No School Monday!
The Mount Snow Crew

January 15, 2016


Click heading to get to section
Next Week at Hilltop
Notes from the Head of School
Important Dates!
Granite Gorge
Donate to Support
Toddler Program (TP)
Birch Room
Willow Room
Lower Elementary (LE)
Upper Elementary (UE)
Middle School (MS)
Winter Sports
Kids Night Out
Hilltop Helpers
Community News
Next Week at Hilltop
Monday 1/18/16
No School
(MLK Jr. Day)

Tuesday 1/19/16
UE Basketball Practice
Adult  Fitness Class @ 5:15
MS Basketball Game in Dummerston

Wednesday 1/20/16
Spanish with Marco 
MS Basketball Practice

Thursday 1/21/16
Winter Sports
Winter Outdoor Survival with BEEC

Friday 1/22/16

Check out the 2015-16 School Calendar 

Coming Up...

Tuesday 1/26
Open House for Prospective Parents

Friday 1/29
Kids Night Out!

Saturday 1/30
Hilltop Family Ski Day at Granite Gorge

Tuesday  2/2
Moving up Night

Wednesday 2/10
Open Board of Trustees Meeting

Friday 2/12
Re-enrollment Contracts Due

Monday 2/15
Mid-Winter Break Begins

Monday 2/22
No School
Teacher In-Service Day

Tuesday 2/23
School Resumes

Notes from the Head of School

Yet again there have been articles noting wonderful new trends in education that are what Montessori has been doing for 100 years, and Hilltop Montessori School for more than 40 years!

"Chores" Should Start Young
This article calls them "chores" and notes that children should start helping around the house at ages 3 or 4 years, when they naturally want to. In Montessori, we call this Practical Life and Dr. Montessori noted that the work of the adult (such as cleaning and putting away groceries) is the "play" of the child. Doing "chores" helps children feel they are responsible, confident, and proud contributing members of the community.
For a list of age appropriate chores,  click here.

Being Good with Failure is a Benefit
We teach that mistakes are opportunities from which to learn and grow, not red marks to be terrified by. This is an important approach in life.

History starts with the Big Bang!
Traditional history classes teach facts and information to memorize. There is a new movement to provide history in an interdisciplinary context that starts with the Big Bang and moves to the evolution of the planet, then the evolution of life, and then humans. These are the Great Lessons of the Montessori Elementary curriculum - the big stories told with timelines, words, and pictures showing students the vast history of the world and getting to their place in it. Nothing new to us!

Great Lessons of Montessori Lower Elementary classrooms resources:

Lesson Descriptions  click here.

Interdisciplinary Teaching
Schools in Finland will no longer teach 'subjects'. They note that there is a benefit to "teaching by topic" instead of "teaching by subject". This is exactly what a good Montessori program does. For example the Middle School's recent "study of place" combined geology, literature, sciences, history, economics, architecture, photography, biography, filmmaking, etc. with topics of interest to students, not subjects divided into 45 minute classes.

Then there is a favorite of mine, the "Growth Mindset" versus the "Fixed Mindset." We always emphasize the process over the product, and the effort over innate skill.

Please stop by or send me an email  if you would like to talk more about how any of these "trends" have always been incorporated to our programs at Hilltop.

Upcoming Important Dates!
Tuesday, February 2nd, 6-7pm- MOVING UP NIGHT
For Parents of students transitioning from K to grade 1, 3 to 4, and 6 to 7
Faculty will present the program overview and the details, outline the expectations, and answer the questions of all parents and prospective parents entering a new program level or any parent interested in what lies ahead for their student. All parents are welcome and childcare will be provided. Please sign up at the front desk.

Wednesday, February 10th, 6pm- Open Board Meeting 
Please join us for our Annual Open Board Meeting and hear about Board Committees and Activities, Board service, the "state of the school" and the ongoing Strategic Plan Process.

Granite Gorge
Hilltop Ski Day at Granite Gorge Vouchers are here!

Join Hilltop friends on the slopes Saturday, January 30th for a day of fun tubing or skiing.

You can purchase vouchers at the front desk.

$15 for 2 hour tubing pass
$38 for Youth Day Pass
$45 for Adult Day Pass

Checks payable to Hilltop Montessori School.

Donate to Support Morningside Shelter and Foodworks!

