November 20, 2015


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Next Week at Hilltop
Supporting Children Who Hear Scary News
Toddler Program (TP)
Fitness Classes
Willow Room
Birch Room
Lower Elementary (LE)
Upper Elementary (UE)
Middle School (MS)
MS Adirondack Chairs for Sale
Kids Night Out
Hilltop Helpers
Community News
Next Week at Hilltop
Monday 11/23
MS Basketball Practice

Tuesday 11/24
Stone Soup @ 12pm
CH students who normally leave at noon, may choose to stay until 1pm to take part in the celebration.
See  here  for more info, scroll to page 11.
Cultural Cooking

Wednesday 11/25
No School
Thanksgiving Break

Thursday 11/26
No School
Thanksgiving Day

Friday 11/27
No School
Thanksgiving Break

Check out the 2015-16 School Calendar 

Coming Up...

Tuesday 12/1
UE Basketball Begins

Wednesday 12/2
UE Author's Tea

Friday 12/4
Kids Night Out

Tuesday 12/8
Open House for Prospective Parents

Wednesday 12/9
LE Author's Tea 

Supporting Children Who Hear Scary News

As we hear both local and international news of tragedy, we need to process the information, and help our children process the information in age appropriate ways. For most children under age 5, shielding them from tragic information that they won't understand, or have no context for, might be the best route. However, if they overhear or are exposed to the information inadvertently (often this happens in a mixed age environment at home or school) it is important that we as adults are truthful and appropriately reassuring to our children. Explaining the extremely low chances of it happening again, what safety measures are in place to keep them and their loved ones safe, etc. For an older child, there may be opportunities to talk about bigger issues and to help them process the new information in a useful way. In all exchanges, the consistent advice is to answer their questions directly and truthfully, without giving more information than they are asking about. Because of our mixed age environment and the different levels of information/news provided in different families, it would also be helpful to advise older children to be sensitive to how they talk about such things at school.

Here is an article on this topic from a very useful website that helps with children/student guidelines for apps and social media:

Toddler Program

Watching small children who are just 1 and 2 years old navigate a problem is a delight to watch! This week on the playground, some children wanted to use the big red wagon but it was full of logs. Together they unloaded the wagon.

After the it was empty, two of the children jumped into the wagon ready for a ride while another attempted to pull it. No success. Now what, they seem to ponder...

The children call over another friend to help pull, but the wagon still won't budge. Hmm...

And what do they do? Two children leave to do other things on the playground, one hops out to pull, and the other gets the first wagon ride! Smiles all around. They did it and without intervention from an adult. What capable and clever little people!

Enjoy the weekend.
Ellie & Hannah

Fitness Classes

Just in time for cookie season - Adult Strength and Conditioning Fitness Class at Hilltop!  

Starting Tuesday December 1st, certified trainer, Beth Chevalier will offer hour long fitness classes right here at Hilltop in our Arts Barn. All levels welcome.

Tuesday evenings starting December 1st (excluding the Dec. 22 and 29) 5:15pm - 6:15pm
Cost: $60 for 6 weeks

You will need good exercise shoes, a water bottle, towel and a great sense of humor. ("You want me to do what?!")

Email Amelia to sign up.

Beth Chevalier, fitness trainer

Willow Room


I hope everyone enjoys a warm and gracious holiday next week! We are grateful for being part of such a loving, caring and supportive community. We are also grateful for all of the wonderful children here, who work hard to embody independence, peacefulness and caring. Safe travels, and take care. 

Please also remember that we have a 1:00pm dismissal for noon dismissal students in the Children's House on Tuesday, November, 24th. Noon dismissal children are encouraged to stay until 1pm, so that they may share in our Stone Soup celebration. "Bring what you've got, put it in the pot! We're making Stone Soup!"  See you soon.


The Willow Room

Birch Room

In Montessori classrooms, we specifically teach children lessons on Grace and Courtesy. These lessons relate to treating each other with kindness and respect, and include things like preparing and offering food to each other, as well as learning how to politely wait to get an adult's attention. Practicing saying "please" and "thank you" and learning how to use a tissue also fall under Grace and Courtesy.

This week, as part of our Grace and Courtesy curriculum, we learned about gratitude and giving thanks. The children made pages for a Gratitude Book, which is now on display outside our classroom. Come by and give it a look if you have a chance!

On Tuesday, our whole school will practice Grace and Courtesy with our "Stone Soup" celebration.  As part of the celebration, we will cook for each other, so you don't need to pack a lunch! Children who are usually picked up at noon can stay until 1pm so they can have soup too.  :-)

Finally, we wanted to leave you with a "joke of the day", as told by Sebastian.  

"What do they learn at elven school?  -The  elf abet!"

-Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam

Cheryl reads "Giving Thanks" at circle time.

Jade works on a page from the Gratitude book

MJ's page for the book: "I am grateful for time with my family".

Lower El

The Lower El did a lovely job of hosting our All School Gathering on Thursday.  Sharing what they have learned and speaking in front of people in a clear and loud-enough voice is something they practice on a regular basis. It takes courage to speak in front of so many, even friends, and a skill to do it in such a way that everyone can hear you.

In Writer's Workshop, we have been practicing responding to other people's writing: how to give a compliment that describes a specific part of the story, and how to provide constructive feedback to help the writer stretch and think of how to improve his or her writing.  

