew symbol on the dreidl stands for when the game is played. We were so fortunate to have Caitie’s mom come in to light the menorah and read a story about Hanukkah! Mrs. Paseltiner shared latkes and applesauce with us. Thanks to both of you for enriching our experience of the Jewish holiday.
Most recently, we’ve been telling many stories of Christmas. The children learned about baby Jesus and the nativity as well as a brief history of St. Nicholas/Santa Claus. We also read a book about the Mexican origins of the poinsettia plant! We’ve enjoyed singing traditional carols of the season, which include Jingle Bells (with each child taking a turn jingling the bells), Away in a Manger, Silent Night, Up on the Housetop, Joy to the World, Here Comes Santa Claus, and Jolly Old St. Nicholas. They are also pros at The 12 Days of Christmas! There has been some secret “elving” going on as the children prepare some special gifts. We can’t wait for Santa Claus to visit us just before the break!
In the midst of all this merrymaking, there is some wonderful work going on amongst the group. Many of the children are doing one-word reading. They practice this by decoding “secret messages” that I write them in cursive, they play the “action” game with each other (fun commands like run, bark, sing, sleep), they match picture cards to the correct labels and use a control card to check their work, and they learn that phonograms are sometimes spelled differently, such as pie, high, mine, sky. The youngest children are getting more sophisticated with their sound games, and are currently trying to decode the middle sounds of words (this is harder than beginning and end!).
There are many mornings recently were I look in vain for a child to give a lesson to — nope, they are BUSY! A whole half hour might go by some days, during which no one needs an adult. This, of course, is the best we can hope for in a Montessori classroom — the children are working with concentration and great care, and are beginning to depend on each other more and more. Of course, we are always there for guidance, support, and redirection as needed. Mostly, I try to spice things up — I might ask a five-year-old to try doing all four cylinder blocks at the same time, blindfolded. Perhaps a two-year-old is ready to cut a circle instead of just snipping. We watch, we wait, we watch some more before we jump in to offer help or some new task. The children are the true guides in the room! I’m truly excited to see what 2019 brings.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, blessed New Year with everyone you love.
All the best,
Here is a peek at the general goings-on!