Groundworks Collaborative
Did you know...that Groundworks Food Shelf, Foodworks, serves an average of over 1000 individuals per day? Or that the Morningside Shelter houses many Vermonters in need as well as giving them food and necessities? That's why we want to help them! For our school project, we (Leah and Leila, two middle schoolers) are doing a school-wide food drive for these two organizations! Our goal is for each classroom to donate at least 100 non perishable food items before Tuesday, January 26th, so please contribute whatever you can to support these very helpful organizations!


Toddler Program 

In the toddler environment the relationship between caregivers and children is extremely important. We, as the Toddler Program teachers, are partnering with you as the families of these young children to have them feel safe, loved, and to develop trust.  These young children are learning to see mistakes as  opportunities  to try again and to work harder. This is only able to happen when children are well attuned with their caregivers, know that their feelings are understood and are aided in their attempts to name their feelings and regulate themselves. The caregivers become paired with the idea of comfort in the child's mind. When children make a mistake, or become upset, our first task is to provide comfort. Often the best form of comfort is a hug and providing words that reflect what the child is feeling, helping them develop  language  of emotional intelligence After comforting we can then provide guidance. Children need repeated, predictable and nurturing experiences with their parents, teachers and caregivers. These experiences teach them that they are loved, safe, and valued. How lucky are we to provide for these young people at such an important time in their lives!

Enjoy the weekend.
Ellie & Hannah

Kennedy Pulls Patrick

Alexander Paints at the Easel

Birch Room

Supporting Handwriting in the Children's House Classrooms

The Children's House program supports handwriting development not only through works and lessons that teach children to recognize and form letters, but also through specific materials that build finger strength and control. In fact, practical life activities such as spooning and tweezing have been shown to be particularly effective building young children's fine motor skills. Reinforcing this kind of muscle development at home is a wonderful continuation and support for developing these muscles and skills! Classroom materials, such as those in our sensorial area, also intentionally support fine motor development.

This week, Cheryl gave a lesson on the knobbed and knobless cylinders from our sensorial area, including using the correct pincer grip for grasping the materials. 

Here are some pictures to enjoy!

See you Tuesday!

Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam

Willow Room

See you when we resume school on Tuesday. Have a great long weekend!

Pasture makes snow flakes.
Mazin practices writing letters.

Graham makes patterns.

Please help us to reach 100 items!
Pasture finishes the 1-100 board.

Jonathon and Graham explore the sound 'P".
Cooper explores a sound tray.

Lower El

They're  over  there  with  their  bare bear. The Older students learned about homophones in our word study lessons this week.  Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings.  They were pleased to learn that there were already so many homophones they knew:  be  and  bee , and  no  and  know,  as a couple of examples.

  Everyone is working with fractions now, which allows us a chance to get our hands on the wonderful fraction insets. These red metal circles begin with the whole, and break into ever-smaller pieces of equal size, all the way down to the tenths in Lower El. Some students are working on equivalent fractions.  Others have learned that, just like people, fractions have their own name and a family name.  Family names include "half," "thirds," and "sixteenths."  Our Clock of Eons study is taking us from the tumultous Hadeon Eon, when the earth was forming and storming, to the more settled Archeon Eon, a time when life first began to appear in the water.

Thank you for your help in ensuring every Lower El student has a hat to wear at recess. Some students are still missing indoor shoes, so having that second pair during this wet and slushy weather will be necessary.  

Enjoy your weekend and drive safely.
Kerstin and Patrick 

Upper El

This week we learned about the vital function of nutrition in animals. Through their own work, students will examine how the digestive systems of animals grew increasingly complex as life evolved on the planet. As part of our ongoing history study, we learned about humans' transition from hunting and gathering to farming. In the lesson, we discussed how the earth's changing climate and growing population pressures combined to push humans in the Fertile Crescent into farming. 

For literature groups and seminar right now, we are reading  When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead,  Fair Weather by Richard Peck, and  Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson. This is the first time we are reading a book by Jacqueline Woodson in the Upper El. She is an important voice in children's and young adult literature so we are glad to have finally found the right book of hers for our classroom. Ask your child which book he or she is currently reading.

Students were digging deep into the piles of poetry books in the classroom searching for a poem to memorize. Throughout the week, students could be overheard during work time reciting their poems to friends. Students have chosen poems from a wide range of poets, including Billy Collins, Ursula Le Guin, Mary Oliver, and Sylvia Plath. Students will soon be reciting their poems to each other in our very own poetry slam.