As we study word problems in math, students are encouraged to think aloud.  "How would  you solve this problem?" they are asked.  The student is given time to talk and puzzle over the different ways they could approach the problem. Here, the solution is not as important as the thinking that leads up to it. Making mistakes when you are in front of your peers is supported. Often our mistakes lead us to do better and choose differently, and we become stronger learners from having made them. This is the learning environment we want to cultivate, rather than the perfectionism that thwarts academic risk-taking and keeps us from improving our skills (and keeps us eternally criticizing ourselves for "not getting it right away"). 

At the end of each morning, we take a few minutes to reflect on how things went: Did we achieve the goals we set for ourselves?  Did we accomplish more, or less, and why?  Did we work with friends or alone?  Often we write these reflections down, but sometimes we do these orally, and everyone shares.  Even the newest and youngest students in the class are able to participate.  Sometimes a little help from a teacher is needed: "What do you mean by  stuff?  Can you tell us exactly what work you are proud of?"

Being able to share confidently, with the knowledge that you are supported and cared for, is an essential part of the Lower El classroom. Knowing that everyone makes mistakes and that we are here to learn and improve ourselves as students and as human beings, is the message we hope to impart during our year.

Tenacious Ticks Still Taking Hold
Tick season has been extended indefinitely. We are still finding them on students. It is essential that we all help our children to check for these unwanted hitchhikers every single day.  Students go up in the woods or into the fields for P.E. and recess on a regular basis.  

Enjoy your weekend!
Kerstin and Patrick

Lower El Hosting All School Gathering

Jamie G in his element, the quality of the picture isn't the best, but it captures the perfection of the moment!

Same goes here for Ian, both boys were AWESOME! The 
entire crew did a great job, what a joy to watch!

Henry reciting poems...a proud moment for sure.

Upper El

We were treated this week to a visit from Dorien Ruijs, Tamara's sister-in-law, who works in a lab as a pathologist and has donated a high-powered microscope to the classroom. She explained to the class the principles of microscopy, with very accessible demonstrations using a magnifying glass and water in a rounded glass to show how a lens bends light.  She worked with small groups of students throughout the morning, leading them through the process of focusing the microscope, handling slides, and making slides.  Among other things students looked at a new slide created with water from our fish tank. We are so fortunate to have the new microscope, new slides, and a fantastic book on the subject to boot. Thank you Dorien for your time and donations!
Students this week also presented their biome studies, which included a brief introduction to the specific biome and more detailed information about the specific plants or animals they each focused on. Sixths and fourths collaborated on these projects. Meanwhile, the fifths finished the hero papers and portraits they had created recently. This year's heros include: Dorothea Lange, Nellie Bly, Ai Weiwei, Bobby Orr, Rachel Carson, Noah Levinson. 
Upcoming UE dates: 
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2pm: Authors Tea
Thursday, December 17th, 2pm and the following morning:  UE Museum
Friday, December 18th, 9am: Present Making Day ( we still need volunteers)

Middle School

Interviews, photo shoots, spontaneous projects, and primary source research in the local history room at the Brooks Memorial Library and Brattleboro Historical Society fill the middle school students days. When they are not out and about in downtown Brattleboro actively searching for the meaning of a sense of place, they are augmenting their inquiry through reading the place based literature of Howard Frank Mosher, Wallace Stegner, James Agee, and Barbara Kingsolver. Through all this activity we are pondering Wendell Berry's enigmatic statement: "If you don't know where you are, you don't know who you are."

The Brooks House mural continues...

At work in the Brattleboro Library on History projects

Middle School Adirondack Chairs For Sale

Contact:   Van Zaransky or Gus Williams, you can click on their names to be directed.

Kids Night Out

Come drop your little ones to Hilltop's Arts Barn for the Middle Schooler's third hosting of 'Kid's Night Out', Friday, December 4th ! Kids will enjoy snacks, games and a G rated movie. All proceeds go to support the Middle School's Odyssey to Boston as well as field trips throughout the school year. $6/hour per child and $4/hour for each additional child. Contact  Emma  for details and/or questions and to sign your child up!

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. 

If you would like to offer support in any way to the Rashed Family, please let Rebecca know. We will be coordinating meals, and anything families would like to offer to Mazin and his family. Also, there are cards at the front desk for signing if you would like to offer your condolences. Stop by when you can please.

Tom Griffith has a chicken plucker that he is willing to lend anyone in the Hilltop community. If you are interested contact  Tom .

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

Brattleboro Women's Chorus Celebrates 20 Years of Singing!
Our 20th Anniversary Fall Concerts
Saturday, November 21 at 7:00 pm
Sunday, November 22 at 3:00 pm
First Baptist Church, 190 Main St., Brattleboro
Over 100 women of the Brattleboro Women's Chorus will be singing favorite songs from the past 20 years. With Guest Musician Cathy Martin on piano.
Tickets Available Only at the Door: $15 Generous, $10 Adult and $8 student/senior
Gala CD Release Celebration
Immediately following  Sunday's  concert at the River Garden
Purchase our new CD and toast to 20 years!
For More Information, visit our website: 
Like Us on Facebook   to find out about our upcoming events!

Project Feed The Thousands
This December, once again, Hilltop Montessori School is participating in the community wide food drive, Project Feed the Thousands. We will be collecting non-perishable food and personal hygiene items like toothpaste, shampoo, diapers, feminine products, etc. in a box in the front lobby. 
For the past few years, our students help to load our collection onto a school bus that makes its way to the Hannaford parking lot where WTSA radio broadcasts for the day. 
Last year, Talia and Ernie spoke with radio hosts about Hilltop's participation.

Hilltop Montessori School