In addition, students have been busy writing poems, see below:


When the depths of the world
Where a dark city lies
Against a bright yellow wall
there are two mysterious guys

And a very young lady
In a bright red dress
Drinking something good
Acting her best

What are they thinking of
Who really knows
Will anything else happen
If one of them goes?

What will they do 
For the rest of the night
After they go out of the bar
And walk out of sight
Owen James

         a quiet patter
settles on the roof above
      the storm is coming

                      Julia Fedoruk

Middle School

We are now deeply engaged in a study of conflict. This "Struggle for Peace" curriculum attempts to look at conflict from many different perspectives and places a particular focus on the origin. Project work includes the "World Awareness Project", a collaborative project where student groups select a conflict, pursue an understanding of that conflict, and prepare a presentation. The conflict choices run the range from local and domestic to international.  Students are also engaged in an individual research project on someone of their choosing who has worked for peace and a better world. This project results in a specific outline and research paper.

We are also hosting a series of guests to help further our exploration of this large and varied topic. Today, Daniel Sicken, a Plowshares participant and active war tax resister, spoke to us about his choices, their ramifications, and his faith. In preparation, students read Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" and became acquainted with Plowshares actions. Next Tuesday, January 19, four local veterans are coming in to talk to us about service and the choices they have made. The following Friday, January 22, Ann Braden from Gun Sense Vermont is here to talk about gun laws, the second amendment, and gun violence in this country. Finally, on Tuesday, January 26, Anna from the Women's Freedom Center will focus on domestic violence and violence against women. All of these conversations will happen at 12:30 and anyone who is interested is more than welcome to attend.

Mira and Lily Work on a Song

Math Work

Leigh and Leila Gather Food for the Drop in Center

Winter Sports

Winter Sports Pictures

Although the ski conditions weren't the best for x-country skiing this past Thursday, the gang still managed to have some good fun!

Kids Night Out

The next Kids Night Out  will be Friday, 1/29/16, please email Emma
if you are interested in dropping your child off to the Arts Barn for some good, safe fun!

Mark your calendars, the next Kids Night Out dates are Friday, February 26th and Friday, March 11th!

Hilltop Helpers

Hilltop Montessori School has a wonderful group of helpful families supporting each other in many ways: carpools, meals in time of need, hand-me-down snow pants, etc. We would like to provide this space in the newsletter as a place that people can share needs and "gifts" with the rest of the Hilltop community

 Hazel Restaurant, 
they did it again,  thank you   for donating
 spectacular pizza  to our staff here at Hilltop, we greatly appreciate it! 
Winter Sports Chaperones ,  we are grateful for all parent participation!

If you have a need, or a service or item to offer, let the  FRONT DESK  k now and we'll get it in the newsletter!

Community News

Girls on the Run Teams
For those of you who don't know about GOTR, it is a really great program aimed at teaching girls to have self-confidence and to navigate the tricky world of adolescence by making healthy choices. It incorporates lessons through games and a running program, culminating in a 5K event in late spring (Saturday, May 21  this year, in Brattleboro). It's a wonderful program that really gives girls a chance to think about important things, share their thoughts and experiences, and be listened to by their peers and coaches. As a coach, I feel it's an amazing privilege to get to know these children from a totally different perspective than you may have as a parent or classroom teacher. The lessons and materials are all created for us, so the only commitment it requires is the initial training session (coming up very soon, next week, in Brattleboro), about twenty minutes each week to review the lessons and discuss them with the co-coach(es) beforehand, and then one day a week after school (the activity runs two days a week, but with enough coaches, we can have a pair or more handle each day). You can find out even more about  GOTR-Vermont at their web site .

Hilltop has traditionally run the Girls on the Run program for 3rd-5th grade girls.  However, GOTR-Vermont also offers a program for 6th-8th grade girls, previously called Girls on Track, and this year it's been updated and renamed Heart and Sole. The curriculum has some similarities, but is very much geared to the different perspectives, interests, and concerns of this older age group. 

If you are interested in signing on to help coach, please let Alix, mom to Julia and Annelise in Upper El, know as soon as possible.  You may also call Alix at  802-355-2256 .

Hilltop Montessori School